Job search advice from my clients to my clients

I’m in a somewhat unique position from the job search perspective in that I am a professional resume writer, I provide career coaching, I am a recruiter, I am a Talent Acquisition Consultant for a Recruiting Process Outsourcing firm, and for some of my clients I serve as the hiring manager. All that to say, I am intimately involved in the hiring (and firing) process from all levels and lately I have been noticing some things that are keeping perfectly good people from matching up with other perfectly good people!


If you are looking for a job:

·      Please include a cover letter with your resume – even if no one asks for one but especially if they do. Take the time to customize it for the actual job to which you are applying. Last week someone sent me a cover letter detailing how their goal in life was to be a medical coder and biller. Too bad they were applying to be an Account Manager for a label manufacturer!

·      Please review the job posting and the hiring company’s website prior to your interview. If you tell me in the interview that you have applied for so many jobs that you don’t recall applying for this one I will have a very hard time believing you really want to work for this particular company.

·      Please tell me your desired compensation range. A range is fine and if you are negotiable let me know but please let’s not play the ‘whoever talks first loses’ game. I will happily tell you my payment range as well but I as the hiring manager am likely more flexible if you are awesome.

·      I don’t expect you to be a professional resume writer (but hey, I can help you out with that if you like) but please get your resume to modern day standards. Don’t give me your career objective, don’t hand me something that looks like it was produced on a typewriter and mimeographed and at if you’re going to claim to have great attention to detail, check your spelling. And don’t go back more than 15 years, because you are unnecessarily exposing yourself to prejudice about age that you just don’t need.

·      I totally understand being desperate for a job, I really do – I’ve been there, but please don’t just send your resume out to every posting blindly. This week I had the same applicant apply to an AR job, a Safety Role and a Business Development manager for two different companies in three different states! No cover letter and nothing remotely relevant on his resume to any of the jobs. Do you just need to check a box that you applied or did you want to be considered.? HELP ME HELP YOU (recruiter cries pitifully)


And to my clients who are hiring…

·      Please don’t label someone as damaged goods just because they’ve been laid off if they are an otherwise great candidate. At least let’s find out the whole story.

·      Please hire for culture, but is it really necessary for every manager in the building to interview someone? Especially if none of you get along…how exactly do you see this ending?

·      Please don’t add unnecessary complexity to the hiring process. If you don’t trust your hiring manager to make the decision, why don’t you hire an awesome management development expert (and hey, I can help you out here too) to get your hiring managers more proficient in hiring rather than insisting that the C Level execs sign off on entry-level candidates.  BTW…I have noticed absolutely no increase in retention in companies that do this. I completely agree with hiring for culture and in getting C Level buy off on some position but other times it shrieks control issues.

·      Please try to look for the good and not just the bad. You will find whatever you are looking the hardest for and no offense but are you sure you can afford the perfect unicorn you are demanding?


And to my resume clients

·      Pick a career target. Any career target. It will make it easier to write AND read your resume. You can have more than one resume – no one is going to get mad at you.

·      Just be yourself. The right company for you is out there. This is like dating and if you fake it, you’ll end up with someone who only likes fake you, which equals stress, stress and more stress.

·      Please provide me some accomplishments you’ve done, or impact you’ve had. If you want your resume to ‘pop’, you must provide me some information besides all the tasks you were responsible for. Tasks are boring and don’t ‘pop’. And no, I will not use colored font for your resume and neither should you!


So there, for the people, by the people, to get the people working for the right people!

Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Limitless HR Solutions, a Seattle-based management consulting firm devoted to helping business owners fall back in love with their businesses. A certified executive coach, seasoned Organizational Behavior Management Practitioner and Senior HR professional, Carrie can be reached for consultation at

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More job search tips; for the laid off and/or “overqualified”

Last week we discussed tips for your job search from a recruiting perspective.  I’ve received numerous comments and questions about this topic (in answer to the most common – Yes, I do offer career coaching and resume writing to individuals – just not to the individuals I encounter when I’m wearing my recruiting hat, because hello, – conflict).  Some of the specific questions and concerns I’ve heard from job searchers is a fear that they will be labeled as ‘damaged goods’ if they have been laid off and/or that they will be labeled the dreaded ‘overqualified’. So what to do?

First, let me state that these are legitimate concerns and there are several dynamics at play.  It is still the general expectation that as one progresses through one’s career, one consistently takes on more responsibility or challenges and that one’s pay increases commensurate with this.  It is also true that in the last five years, layoffs are more common than previously.  Consequently, people find themselves on the market after losing very high paying and prestigious jobs.  These people have the option of trying to find something similar to their last position or trying a new career avenue.  Sometimes, they find themselves in a place of applying for jobs below their competence or desired pay out of desperation or because they feel they are running out of options.  Ironically, when someone decides to ‘settle’ by applying for less than ideal positions and salary, they can often become even more discouraged by a lack of response from employers. If they do hear anything, it’s the dreaded ‘overqualified’. What to do?

First, the layoff question. Sad to say I do have some employer clients who still believe that valuable employees do not get laid off, (even though they often do).   If you have been unfortunate enough to be laid off maybe you question your own value.  After all, in years past it was pretty well accepted that you never let your most valuable people go, no matter what.  Let me reassure you, it happens.  It happens when the business structure changes, it happens when the business model changes, it happens when new leaders are brought in and then they bring in their cronies from their previous organizations and it happens when you’re at the top of the salary band and the company is struggling to pay its bills.  My advice is to be as honest as possible about what happened, without being disrespectful or negative towards your previous employer.  Explain the decision making process behind your situation and, if you were a senior executive, the role you played in the strategic decision to eliminate your position.  It is possible to salvage this.

As for being overqualified. If you are using your COO resume to apply for a General Manager position then you probably are being labeled as overqualified, but I would actually label you as a somewhat lazy job searcher.  If you really think it’s necessary to downgrade your career aspirations at this point (and maybe it is, but don’t be too hasty) then create a General Manager resume that focuses on those skills.  And ask for pay suitable for a General Manager.  This will greatly, greatly reduce the risk of being labeled overqualified.    

Some people use lay-offs as a platform to enter an entirely new career.  This is more typical when there has been a significant severance but not always.  When this happens you often do need to start from scratch.  In this instance, I’d suggest a functional resume, where you take any transferrable skills you can and re-purpose them to your new endeavor.  There is a reality here that you may need to scale back your compensation expectations if you are not trained or experienced in the new line but this is often just a temporary situation, as you do have life experience under your belt to help you learn new skills quickly.

If you haven’t been on the job market in a long time, you do need to know the landscape has changed.  Here are some very general Do’s and Don’ts to get you started with basic resume/online etiquette. 


  • ·Proofread your resume and follow these generally accepted standards
    • Keep it to two pages or less
    •  Ensure there is [sic] absolutely no typos or grammatical errors
    •  Use attractive and consistent formatting
  • Include a cover letter every time and tailor it to the job for which you are applying
  • At least try to determine the name of the hiring manager
  • Do some research on the company.  LinkedIn and Google are the bare minimums.
  • On that topic, make sure you regularly update your LinkedIn profile and your resume…AND that they match each other
  • Join as many relevant networking groups as you can (more on this to follow)


  • Do not allow job search boards to create a canned resume for you.  They look terrible and generic.
  • Don’t use the same resume and cover letter for every job for which you’re applying. 
  • Don’t address your cover letter “Gentlemen”.  This actually happened to me this week.  This is a terrible idea for many reasons.  As it happens, I was recruiting for a woman-owned business, which is very apparent if one does the bare minimum homework. 
  • Don’t use your personal email if it is unprofessional or hints at illegal or unethical activity
  • Don’t apply multiple times to the same posting.  It makes it look like you are not paying attention

Hopefully this is helpful.  Please reach out with any questions to



From the Recruiting Desk – Tips for your job search

Part of the services Limitless HR Solutions offers is recruiting, so part of my job is matching job searchers to people who are hiring.   From a recruiting standpoint, there are really three things to take into consideration: Does the skill set of the candidate match with what the company needs; is the culture a ‘fit’ for the candidate, and lastly, does the candidate demonstrate social/emotional intelligence?  Much of the time, it’s like gold mining, and sometimes it’s like gold mining in reverse.  

As a Certified Professional Resume Writer, I am well aware that a resume is a marketing tool and sometimes it’s not an entirely accurate one.  Behavioral interviewing is my best tool for determining whether someone has actually done what their resume claims.  For example, the resume might say ‘Managed customer accounts worth $250 million’.  Behavioral interview questions will address what specific things they did when they say ‘managed accounts’ and you may find out they did exactly what you need them to do in this role or (reverse gold mining) by ‘managed’ they mean ‘took orders when established clients called them in’.  

So tip number one for job searchers:  You will greatly increase your chance of an interview if your resume makes it easy for me to determine the things you did and the results you got.  I’m sure I’m not the only recruiter who is also a resume writer so please do not ‘fluff’ up your resume to make it sound more impressive.  We can tell.  And do you really want to land a job that is way above your experience level?  

Recruiting for cultural fit is as important as skill (see previous article).  This is relatively easy to get a sense for; and especially when both sides are honest.  I firmly believe that in any relationship-dating or working, there is a lid for every pot.  If not having established policies for things gives you a rash, please don’t say you thrive in chaos.  

Tip number two for job searchers:  If you haven’t done so, please take some time to figure out what you’d really like to be doing.  If you’re feeling desperate to land a job, this may seem like a luxury you can’t afford but trust me.  You’ll stand a much better chance of getting by the me’s of the recruiting world if we sense this is a good fit and not that you’re saying whatever you have to because you’re worried you’ll never, ever get a paycheck again.

The last thing is emotional or social intelligence.  I’m not sure if this can be learned or not.  After some of the candidates I’ve spoken to I’ve wondered if they are playing an elaborate joke on me.  Why would someone go to the trouble of applying for a job they clearly don’t want?  

Tip number three for job searchers:  Unless a recruiter calls you out of the blue, you will be aware that you have an interview.  If you don’t at least do a cursory google search of the company you are interviewing with as well as a review of the job description…of the job you have applied for…you will NOT endear yourself to the gatekeeper…ERRRR recruiter.  

Tip number four for job searchers:  It’s a good idea to be pleasant to the recruiter.  If you berate them for information, or demand a higher salary before the interview has started, or complain about the job description, we will think you are a jerk and will not recommend you for hire.  It saddens me that this cannot remain and unstated rule, but alas, it cannot.

Happy Hunting!