Ask the Coach #8: How To Do An Undercover Job Search?

March 5th, 2018

This is part of a series. You can see the others here, at the Ask The Coach category.

K asks “How do you keep your current employer from finding out about your current job search?

This is a great question… you don’t want to look for something and then have your employer find out and let you go… ouch. Just because you are looking doesn’t mean you are leaving, right? Sometimes, even a toxicish boss is better than no paycheck. (SOMETIMES)

Here are the coach replies:

atc_headshot_denise_taylor_125Denise Taylor, Career Coach, Chief Inspiration Officer, the 50 Plus Coach

Looking for a new job when you are employed can make you feel like an undercover agent, needing to cover your tracks. Here are 7 tips:

  1. An effective way of finding another job is using LinkedIn, so make sure that any updates are not shared to your network. You don’t want your boss, or noisy colleagues noticing that you have finally got around to polishing your profile.
  2. If you may be going for interviews during a work day make sure that you don’t dress noticeably different for work. You may need to change outside of the office or to start dressing smart each day, and if you use public transfer this will be your best approach.
  3. Be careful who you share your plans to look elsewhere with at work. A colleague could use this against you and tell your boss, meaning that you aren’t considered for an interesting short-term assignment.
  4. Keep any changes to your CV/resume and any applications to your home computer. You never know who could look at your screen and see your edits, and you want this information well away from shared servers. You can keep copies in the cloud, so you have access to send on during the day when you want to make a fast response.
  5. When you post your CV/resume on job sites you can take your company name off and use a generic description instead.
  6. Make sure you use a personal and not your work email address, it’s more professional.
  7. Interviews may be arranged for after work, but not always, so what will you tell your boss? You can’t go to the dentist every week, but there are somethings that warrant a weekly appointment such as visiting the chiropractor.

atc_headshot_patti_romanowicz_125Patti Romanowicz, career consultant and job search specialist

First and foremost, don’t do job search activities at work! This includes your resume, cover letters, online job searching, phone interviews, etc. Prospective job calls should be taken only on your cell phone, outside of work hours or on breaks or lunch when you can have some private time. Your car is a great place to have these calls, even better if it’s not in your company’s parking lot.

People have asked about LinkedIn. If you are linked to coworkers or your boss, it’s best not to bring attention to the fact you are making changes to your profile. Best advice I can give is make minor changes over time, so you are updating, but nothing major all at once.

gavan_headshot_atcGavan Ambrosini, PCCCareer Management Consultant

Looking for a job while still working can be a tricky business. Maintaining a game face with your current employer while applying elsewhere can be stressful and uncomfortable, especially if you are torn between staying or going. Here are a few tips to keep your search under wraps: If possible, set your interviews for early mornings or late afternoons. If it is an in person interview that requires more than a few hours–take the day or a half day off. Try not to call in sick to interview if you can help it. I recommend you reference your absence as time off needed to take care of personal business and nothing more.

Don’t share your plans to move on with anyone in the office, unless you completely trust them to not let on what you are doing. You may need a reference, and you don’t want to blindside important referrals if you feel like you are getting close to making a move. There are 3 possible scenarios to consider should your employer finds out that you are moving on: They care, and don’t want to lose you–they don’t care and will be happy to see you go, or they care, but also understand that you need to grow and it is not possible where you are at. If they it is the former where they don’t want you to leave, they make take measures to keep you-such as ask for a meeting, offer you a promotion or even a raise. If there are things that would keep you there, it might be worth it to let it slip out that you are looking. Otherwise, best bet is to put your feelers out, but keep it close to the chest.

You can turn on your recruiter button on LinkedIn to let them know you are open to opportunities, as well as start posting more on LinkedIn to keep your activity high. This will allow you to be found by others easier and remain on people’s radar. You will also show up more in other people’s feeds, and come up sooner in searches. Whatever, you do, treat your current employer as you would a customer, with respect and professionalism. You don’t want to damage the relationship or sever ties with them. Besides possibly needing them for a reference, you never know, they may be your customer one day. Good luck!

atc_3_headshot_rich_grant_125Rich Grant, Online career course instructor for Peak-Careers

If you don’t want your boss to know about your job search, I’m sure you’re being discreet around the office, and your LinkedIn headline doesn’t say “looking for a new job.” But, be careful about others, as they might not have the same level of discretion. Someone at work who knows you’re looking might say something at the wrong time and the wrong place, or someone you’re connected to on social media might tag you in a post or a tweet about a new opportunity. Keep your eyes open on all your social media sites.

If you’ve posted your resume on job sites, don’t list your current employer by name but by describing the industry. For example, “online retailer in the home furnishings industry.” Use your personal information (phone, email) and not your office contact details.

Some people think that they need to put a halt on social media activity during a “stealth” job search, but I would advise the opposite. Networking is a critically important key to job-search success, and the advantage with social media is that you can participate any time of day or night. Put yourself out there as an expert in your career field, and as you build professional relationships online, reach out via private messaging to let people know what you’re looking to do next in your career.

atc_3_headshot_perry_newman_125Perry Newman, Award Winning Resume Writer & LinkedIn Transformation Specialist, Certified Social Media Strategist, Certified Personnel Consultant

If you want to keep your current employer from finding out about your current job search, I suggest you take the following two thoughts to heart. 1. Loose lips sink ships 2. Use common sense and remember a word closely identified with a job search is Confidential. Keep yours that way at all times. Here are 15 useful suggestions to follow and, I can think of at least 50 more.

  1. Don’t ever talk about your job search on your employer’s phone. They may check your phone log and see whom you called or who called you more than once. This means their landline and even a company cellular phone.
  2. Don’t talk with the people you work with about your job search in public at work. You never know whose listening.
  3. Avoid talking gossip about others in the office. People have long memories and can be vengeful and start rumors about you.
  4. Don’t send or receive emails about your job search on your employer’s computer, even with your private email account.
  5. Don’t use your company computer to search for job opening online.
  6. Don’t apply for a job online from your company computer.
  7. Don’t email your resume to a recruiter or employer from your work email.
  8. Don’t use your work email as contact email on your resume. (Don’t laugh, I see this all too often)
  9. Don’t sign up for resume blasts, they may inadvertently blast it to someone in your company or a sister company, or someone who knows your boss.
  10. Keep focused on doing your job as well or better than expected from you. Lower performance is a red flag for most employers that you’re looking or unhappy in your current job.
  11. Don’t suddenly and drastically upgrade and/or change your appearance all at once. If you do change, make it gradual and not only when you take time off from work or have a lunch hour interview.
  12. Make interviews whenever possible outside of business hours and take the whole day off if it is going to be more than a lunch hour meeting. (See # 11)
  13. Don’t talk about your job search openly on social media.
  14. Don’t tell a verifiable lie if confronted about absence from work by HR or a superior at work.
  15. This is a curve ball for you. DON’T be afraid to update and upgrade your LinkedIn profile if you are conducting a job search. If confronted why you made this move the answer is. “I was told by many people that the best way to get ahead in your current company is to have a great LinkedIn profile so your employer knows how valuable you are. I’m glad you or someone in the company took notice of the change because, I really want to be looked at favorably and get a promotion or raise based on may contributions.”

atc_3_headshot_ron_auerbach_125Ronald Auerbach, Job search author, expert, and educator

There are several ways to hide your job search activities from your current employer. One is to not use company resources, like their computer, phone, or Internet access. FYI, this includes using your own device but connecting through the company’s WiFi or network. Your goal here is not to leave traces of your job seeking activities. So do everything outside of work! Job search on your time and resources, not the company’s.

Another thing you can do is not tell people at work you’re job hunting. Even when you tell people you know very well and trust completely, there is always a risk that word may slip out of your looking for employment. Trust me, it’s happened many times! And in most cases, it’s purely by accident through idle gossip and talk or somebody just forgetting to keep it a secret. So do yourself a favor and keep your job search under wraps.

One more thing you can do is make it clear to everyone you’re contacting that you do not want your current employer to find out. So make sure you tell recruiters, employment agencies, contacts (network), etc that you want your job search to be kept quiet so your boss and company doesn’t find out. And it’s perfectly understandable why you won’t want your current employer to find out, so you’re not appearing as if you’re hiding anything or in trouble. It’s a given that we want to remain anonymous so we won’t lose our jobs ahead of our finding something else.

Another thing you can do is have limited information in your profiles and resumes. So with online resumes and profiles, you may not want to use your full name. For instance, instead of Henry Miller, you could use H. Miller or Henry M. or H.M. You could also hide the company name for your current employer and use something that describes what kind of company it is. For example, instead of saying you work at Citibank, you could list something like Financial Institution. Some will also change their job titles from say VP Manufacturing, to VP or Executive or Senior Manager. Your goal with these is to hide more specifics that lead back to you should your employer find it.

atc_3_headshot_elvabankinsbaxter_125Elva Bankins Baxter, Certified Master Coach

Here are 6 Ways to keep your current Employer From Finding Out About your Job Search:

  • Use a personal email address only for your job seeking activities and correspondence. Remember, your employer has access to your work email server and they can and oftentimes will read your emails…As a Career Coach, I have heard from many decision makers that they already know that someone is “looking” because they have read their emails.
  • If you have a company cell phone, only use it for business. Yes, this means that you will carry two cell phones. It is wise to keep a backup of your business and personal contacts on your personal phone. In the event the unthinkable happens and you are separated from the company involuntarily, you will not have lost your business and personal connections.
  • Regarding your LinkedIn profile, the changes you make to LinkedIn should be very subtle. First, change your “Settings” so that you turn off notifying everyone of any Profile changes that you will be making. If you feel a need to increase the number of your Connections, do so very slowly…For example, this is not the time to add more than 4 or 5 people to your network at once. And, do not alert search/recruiting professionals that you are seeking opportunities (a feature within LinkedIn).

Regarding Search Consultants or Recruiters:

  • If you are asked by a Search Consultant to connect on LinkedIn…refrain from doing so. And, if you’d like to connect to a search professional, send an email from your personal email server, via LinkedIn or call them directly. Do not connect to them on LinkedIn.
  • If a recruiter or search consultant calls you on your work phone and wants to discuss an opportunity, get their contact information and tell them that you are not interested in seeking new opportunities currently, however, should that change, you may reach out to them in the future. The point here is that you may not know who directed this recruiter to contact you. It could be someone at work who wants to see if you are searching for a new position.
  • Be mindful of the number of times you are out of the office for those alleged doctor/dentist appointments or start to take longer than usual lunches. Most businesses will meet you to maintain confidentiality and meet after hours if necessary.
  • Be aware of your behavior as you work on teams or with your leader or cross-functionally. You want to instill an enthusiastic spirit and not let your true emotions surface. Transparency is important, now more than ever.

jacque-barret-poindexter-atcJacqui Barrett-Poindexter
, CEO, Master Resume Writer

Do not conduct job search using company technology; for example, avoid sending job search emails through your company email address or through the company computer, for that matter.

  • Set up a separate email (gmail) address for job search.
  • Do not save your resume on the company computer.
  • If a recruiter or hiring decision maker calls you while at work, either let it roll into voice mail and call them back later or, if you answer, explain that you are work and would like to schedule time after hours for a conversation. (Note: Ensure sure your voice mail is professional, and that you regularly check it for messages.)

Do not schedule interviews on company time. Work with hiring managers, HR + recruiters to schedule interviews during lunch hours, after work hours, etc. to be respectful of your current employer’s time.

When refreshing professional profiles, such as LinkedIn, market your value in a way that comes across as a blended strategy: marketing your current organization while also touting your own achievements.

Avoid sharing your job search efforts with colleagues, no matter how much you trust them. One slip of their tongue and your current role will be at risk. You don’t want to be unemployed before you have a new role in hand.

Avoid sharing your job search efforts on Facebook or any other presumable “private” social channel. 100% privacy is NEVER guaranteed on social media.

When asked for recommendations during interviews, seek support from former bosses, colleagues, clients, vendors etc. to avoid alerting your current manager that you are job hunting.

There you go, lots of great advice to help you in your undercover job search! Thanks coaches!

Comments Off on Ask the Coach #8: How To Do An Undercover Job Search?


Ask the Coach #7: LinkedIn Privacy Expectations?

October 20th, 2017

This question is from the client of one of our coaches… Perry Newman asked me to share it amongst the group to see what everyone thought. Perry’s client, Grant, asks:

My question for you was about LinkedIn and the “letting recruiters knows your open” feature. Does this put anything on your profile for your connections to see? I saw it said we try to keep it private, but cannot guarantee. I have seen profiles in the past where it says “open to new opportunities”… for obvious reasons at this point I don’t want that on there for my colleagues to see and because I deal with some of our biggest customers day in day out whom I have connections with this could cause concern on their side too (if they even see it).

This is a really good, and very important, question.  Since I wrote a book on LinkedIn, and have done a gabillion trainings on LinkedIn (the most current is in the JibberJobber Video Library), I’m going to chime in.

jason-alba-125Jason Alba, author of I’m on LinkedIn – Now What, creator of the video course LinkedIn for Job Seekers, and CEO of

Here’s the bottom line: Assume that anything you ever do, or put, on any website, including social media, and LinkedIn, is visible to anyone. Period.

Seriously, there are no guarantees of privacy. Want multiple extreme examples? There are too many private pictures that people have shared on Snapchat (that website who’s promise was to not allow anyone to share or keep pictures) online. How is it that Snapchat has implied a promise that they would keep these private things private, but they are out in the public?

There is no guarantee, ever, of privacy or security online. Ever.

Even the biggest companies with the best security teams have had problems with privacy and security. Think Equifax (oops!), and many others (click the orange slideshow button to be depressed about this whole topic).

Here’s my bottom line: do not trust that any company will or can protect your private stuff, including your private status of looking for a job. No matter what LinkedIn says (you already said they cannot guarantee it, so there’s your answer from them), you should keep your private stuff offline if you are worried that it might get out.

Let’s assume, though, that they guaranteed it. Imagine the following scenario: Your best friend sees your status as being open to a new gig, and he immediately screenshots it and emails it to his local recruiter contacts to “help” you.  So much for privacy.

No site can plug the loophole that security professionals call “social engineering.”

atc_3_headshot_craig_toadtman_125Craig B Toedtman, Job Search Consultant, Career Adviser, Coach, Executive Search Consultant

As the LinkedIn fine print indicates, privacy can’t be guaranteed. My advice would be to refrain from turning the signal on. More importantly, make certain your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and separates you from your competition through your work experience, recommendations, and all avenues available through LinkedIn. A good recruiter will search for all qualified candidates without regard to whether the “open for opportunities” switch is on. If you are the right person for the specific job, you will be found, and the recruiter will reach out to you. At that point, you should stress the importance of maintaining confidentiality as long as possible.

atc_headshot_john_sattler_125John Sattler, Certified Personnel Consultant and Certified Professional Resume Writer

The feature merely prompts the software to allow your profile to show up in relevant searches run only by those with LinkedIn’s Premium Talent Solution Subscription. This is an expensive subscription, running between $1200 – $12,000 annually, per person, which pretty much means only serious recruiters are involved.

NO, enabling LinkedIn’s recruiter alert does not flag your profile in any visible way.

This link gives step-by-step instructions on how to find, enable, and use the “share career interests with recruiters” prompt:!

This link shows exactly what will be shared with recruiters:

On the privacy issue, what LinkedIn seems to be saying is, ‘although the software is designed NOT to allow your profile to appear in searches run by a representative of your company, we can’t guarantee it.’

This link explains how LinkedIn protects your privacy with the recruiter alert enabled:

I believe this is a reasonable caveat on Linkedin’s part. The software has millions of lines of code handling millions of searches a day. I doubt anyone would guarantee there never will be a snafu.

Should this stop you from using the feature? It’s your call but my opinion is absolutely not. I know the feature can work well.

When you see “open to new opportunities,” or something similar on a profile, the profile owner did this themselves. LinkedIn used to offer a ”Job Seeker Badge,” though it has been discontinued.

This video shows how LinkedIn “Premium Job Seeker” works:

This link shows how to find LinkedIn Groups that will help with your job search:

atc_headshot_sonia_cerezo_125Sonia Cerezo, Certified Professional Career Coach

Dear Grant,

I would suggest you make sure your LinkedIn profile is spot on. Be sure you use all the space available in the summary section, and use industry keywords several times through your profile. It is also important to have recommendations and endorsements. When updating your profile be sure to turn off your notification button, once you are done then turn it back on.

The next step is to contribute, share or like something daily. This increases your opportunities to be found quicker.

The most important thing to remember, whether actively or passively looking for a job, you are in the driver’s seat don’t assume others will find you. LinkedIn as a research tool, so make the most of it. Once you have identified recruiters connect with them outside of LinkedIn either by calling or emailing them and tell them you are conducting a confidential job search.

If they only way to connect is via LinkedIn, send them an invitation to connect but don’t connect with them yet. Inform them about your discreet job search and include your email so you can connect offline, then send your resume and take it from there.

Remember recruiters are working on many positions they need to fill, so don’t feel bad about following up with them. Also, be sure to keep a list of the recruiters, with follow-up dates. Once again, this is your job search, so don’t be shy about touching base.

Wishing you the very best!

Thanks to the coaches who chimed in! To see past Ask the Coach questions and responses, click here!

Comments Off on Ask the Coach #7: LinkedIn Privacy Expectations?


Ask the Coach #6: What If No Job Search Advice Works?

September 22nd, 2017

See previous Ask The Coach questions and answers here.  This question is a little different in that it is a question from me! Here’s what I sent to my coaches:

The question comes from me this time. I was presenting at an outplacement office in San Francisco and had what I thought was a pretty awesome presentation. At the end of my presentation a guy in the back said, “Jason, I’ve done everything you have said. Networking, branding, etc.  But none of it works!  What do I do now?” He was clearly pretty jaded… but what do you do when the “normal advice” just doesn’t work?

How did the coaches respond?  Read on!

atc_headshot_heather_maietta_125Dr. Heather N. Maietta, Master Career Coach

This has happened to me before. Similar situation, similar reaction. To address the question to the crowd, I responded to the inquiry that as a career coach, I would need to work with the client directly to dissect his process in order to answer why the normal advice isn’t working. I did, in fact, leave my card with the workshop participant who was jaded by what he believed was an ineffective process. We began working together 1-1, and I offered my services pro bono because I do believe the process works if done well. We spent a month together walking through his process and there were in fact holes.

For instance, my client believed he was effectively following up with applications, but in fact, he wasn’t. He wasn’t taking extra steps to call or write an inquiry on the status of his applications, giving him an extra opportunity to brand and market himself. One other thing we identified, he wasn’t good at selling himself because he hadn’t learned HOW to see himself – how to brand himself effectively. We worked on that extensively.

In short, the process works. If there is a breakdown in the process, it is important to revisit the process, identify where the breakdown is occurring, and revise. Because we aren’t taught career dev strategy in formal education, it is assumed we just know how to do this effectively, when in fact it is quite difficult. When we can’t do it on our own, sometimes working with a professional is necessary.

atc_headshot_wendy_terwelpWendy Terwelp, Executive Career Coach, Author: Rock Your Job Search

I understand job searching can get discouraging, especially when you feel you’ve tried it all.

When coaching executive clients on job search, we take a deep dive into their job search activity. Here’s one scenario: One CFO said she’d tried everything: networking, online postings, LinkedIn, the works.

I said, “Everything? Have you documented all of your search activities?” Turned out, she’d not documented all her activities. This was a revelation in multiple ways. She realized she’d not been doing job search activities daily. It felt like a daily activity and it felt like she’d tapped all her contacts, but that wasn’t reality. She’d not formerly tracked where, when or to whom she sent resumes. Searching her emails, she also realized she’d not followed up on those jobs she truly wanted. And she discovered some untapped connections in her network. Together, we created a new career search action plan, which she put into an Excel spreadsheet (remember, she’s a CFO) AND we worked together on a new networking sound bite and strategy. She landed a dream gig just weeks afterward.

Take a deep dive into your career search activity. Are you tracking where, when, and to whom you’ve sent your resumes? Have you followed up on those jobs that truly interest you? What methods are you using for job search? Is it truly “everything?” If so, take another look at your approach. Are you tailoring your letters / resumes? Are you responding only to those online postings where you’re a near perfect match? Does your network understand what you do and the companies where you wish to work? If you need objective perspective on your job search activity, hire a career coach to assist you.

You got this!

atc_3_headshot_gavan_ambrosini_125Gavan Ambrosini, Executive Coach, Career Consultant

I have gotten this response a lot over the years from professionals frustrated with their search. My response is always the same: You are learning resiliency. Pace yourself, it is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s no fun being in your space and frustration and disappointment are unfortunately part of the ride. The bottom line is this-your strategy is not working. It’s not you—it’s not the marketplace, it is how you are presenting yourself to what is available.

Remember Henry Ford’s wise words, “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right.”

Here are a few tips to help turn the ship around:

  1. Not getting any calls on your resume?—it is not working. End. Of. Story. Time to change it up. Tailor it, or hire a professional. It will be money well spent.
  2. 2. Getting interviews, but not getting calls back or offers? There is something going on in the interview that is turning employers off. Reflect on your answers. Practice interviewing with someone. Get feedback on how you are presenting yourself. A few simple tweaks might be all you need.
  3. 3. Practice an attitude of gratitude: Sure the job search sucks, and you are getting jaded by the rejection, but there are many gifts in this time of your life. Ponder what those may be. People sense when you are in a bad space—and will be turned off by your negativity. Do what you can to turn it around and give off a positive attitude.
  4. 4. Acknowledge your frustration, and then take a break. Self-care is vital in this process. You need to rejuvenate yourself to keep your energy high: Take a hike. Visit the ocean or a river or a lake. Go for a walk. Read a book. Cook something or watch a movie. Bottom line is you need to take a break from the negative self-talk and seek out a new perspective by taking action by being intentionally mindful and present.

Keep going!

atc_3_headshot_craig_toadtman_125Craig B Toadtman, Job Search Consultant, Career Adviser, Coach, Executive Search Consultant

A professional baseball player, normally hitting over .300, was in a slump. He’d gone 1 for 22 over the past week or so, and was feeling the pressure. Did he give up? Absolutely not – he went to the batting cage twice daily and hit through it. He’s now back in the groove.

A ferry boat captain was carting cars across Lake Champlain between Vermont and New York was in midst of a transport on a cold, nasty day in December. A passenger asked him “Why do you do this on such a nasty day?” The Captain responded, “If you don’t go, you don’t get.”

So, what does this have to do with Job Seekers? You could very well feel like you’re in a slump. No responses, not interviews, no offers. This can go on for weeks at a time. Nothing is working. The process doesn’t work. So, what do you do? Don’t quit!

Hit the reset button. Rethink your strategy and examine all the steps you are taking. Are you hitting the right market? Does your résumé make you stand out from the competition? Are you really cultivating relationships throughout your network by calling, emailing, and calling again? Make the adjustments, and then go at it again. Refine your research, make the calls, write the emails. Go for it – big time. The process will ultimately work – you will find the right opportunity – hit the ball again, and again, and again. If you don’t go, you don’t get!

atc_headshot_denise_taylor_125Denise Taylor, Career Coach, Chief Inspiration Officer, the 50 Plus Coach

What I’d like you to do is stop and take a break from all your job search activity. Do anything except think about this topic for at least a week. Then take a different approach. Look at everything you have done and take an objective view.

Are you REALLY clear on what job you want? Do you have the right experience and skills to succeed in this role?

Are you clear on why you should get the job, rather than anyone else? How are you presenting this to the world?

Can you explain, succinctly on what you want and why?

Get feedback on your resume and cover letter from a professional and implement their suggestions. This could be via books of you are on limited funds.

And then I’d like you to monitor everything that you do. Keep track of the emails you send, the people you speak to and what happens next. Always follow up and think like a marketer with A&B testing. If one approach doesn’t work, try something else.

You may be desperate to get another job as you need money fast. This desperation can show in your voice and body language so take away some pressure by getting some money in via taking on a temp job or earning some money via Uber, people for hire etc.

Wishing you all the very best for your future success.

atc_3_headshot_perry_newman_125Perry Newman, Award Winning Resume Writer & LinkedIn Transformation Specialist, Certified Social Media Strategist, Certified Personnel Consultant

The first thing to do is honestly evaluate if is it YOU or the process that is not working. As I tell my clients, it is not what you do that creates success in a job search. It is all about how well you do it, how solid and modern are your tools, and how much passion and drive do you bring to the process every day.

So, in no particular order, explore the following and see what may require change or adjustment.

  1. Do you need an attitude adjustment? Those who generally ask this question network with a negative one-way attitude whereas successful networking requires always-remaining positive, letting people know you have something valuable to offer as much as you want something in return, and constant follow up and relationship building. Remember, 25-50 solid and in-close-contact LinkedIn and personal connections is of greater value than having a network of 500-1000 people many who you barley know.
  2. Are you looking for the right job/s? Many struggle in a job search because they are chasing the wrong opportunity when they are not a competitive candidate for hire. In other words, how well do you fit the position/s Hire Profile? Looking for the right position is half the battle.
  3. You think you established a brand, but is it generic & inclusive or is it truly a differentiator? Moreover, is it giving off mixed signals or the wrong message? Remember in a job search your resume and LinkedIn profile is not about the person you are, it is ALL about the person you want to be. Especially in a resume, many people come across as better qualified for a job other than the one they applied for.
  4. Do you approach your job search with a job seeker’s or an employer’s mentality. A successful search requires you analyze everything from an employer’s perspective rather than your own.
  5. The reason people may want to hire you are obvious and rise, like cream, to the top. However most hiring decisions will consider and give equal or more weight to why you are the wrong person for the job. Did you think like an employer and spend time trying to know why people may not want to hire you and what are you doing about it to change or negate their perception of you?
  6. Are your working to conduct your job search alone in a vacuum or do you have people helping and supporting you? A support system of some sort is a prerequisite for success
  7. Being a resume writer this is my favorite. Is your resume a poorly written, generic and out of style DIY document? If it is you have less than a 20% chance people will take you seriously and grant you an interview. The solution is getting it done over professionally.

atc_headshot_thea_kelley_125Thea Kelley, Job Search and Interview Coach, Author of Get That Job! The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Interview

Your situation is unique – as everyone’s is – but first let’s make sure you’ve really been nailing those best practices. Ask yourself:

  1. Am I doing targeted networking? The best practice is to develop a list of 40-50 target companies that you’re following and networking your way
  2. Am I doing several networking one-on- ones every week? Read a good book on how to do this, like The 2-Hour Job Search by Steve Dalton.
  3. How do you follow up after these meetings? Your contacts’ promise to “keep you in mind” is a pipe dream if you don’t report back on how you
    acted on their suggestions and your ongoing progress. Keep in touch.
  4. What about applying to jobs online? Is that the right strategy for you? If so, are you figuring out how to get your resume in front of the hiring
    manager, not just HR? Do you sometimes follow up with a phone call to the hiring manager? If so, what do you say, and what response do you
  5. Are your resume, LinkedIn profile and other materials really top-notch? If you wrote them on your own, or if you hired a low-priced writer, they probably aren’t.
  6. Are your phone screenings leading to in-depth interviews and moving on to offers? If not, you need to work on your interview skills, probably with expert feedback and coaching.
  7. Am I pursuing the right job? If you lack important skills or experience for the job you want to do, you may need to consider a “bridge job” that can serve as a stepping stone – or a different career path that’s a better fit.

If you have positive answers to all of these questions and you still don’t have a job after a few months, you definitely need a coach, ASAP. Your situation is unusual and requires skilled, individual attention.

atc_3_headshot_jeri_hird_dutcher_125Jeri Hird DutcherCertified professional and international resume writer

This isn’t easy to say or hear: Do it again. Keep doing it. Job search isn’t a one and done.

It takes persistence, determination, a good support system, and increasing skills. It can be difficult, frustrating, and at times hopeless, but we keep trying and keep learning new and better ways. You can also hire a coach to make sure your processes are effective and efficient.

atc_3_headshot_melvin_scales_125Melvin Scales, Senior Vice President, Meridian Resources

When I have had outplacement candidates say to me that nothing works I have learned to ask the question “let me see and hear what you are doing”. Many times, and in particular with networking messages, those messages are delivered in a way that truly does not work. For example, candidates will approach a networking contact and ask the fatal question” Are you hiring”? rather than saying “Based on what I have shared with you about my ideal role, do you know of anyone that may have an interest in my background?”

Think about the differences in the approach. The likely answer to the first option is “No I don’t” and the conversation ends. While the likely answer or answers to the second option is “Yes, I do ” or “I don’t right now”. When coached properly the candidate will be able to say “Would you be open to introducing them to me”? This has worked well for my candidates now over 20+years when they hit the “nothing works” wall.

atc_3_cheryl_lynch_simpson_125Cheryl Lynch Simpson, Career, Job Search & LinkedIn Coach & Master Resume Writer

If a job seeker has truly done everything right and still hasn’t received an offer, then chances are:

  • Their resume and/or branding are insufficient or off-target from what employers are seeking.
  • There are too few opportunities available in their field in the geographic areas in which they’re looking.
  • Their interview performance is missing the mark.
  • They’re being judged as too ____ (fill in the blank: old, inexperienced, experienced, educated, undereducated, etc.).
  • Their salary expectations are out of alignment with the market.

A job search is a bit of a numbers game in that, on average, it takes seven interviews to receive one job offer, but 200-300 job prospects in a given geographic area to yield those seven interviews. Therefore, if a job seeker is doing everything right, but there aren’t enough targeted opportunities in their preferred industries, their search may never get traction.

It’s important to point out, though, that the majority of job seekers likely aren’t doing everything right in their search. I hate to sound negative, but I come across perhaps one client every couple of years of whom this is true. The rest of the time, I find that the job hunter isn’t doing everything they should or isn’t doing it to the degree they should.

If you’re not networking enough or with the right people, or you’re not taking advantage of thought leadership opportunities, or you’re not targeting companies, or you’re not building effective relationships with contacts, then your job hunt will falter, unless you’re in an area where your targeted jobs are available in such numbers that, well, almost anyone in your field could get a job.

The good news is that it’s possible to diagnose what is and isn’t working in your job hunt and fix it.

atc_headshot_patti_romanowicz_125Patti Romanowicz, career consultant and job search specialist

First, I would want to quantify that statement and get more detail on his specific job search techniques, as well as see his resume. Is he attending networking events and racking up new connections? Or is he building and cultivating relationships with new as well as existing connections? It’s not just about how many people you know, it’s about quality of relationships. And in my experience, ongoing networking to grow these types of relationships is hard for most people. Does his resume serve him well and help him stand out? Is his mindset discouraging potential employers?

Perhaps his process just needs some tweaking and he could benefit from some one-on- one coaching.

Let’s say he has done all the traditional stuff, personal branding, hard networking, etc., and it’s just not working. Time to start thinking outside the box. Here are some thoughts:

  • Deliver your resume in a memorable way – with home-baked cookies, a plant, or something related to the company’s industry
  • Turn your static resume into a video resume, where you can personally sell yourself
  • Set up your own web site showcasing your skills, resume, and examples of your work
  • Update your skills or learn new applications that will make you more marketable to employers
  • Thoroughly research the specific companies you want to get into – identify a problem or challenge they might have and create a business proposal on how you can help solve it

Bottom line, any job search is a full time job. It takes time, commitment, and effort. It can be discouraging. But the right mindset, patience, and a little creativity may very well land you the job of your dreams!

atc_headshot_lucie_yeomans_125Lucie Yeomans, Certified Career Services Professional and Job Search Strategist

When clients tell me this, I start with a couple of important questions.

1) Are you truly doing everything you are told to do and doing it correctly?

  • Networking (not asking for a job, but targeted, strategic networking every week)
  • Understanding and promoting your personal brand/value proposition statement, (not what YOU think it is, but having a professional branding expert help you identify what that truly is)
  • CAR story development (not generic CAR stories, but targeted, strategic stories geared for a particular audience)
  • How well do you interview? How do people perceive you?

2) How long have you been networking and searching for a new job?

  • Timing is everything when you are looking for a new job. Just because you are ready to move on, doesn’t mean the perfect job is ready and waiting for you.
  • Patience is key here. It can take 6-12 months and sometimes longer depending on your level and industry.

If I learn that my client has done everything correctly and has given it sufficient time, then it’s time to ask a difficult third question.

3) Are your expectations realistic?

  • How long you have been out of work? For many decision makers, an employed candidate is more attractive than an unemployed candidate. What have you/are you doing with your time?
  • Are you pursuing the wrong dream/job? Do you meet 90+% of the requirements in the job postings you apply to? The ones who are getting interviews do.
  • Does your field favor younger, more up-to-date talent over experience? Unfortunately, ageism does exist. Can you keep up with your competition?

So, what do you do?

  • Seek out temporary or voluntary positions where your skills can be utilized.
  • Sign up for courses to learn what you lack.
  • Consider getting your MBA or other advanced degree if you see that it is preferred more often than not.

atc_3_headshot_ron_auerbach_125Ron Auerbach, Job search author, expert, and educator

The first thing to do is look at your execution. For example, let’s say you haven’t been networking. That’s not good! So it’s no wonder you’re not getting job leads and/or interviews. But suppose you have been networking and still don’t have any success with it. The issue now is whether you’re networking in the right way. So are you connecting with the right kinds of people? Or are you just doing it with “anyone and everyone?” The problem may not be networking, but the way in which you’re handling it. So if you’re not targeting those who can or might be able to help, it’s no wonder why you’re not getting success.

The same problem can happen with branding. You know how important it is to develop a brand. But are you branding yourself in the right way that will impress and attract recruiters and employers? For example, are you using the correct wording? Are you promoting your brand through the right channel(s)? Are you branding yourself in one way but conducting yourself in another manner?

So even if you have the best strategies in the world, they won’t be effective if you carry them out in the wrong way. And that’s what dooms lots of job seekers. They know what to do. Yet they fail to execute the mission in the proper way.

The job search is hard. Doing the right things, over and over, can feel fruitless. But if you are doing the right things, keep doing them. Thanks to the coaches for another great round! See previous questions here: Ask The Coaches.

Comments Off on Ask the Coach #6: What If No Job Search Advice Works?


Ask the Coach #5: How to Network in a New Area?

September 15th, 2017

This is part of a continuing series called Ask the Coaches, where YOU pose a question that I send to dozens of career experts, and they give their awesome responses. IF YOU ARE A CAREER EXPERT and want to be on the list, email me (contact link at bottom of any page).

This week’s question comes from Kathy:

I am struggling with networking. If you are in a new area, what is the best approach to making new contacts?

Great question… for many, they aren’t new in an area, but once they are in job search it sure can feel new.  The responses are below…

atc_3_headshot_gavan_ambrosini_125Gavan Ambrosini, Executive Coach, Career Consultant

It’s not easy breaking into a new area with few contacts and resources to lean on. Three things I recommend to get you started:

  1. Join a job seeking group–they pop up in different forms but the best and easiest way to find one is to check in with your local One-Stop Career Center ( and they should be able to point you in the right direction to one.  Other entities to check out are local churches, veterans associations and experience Experience Unlimited and to name a few. You will meet other professionals, and get on their radar for opportunities that might not be a fit for them but perfect for you. It also helps to know you are not alone–and to be a support to others on this journey.
  2. Join and/or attend association or industry events to increase your visibility and to get to know what is happening in your new town.  You don’t need to say you are “unemployed”, but that you are “working on some projects” (sure it may be yourself) and that you are looking at (not for) new opportunities in the area.  The idea is that you are always in charge of your job search and that everything is a possibility (not a need, want, desire).
  3. Volunteer somewhere.  It doesn’t have to be in your industry, but it will help to get you involved in the community and away from the computer and outside of your head.  Serving others less fortunate than you is the best way to get you into a positive mindset and with an attitude of gratitude. If you can find somewhere that can utilize your unique skills sets, even better!
Just don’t get yourself so busy, that you don’t have time to look for a job!  If it starts to feel like too much–ease up and pick and choose what events will give you the best return on your time.  It’s ok to take a break and go back to what you started or try something completely different–just as long as you are getting yourself out there meeting people. Remember, the goal is to expand your network and to make important connections along the way.
Good Luck!

atc_headshot_sonia_cerezo_125Sonia Cerezo, Certified Professional Career Coach

Dear Kathy,

I am not sure if you are looking for a new job in your new city or you simply want to meet others but either way, the process is the same.

First, start by reaching out to newcomer’s groups in your area.

Second, via, join groups you are interested in.

Third, become a member of the professional associations in your industry.

Fourth, going to church on Sunday, not only helps the spririt but it is a great way to meet others.

Fifth, volunteer either at your church or pick a nonprofit you feel strongly about.

But remember true networking is about meeting one person at a time, so be intentional about getting to know others.

I hope these suggestions help.

Wishing you the very best in your new career!

atc_headshot_jenna_hartwell_125Jenna Hartwell, Director of Veterinary Career Services & Professional Development

Excellent timing for this question – networking has been on my mind a lot this week!

Before sharing some ideas, I think it’s extremely important to first mention what networking is NOT.

Networking is not about the number of people in your contact list.

Networking is not being fake.

Networking is not about being an extrovert.

Networking is about trust.

It is about creating a community of people around you who want to invest in your success (and believe that, if given the opportunity, you would do the same for them). From those trusting relationships we build our network and from building that network we develop a positive reputation which, in turn, fosters more trust. It’s a cycle. See:


Keeping all of this in mind, here are some practical ideas:

  1. Start with the people in your life who already know and trust you. You never know whose uncle’s cousin’s sister in law lives in your city or is knowledgeable about your field.
  2. Join affinity groups through or your local chamber of commerce. These don’t have to be in your career area – they could also be for a hobby or interest! Several of my friends have built new networks through the World Adult Kickball Association.
  3. Find alumni from your college/university through LinkedIn or your school’s alumni association (call the office – they would love to help you!)
  4. If you’re someone who isn’t at your best in in-person situations; use the phone! In an age where so many of us are bound to email, a call can be refreshing and a nice middle ground for people who prefer to network from home.
  5. Engage your “nag” – find that overly honest person in your life who pushes you to do the things you don’t want to. There is nothing a nag wants to hear more than “I need your help.” Schedule a weekly call with them about who you met since your last conversation.
  6. Find the local chapter of your professional association. When I first moved back to North Carolina, the people at the NC Association of Colleges and Employers quickly became my second family!
  7. Focus on your successes no matter how small. A case of the ‘shoulds’ coupled with negative self talk lead to spending the evening on the couch (not networking).
  8. Take a class at your local university.
  9. I love the forums on Every city has their own unique culture and learning from the locals is a great way to find places to network.
  10. Volunteer.,, or even your local non-profit association can help you find places to help yourself while you’re helping someone else.

atc_headshot_adele_leah_125Adele Leah, Career Wingwoman whose mission is to help careers fly and put people on the path to career happiness and success

Leverage the power of LinkedIn, whether it is a new area in terms of location or in terms of industry sector you are looking to move into.

LinkedIn is like attending a big networking event with more than 400 million users, it’s the largest professional social network. With the various functions, it’s a great tool to find companies, people, and jobs in any location and industry. You can reach out and connect, start conversations, network and build up new contacts. There are also various groups you can join which is another great way to join new communities and expand your network.

The important thing is that you have your profile up to date and really showcasing who you are, what you do and the value you bring. People want to see clearly and quickly what you are about and why they should connect and network with you. Not having an updated and complete profile is like turning up at a networking event in your pajamas and mumbling. Not many people would want to engage and talk with you! Your summary is key this is your introduction, think about what you would say to someone if you met them in person about who you are and what you do. This is what you want to put there

Around 99% of people fail to optimize their profile and aren’t using LinkedIn to their advantage so be in the 1% and have a profile that really stands out and then your ability to connect and network gets a whole lot easier.

Also, it’s important when you reach out you send an introduction with the connect message giving a bit of detail about why you want to connect.

Part of the work I do as a career strategist, coach and mentor is to help people to stand out and shine with their LinkedIn profile as well as understanding how to use it to its full potential to develop their personal brand, grow their network and increase their career opportunities. LinkedIn is for your career life, not just a new job.

atc_headshot_wendy_terwelpWendy Terwelp, Executive Career Coach, Speaker, Author: Rock Your Network® for Job Seekers

As the author of Rock Your Network® for Job Seekers, I recommend the following steps for Kathy and others who are newly relocated:

  1. Determine your goal for networking. This impacts the type of groups you will explore and join. If your networking goal is for job search, you’ll want to explore area job search groups. Additionally, I recommend joining a local chapter of your professional association. For example, PRSA if you’re in PR; ATD, if you’re in training and development; ASQ if you’re in quality management, and so on. Check out LinkedIn’s “groups” tab to see if there are relevant groups for your networking goals in your area.
  2. Update your LinkedIn profile with a current professional photo, summary, and experience. This way, when you’re exploring connections and groups, people can easily associate your name with a face.
  3. Create a sound bite you can modify and use when meeting new people. Instead of, “I’m between jobs right now.” When asked, “So, Kathy, what do you do?” you’ll have a polished sound bite you can share that’s positive and focused. (Chapter 5 in my book has a formula you can repurpose.)
  4. Check out the local Chamber of Commerce. Typically, they’ll have Business After 5 or other networking events you can attend. One of my clients who’d recently relocated had no local network. She volunteered for her Chamber of Commerce and updated their website. She had a master’s degree in information technology. The chamber wrote a press release about it, highlighting her expertise. She was introduced to several business leaders in the area and was hired by one of them to run their IT department.
  5. Volunteer for a cause you believe in. If you have a tight budget and are unemployed, one thing you do have is time. Volunteering demonstrates your leadership skills, you’ll meet people interested in the same cause as you, and often business leaders are involved in those efforts. This gives you a chance to talk about something you enjoy and are passionate about, which makes networking easy and natural.

Finally, don’t forget your new neighbors, friends and family who may have connections in your area, local sports events, farmers markets, and more. When you have your polished sound bite, it’s much easier to start a conversation with those you meet.

These tips will help you get started. I recommend making a networking plan to make regular progress toward your goals and positive connections with your local market. You got this!

atc_3_headshot_perry_newman_125Perry Newman, Certified Social Media Strategist, Certified Personnel Consultant, Resume Writer, and LinkedIn Transformation Specialist

Kathy, this is a great question and one I’m often asked to respond to. Ask anyone in career services (and in sales as well) and we will all agree the single most important component of success is making and staying in contact with people you know and those you want to know, both in and outside your current or desired field or profession. This is why I am a proponent of reaching out to make a minimum of three contacts a day. Imagine this – 3×30 = 90 people you reach out to every month and 3×365 = 1095 people you now have in your network in the course of one year. This is what serious and successful networkers do!

This said, networking in a new city is more challenging and requires additional effort to yield tangible results. In addition to standard Networking 101 techniques, you will need to consider more unconventional and perhaps less comfortable than you prefer measures. At the outset, you’ll also need to make a modest financial investment in yourself, if you have not already done so. The first investment is to create a catchy business card to hand out to the people you’ll meet to remember you and know how to contact you. I use and recommend Vistasprint, a low cost high quality option. The second investment is, I recommend a low cost or free website and/or blog (check out and WordPress). Here you can showcase your resume and bona fides, and have a URL on your business card along with your fully optimized LinkedIn profile page URL so people can check you out, follow you, connect with you, and refer you to others.

Now, here are networking suggestions in a new city and they work in your hometown as well.

  1. Step out of your comfort zone. For many this means being less timid and much more sociable. Go to a sports bar for Saturday College football and Sunday and Monday night pro football (or whatever sport you enjoy or is in season) and start a conversation with the people around you rather than sitting like a wallflower and waiting to be approached by others. You can also go to a movie, a concert or the theater, a museum or a lecture by your lonesome and strike up a conversation with the people you meet on line and at the event. You never know what will happen—or whom you will meet—when you step outside of your comfort zone.
  2. Take up or continue a hobby. Find those things you want to do but your pocketbook or inner voice often says Nah. For example, join a business district or local gym or health club. Take a Yoga, Spin or kickboxing class. Join a flag football or softball league. Try a new restaurant or bar in the business district. Whatever you do, steel your nerves and walk into a room or place full of new people.
  3. Go on Dates. For those who are single, going on dates is a great way to meet new people—even if you don’t hit it off romantically, you could strike up a friendship. If you’re male, ask a woman out and don’t stop asking if you’re rejected. Women, you too can ask a man out. So get out of your comfort zone, take a flyer, and accept an offer or ask out a nice guy or gal, even if he or she is not someone you’d ideally choose. Be up front and say “I’m new to this city and I’d like to get to know you and your friends.” If you’re seeing, someone expand your horizons and get creative: Branch out from your neighborhood and go places where there are crowds. When on line at a movie, ballgame, or anywhere you go strike up a conversation with the people around you and let you partner know why are so friendly to strangers.
  4. Volunteer: So many causes you can support need your help where you can spend time doing something you’re passionate about. Try to keep it close to your field of work if possible. Political clubs are also a good place to volunteer and network and meet influential people in a new city.
  5. Seek out fellow alumni and former co-workers. Search fellow college and even HS alumni on LinkedIn. Then reach out and connect with them, tell them what your connection is and you want to speak with them. If they listed a phone number, take the initiative and give them a call. The same for fellow coworkers who may be in your new city or have contacts on LinkedIn who live where you are now living.
  6. Take chances and say YES: If you get invited to places or events, where there are a lot of people that are not in your wheelhouse or comfort zone say YES. This may be an invite to go bowling, dancing or skiing, to go to a lecture or attend a C&W, Rock or Classical music concert to name a few. In other words, make it your policy to socially say YES rather than to always say No or giving an excuse.
  7. Sign up and attend classes: Continuing education in your field or something related (or even in something that interests you) is a great place and way to meet likeminded people who you can easily start a conversation with. They are also likely to have a network of people you can tap into.
  8. Join Toastmasters: This has a double benefit. Aside from meeting career minded people who are out to advance their career, you will have an opportunity to improve your public speaking ability and hone your business persona.
  9. Check out Meetup in your new locale. This allows you to meet people in different walks of life who share common interests with you. Take a chance and get involved, after a while, you will meet some great and helpful people.
  10. Join your local area LinkedIn group and professional associations. The members of these groups are people you could and should be reaching out to, and most sponsor networking events you can and should attend.
  11. Faith Based Networking. For some this is a first and natural step in networking in a new city. For those who are unaffiliated, lapsed religiously, agnostic or atheists this can be uncomfortable. However most houses of worship and faith based organizations have tremendous resources they are willing to share with newcomers in a city and they can be exceedingly helpful in picking you up when you feel alone, down, lost, home sick or hopeless.

atc_3_headshot_elvabankinsbaxter_125Elva Bankins Baxter, Certified Master Coach

Kathy, one of the best approaches to making new connections is to join a group or volunteer to work where you have common interests and are passionate about a cause.  If you have interests in some type of sport, exercise, are a music lover or an avid reader of books or bird watcher, there are likely to be groups of people in your area with the same interest (s) that you have.  Many of these groups meet on a regular basis in your area.

You are in luck if you are on Facebook.  There is an “Events” tab that appears under the “more” tab on your home page.  Check this out because by clicking on this tab, you will find a list of events that are happening in your area that may be of interest to you.  I found Fall Festival train rides to watch the Fall Foliage in October, a few jazz events, a tour of vintage homes, a few plays at local theatres and book clubs…all in my local area.   And, the best part is that it lists my Facebook friends who are planning to attend.

Once you attend one of these events or contact the leader of the group, the networking becomes easier.

Not on Facebook, try your local newspaper.  There are always listings of what’s happening in your new area.  If possible, bring a neighbor or co-worker with you.

If you are in a career transition, perhaps there is a local Five O’clock Club meeting that you can attend. Simply “Google” the name and view their website and attend a meeting. The key is to attend these events and making those connections.  Don’t forget to connect with everyone you meet on LinkedIn and your number of connections will increase greatly!

All the best and happy networking!

atc_3_headshot_rich_grant_125Rich Grant, Online career course instructor for Peak-Careers

Unless you have family or friends in a new area when relocating, networking can be a challenge. If you don’t know anybody in your new community, the best approach to making new contacts is by searching on LinkedIn for that location. You might be surprised to find that you have a connection who knows someone in the new area. I was surprised when I searched on LinkedIn for “Cheyenne.” I’ve lived in New England all my life, and I chose the most obscure location for illustration purposes. I don’t know anybody who lives in, or has ever lived in, Wyoming. However, on LinkedIn, I found that a former co-worker of mine knows an executive director of a prominent non-profit organization. If I were moving to Cheyenne, I’d call John and ask him to introduce me to this individual. I would then call the person in Cheyenne to introduce myself, and that John suggested I contact him since I’m planning to move to Cheyenne. Being a friend of a friend, I have no doubt he would be helpful and make my transition much smoother. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, “Don’t search for jobs; search for people.”

atc_3_headshot_ron_auerbach_125Ron Auerbach, Job search author, expert, and educator

I was in this exact situation when I moved from the East Coast to the West Coast. So I know what it’s like to have to make contacts in the new location. Now one thing I had done is this. Once I knew where I planned on moving, I took an extended vacation to visit and stay in the new location for a while. And while there, I had worked with some local temp agencies to gain some employment. This helped put me in contact with companies in the new area. And gave me an opportunity to meet some people there. So I was able to gain some local work experience ahead of my move.

Another thing one can do when they have relocated is join local groups. For example, there may be a local networking group for job seekers in your particular field or just in general. This is a nice way to interact with people in the local community who may be able to throw you some leads. And/or introduce you to others who may be able to help out.

You can also use a local religious house of worship. So becoming part of a local congregation will also help put you in contact with locals in that area. And allow you to let them know you’re seeking employment. They might know somebody who can help. Or take your resume and pass it along where they happen to work.

One more way to network is visiting the local unemployment office. Depending upon the area, there may be more than one. That’s the case where I live. Other places just have a single office. Either way, it gives you a chance to interact with some local job seekers. And you can meet with a local counselor there to look over your resume, do a mock interview, and help you with companies in the area.

It’s also pretty common for unemployment offices to host local events. So they may have one or more employers coming into the office to meet with potential new hires. Picking up a calendar of events will let you know what’s upcoming. And there may be postings of upcoming job events posted in the office.

Visiting a local park or other public place is another networking opportunity.. For example, you may be sitting on a park bench next to somebody and strike up a conversation. That gives you the chance to let them know you’re new to the area and are looking for employment.

The same goes for visiting local coffeehouse or juice bar. It’s very common to meet new people in warm and comfortable settings like this. So it’s easy enough to converse with others who might be able to help. Or may take your resume and pass it along to where they work or somebody they know. FYI, it’s pretty common for recruiters and hiring managers to meet with people in this kind of place. And work on going through applications and resumes. I’ve seen this many times at various coffeehouses in my area. And have struck up conversations with those people.

The bottom line here is this. Look to places where there are lots of people around with whom you can strike up conversations. And where it’s more relaxed so people are more willing to open up and meet new people. Also take advantage of the local unemployment office and library for upcoming job-related events. And hit the local employment agencies for some work, even if it’s temporary. Lastly, make sure you are always armed with your resume! So keep a stack with you to hand out at a moments notice.

atc_headshot_victoria_crispo_125Victoria Crispo, College and Professional Outreach Manager at Idealist Careers

I find that the very word “networking” tends to bring out nerves and apprehension among most job seekers. My first suggestion is to throw the word “networking” out and look at it as relationship-building, and then approach it as you would any new relationship. Also, since you’re in a new area, it’s a great opportunity to do double-duty: you’ll likely want to check out the “hot spots” in your new locale, get a feel for the local culture and vibe, and discover activities that fuel your interests…and you can meet people who can become new companions and also serve as professional connections.

You may want to join a local club, take a fitness class, or sign up for a “sip and paint” event! The main thing is that you select activities that you are interested in and that allow for conversation– and make it a point to say hello and introduce yourself to people! When the pressure to network for a job (or to advance your career) is off, you’ll be able to relax, enjoy yourself, and present the “real you”! These conversations will naturally turn towards what your new friends do for a living, and since you’ve already built a rapport, it will feel less like “networking”.

atc_3_headshot_craig_toadtman_125Craig Toadtman, Job Search Consultant, Career Adviser, Coach, Executive Search Consultant

Establishing relationships in a new area can often be very challenging. Your “pirate” behavior must be in full force to find the treasured contacts. Put bluntly, find all the doors, wherever they may be. Your sources for networking are many, so, here are a few options:

  • LinkedIn – Be sure to check your profile to make certain your profile and settings (particularly security and privacy) are up-to-date and crisp. Then begin the process of expanding your network.

I suggest entering the city of your new location in the “search” field of LinkedIn. Scroll through the resulting names of potential contacts and identify people with similar interests, people from potential employers, and people with shared connections. Pay attention to shared connections. If you are looking for a new position, click “Jobs” to search for openings in your new city. Click “Work” then “Groups” and review appropriate groups to review for possible connections.

  • Local Professional Associations and Groups – Google searches can reveal a lot of information about professionals in your area. The local library is also a great resource.
  • Churches, Temples, Mosques, etc. – Many places of worship provide opportunities for like professionals to meet informally.
  • Volunteer – You would be amazed how quickly you could grow your network by volunteering at the local library, hospital, or other public organizations needing help.

As you expand your network, perhaps the biggest challenge will be to remember names, so be sure to have note-taking tools with you!

atc_3_cheryl_lynch_simpson_125Cheryl Lynch Simpson, Career, Job Search & LinkedIn Coach & Master Resume Writer

Hi Kathy, thank you for sharing your question. Assuming you want to land a job in the area you are new to, here are some suggestions that will help boost your networking.

Offline Networking

  • Search Google and local newspaper events calendars for job clubs in your new area. These face-to-face groups specialize in local networking and will help you to quickly build regional connections. Such groups are generally sponsored by area churches or funded by not-for-profits and/or United Way.
  • If you cannot find these groups through an online search, check for an Information & Referral Service in your area. This service is generally funded by United Way and exists to help you find not-for-profit resources. A quick call should prove beneficial.
  • Attend local events sponsored by professional associations relevant to your career field. You can usually attend several before you are required to join a local chapter.
  • Consider joining local chapters of professional, civic, and social organizations to help you meet a variety of folks in multiple industries.
  • Sign up for a library card, go to the local library’s web page, and find a listing of their database/electronic resources. One invaluable resource for job seekers that is free to use is ReferenceUSA, a database of companies in the US and Canada. By conducting one or more searches via ReferenceUSA, you can identify local companies you may wish to target. Note that ReferenceUSA is only available via your library’s subscription and that you may be required to pay a modest fee for printing or downloading data.

Online Networking Suggestions:

  • On LinkedIn, make sure you search for and join as many local, regional, or state groups as you can. Since LinkedIn now allows you to join up to 100 groups, this should be easy to do. This will help you cultivate local connections. Look for geographically relevant groups via the search bar in the upper left.
  • You can also search for people on LinkedIn to connect with in your local area using the same process. Additionally, you can search for potential connections in the local companies you identified via ReferenceUSA.
  • Don’t assume that the offline or online networks you already possess are useless just because you’ve moved to a new area. Take the time to alert everyone you know of your move and request suggestions of people to contact in your new area or people who may know someone in your new area.

Once upon a time, job seekers used to complain that they couldn’t network because they didn’t know anyone in their new area. LinkedIn has completely eliminated this concern — you can leverage it to build a local or regional network from scratch within weeks if you stay focused.

  • Conducting the LinkedIn searches mentioned above, make it a goal to identify and invite 25+ people each week to connect with you.
  • Join as many industry-specific LinkedIn groups as you can — the more the better. LinkedIn only allows you to request to join 10 at a time, so you will need to keep checking your status in order to progress toward your goal of joining 100 groups.

Make it a point to get to know your new connections face-to-face and/or via LinkedIn. DO NOT make networking requests unless and until you do so. Networking is not a drive-by activity — it requires an investment of time, interest, and energy to get to know people first so they want to help you.

Another great roundup!  Email me ( if you have questions you’d like me to put in front of my list of career experts! See previous questions/answers here.



Ask the Coach #4: How do you do a confidential job search?

September 8th, 2017

This is the fourth question we’ve put in front of a bunch of job search coaches and resume writers… to see the others in this series, click on any Ask The Coaches.  This question comes from… someone confidential :) K asks:

How do you keep your current employer from finding out about your current job search?

atc_3_headshot_craig_toadtman_125Craig B Toedtman, Job Search Consultant, Career Adviser, Coach, Executive Search Consultant

Our typical client is seeking an opportunity on a confidential basis. It is our firm belief that while the initial process can be kept confidential, ultimately, you will have to assume that your employer could find out.

There is major preparation that can be done prior to risking public exposure.


At this point, you are ready to move forward by making direct contacts to individuals identified in your initial research. Posting your résumé and responding to posted opportunities can also commence. This is the time when another person is now aware that you are seeking an opportunity outside of your current employer. You can explain to contacts that you are conducting this on a confidential basis; however, there is now risk involved. You cannot assume total confidentiality once you have brought another person into the process.

Utilizing outside professionals could extend the risk of public exposure; however, there are still no guarantees.

  • Career Services Professional: could be contracted to present initial information to potential opportunities by providing your background without your name and contact information. Once your name is revealed to the potential employer, confidentiality could be broken, and you should assume that your employer could find out.
  • Recruiters: many recruiters submit candidates without identifying the name or contact information. However, you can’t be totally positive, and your name could be floating in the job market without your being aware. There is risk that your confidential search has gone public.

Ideally, if you have reached the point that confidentiality could be breached, depending upon your relationship with your superior, it might be wise to make her/him aware that you are in fact seeking new opportunities. There could be great concern when doing so; however, there are times when this is the best professional way to move your career forward. In some cases, the supervisor may even help with your search!

atc_3_headshot_perry_newman_125Perry Newman, Certified Social Media Strategist, Certified Personnel Consultant, Resume Writer, and LinkedIn Transformation Specialist

How to keep your current employer from finding out about your current job search is a great question.

There are several telltale signs, and some self-destructive actions, that hint at people undertaking a job search while still employed.  Here are my Top 10.

  1. Be positive on the job. Disgruntled and unmotivated employees are generally looked upon as ones who are, or should be, looking for a new position.
  2. Don’t share your job search with people while you are on the job, and not with people who you do not have a confidential relationship with.” Loose lips sink ships.”
  3. Avoid all job search activities at work i.e. making-receiving phone calls, doing computer job searches, sending-receiving emails, text messages and faxes on or from company equipment.
  4. Let recruiters know not to call you at work and especially not to leave a VM on your work phone..
  5. Try to schedule interviews (or have them scheduled for you) in advance so, if needed, you can ask for time off in advance. Make people know your preference is to take interviews before or after hours.
  6. Try not to be bullied into taking sudden and /or excessive unexplained time off in the middle of the workday. If it means missing an interview this may be a better option.
  7. If you do need to take time off for an interview, do not make up a lie to cover yourself. Worst is a doctor’s appointment. If it is checkable, do not use it, you will be caught in a lie. Just say a personal situation came up that needs immediate attention and it is personal.
  8. Don’t keep you current resume on your office computer.
  9. If or when you update your LinkedIn profile turn off the active status and share changes.
  10. When in doubt use common sense  to make a decision and think like an employer and not an employee.

atc_3_headshot_lorraine_rise_125Lorraine RiseCareer Coach, Resume Writer and Columnist for

This is a very common question among job seekers. If you are using LinkedIn in your search (which I would highly recommend), you can privately signal to recruiters that you are open to new opportunities. You can do this by clicking on the Jobs tab on the top menu. Then, scroll halfway down the page and click on Update Career Interests. Fill out the brief list of questions and hit the “On” button. This will notify only those with a LinkedIn Recruiter account that you are open to new opportunities. Nothing is published on your public profile. As an added benefit, LinkedIn says that turning this feature on will increase your profile’s search rankings.

One more tip is to go into your LinkedIn privacy settings and adjust them so that only you can see your list of connections. For example, if you and your boss are connected on LinkedIn, you may not want your boss to see that you have been connecting with recruiters or people who work at your company’s competitors. Good luck!

atc_headshot_lucie_yeomans_125Lucie Yeomans, 6X Certified Career Services Professional and Job Search Strategist

There is no 100%, fool-proof way of keeping your employer from catching on that you are in a job search. However, there are 5 very important tips you need to follow to lessen the chances of your employer finding out.

  1. Do NOT post your resume on a public job board. Many HR departments and decision makers use these public job boards to find candidates to fill vacancies. Don’t be one of those job seekers who gets caught searching for a job this way. If you see a job you want to apply for, go directly to the company website instead.
  2. Do turn off your LinkedIn “Sharing profile edits” in your privacy settings. If you are updating your LinkedIn profile to appeal to recruiters, make sure you turn off this setting to avoid waving “I’m searching for a new job” flags in front of your employer. LinkedIn is an excellent tool to use when you are secretly job hunting, but you need to be cautious and strategic about how you use it.
  3. Use your own personal computer, phone, and time to search for a job. Some IT departments are watching what you do.
  4. Do NOT tell your colleagues, customers, vendors, etc. you are searching for a new job, unless they are someone you trust with your life. Face it, you are trusting them with your life with that information. Subtle, yet over-zealous ladder climbers have done far less to get ahead.
  5. If you do have an interview during regular business hours, do NOT come to work dressed differently than you typically do. Bring a change of clothes.

atc_3_headshot_jeri_hird_dutcher_125Jeri Hird DutcherCertified professional and international resume writer

A confidential job search is difficult because of competing priorities: An effective job search depends on networking, and a confidential job search depends on secrecy.

The most important strategy is to conduct a targeted job search that focuses on a small number of specific companies you have chosen because they are a good fit for you professionally, geographically, financially, and culturally. This immediately cuts the public exposure of your search.

Further, here are some things you can do to protect the confidentiality of your search:

  1. Forget about posting your resume to job boards. That is the quickest way to tell the world of your search. Instead, choose carefully those you tell about your job search. If you must share this information, ask the person you tell to keep your search confidential.
  2. Make small, incremental changes to your LinkedIn profile in the months ahead of your search.
  3. Know whom you’re networking with. Is the hiring manager at the company you’re targeting best friends with your boss? It’s possible. Use LinkedIn to find out.
  4. Create a confidential resume and confidential cover letter to protect your identity.
  5. Ask people you contact at your prospective new company, such as those with whom you interview, to honor your confidentiality.
  6. Do not use any company resources, including phones and computers, in your search. Conduct your search activities on personal time, even if it means taking a vacation day. If this creates difficulties in scheduling interviews, assure your prospective employer that you respect your current employer and do not wish to have your job search infringe on work time and resources. This displays integrity and should be honored by any employer worth considering.

atc_headshot_heather_maietta_125Dr. Heather N. Maietta, Master Career Coach

Because K is asking this question, I’m assuming she wants to keep her search completely confidential from start to finish. Here are 10 points to consider:
  1. Be a model employee: The world is small. Same-industry job searches are even smaller. When the time comes to turn in your resignation, you want to leave your current employer with as much dignity and integrity as possible. And you never know when you’ll need to call on somebody for support or when you’ll run into someone at a networking event.
  2. Be mindful of who you tell you’re on the market: You need to network it’s the pillar of any job search. Use your best judgement and air on the side of caution when you let your colleagues know you’re searching. This also might require you to accept the fact that there will be certain people you’re unable to reach out to for support because of their affiliation with your current company or simply because you can’t trust them to keep your search confidential.
  3. Tell potential employers and recruiters you are conducting a confidential search: Most professionals will appreciate and honor your request.
  4. Don’t job search at work: Everything that’s done on your work computer is property of your employer, and likely accessible by your current employer. On the flipside, potential employers recognize when you were searching for a new job on company time. This is probably not the first impression you want to make.
  5. Avoid applying to blind positions or posting your resume on job boards: You run the risk of applying for a position within your own company if you actively apply to blind positing. Same goes for posting your resume on job boards. If you’re resume is visible to all, it is visible to your current employer.
  6. Skip the job fairs: It may not be your direct supervisor, but there is a chance someone in your company is actively recruiting at the fair, especially if you’re searching within current industry.
  7. Watch what you discuss on social media: This tip is pretty self-explanatory although needed to be included. Assume nothing you post on social media will stay private.
  8. If you’re not an avid networker, increase outreach gradually: There is a chance signs of uncharacteristic activity will raise flags, drawing attention to your search.
  9. Make sure your family knows you’re searching confidentially: I can’t tell you how many times a family member has accidentally divulged information I’d rather have preferred to keep confidential. It is likely your family will be aiding your search, so be clear with them upfront that as they’re reaching out to their contacts on your behalf, they’re communicating your search is confidential.
  10. Put together a thoughtful reference page: if potential employer does call references, you will need these people to vouch for you at the same time being discreet when they find out you’re in an active search.

Moving up and out of a job is acceptable and more frequent than ever. At the end of the day, if you’re thoughtful about how you execute your search, you’ll be more successful in moving from your current role to a new and hopefully more satisfying position!

atc_3_headshot_ron_auerbach_125Ron Auerbach, Author of Think Like an Interviewer: Your Job Hunting Guide to Success

A lot of people are fearful of their employers finding out about their job search. One major fear is that once an employer discovers you’re looking to get out, they’ll cut you loose ahead of time. Another fear is once your employer finds out you’re looking for other employment, they may treat you worse. Something that could lead to your making errors on the job. And this will hurt your chances of a positive recommendation. So the fear among many job seekers like “K” is very real. What can you do to shade your job search from your employer? Here are some steps you can take.

  • Do not discuss your looking to leave or seeking additional employment
    Keep everything to yourself to prevent the accidental or intentional leaking of your looking for work. Even if you have very close friends in the office who you know you can trust, the problem is they may be caught off-guard. Or be swamped or preoccupied with something else and let it slip. A risk you do not want to chance! So live by the adage, Loose lips sink ships!
  • Be very careful with postings on social media
    More and more employers are using social media to keep tabs on employees. So you want to make sure that anything you’re posting or responding to on social media sites will not even remotely hint of your looking for work. Remember, even if you forgot and deleted the post(s), it still exists out there. And for all you know, it was already seen. So you must be extremely careful with your social media activities. This includes your online profile(s). You do not want your profile to show that you’re looking for work. Remember, many will just look at your headline and make judgments and/or decisions based upon this. So make sure your headline does not say or even hint of your being involved in a job search. The same applies to the rest of your profile. You must be consistent here in hiding your seeking employment in both sections.
  • Don’t use work for your job search
    A big mistake is conducting your job search from your work phone, computer, and/or email. The last thing you want is any record of your seeking work elsewhere from within the company. So do all your job hunting from outside the company! This includes not using your company’s Internet connection. So do not connect your personal smartphone, tablet, and/or laptop to your company’s Internet or WiFi connection. Your goal is to avoid any records of your job search on the company’s end.
  • No interviews from the office
    You don’t want anybody overhearing or walking in during a phone interview or inquiry. So this relates to what I had said above, hide your job hunting activities from prying eyes and ears! And do not give out your work phone or email to prospective employers and recruiters. They should only have your personal email address and phone number(s).
  • Behave normally
    A big tip-off to somebody’s looking for work is their being dressed out of the ordinary and/or behaving differently. So you want to make sure you’re looking and acting the same as you normally would at work. This way, nobody will suspect anything is odd or strange. Also make sure you’re not carrying or bringing anything that sticks out as out of the ordinary. You want to make sure you’re behaving completely normal to avoid raising suspicions.
  • Schedule interviews outside work hours
    Do your best to schedule any interviews outside your hours of work. So if you can do it when you’re done, great! The same with having them before you need to arrive at your job or on your day(s) off. These will avoid your needing to take time off from work to meet with employers. And let you just continue on as though everything is perfectly normal. I’ve done interviews during my lunch. So that’s another possible time for you to schedule an interview without raising any eyebrows in the office.When you’re looking for work, it’s also a good idea to save your personal days, sick days, and vacation time for interviews. So ahead of your need to look for work, begin saving up as many of these days as you can. This way, if you’re not able to schedule interviews in your off-time, you’ll be able to use up these days for interviews during working hours. And do your best to have as many employer interviews during the day. This way, you may be able to minimize how much time off from work you’ll need.
  • Don’t update job search materials at work
    You do not want to be working on or updating your resume anyplace in the office. Or putting together job search materials that will be used during interviews. Just do all these things away from the office when nobody there will be able to notice. So don’t use your personal office, if you have one. And not using the lunchroom, break room, or conference room. Your entire job search activities should be made from locations away from the company where nobody from there will catch you.
  • Avoid using employees of the company as employment references
    You don’t want to risk somebody at the office being contacted by a prospective employer or recruiter. And having somebody else possibly overhearing the conversation. You also want to prevent your reference(s) from accidentally letting it slip they did a reference check for you. What about using one or more former employee as references? Some job seekers will do this to prevent their employer from discovering their using current employees as references. But don’t forget that even former employees can still be in contact with others in the company. So it is possible a former employee you’re using as a reference let it slip to somebody currently working there. Now you just got caught looking for employment somewhere else! So my professional advice is not to use anybody with your current employer as a reference. This way, you’re keeping everything under wraps. And prospective employers and recruiters will understand.

atc_3_headshot_gavan_ambrosini_125Gavan Ambrosini, Executive Coach, Career Consultant

Great question!  And one that has a lot of folks worried as they scan the horizon for new opportunities.  If you are searching on LinkedIn–there is a way to let recruiters know you are looking but without alerting your employer. You can go to your settings and turn on a button just for recruiters to let them know you are open to new opportunities.

It’s hard to be an actor when you are looking elsewhere and try to keep your game face on at work–but in the end, you are probably doing your employer a favor by leaving.  Try not to call in sick to make an interview–but do use your PTO to schedule needed “appointments” and if possible schedule them later in the afternoon or early morning so as to not disrupt your day at work. When you can, take the entire day off!  That way you can fully focus on the new opportunity and not have to worry about giving an Academy Award-winning performance when you go to work.

One last thing, it is not always a bad thing if an employer finds out you are looking.  If they want to keep you, they may entice you to stay with a promotion, more pay or other goodies.  Everything becomes a negotiation if they happen to approach you with the news they know you are wanting to make a move.  If they don’t outright ask you if you are looking, they might “check in” to see how things are going and to see if you need additional support in any way.  Thank them for asking that question, and then think long and hard of what it might take to keep you there. Then would be the time to ask for whatever you want to keep you there.  It might be no–but at least they will be clear of what is motivating you to leave.  If they let on they know you are looking but don’t offer anything to keep you around–take it as a sign that it is time to go anyway.  Either way, maintain a positive attitude throughout your search, and always keep up your professionalism. You never know when you will cross paths again, and you always want to leave on a high note.  After all–no hard feelings–it’s just business, right?

atc_headshot_frank_pomata_125Frank Pomata, Labor Tech/Suffolk County Dept. of Labor

In today’s over-connected world where everyone’s business is so out there for the world to see, including our employers conducting a confidential search can be challenging.    That being said, one can still discreetly conduct a job search without overtly alerting one’s employer.

  • Avoid a drop off in enthusiasm, participation and productivity as these can be tell-tale signs to an experienced supervisor that someone is losing enthusiasm and may be job searching;
  • Do NOT tell anyone at your employer, even friends, you are looking UNLESS you need a peer reference AND know they can be trusted 100% not to disclose to anyone else.
  • Adjust your settings on Linkedin to allow recruiters/employers to contact you.
  • Constantly be passively looking by regularly keeping your resume/Linkedin profile up to date.  This way any sudden changes or updates are not viewed as suspicious should your employer be surveilling your social media (and don’t think they don’t).
  • Emphasize the confidential nature of your search to prospective employers and/or recruiters.  Even saying or writing this is no guarantee as I know all too well from a friends’ personal experience.
  • Be careful, even away from work, who you tell about your search or where you discuss it.   You never know who might be in earshot or who knows who.

Hopefully, the above tips are helpful to those of you seeking to change employment without tipping your hand to your current employer.

atc_headshot_virginia_francoVirginia Franco, Certified Resume Writer, Interview Consultant

Try and Flex 

If your job does not require a set hourly schedule, experiment with flexing. Try coming in an hour or two earlier and leaving an hour or two earlier, or conversely coming in an hour later and staying later.

Another option is to try and schedule interviews during and around the lunch time hour.

Avoid Excuses

The most direct and professional way, and the one that eliminates the need to come up with an excuse for missing work, is to inquire if an interview may be conducted before or after work hours.

Take Personal Business Time

If your request for a before- or after-hours interview gets denied, consider taking a full or half personal or vacation day. While too many of these may eat into actual future vacation plans, no excuse is needed and your paycheck won’t take a hit. Just remember more than one day’s notice will be appreciated by those in your current workplace.
Less is Best

The most nerve-wracking part for most employed job seekers is communicating a workday absence. In these cases, aim for vague – as the fewer details you provide the less cover up required. If asked, explain that you have an appointment and if your job allows try and work from home. If pressed – only you can decide if it will help or harm to be up front about your job search.


Thanks K, for the question, and thanks to all the career experts for their insight!

Comments Off on Ask the Coach #4: How do you do a confidential job search?


Ask the Coach #3: I’m 57, need another 10 years, how do I prepare and what do I do?

August 25th, 2017

Okay, that is a feeble attempt at the real question, which is excellent.  David asks the coaches:

How do I best position myself for the last 10 years or so of my working life? I’m 56 in software product management and financially would like to work full-time if possible until at least 67 if my health holds.

I’ve been with my current company for 6 years now and like the work, but recognize there is a real risk that I will be cut in budget cycles in the coming years. Job search at around 60 is not something I’m excited about.

Should I be pushing myself into independent contracting on the side now (I’ve done this in the past – cost of sales is a real challenge) or are there areas of technology that make sense for older workers? (e.g. security, audit)

I don’t have the ability to reduce my expenses significantly. I have some retirement set aside, but not enough to retire early. I stay current with technology (cloud, mobile, etc.), but recognize there is a bias against older technology workers unless you’re a Cobol programmer….

This is a great, wise, and even scary question. But it’s real, and many people are facing it. I was anxious to see what my coaches would send back, and I wasn’t disappointed.  Here are the responses I received:

atc_3_headshot_jeri_hird_dutcher_125Jeri Hird Dutcher, Certified professional and international resume writer

Positioning yourself for the last 10 years of your career means making yourself as indispensable as possible​. What is your superpower? What do you do better than anyone? Is there a task or project no one else wants to do that is valuable to the company AND involves your superpower? Can you become the SME for one or more issues? Can you make yourself the go-to-guy for certain types of technology, specific problems, or training? Those activities will augment your value to the company and brand you as the guy everyone thinks of to solve a certain problem.

As an older worker, you can do a few things to work against the stereotypes you mentioned:

  • Be a maven: Do you have the newest smartphone, a fun wearable, or a new VR device? You’re in a technical field. Get out ahead of the pack. My husband and I were the oldest employees at the last place we worked. We were also the first to have mp3 players and cell phones back then. Our boss asked his team at a meeting why our basement had better computer equipment than his newsroom. We were known as the gadget people, and others looked to us for technical trends.
  • Look the part: You don’t have to dye your hair, wear the latest trends, or get a facelift, but you can make sure you aren’t stuck in another era when it comes to your dress and grooming.
  • Energy: Are you doing what you need to do to maintain the energy required for your position? The surest way to be perceived as old is to act like it. However, if you’re running marathons, kayaking the river, or even flying kites with your grandkids, you can turn that perception around.

atc_3_headshot_saundra_loffredo_125Saundra Loffredo, Career to Retirement Coach

Greetings, David! Your question has several parts to it. I’ll address each one separately:

Start by being positive. Don’t focus on whatever bias may or may not exist for older workers. You have a unique set of strengths and you need to capitalize on those. Perhaps it’s your work ethic, your ability to train 100 people effectively on a webinar and your knowledge of database management. Whatever makes you unique and valuable to an organization should be where you place your focus.

To position yourself for the next 10 years of your career, I suggest you seriously consider starting a part-time consulting business. At minimum, it should provide you with an additional income stream which you can funnel into either emergency savings (for a possible term of unemployment) or toward retirement. Part-time consulting could also be your back-up income source if you do end up out of work.

Be sure to consider the cost to market your services as part of your decision-making process.

It’s important today to be “job search ready” on a consistent basis. Begin to schedule and work on specific career tasks now. Analyze your value proposition.. Update your LinkedIn profile to leverage that value proposition. Request new recommendations on LinkedIn. Update your resume. Join one or two professional associations where you can network within your field and in your community. Stay active and engaged in social situations where you might meet make a strong networking connection.

If you decide to transition to a different specialty within information technology, be careful about the potential entry costs for that field. Taking on additional debt to make a career change is something I suggest you evaluate carefully. The payback may not be there for you if you opt to return to school.

atc_3_headshot_melvin_scales_125Melvin Scales, Senior Vice President, Meridian Resources

Here are some thoughts based on an article by Anish Majumda titled How to Make a Long Work History Work for You

Trying to play the same game as someone who’s twenty years younger than you is a recipe for failure. Instead, play the game they can’t.

Ask yourself the following, “What have I accrued during the course of my career that few others can bring to the table?”

What about that deep “bench” of industry connections which can be leveraged towards a new position?

What about the insights that come from having grown both start-ups in need of structure, AS WELL as established operations in need of a steady hand?

Or successfully riding out all manner of crises over the years, and being the calm voice of reason when things inevitably go south in the future?

Think about specific stories that highlight your value adds, and be sure to highlight them within your Resume, LinkedIn Profile and during face-to-face interviews. They can make a huge difference!

atc_3_headshot_craig_toadtman_125Craig B Toedtman, Job Search Consultant, Career Adviser, Coach, Executive Search Consultant

If you continue to like your current position, it is in your best interest to do all that you can to make it last for another ten years. You are successfully employed, and, if you keep your programming skills up with current technology, it is my opinion that you’re better off staying where you are. Improving your skills to stand out against the competition will ensure that your age will not stand in the way of your employment.

Pursue classes and workshops that will keep you abreast of technological changes, and put them to use as you help your employer maintain its competitive and efficient operations. Go the extra mile to demonstrate that you are the go-to person for problem solving. Make certain that you continue to develop your programming knowledge and techniques, so that a major vacuum will be created in the event they consider letting you go. Keep your sharpness and curiosity in full gear to demonstrate the importance of you as a team-oriented pier.

And, if they do sever you from their employ, your demonstrated use of up-to-date technology will put you in line for future employment for a company that recognizes that when it comes to selecting candidates, skills outweigh age.

atc_3_headshot_lorraine_rise_125Lorraine RiseCareer Coach, Resume Writer and Columnist for

This is a common concern for job seekers over the age of 50. You’re not a newcomer, but you’re not out of the game yet either! If consulting work appeals to you, that is certainly an option but many older job seekers continue to have meaningful employment well into their 60s. The area that will make the most sense for you to pursue is the one that you feel your skills are the strongest in. No matter how old you are, if you can demonstrate that you have relevant skills (especially in technical fields), you’ll have job prospects. Are there certifications you can pursue? Courses you can take? As you progress through the late career phase, demonstrating adaptability and up to date technical knowledge will be crucial!

Additionally, you’ll need to keep your network strong. Actively make new connections and nurture current ones while you are still employed and have the luxury of time. The ability to obtain a referral can make the difference for an older job seeker being chosen for a position.

Lastly, when you are interviewing be sure to emphasize to potential employers that you are committed to working 10 more years and you are excited about your next challenge. Lack of energy and enthusiasm are another bias that older workers face. The more you can get ahead of the conversation and demonstrate those qualities upfront, the better your prospects.

atc_3_cheryl_lynch_simpson_125Cheryl Lynch Simpson, Career, Job Search & LinkedIn Coach & Master Resume Writer

First, David, allow me to to applaud your willingness to see the handwriting on the wall. Your proactive stance will help you make your upcoming transition a good one.

Second, how you should best position yourself for the last 10 years of your working life depends on what you want from the rest of your working life. It sounds like you need the same or a higher salary, but what about challenges? Are there specific career goals you still want to achieve? Do you have specific skill sets you wish to make more use of? What about your career values — how do they factor into your vision for the rest of your working life? And what about your personal life — do you have any family goals that will impact your career decision-making over the next 10 years or so?

As you can see, there’s a lot to think about here. You may find it enormously helpful to speak with a career coach who can help you to sift through your preferences in an objective way.

Third, before you engage in any job search or networking activity, make sure you age-proof your resume AND your LinkedIn profile. By age-proof, I mean altering the amount of experience and specific dates included in either document so you can prevent Applicant Tracking Systems (of which LinkedIn is one) from screening you out based on the length of your experience. In short, you should:

  • Remove pre-2000 employment dates from your resume. You don’t have to remove the employment itself, but the dates must go. Do this by creating an “Early Career” section and listing your older jobs minus the dates.
  • Remove any education, training, or certification dates from your resume unless they fall in the last few years.
  • Removed any mention of the amount of experience you possess from your resume’s summary.

Why is this necessary? Because sometimes hiring executives are looking for a candidate with a specific amount of experience. When this happens, recruiters will use language like “12-15 years of experience” in their job postings and search queries. This, in turn, means that the computer (or the LinkedIn computer) will examine resumes/profiles for this amount of experience (among other features) and exclude any candidates with more or less.

For example, if the hiring executive wants a mid-manager with 12-15 years of experience, the ATS system or LinkedIn will ignore resumes or profiles with anything other than 12, 13, 14, or 15 years of experience. Given the length of your work history, this is likely to happen to you. Thus, in addition to the above recommendations, you should also:

  • Remove all education, training, or certification dates from your LinkedIn profile
  • Restructure how you present your experience on LinkedIn — do not list jobs prior to 2000
  • If you have older jobs that should be included based on your qualifications, consider listing then in the description of the last job you include

For example, if you worked at AT&T from 2000-2005, but also worked at Colgate-Palmolive from 1990-2000, instead of the listing the latter separately, include something like this in your AT&T description. After describing that role, drop down a couple of spaces and insert this:

Title — Colgate-Palmolive
Brief description of your achievements here.

Alternatively, you can also reference older experience in your LinkedIn summary to make sure it’s visible without dates.

Fourth, as to whether you dive into consulting, it depends on the same factors listed above. Do you have the financial solidity to go without revenue every month? Do you have an exceptional network you can leverage to win new business? Are you skilled at the sales facets of a consulting role? Are there specific strategies you can use to lower your cost of sales? Will improved networking tools such as a marketing brief make it easier for you to land new business? Do you already know how to employ LinkedIn and other social media to build a reputation for thought leadership in your field?

I hope I’ve given you some things to think about.

atc_3_headshot_rich_grant_125Rich Grant, Online career course instructor for Peak-Careers

I’d recommend staying where you are, but yes, take on independent contracting on the side. While it’s a good idea to plan for any “what ifs” regarding your current job, I wouldn’t suggest making any changes based on speculation that the “what ifs” will come true. A couple of clichés come to mind: “don’t count your chickens before they hatch,” as you might find yourself “going from the frying pan into the fire.”

It is absolutely a challenge to find a job at age 60, but it’s almost as difficult at your current age, or even at age 50. However, with your fresh skills and knowledge, and a supportive network, it can be done!

I found a new job in my late 50s, and here are the proactive steps I took. You might consider applying similar actions to your unique situation now, to benefit you if needed in the future.

Blog. Whether you create your own blog website or post articles on LinkedIn, get your ideas out into the public domain and show your subject matter expertise. I wrote career advice on my own site, and it was beneficial in my job search.

Be active in your industry. Participate in industry associations, and seek leadership positions. At the time of my last job search, I was the president of two career services and internship associations, and I had volunteered on a couple of committees of the Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers. It’s a great way to build your network!

Interact with your network. It’s one thing to build your network, but the bigger challenge is maintaining your network. The occasional email, tweet, LinkedIn message, comment, or “like” goes a long way, but better yet, pick up the phone. Every time I saw a job posted at a university, and if I had a first or second degree connection there, I reached out to have a conversation on the phone.

Be active on social media. I used LinkedIn all the time to research where I was planning to apply to see who was in my network (1st or 2nd degree). During my last job search, I participated in a lot of Twitter chats, and on a career services chat, #CareerServChat, I exchanged tweets with a career services director who would soon become my boss.

As a result of that interaction during the chat and in the days following, I applied for her job opening and had a job offer within 6 weeks. Since then, my best career advice has been, “Don’t search for jobs; search for people.”

atc_3_headshot_perry_newman_125Perry Newman, Certified Social Media Strategist, Certified Personnel Consultant, Resume Writer, and LinkedIn Transformation Specialist

David, without knowing your prior tech background, it is hard for me to say what areas of technology you may be capable of moving into down the road, and whether you would qualify for a good paying job in these roles.

That said, my experience shows that IT people who work in and around the periphery of the sales process, such as your current role as a product manager and roles in pre and post sales engineering, tend to have a better chance of avoiding budget cuts since they are part of the profit generation process.

As for independent contracting on the side, that is always worth exploring. What I have seen from some in the 50+ crowd is several professionals, often with some being younger, combining forces to seek out team oriented rather than individual contributor type projects and assignments. They are likely to be longer lasting, higher paying and have a greater chance for repeat business. This is a project you can spearhead on your own.

atc_3_headshot_ron_auerbach_125Ron Auerbach, Author of Think Like an Interviewer: Your Job Hunting Guide to Success

First of all, it is only natural to grow worried about our financial future as we age. And wonder how much longer we can perform our jobs or at what point we’ll be let go. So David is not alone with his questions. It’s something each generation will ask when they reach their 50s.

So what can David do? Well one thing is take an honest assessment of his physical and mental health right now to see what kind of shape he is in. And look at his family history to see what kinds of serious illnesses tend to run in the family. This way, he will have an idea what potential health issues he may be at risk for.  David should also look at what aspects of his job may become too physically and/or mentally challenging. Maybe certain parts of his job could be farmed out to others. Or he could rely upon the assistance of younger people to help out. Many are glad to do it!

Another thing David can do is look at other jobs within the company that he would be able to do. And when, and if the time comes, take a proactive step of requesting to be moved into that role. There are many areas of tech were older people in their 50s can still be of value. For example, software and product testing. With an aging population, there are more and more products and apps designed to help them. Somebody who’s very tech-literate and knowledgeable, and in this age group, would be extremely valuable for testing and evaluation.

Another possible area within tech that David might consider is tech support (helpdesk). In the past, these jobs were solely in the office. But these days, a lot of it is being done remotely. And the physical demands here are pretty minimal. Plus, having been on the sales end helps because you understand why customers purchased it. And know the importance of providing great service and follow-up. So with sales being on the front-end and tech support being on the back-end, they complement each other perfectly.

Doing side work as an independent consultant or contractor is another option. And with David’s having done this before, it will be easier for him because he has experience and past clients. So this is always something that could be done at any time. And something that could be used in conjunction with other strategies. In addition, being older is a good thing! So people in their 50s and 60s have been around. And have tremendous expertise that lots of clients will be very happy to pay for. Plus, they’ll have younger people to do a lot of the physically-demanding work. So the contractor/consultant route has a lot of advantages.

The last thing I will mention is David’s possible move into training and/or mentoring. These are areas where being older is a good thing. Having greater wisdom and experience lead to better educating and mentoring the younger crowd. And having them learn from those who’ve been there for a long time. And with remote connections, like Skype for instance, people in their 50s and 60s can more easily handle the physical and mental demands.

So David should take comfort in knowing that there’s a place for older people in tech and other industries. And know there are several options available to him. It’s also good that he’s looking ahead. A big mistake is not planning ahead!  David should keep a close eye on what’s happening within his company and the tech sector. And use this to help plan his strategy and prove his continuing value. So keeping up with the industry is very important. First, it keeps your mind very active. And second, it helps you identify where things are heading so you can capitalize and seize opportunities.

atc_3_headshot_elvabankinsbaxter_125Elva Bankins Baxter, Certified Master Coach

Hi David, first,  Congratulations to you for thinking ahead about your next career moves. You are correct in your thinking that you may be laid off, downsized, terminated especially at this age and, you want to prepare yourself for what may happen to you in the near future.

Here are my suggestions:

  • Absolutely consider part-time consulting or project/contract assignments and get connected to recruiters who recruit people with your experience and qualifications to learn more.  You will quickly learn the hiring trends i.e., 1099’s, part-time W-2 with or without benefits and which positions are “in-demand” in your field.
  • Consider achieving or increasing your credentials and get the necessary certifications that will keep you a “sought after” candidate.  So, if a Project Management Professional (PMP) is appropriate for your software product management expertise…Go for it!
  • Research whether your current employer will pay or reimburse you if you obtain additional certifications…Attaining additional certifications indicates to decision-makers that you are a life-long learner and that you’ve kept yourself up-to-date in your field.
  • Your resume can be updated with any certification or credential as you begin the process of earning it.  Simply state that you are in the process of completing your credential and the target date for completion.  If you need to keep a credential up-to-date because it expired, then bring it up to date as soon as possible.
  • If there is a way to get involved in any security and audit projects at your company, now is the time to volunteer to get involved with any of those projects…by the way, you can get certifications in these areas as well.
  • Stay as healthy as possible, exercise regularly and get fit and stay as fit as possible.  Fight the urge to become a couch potato.
  • My last piece of advice: Don’t listen to those who will tell you that it’s over after age 55+.  I recently coached two clients who are well over 50 and they landed in full-time positions that paid very well and yes in the summer months. It’s not easy, however, it can be done.

Good luck to you!!!

atc_3_headshot_gavan_ambrosini_125Gavan Ambrosini, Executive Coach, Career Consultant

Good for you for taking proactive steps into planning this next phase of your career.  Positioning yourself as an independent contractor is an excellent way to prepare for the unexpected.  You might even find that you enjoy project work more than your full-time gig and you can make the transition easily.

As for thinking about what areas of technology to focus on, it might be wise to explore trends you speak of as well as in AI and to explore how that will affect how we all live and work.  Your skills and experience can always transfer into something else that is in demand no matter what age you are.  The only thing between you and your age is your mindset. If you think your age is getting in the way to opportunities, then you are right.  If you think that you will be hired because of your skills and experience and value, then you are also right.  The key to getting hired is to position yourself in front of the right people and the right environment where people like, know and trust you.  Branding yourself as a consultant or a contractor is a great way to offer your expertise while giving you the flexibility to pick and choose the jobs that you want to do, not have to do.

I might also suggest you take this time to explore what you really want to do if money were no object instead of “shoulding” all over yourself. What are your values?  What gets you jazzed about the work that you do?  What are you naturally good at?  You can do an inventory on what your strengths are and preferences are and design an ideal job around what you love to do and what you are naturally good at. You could look at this next potential chapter as heading into your encore career.  Perhaps this is the time to do what you really want to do instead of what you have been doing because of the paycheck.  Now might be the time to learn and grow into this new arena, to expand your network and to get some needed education, experience or contacts.  You can move into a whole new direction that aligns with who you are–and not necessarily with what the market trends are.

Another great roundup!  You can see previous questions and answers here.



Ask The Coach #2: Consulting or Multiple Positions at Same Company on a Resume (how to)

August 4th, 2017

This question was something I came up against right when Diana emailed it to me… here’s the question, and the responses from coaches is below:

I have a question about listing consulting positions on a resume.  My last 3 jobs were 1099 consulting positions.  I was thinking after watching the Extreme Resume Makeover – could having them currently listed as separate positions be causing me to lose out on jobs that I am MORE than qualified for?  Looks like I job hop? If so, should I list like:

Consulting Work:
ABC Global Services………..
LPL Financial………….

Or should I list next to the job title:


Note from Jason: This question can be expanded to talk about one company where you had multiple roles… should you break those roles into separate resume (or LinkedIn) entries, or group them?

atc_3_cheryl_lynch_simpson_125Cheryl Lynch Simpson, Career, Job Search & LinkedIn Coach & Master Resume Writer, writes:

If your 1099 consulting roles lasted less than 2-3 years, it will be advantageous to combine them into one listing on both your resume and LinkedIn profile to combat the job hopper perception. My suggestion would be to give your consulting business a name, claim (Type of) Consultant as your title, and describe your achievements with each consulting role in bullets. For example:


As you can see in this example, the emphasis is on your achievements with each company rather than the companies themselves. Take this exact same approach on LI, as recruiters do not like to read multiple job listings with short tenure.

Many professionals face the opposite problem, wherein they have worked for the same company for many years and question whether they should combine all their roles or list them separately.

  • If your titles were incidental and you basically held the same position for a very long time punctuated by expanding responsibilities such that you essentially did the same thing for years and years, then it may be difficult to disentangle one position from another. In this case, conflating your titles may be more realistic. However, it will be important to clearly indicated your rise in the company by including all your titles in one listing and stressing the gradual elevation of your authority over time, as well as the continuing nature of key initiatives that continued across your different roles.
  • If you held roles in different departments for the same company, then it will make more sense for you to list each position separately so you can stress the cross-functionality of your experience. Recruiters and hiring executives tend to value candidates with this kind of breadth.
  • Because recruiters don’t like long LI profiles with many different job listings, it is nearly always advantageous to combine roles with the same company into a single experience entry. Make sure you clarify the dates and titles of each role, however, so recruiters can see your promotion history and the appropriate key words will be included.

atc_headshot_denise_taylor_125Denise Taylor, Career Coach, Chief Inspiration Officer, the 50 Plus Coach, responds:

Your resume is a marketing document, you don’t need to include everything that you have done, but focus on what’s relevant for the job you are targeting. If some of the consultancy assignments were real ‘stand-out’ ones you could show them separately. They could stand out as they were longer, or there was a strong impact/result.

For the rest, I’d group them into one position – choosing different ones to refer to depending on the target job. This will stop you appearing as a job hopper and show the breadth of your knowledge. Your evidence against this job can include how you are quick to get up to speed/ understand a new culture/influence as an outsider.

atc_3_headshot_ron_auerbach_125Ron Auerbach, Job search author, expert, and educator, writes:

In one way, this question is similar to a job seeker who’s been working through an employment agency and has been sent out on various assignments. Because you worked for several companies, do you list those assignments separately? Or do you combine them into one? The fact is there is no rule. So it all comes down to a matter of opinion and judgment. And part of this decision is to look at the overall background and goal of the job seeker. And the structuring of the resume itself.

But with consulting work, I would generally combine them into one listing on your resume. It cleans things up and still allows you to highlight the companies and/or kind of consulting you did. And in the case of gaps between the consulting jobs, having them all combined into one lets you show continuous employment. So on your application, you’d separate them out. But on your resume, you’d show continuous employment during the entire time.

Let’s suppose we combine them into a single job listing on the resume. The question now become whether to include the names of the companies for whom you consulted. Or leave the names out and just have the industries to which those companies belong. And yes, you could even include both if you wanted. For example, here’s how it would look if you listed just the company names:


The advantage of going this route is that you can highlight specific company names that would impress the reader. And fyi, you don’t have to list all the companies for whom you did consulting, You can pick and choose which ones to list.

Now let’s assume you chose to list the consulting work by industry rather than company name. Here is how that would look:


This approach is very helpful if you feel the company names won’t be recognizable to the readers. Or if the companies you consulted for aren’t the size that would impress employers or recruiters. It’s also useful where you want to stress the industries where you consulted. FYI, if your consulting was limited to a particular industry, you could replace my “Multiple or Several” with the industry. And then list the various companies within that industry where you consulted.

If you were to list them separately, or use the combined method, are you still at risk of being seen as a job-hopper? The answer is still yes. So if that’s a big issue to you, one way to handle it would be to leave those bullets out. And just list yourself as a consultant. So just the one line with no info below it. And in a different spot on your resume, that’s where you can list the info that goes along with the consulting work.And yes, you could also remove that “Multiple or Several” in my examples to just have your Consultant title and dates. Here, you’re playing into the assumption by readers that maybe you only consulted for a single client rather than a bunch.

Now if you want to work for a consulting firm rather than for yourself, then job-hopping isn’t an issue at all. In the world of consulting, it’s normal to work for one this time and somebody else next time. So job-hopping is the norm in this field. And happens with those who work for consulting companies and those who are independent contractors working for themselves. So job-hopping is the norm, totally accepted, and not an issue at all. But if you are seeking work in something else, then job-hopping might be an issue in that world.

FYI, the ways I mentioned about how to list consulting and temp work also applies to those of you who may have had differing roles with the same company. Yes, you could decide to list them separately. And include some duties and accomplishments with each one. Or you could combine them into a single listing. And use bullet points to include the KEY accomplishments and duties from all your roles. You can also include a statement that you were promoted from X to Y. Here’s an example to illustrate:


If things get messy or you don’t have enough space to get all the info you want across to readers, then you could split things into more than one listing. And decide which one(s) to list separately and which ones(s) to combine. So yes, you can mix and match with part combined and part listed independently. The bottom line is you have a lot of flexibility to structure thing in the way that works best for you.

atc_headshot_lucie_yeomans_125Lucie Yeomans, 6X Certified Career Services Professional and Job Search Strategist, writes:

This is a complicated question with a variety of answers. Do you want to continue to work as a consultant or are you looking for full-time employment working for a company? Here are a few ideas for either situation.

1099 Transitioning to Full-time Employment

Yes, you do want to avoid looking like a job hopper to the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or the first reader who gives your resume a 6- to 8-second initial glance. For those of my 1099 clients who wish to work for a company, we have had the most success when we list their 1099/consulting positions under their own company name. Give a brief explanation of the type of work you provide (be sure to include industry keywords in your description), followed by a more resume-style description of each of your 1099 jobs.



Continue as Consultant, looking for new 1099 jobs

For those of my clients who wish to continue as a consultant and look for new 1099 gigs, we use a completely different approach. As you know, networking is key in finding your next 1099 job, but the document you leave behind or email ahead of time needs to reflect your brand. Your resume in this case should be more of a marketing document with testimonials, services, lists of jobs/clients (if not confidential) and your unique value/brand. You also want to the layout to be visually appealing, as well as easy to scan for important information.

atc_headshot_sonia_cerezo_125Sonia Cerezo, Certified Professional Career Coach, says:

Dear Consultant,

List all your experience under your consulting title and/or business. I suggest using this format.


Be sure each of your bullet points has quantifiable information. You are in finance, so it is important to provide
specifics on how your consulting benefits future clients or an employer. This provides you the stability of ongoing
employment and it accurately portrays your experience.

Also, be consistent across all marketing platforms, LinkedIn profile, online portfolio, and/or website, etc.

However, if you had multiple roles with one company it is important to show progression and identify each one
separately. It is important to put the dates with each position but the entire time you worked with the company
under the company name. Here is an example.


I hope this answered your question.

Wishing you much success in your career!

atc_3_headshot_rich_grant_125Rich Grant, Online career course instructor for Peak-Careers, writes:

Yes, it’s a good idea to consolidate consulting roles on your resume. Besides helping to minimize the appearance of being a job hopper, it simplifies your resume and makes it easier to read. The other way to clarify it is by making a note within the line listings of the consulting projects, for example “six-month contract.” Then, a prospective employer won’t think you had a series of short-lived jobs.

There are a few ways to group together consulting roles, including creating a separate section on your resume for “consulting experience,” listing consulting projects under one agency name, if that’s the case, or creating your own business name. It’s also a good idea to group jobs together if your company gets bought out and your old company name no longer exists. Rather than list it as two different employers on your resume, list the new company name on the first line, with the full date range you worked for both employers. Show the different positions you held, listed under the main company header, and for the jobs you had at the old company, put the old company name in parentheses after the job title. This will be particularly helpful if your old company got bought out after you were only there for six months!

atc_3_headshot_gavan_ambrosini_125Gavan Ambrosini, Career Consultant and Executive Coach, writes:

Employers will want to get an immediate blueprint of your value–and in situations like this, it is not uncommon to highlight your skills and expertise first, followed by your consultant title and brief naming of your client list. We call this a functional resume.  It focuses more on your skill sets, trainings, and certifications and not so much on your work history.

I suggest the following format:

  1. Start with your name and contact info,
  2. Professional summary: (2-3 lines qualifying you as a viable candidate)
  3. Highlights of Skills and Accomplishments/Trainings/Certs etc comprised of a targeted and bulleted list.  You may even want to break it up into mini sections with 4-6 in each.  If you can show quantifiable results in your  section this will also grab an employers attention (scope of project, ROI, etc) For tons of examples of functional resumes, google “functional resume” with your industry and look at images tab to get ideas on how you can present your work.
  4. Following this section list your Work History. You can even use your “last name” and “consulting” as your company name and then list the client name, city, and duration of each consultant gig on a separate line. No need to list out responsibilities for each role here as that can be highlighted in your selected skills & accomplishment section that precedes this.  The idea is to communicate your strengths as a targeted and complete package to the employer’s needs, not as a hodge-podge of different short time gigs with various roles & duties.

As for being viewed as a job hopper–It is all how you present it.  Some may very well see it that way–however, if you are good at what you do, you can communicate how much you gave & gained working on these special projects.  Being hired as a consultant carries a lot more weight than as just a contractor so wear that difference proudly! You were a hired gun for a specific job because of your expertise in a particular area and that is something of value to note.

Part B: List roles separately or as 1 grouping?  If you have only worked at 1 company for the past 20+ years and you want to highlight how you have moved up the company ladder–use the company name as a header and then follow with 1 title of each role you had, followed by the years in that role and a brief description of what you did beneath it.  2-3 brief action verb sentences to give context of your role followed by a couple of bullet points to highlight your achievements.  If you have more than 2 companies to list and the experience from company 3 and 4 is just as valuable as your last role–then just list your most current role at said company–and you can make mention of how you moved up in your cover letter or briefly mention your promotions in your summary section or job description.  The bottom line is this: Every word should be of value to the employer–not be used as an opportunity to justify or showcase your own self-worth. If responsibilities of your first job with the company don’t serve your future employer in any way–then don’t put it on there. Everything is prime real estate on a resume–so choose your words carefully and make them count!

atc_3_headshot_craig_toadtman_125Craig Toadtman, Job Search Consultant, Career Adviser, Coach, Executive Search Consultant, says:

Résumé format is important, but content is critical. That said, you raise an excellent question that also applies to an individual holding several positions at one company. I suggest that you combine the consulting projects under one heading, such as [Your Name] Consulting, and indenting the individual projects with descriptions. For example:


Descriptions should be concise and loaded with key words that are clearly demonstrating your skills and experience which appeal to automated recruiter software looking for YOU!

atc_headshot_gina_bartosiewicz_125Gina Bartosiewicz, Professional Resume Writing Consultant, says:

When putting together your resume as a consultant, you want it clean, easy to read, and relevant! Remember, you are creating your personal brand here, and you want to keep it organized while marketing and highlighting your skills and accomplishments. Since your perspective clients or employers are looking for someone in particular, you want to be sure that you are including details about your projects, along with quantifiable achievements for each project so that they know that you have what it takes. Your goal here is to grab the reader’s attention, and you certainly want to avoid bouncing around with dates. The best part about a consultant resume, is that they are easy to tailor for a specific position or client, and you can leave out anything that doesn’t relate directly to the position.  I realize that the act of creating a new resume for each job you apply for can be tiresome, but in the end, if it lands you that project or job, isn’t it worth it?

For a Consultant resume, my focus is typically more on the functional side – showcasing and highlighting skills and achievements. I typically present consulting work by grouping all projects together. Many consider themselves a Consultant, so they list themselves as a Freelance Consulting Firm, or just Consultant and then I combine all projects under that umbrella.  Grouping all consulting work into a single time block will better control the readers perception of any gaps or longevity, because even when you aren’t working on a project, you are still a consultant, and may be in between projects.

An example would be:


In a company where you have held several positions, I generally find this to be a different scenario, however.  Because roles vary from position to position, sometimes you really do need to create a separate section for each job title.  In some cases, however, when there isn’t much change or diversity within the roles, you can group the position titles together.  In general, it is always a good idea to have a second or third pair of eyes on your resume.  Does it flow well?  Does it grab the readers attention? Are you getting your point across and showcasing and highlighting your accomplishments in each role? Are you repeating yourself in order to fill space? Remember to strive for clean, easy to read and relevant!

atc_3_headshot_perry_newman_125Perry Newman, Certified Social Media Strategist, Certified Personnel Consultant, Resume Writer, and LinkedIn Transformation Specialist, writes:

Since you are a 1099, theoretically, you own your own business and, I advise you to list it as such. If you worked through a third-party source, you can say partnering with ABC Consulting. This method is not deceptive since 1099 employees work for themselves and your pay stubs and 1099n tax forms will verify this.



In the body for each assignment you can break down whom you reported to, the nature of the project with
applicable metrics including on time and on-budget delivery.

In the case of listing multiple roles in the same and or a merged /acquired company, there are two ways to go on a
resume depending on how relevant the prior information is and whether you want to emphasize it or minimize it.



You can also group these positions if you have been in a company a long time and/or moved from lower level to
executive level roles. The key is always to highlight jobs that are relevant to the jobs you are applying for.

As for LinkedIn, for the 1099, I advise listing it as a position under your business name and breaking down the
assignments in the body.

For long-term employees, I advise listing each role separately on LinkedIn for maximum key work optimization.

atc_headshot_john_sattler_125John Sattler, Certified Personnel Consultant and Certified Professional Resume Writer, writes:

A resume is about communicating your value as professional for the purpose of generating an interview for a job you desire. Keeping this in mind, what is the best way to communicate this scenario to serve our purpose?

I would not combine different positions held with the same company. This is a completely different scenario than someone doing contracting gigs. This shows a pattern of progression, that the candidate is promotable, able to learn and adapt, able to handle additional responsibilities, and able to take on increased complexity and sophistication of work.

would combine positions under 1099 activity. Many professionals do consulting work when they’re between full time (W-2) jobs. It’s a way to stay sharp, engaged, and visible. Let’s assume this person is an experienced Marketing Analyst: here is how I would present it on the resume:


atc_headshot_alexia_scott_125Alexia Scott, CPRW, says:

You were actually self-employed during that time, so there was only one employer (you). That’s why you received 1099’s–you were an independent contractor. This is the logical way to present that time period, and this treatment sidesteps the obstacle of listing multiple consulting clients.

Recently, I helped a lean performance improvement expert who did consulting work for C-level executives. I combined his consulting work, showing it as one “employer,” with the heading “Independent Consultant.” A bulleted list briefly  described his most notable consulting achievements.

atc_3_headshot_elvabankinsbaxter_125Elva Bankins Baxter, Certified Master Coach, writes:

When your last three jobs were all 1099 consulting positions and you are in a current job search seeking another position, I would suggest combining your consulting (1099) positions into one descriptive position and use beginning and ending dates for the entire three years. This avoids someone reading your resume to think you had three short stints or are a job-hopper.

I’d suggest the following sample  format:


When you have worked for a company and have held multiple positions with in the same company, List the company and your beginning and ending years.  Then list each position held and your achievements (no more than three) per position held.  For each position, the years should be listed.  This format should be used for recent and one previous position (within the past 10 years) positions only.


For the second page positions and more than 10 years ago…group them and list the overall achievements:


atc_headshot_heather_maietta_125Heather Maietta, Career Coach, Facilitator, Trainer, Author, Speaker, says:

The short answer I have is ‘it depends’. Considerations include:

  1. 1) how long the consulting gigs lasted
  2. 2) how prestigious the company
  3. 3) depth of other experience

If the consulting gigs lasted less than six months or were insignificant in depth and scope, I might advise grouping them under a heading ‘Consulting Work’. If the each gig lasted for a significant length of time and/or were instrumental in depth and scope, I might advise to list separately with the position title ‘consultant’. I would advise similarly if the consulting work was performed at a reputable company, globally and/or within your industry. This would draw attention to the fact you were a consultant for a significant player, thus showcasing prestige.

Since a resume is a document to grab attention and keep the reader interested in engaging with you further, length should always be a consideration. If your consulting work is in addition to years of relevant work experience, grouping may save space and present your experience in a more concise, visually appealing way. If you are newer to the workforce or to the field, showcasing your experience more in depth will give the reader a better sense of the experience you have gained that isn’t highlighted anywhere else on your document.

Regardless of how you format your document, you can include a one sentence header or bullet under your professional summary that captures your consulting experience and positions you as a thought leader in your industry. Something like “Global Financial Services consultant at Fortune 100 Companies: ABC Global, LogicSource, LPL Financial” or something similar.

Wasn’t that a great roundup from our coaches? Hopefully this helps you figure out how to create this part of your resume!


Comments Off on Ask The Coach #2: Consulting or Multiple Positions at Same Company on a Resume (how to)


Ask the Coach #1: Recovering from a Bad Interview Experience

July 28th, 2017

I blogged about this about a month ago, but I wanted to put this in front of a group of job search and career coaches and get more qualified thoughts on this question and issue, which I’m sure a lot of people have dealt with. So, let’s launch a new series called “Ask the Coaches,” where I present a bunch of coaches with questions from job seekers (SEND ME QUESTIONS :)), and they’ll answer it with their years of experience.  Let’s jump into it. The question I sent the coaches is:

“I had an interview and the feedback I got was that I was too low energy. You can imagine that was a problem since this was for a sales role. I am a pretty even-keeled guy, and I’m not super high energy, but I am very good at sales. His only hangup was my energy level?  How do I respond to the interviewer, and what do I do going forward?”

atc_headshot_john_sattler_125John Sattler, Certified Personnel Consultant and Certified Professional Resume Writer

Sales is about numbers and people, therefore, any question about your perceived energy deficit can be squashed easily via a dialouge where you turn it into a unique asset and show how you use it to your advantage. I’m assuming you made it to a face-to-face interview by showing proof of your sales performance in numbers. 

It’s best to evoke/uncover and address an interviewer’s concerns during the interview. After the fact can be done via phone or, as a last resort, email. If the job is ideal, try to set up another face to face appointment to discuss.
Interviewer: Do you have any final questions?
You: I’ve learned a lot today, and, although I was upbeat on the position prior to this interview, I am now positively enthusiastic. Based on what you know right now, are you ready to hire me?  
Interviewer: No. I am concerned because I’m sensing a lower-than-normal level of energy from you.
You: That is really interesting, what makes you say that?
Interivewer: You speak at a slow pace……and just your general aura. I feel little or no enthusiasm coming from you.
You: “Do you have any other concerns? (you MUST uncover ALL concerns and deal with them one by one)
Interviewer: Not at all, I feel strongly, however, that a sales representative must transfer feelings of energy in order to be effective…..”
You: I understand. As sales manager, of course you want a team of high peformers who get along reasonably well, are helpful, and represent the company is a professional and positive way. 
I bring all of those assets to the table – at least my employers think so – and I have found my personality to be a huge asset. You’re right, though, few would readily think someone they perceive as calm, introverted, and speaks with a slower-than-normal cadence would turn out to be a top-performing salesperson. But the fact is, I am just that, as my performance record indicates. I use this initial perception of me as an advantage by focusing the entire presentation on the prospect: I demonstrate how I will solve their problem, robustly and directly address their concerns, and communicate trust. The prospect is reassured that I am talking substance wholly unaided by “big personality,” if you will. I’m not saying it would work for everyone – it does work for me – and the proof is in the numbers.
So, I don’t blame you for stating your concern – at that moment you didn’t have all the information. Though now that you dohave plain proof, in quantitative and qualitative terms, that I can deliver top-tier performance and be an asset to your team, would you be ready to make the offer? (DO NOT SPEAK until they do). 

atc_headshot_frank_pomata_125Frank Pomata, Labor Tech/Suffolk County Dept. of Labor

I would urge the candidate to take the feedback seriously and perhaps engage in some mock interviews with others to see if they have similar perceptions.  Thank the interviewer for the feedback, but emphasize that many customers prefer not to be sold in an aggressive/high energy manner and how your track record in sales demonstrates the success of your approach.

That being said, consider being open to trying new techniques to show your energy level is at least equal to other sales personnel.

atc_headshot_melvin_scales_125Melvin Scales, Senior Vice President, Meridian Resources, wrote:

In my opinion, having a perceived low energy level when interviewing for a sales role has everything to do with what is being sold. In non-tangible sales such as consulting for example, being a high energy salesperson can backfire because the salesperson is seen as pushy. Of course this can happen in tangible sales such as automobiles, major appliances, computers etc. This is clearly an issue of preference demanded by the hiring manager. He or she is looking to hire someone like themselves. It has been my experience that the best salepersons are excellent listeners and remain focused and balanced throughout the client relationship.

atc_3_cheryl_lynch_simpson_125Cheryl Lynch Simpson, Career, Job Search & LinkedIn Coach | Executive Resume Writer

Assuming you have shared your sales achievements with the interviewer, then his “low-energy” comment indicates to me that he has a pre-conceived idea of what he views as a desirable candidate personality. He clearly equates high energy with sales success despite evidence of an exemplary sales record.

Moreover, because he seems to be insisting that all of his hires must have the same sales personality, I believe he is probably a micromanager. Is that the kind of person you want to work for? If it’s not, then I suggest you move on, but clarify for yourself what kinds of personality and leadership traits you are seeking in an immediate supervisor and make every effort to screen your potential managers going forward.

atc_headshot_lucie_yeomans_125Lucie Yeomans, Certified Career Services Professional and Job Search Strategist

Don’t take the feedback too hard. Your personality has led you to what sounds like a great sales career. Going forward, here are a couple of strategies you may not have considered.

  1. Recent studies show an overwhelming majority of interviewers today are looking for a cultural fit as much as they are looking for the right qualifications and experience. To show your enthusiasm and energy, do your homework on the hiring company. Go beyond just reading the company website. What are the industry trends, opportunities, and challenges? Have thoughtful, engaging questions and your accomplishment stories ready to discuss with the interviewer(s) regarding these topics. You want the interviewer to notice how impressive your up-to-date industry/company knowledge is, which will bring out more of your personality and enthusiasm as you engage them in meaningful discussions.
  2. Also, many candidates never consider whether the hiring company is a good fit for them. You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Check out the company’s social media platforms and engage with employees. What are the employees tweeting about? What is their culture like? Is it a good fit for you? Too many clients have come to me after they jumped at a job only to find out within a few months the company was not a good fit. The trick is to not be one of them.

atc_headshot_denise_taylor_125Denise Taylor, career coach, Chief Inspiration Officer, the 50 Plus Coach, responds:

It sounds like you were interviewed by an extrovert, high energy person who was looking for someone similar. You want to be ready with all the examples of how you are successful in sales, and how you adapt to different potential customers. That’s the experience bit, but this person wants to see and hear your energy. Here’s some suggestions for next time. Let’s think about what’s going on inside and outside. Inside you know you can do it, and are enthused but it’s not coming through so find inside you the energetic enthused you from a previous, possibly non work situation and hold that thought. How did you feel act – was there more passion in how you spoke? More energy? Changes in how you hold your body? Now take that and make it come to the outside – make some changes to your voice tone and posture and let this energy shine through. You’re not looking got a radical change but a shift of maybe 10%.

atc_headshot_gina_bartosiewicz_125Gina Bartosiewicz, Professional Resume Writing Consultant

Never sacrifice who you are and what you stand for, personally or professionally, for any role or any company.  If you are getting feedback on an interview (which, by the way is great!), that you are not a particular fit for that company’s culture, then this feedback is extremely valuable and not to be taken lightly.  One of the most important things you can do for your well-being and your career is to take on a role with a company where you will feel like you mesh well with the culture, and can effortlessly fit in, and therefore, find it easier to contribute and make a difference! Always attempt to do your research on a company’s culture prior to the interview, if possible!

I have been hearing more and more about this type of feedback, or feedback in general pertaining to an interview candidates skills or qualifications being brought to the attention of the interviewer during the interview itself.  Although, most are not prepared for this type of feedback during an interview, it is becoming more commonplace, and I think it’s a positive thing.  Historically, you receive a letter or email after the interview with a simple “thanks, but no thanks” and not a lot of reasoning behind it, but having something to actually think about and have hard facts and reasoning behind the “no thanks” walking out of an interview can be enlightening  It may not be what you wanted to hear, but any constructive feedback can be helpful to you in your job search.  Additionally, it helps YOU weed out the company.  Remember, you are also interviewing the company.  This particular company wanted high energy sales.  This was not the candidates style, and it may have just been an uncomfortable fit for everyone.

atc_3_headshot_elvabankinsbaxter_125Elva Bankins Baxter, Certified Master Coach

When the feedback is “low energy”, it can be a matter of “fit” as it relates to the high achievers on the current sales team or it could be a reference to the age of your friend. Your friend may be older than the sales team’s high achievers and potentially exude less energy.  Either way, the interviewer perceived a cultural mismatch.  While this feedback is frustrating to hear, when the candidate has proven successes and high achieving sales, it’s an “Ah Ha” moment for the candidate.   My advice for this candidate moving forward is to tell stories about his key wins, not just state the statistics about a win.  He or she should give specifics about these key wins and what made him or her successful in beating the competition.   Told early in the interview,  these stories must be brief and should be rehearsed well before the interview.  I recommend using the S.O.A.R method for story telling.  Most people like to hear a good story that has a beginning middle and a highly successful ending.  The telling of the story will demonstrate the candidate’s passion, credibility, energy, and fit and enables interviewers to see the potential value that this candidate brings to the sales team.

atc_3_headshot_ron_auerbach_125Ron Auerbach, Author of Think Like an Interviewer: Your Job Hunting Guide to Success

Even-keel can be used to describe those who let things just roll off their backs. Translation, things just don’t bother or get to you. This is a good thing because it says to interviewers that you’re somebody who will not get very upset, lash-out, or give up. But when it’s used to describe somebody who is less motivated or dedicated, that is an extremely bad thing! So less energy = less motivation, dedication, and/or desire to achieve or succeed. And with sales, this is a job killer!

Sales is a profession where candidates need to be seen as highly-motivated and extroverted. Somebody who is extremely personable that can relate well to new prospects and existing clients. And a person who will be able to handle the pressures and rejections that are commonplace in sales. So to be successful in a sales interview, an interviewer must perceive you as displaying these qualities.

Now you don’t want to go overboard! Being seen as too aggressive can turn off an interviewer just as easily as being too shy. So you need to avoid crossing over into arrogance or cockiness territory. So extroverted and personable enough to say prospects and clients will feel very comfortable with you. And cool enough to say pressure and rejection won’t get to or bother you.

Sadly, it is too late for this questioner to do anything about that interview because it was after-the-fact. And the time to have been seen the right way has passed. So speaking up now won’t change their minds. But going forward, is is crucial that he be seen in a very positive light. So learn from this by displaying a more animated and extroverted personality. One that says you’re outgoing, personable, can handle pressure, and don’t let things bother or stand in your way. Those are the KEYS to success in a sales interview!

atc_3_headshot_rich_grant_125Rich Grant, online career course instructor for Peak-Careers

Your response to the interviewer (ideally the hiring sales manager) is your opportunity to demonstrate your competencies as a sales person, primarily overcoming objections and highlighting the benefits of your product or service in terms of the customer’s needs. A good sales person is a good listener and asks good questions. By the way, this might be a test to see how persistent you are. You want to make the point that being low key does not mean “low energy.” Ask some questions to find out more about the personalities and temperaments of the customers. Do they expect a hyper, high energy sales approach or would they prefer a serious, less pressurized, consultative approach? You overall point is that you get results. You’re good at sales. Your even-keeled demeanor provides a benefit to the customer because you listen and they’re comfortable with you.

atc_3_headshot_gavan_ambrosini_125Gavan Ambrosini, Executive Coach, Career Consultant

First off, congratulations on getting the interview.  Your resume and/or your connections are working for you, and that is a great start.  Second:  Try not to take it personally when you get feedback that isn’t 100% positive. Use it to your advantage to work on your interviewing skills, and be sure to thank them for the useful feedback (yes THANK them) It shows you have a growth mindset and are open to learning.  It could keep the door open to continued dialogue with them.  Perhaps send them a few testimonials from happy customers to illustrate your point that you don’t need to be super outgoing to be successful or to please your clients. The next time you interview, tune into the body language of your interviewer–and mirror the person you are talking to. If they speak with a more energetic tone– match their pacing with yours.  If they talk slow and deliberately, then slow down your pace down.  People are naturally & unconsciously biased towards those who are like them unless they are trained specifically to recognize it when it pops up.  Remember, feedback is subjective and tells you more about the person giving feedback than it does about you. The only reason feedback may bother you is if you think there is some truth in it.  If not, it wouldn’t bother you.  If so, then there are ways to work on it to present yourself differently for the next time.

atc_headshot_heather_maietta_125Dr. Heather N. Maietta, Master Career Coach

Addressing the feedback in the moment would be ideal. This is easier said than done, especially when caught off guard. In part, the interviewer wants to see how you respond to unconventional questions or feedback, so how you react is as important as how you respond. In this instance, letting the interviewer know that’s your signature approach to sales and it has brought you much success to date. People respond well to your easy going, laid back demeanor, as supported by your excellent sales record. Mention this is a question she should pose to your references when he calls so he can be rest assured your energy level is a non-issue.

atc_headshot_wym_bumgardner_125Wym Bumgardner, Career Services Representative

Every interview is different.  “Being too low energy” means different things to different people.  And, kudos to the interviewer for pointing this out.  This is a “gold nugget” for you to consider, and also to engage your interviewer in a discussion about this.

It sounds as if the interview is over.  You have an opportunity to follow up with the interviewer, thank him for his comments, get specifics about what “low energy” means to him and what a “high energy” interview would be.  Let him know that you are flexible with your style, and that your excellent sales results speak for your skills.  Offer to meet with him again, demonstrating a high energy level.  Practice with a trusted colleague for this “high energy” interview before you go.  Being prepared both with “energy” and strong sales accomplishments could lead you to a new position.

And that’s it for our FIRST Ask The Coach Question… click here for more!

Comments Off on Ask the Coach #1: Recovering from a Bad Interview Experience