Resume Design Strategies That Separate You From Your Competitors

Recruiters and hiring managers generally spend just a few seconds on an initial scan of a resume. The vetting process is very similar to what most of us do when we visit a website looking for a product or service. We don’t read the entire website; we scan it quickly and if we don’t find what we need within the first few seconds, we usually move on to the next site. On websites, images and graphs that quickly explain the product or service tend to capture our attention and help us make a purchasing decision. The same is true of resumes. By displaying key information in more visual ways, you can make the resume an easier and more engaging read while increasing the likelihood that your reader will figure out your value add faster and more accurately. Here are some recommendations for ways to add design elements that improve your messaging to your resume.


Numbers Chart. Demonstrate how you’ve moved the needle on certain critical metrics by using a chart detailing a change you helped make in the organization.



Pie Chart. Demonstrate how you grew a certain metric year-over-year or captured market share from a competitor.

Pie 2


Call Out Box. Create a box for information you want to have stand out such as an overview of your skills or a great client testimonial.

Call out box



Graphics. Add graphics to call special attention to key industries or business environments your are known for.

competency 2


Images. Use images that represent your professional identity to create a more lasting impression with your reader.



Infographics. Add infographics to show specific skills and competencies.



Bar Graph. Add a bar graph to show visually how you have improved a key performance metric over time.

Bar graph


Social Icons. Use social media icons and QR codes with links to share more information about you in a limited amount of space.

social icons

Progressive Chart. Add a multi-year chart that shows how you consistently improved a metric over time.

progressive chart


Logo. Add a branded logo to your name to better connect your name with your professional identity.



Text With Image. Show an image that complements data you are showing on the resume.



Job Seeker’s Guide to a Confidential Job Search

Are you trying to look for a new job while employed and struggling with how to do so without attracting attention from your boss or other stakeholders at your current company?

Our new ebook, Job Seeker’s Guide to a Confidential Job Search can help. Learn how to leverage LinkedIn for your search without making your search efforts obvious and discover other do’s and don’ts for conducting a successful search. Download it now at


Career Solvers Wins 2 Top Resume Writing Awards

TORISeptember and October were great months for Career Solvers! In September I receivedROAR the National Resume Writers’ Association ROAR award for outstanding achievement in resumes and in October I was nominated for 3 TORI (Toast of the Resume Industry) awards by Career Directors International and won in the Best Information Technology Resume category.

My work was selected among hundreds of entries and recognized for strengths in client branding, positioning, writing, and design. I’m thrilled to have been selected for these honors


ROAR pic

TORI win






10 Networking Mistakes Most Job Seekers Are Still Making

I’ve followed thousands of job seekers and one of the biggest sticking points for them tends to be their mistakenetworking strategy. Some people hate the process and find it incredibly daunting; others embrace it but can still get frustrated when things don’t move as quickly as they hoped. Here are the top 10 networking mistakes I see most people make and how to course correct for a smoother search.

  1. Asking if anyone is hiring. Most people you talk to won’t know of a job that is right for you that is available right now. So if you ask them if they know of any open jobs and they don’t, you are unlikely to secure a conversation with them. A better strategy is to tell them you have no reason to believe they know of anyone who is hiring right now, but wanted to talk to them because you are interested in learning more about a particular job role, industry, or company that they have knowledge of. By changing the expectation of the conversation, you increase the likelihood of engaging in a meaningful conversation with the contact, telling them more about yourself and your capabilities, and asking if there is anyone else you should talk to. Successful networkers leverage the relationships they have to gain new introductions to people who can help them in their search. By repeating this conversation with many people in your professional and social circles, you will eventually gain an introduction to someone who is actually hiring for a position that is right for you.
  2. Asking for the name of the HR Manager. Many people think that the HR Manager or internal recruiter is the decision maker for all positions posted within an organization. But in actuality, these people are gate keepers and part of their role is to screen people out of the hiring process. Rather than ask for a contact in HR, ask your network if they can introduce you to someone who works in the department you are interested in, preferably the person who would be your boss or your boss’ boss if you were working there. If that doesn’t work, ask for introductions to others in the company who may be willing to introduce you to someone closer to the department you are interested in. Just because you are a marketing guy doesn’t mean someone in accounting who knows someone in sales can’t introduce you to someone in the marketing group.
  3. Assuming you can only get hired when there is an open job. Smart managers are always on the lookout for talent. If you can build and nurture relationships with the people who will value your talent before there is an open job, you are much more likely to remain top-of-mind with them when an opportunity becomes available. Additionally, many hiring managers who spot talent are willing to create a position for the right person to secure their placement on the team.
  4. Reaching out to people on LinkedIn you don’t know. While it’s true that LinkedIn is a fantastic tool for networking, it generally doesn’t work well unless you’ve warmed up the leads you have there. Reaching out to someone you don’t know and expecting a response is almost as effective as opening up the phone book, picking someone at random, calling them, and asking them to meet with you. A better strategy is to find the person you want to meet and view the “get introduced” feature on LinkedIn to see who is one or two degrees away from you and that connection and ask for an introduction that way.
  5. Expecting too much too soon. If you are in the process of building a relationship with someone, you will need to build it authentically first before expecting that person to help you. Think of ways to give to your network first; engage on LinkedIn by following their feeds, liking, commenting, or sharing their status or agreeing to introduce them to people they would like to meet. Just because you met someone at a recent event or connected to them on LinkedIn doesn’t mean they are ready to share their contact list with you.
  6. Assuming if someone doesn’t respond right away they never will. During a job search, waiting for someone to respond to an email or a phone call can feel like an eternity. When a response does not come right away many job seekers become anxious or even depressed and take the lack of a response personally. Get used to the fact that you may not be the first thing on your contact’s “to-do” list. Let the initial request to speak sit for a few days before sending a follow up. And in the meantime, try to source others who may be able to help you with your search. Often those initial contacts circle back a week or two later and profusely apologize for not responding to you more promptly.
  7. Assuming the people who know you best will be the most likely to help you. This is rarely the case. It’s unlikely that you will find your next job through your old boss, sibling, or spouse. And you might find that the expectations you have for these people helping you hardly resemble what they are able to do. You are more likely to find your next job through your sister’s friend’s boss’ neighbor than you are from your direct contact. It’s just the nature of networking and the web of contacts. You have to talk to a lot of people to find the one who can ultimately help you.
  8. Thinking LinkedIn job postings are more effective than job boards. While it’s true that LinkedIn shows users who they know at a company where a job is posted, it’s still challenging to land a job this way. Like job boards, positions posted on LinkedIn are part of the open market; the listings that everyone gets to see. When you network you are sourcing leads through what’s called the hidden job market; the positions that are filled word-of-mouth and possibly never listed. Your odds of landing a position are much greater when you are one of a few candidates being considered than when you are one of hundreds being considered.
  9. Assuming only people in your professional network can help you land a job. Many people think that if a person is not in their field they have limited value helping them find a job. Most people use LinkedIn as their primary method for staying in touch with connections. Few explore their Facebook contacts but in fact the people you know on Facebook may be stronger affinities than those you know on LinkedIn. You can search Facebook for people who work at certain companies or hold certain roles much the same way you can on LinkedIn. You may find out that you have friends who have other friends or friends of friends who are connected to the very decision makers you are trying to meet.
  10. Giving up. Networking is a lot of work. There are a lot of dead ends; people who will never return your calls, won’t share contacts, will tell you they will help you but don’t…Job search includes a lot of rejection and requires a thick skin. You will learn a lot about people during a search. You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find the prince. But you will also meet a lot of amazing people, build new friendships, and receive help from people you never expected to be able or willing to help you at all. Keep at it. Job search is a temporary situation. When the process is completed, you will emerge as a stronger, more self-aware, and more empathic person. And hopefully you will be able to “pay it forward” to others who find themselves in a job search down the line.

5 Ways to Use Twitter for Your Job Search

TwitterTwitter can be a great source of competitive intelligence during a job search. Here are five tips for using Twitter to source information related to your job search that can help you find key decision makers and accelerate your networking efforts.

  • Follow the Twitter handles for the companies you are interested in working for. Retweet and favorite their tweets as appropriate to acknowledge the information they are sharing and get on their radar.


  • Follow hashtags for career-related subjects to find people tweeting on topics that can help you in your search. Examples: #jobs, #employment

nyc jobs

  • Conduct Google searches for people tweeting about a company you are interested in by searching on and adding the company name.  Example – GE


  • Use tools such as Twellow to source and compare different Twitter accounts related to a target company and assess the size of their following and circle of influence.


  • Use the advanced search feature on Twitter to create more specific searches on job-related topics. Example – Chicago marketing jobs




5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Google+ in Your Job Search

Most job seekers I talk to rely solely on LinkedIn as their main online tool for finding contacts for their job search and being found by decision makers. LinkedIn is a fabulous resource, but Google+ can be used to supplement a job seeker’s strategy and open new doors that could be challenging to open when relying exclusively on the power of LinkedIn. Here are five reasons why job seekers shouldn’t ignore Google+ and why it’s a viable platform that can be integrated into a search campaign.

Google+ is a social network built by the company that’s held the rank of the #1 search engine for years. Updates become visible to the public via a simple Google search. Posting updates can help position you as a thought leader in your field and a desirable candidate.

G+ marathon
Google+ is a social network indexed by Google. Its main function is to make it easy for people to discover you. Google actively searches Google+ for content others might be looking for. This gives you an opportunity to get information to your audience and build a strong digital footprint. Most hiring managers and recruiters Google candidates before they ever call them in for an interview. By creating a profile/bio on Google+ you take control of your professional identity and make it easier for people to find you. Google+ profiles will rank high in the search engines when people Google you.

G+ profile

YouTube is integrated with Google and is the #2 search engine. Using YouTube enhances the social aspects of Google+ and opportunities to share. When you comment on YouTube videos that are relevant to your professional identity, these comments can also be posted on Google+. And if you create YouTube videos to showcase your expertise, these videos can be linked to on your Google+ page.

G+ YouTube


G+ YouTube 2

The barrier to entry on Google+ is much lower than on LinkedIn where someone must accept you as a connection or friend. On Google+ you can add anyone. This means it may be easier to connect with someone on Google+ than on LinkedIn where you have to generally prove you have some sort of relationship with a contact in order to connect.

Zuckerberg G+ 2

Zuckerberg G+
You can see who is following whom on Google+ unlike Facebook and LinkedIn where you need to be a friend or connection. This can make it easier to source decision makers and widen your professional circles.

G+ circles

6 Things No Job Seeker Needs to Hear

bad adviceEveryone wants to help a friend in need. But before you start dishing out advice to a friend who is in a job search, make sure your advice and comments are actually helpful. Consider these typical comments/suggestions that many well-meaning friends make during someone’s job search. Are you really helping or could you be massaging your message to add more value to your friend’s search strategy?

I’m sure things will pick up soon. This is a cop out on your part and just a way to make the conversation an easier one for you. Show some genuine empathy and let your friend know that you understand that looking for a job is difficult and that you are there for him and are willing to offer emotional support.

I can’t believe someone with your experience hasn’t been snatched up yet. Most friends say this in an effort to make the person feel better and boost their confidence. But saying this actually deflates confidence. Unless you’ve been through a job search before, you probably have no idea what’s involved. The average search for executives generally takes a minimum of nine months. Remind your friend that he has valuable skills to offer and his patience and persistence will pay off. Job search is a marathon, not a sprint.

It’s brutal out there; I have another friend who has been out of work for 18 months.Perhaps you are trying to make your friend feel better by showing him he is not alone in his struggles. But comparing two people’s job searches is like comparing apples and oranges. So many factors including the person’s profession, industry, geography, years of experience, resume, quality of their network, and general search strategy can influence the length of the search. Rather than focus on what you think is the norm for a job search, concentrate on ways you can help your friend accelerate theirs. Invite him to events or social functions where you think he may be able to meet people to expand his network or offer to introduce him to one of your colleagues.

Let me take a look at your resume; maybe I can offer some suggestions. Unless you screen or write resumes on a regular basis, don’t offer to critique someone else’s. What you think looks professional may not be what hiring authorities, recruiters, and applicant tracking softwares are looking for. Refer your friend to a professional resume writer instead.

Have you posted your resume on any job boards? I hear a lot of people are using (insert job board here). Believe me, most job seekers have already explored this option with minimal results. Hearing the suggestion from you is like rubbing salt into a wound. Rather than recommending he show up at a job board party with thousands of other applicants, offer him an introduction to someone in your network.

Maybe you should start your own business. You’ve always been good at (fill in the blank). While your suggestion has good intentions, your friend might not be ready to wrap his head around the concept of starting their own business. And he might not really be cut out for it either. Starting a business requires an enormous amount of thought, time, energy, and introspection. It is generally not an ideal short-term solution to a job loss.

If you have a friend who is in a job search, offer him a meal, an ear, an introduction, and your time. He will get much more mileage out of that kind of support than he will from often misplaced suggestions for what he should be doing. Don’t focus on the quick fix solution; instead focus on supporting him and being there for him.

Stop Trying to Define a Salary Range for Moms

momsOver the years a few annual surveys have come out about working and stay-at-home mothers right around Mother’s Day. has the How Much Are Mom’s Worth? salary wizard which calculates how much someone would be paid for all of the jobs moms do (teacher, cook, chauffeur, etc) and reminds moms that all the work they do is worth a six-figure salary even though they never actually see a dime. And the CareerBuilder’s Working Mothers Survey published a few years back reported that close to a quarter of working moms take work home and reminds moms that they are not alone in feeling guilty about not spending more time with their kids. So I never head into Mother’s Day weekend with a warm and fuzzy feeling; instead I grumble as I wash dishes that should be at least a $10 an hour job and wallow in my feelings of being underpaid and overworked.

The surveys seem to suggest that working moms don’t spend nearly the amount of quality time with their kids as their moms did. But is this really the case? My friends and I often joke around about our moms and how they opened the door and said “Go out and play and don’t come back until lunch.” And when we returned for lunch we had about 15 minutes before mom opened that door again and said “Don’t come back until dinner.” Yet we all managed to make it to adulthood without being emotionally scarred and we have fond memories of our childhood and our moms.

I’ve decided that working mother guilt is “so 2005″ and I’m moving past it. And as for the “working for nothing” side of the equation, I’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes the times you spend doing those seemingly thankless chores, making the extra batch of brownies for the school bake sale, or playing that third mind-numbing Game of Life are memories you end up cherishing for life that can’t be replaced by any monetary compensation.

While I was writing this post my daughter called to chat. I told her I was working. I could sense she was offering me a classic eye roll. But ten minutes later I put the post on hold to chat. It was just ten minutes to reconnect and hear about her day. Maybe she would have liked 20 minutes. But she got 10 and 20 minutes wouldn’t have necessarily made it a better conversation nor would it have made me a better mother. Working moms give a lot. And kids know that and they like their moms just the way they are. Happy Mother’s Day!

Stress and Sedentary Behavior Leads to Weight Gain at Work

weight gainAccording to a recent CareerBuilder survey, the stresses associated with full-time employment may be a contributing factor to weight gain among US employees. Of the 3,000 people surveyed, 57 percent of workers feel they are overweight. The survey also revealed:

– Extremely high-stressed workers were 49 percent more likely to be overweight than those under extremely low stress

– 63 percent of workers with wellness benefits/gym access do not use them

– Professional & business services/IT workers most likely to gain weight at present jobs

– 42 percent of workers say they’ve gained weight in their present job

When asked what they felt contributed to their weight gain at their current job, 37 percent of workers said “eating because of stress,” and 43 percent said they are “too tired from work to exercise.” Fifty-six percent said “sitting at the desk most of the day” contributed to the weight gain at their present job.

I recently had a conversation about on the job healthy eating and fitness habits with Stephanie Mansour, a health and fitness expert and facilitator of corporate wellness programs for top firms like GE, owner of Step it Up With Steph, and featured trainer on Chicago-based weight loss reality show Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.  She offered these tips for managing your waistline on the job.

  1. Don’t forgo breakfast and a mid morning snack in favor of a huge lunch where you are likely to be so hungry that you overeat. It’s best to eat 5 small meals each day to keep hunger pangs at bay and keep blood sugar levels stable.
  2. Schedule your exercise time in your calendar like you would any other important appointment.
  3. If you plan to go out after work with colleagues, schedule an exercise session first. Yoga can help you become more mindful in your eating and cardio exercise will help you burn some of those extra calories you may consume while you are out with colleagues.
  4. If you don’t have time to go to the gym during your workday, run up and down the stairs a few times or do some stretches in your chair or at your desk.
  5. If you plan to exercise during your lunch hour but don’t want to return to the office drenched in sweat, wear a headband to absorb sweat or perform yoga or Pilates exercises that work the muscles without working up too much of a sweat.
  6. Make each decision separate from the last one. Just because you began the day eating badly doesn’t mean you have to finish the day that way.


Famous and Infamous Office Romances


According to a 2015 CareerBuilder Office Romance Survey, 37 percent of workers surveyed reported they have dated someone they have worked with and 24 percent of office romances involved a superior. Nearly 1 in 5 workers who have had an office romance (19 percent) have had an affair with a co-worker where one person involved was married at the time.

Here are 10 celebrities and famous politicians who were outed for an affair with a subordinate or co-worker.

1. Arnold Schwarzenegger

In 2011, Schwarzenegger fathered a child with a household staff member, Mildred Patricia Baena. As a result, Maria Shriver now holds the title of “Terminator” — of their marriage, that is.

2. Jude Law

Law was discovered cheating with his kids’ babysitter, Daisy Wright, in 2005, while he was engaged to Sienna Miller. In 2010 the couple got back together. Hopefully, Law has made alternative child-care arrangements.

3. David Letterman

Letterman admitted to having affairs with several Late Show staffers after a CBS news producer threatened to expose him unless he forked over $2M. It’s not clear how many staffers Letterman had affairs with, but let’s just say it would make a great Top 10 list.

4. Tiki Barber

Barber dumped his pregnant wife in 2010 for 23-year-old NBC intern, Traci Lynn Johnson. The ex-Giants superstar turned Today Show correspondent found himself in the middle of a media circus that was better than any Superbowl half-time show on record.

5. Mark Souder

The eight-term Indiana representative resigned in 2010 after admitting to an affair with a female aide, Tracy Jackson, who worked in his district office. Good to know Souder was a politician known for his support of traditional family values. Whoops!

6. Bill Clinton

President Clinton lied about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky in 1998 and then later admitted to the affair once the threat of DNA evidence on Lewinsky’s clothing was uncovered. Sometimes it pays to hold off on the dry cleaning.

7. John Edwards

Edwards admitted to an affair with 42-year-old campaign aide Rielle Hunter in 2008 while his wife Elizabeth Edwards battled cancer. It later was revealed that Edwards fathered a child with Hunter.

8. Brad Pitt & 9. Angelina Jolie

Pitt and Jolie met while filming “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” in 2004. Jennifer Aniston filed for divorce the following year. Seven years and six kids later, Brad and Angelina appear to still be together despite rampant reports of them splitting up.

10. Ethan Hawke

Hawke hooked up with 28-year-old Ryan Shawhughes while married to Uma Thurman. At the time, Shawhuges was working as the couple’s nanny. The couple’s divorce was finalized in 2005 and Hawke later had a child with Shawhughes. At least this time around he won’t have to pay for a babysitter.

The list could go on and on. Whom would you add?