LinkedIn Hacks to Help Your Research

You’re looking for a new job. You’ve unpacked your career and made some progress researching target companies. Once you determine where you might like to work, connecting with someone on the inside can give you a huge advantage.

How do you figure out who works where you want to work?

At this point, you can assume that most professional people are on LinkedIn, it’s just a matter of knowing how to find them. Try these LinkedIn hacks to get an inside track.

Hack #1: Use LinkedIn Advanced Search

  1. 1) Find the search bar. Set it to search for “People.”

  2. 2) Click on the “Advanced” tab on the right side. This will open up several new search boxes that will focus the results you want. We’re going to focus on the fields in the left column.


  1. 3) Company field: Enter the name of your target company.


  1. 4) Select “Current” from the dropdown menu that appears below the Company field. People who used to work there might not be as helpful.


  1. 5) Location field: Choose “Located in or near” and enter the zip code of the company’s location. Limit your search to within 50 miles so that you only see local employees. Larger companies have people nationwide, or even around the world, too distant for you to make a meaningful connection.


  1. 6) Keywords field: Enter a job title term that relates to the type of work you’re looking for, such as marketing, accounting, or engineering (LinkedIn is not case sensitive). If it’s a smaller company—under 100 people—you might want just want to click “Search” and browse through everyone.


Use typical search conventions to hone your results. Quotation marks allow you to search for multiple words together (such as: “engineering manager” or “financial audit”). The word OR allows you to look for two different options (such as: “engineering OR development”).

  • Click the magic button and peruse your potential contacts.


Hack #2: Use Google to scrape LinkedIn

Google indexes all of LinkedIn. This means you can find everyone on the site, whether you are connected to them or not. This method can be helpful especially if you find LinkedIn results limited due to lack of connections. Results on Google will not be as specific, but it should still turn up many helpful leads for you.

For this example, let’s say I’m interested in seeing who works in marketing at Expedia HQ in the Seattle area:

  1. 1) In the Google search bar, type intitle:linkedin (no spaces). This limits results to pages with “linkedin” in the title, pages from LinkedIn.


  3. 2) Add the company name, in this case Expedia.
  7. 3) Add a location. Type Seattle. Whether or not people work in the city proper, LinkedIn encompasses the region under “Greater Seattle” for simplicity, so anyone nearby will have this in their profile.
  10. 4) Add a job keyword. For example, type marketing to try and find people in the marketing department.
  13. 5) Focus search results on people, not other pages. In other words, you don’t want to see a list of job openings or random articles, you just want LinkedIn people profiles. Type profile NOT qualification as the last term. All LinkedIn profile pages will include the word “profile,” and all job openings will have a section listing qualifications (which is not a term people typically put on their own profiles). Using the word NOT tells Google you don’t want any result that has the word “qualification” in it.

Hack #2 is a little extra work, but taking the time to create a good search query should yield some interesting target people. 

Then what?

Once you find some contacts, what do you do with them? It depends on why you wanted to look them up in the first place.

If you’re trying to set up an information interview to learn about the company, send a direct message through LinkedIn or use other job search hacks to figure out the company’s email addresses (more on that in a future post).

If you’re applying for a job, connecting directly with a hiring manager or people on the team can be a great way to get past the black hole of recruiting and human resources, since both teams are likely overwhelmed by resumes.

Or maybe you’re just curious to see who is on the team you might be interviewing with to discover any potential connections or insight. You can learn a lot by reading their profiles—what they do, how they describe the organization and their role, and career progression. Once you find someone on a target team, LinkedIn will often recommend similar profiles of other people on that same team, which helps you map out the organization.


Bonus download: Top 8 LinkedIn Tips PDF to help you upgrade your profile.

Happy hacking!


For more helpful job search tips: Ultimate Job Search Guide: Recruiter Insider Tips

100 Action Words For Your Resume

A resume is supposed to be a career highlight reel, but most sound boring. Inject some life into your resume by peppering it with a variety of active words.

Variety is a key component of dynamic content. Don’t use the same verb more than once to describe your accomplishments. This can be tricky, so for inspiration, here is a list of 100 action words for your resume:

  1. Accelerated
  2. Accomplished
  3. Achieved
  4. Analyzed
  5. Attained
  6. Authored
  7. Awarded
  8. Began
  9. Boosted
  10. Brokered
  11. Built
  12. Cataloged
  13. Centralized
  14. Coached
  15. Composed
  16. Conducted
  17. Contracted
  18. Contributed
  19. Convinced
  20. Coordinated
  21. Corrected
  22. Counseled
  23. Created
  24. Customized
  25. Delegated
  26. Demonstrated
  27. Designed
  28. Developed
  29. Distributed
  30. Drafted
  31. Earned
  32. Edited
  33. Eliminated
  34. Encouraged
  35. Engineered
  36. Established
  37. Expanded
  38. Fixed
  39. Formulated
  40. Founded
  41. Generated
  42. Guided
  43. Hired
  44. Implemented
  45. Improved
  46. Increased
  47. Influenced
  48. Inspired
  49. Installed
  50. Instituted
  51. Invented
  52. Joined
  53. Launched
  54. Learned
  55. Led
  56. Made
  57. Managed
  58. Marketed
  59. Measured
  60. Motivated
  61. Negotiated
  62. Netted
  63. Obtained
  64. Operated
  65. Organized
  66. Oversaw
  67. Performed
  68. Persuaded
  69. Planned
  70. Presented
  71. Produced
  72. Programmed
  73. Proposed
  74. Quantified
  75. Raised
  76. Recognized
  77. Recommended
  78. Redesigned
  79. Reduced
  80. Released
  81. Resolved
  82. Restructured
  83. Revised
  84. Saved
  85. Served
  86. Simplified
  87. Spoke
  88. Sold
  89. Solved
  90. Started
  91. Supervised
  92. Surpassed
  93. Taught
  94. Trained
  95. Transformed
  96. Utilized
  97. Verified
  98. Volunteered
  99. Wrote
  100. Exceeded


Of course, an exciting resume is more than just action words. You’ll want to include compelling stories, not just facts. Show your personality. Make the most of every inch – especially the Top Third.


For more helpful job search tips, check out: Ultimate Job Search Guide: Recruiter Insider Tips

Aim Smart When Targeting A New Job

Bull’s eye! I have a dartboard in my man-cave where my buddies and I play. In darts, sometimes you need to hit the bull’s eye to win, but occasionally it’s the next ring out, like #17 or #19. It’s helpful to think about your job search the same way, as you decide which roles to aim for.

A man who chases two rabbits catches neither.” So goes the Chinese proverb, an apt description of the folks who let fly hundreds of resumes without aiming in any particular direction.

Vocationally speaking, you can point your resume at three targets. Where you aim may depend on your situation, just like darts, but you need to set your sites on one rather than trying to hit all three at once.

Target #1 – Bull’s Eye: Same role AND same industry

When first looking at a job change, most of us begin aiming for a similar job (such as sales) in the same industry (such as tech). Effectively, you are doing the same thing but with a different logo.

I consider this the bull’s eye because it is your strongest leverage with companies and recruiters. You are a “specialist.” You will receive a better response rate and higher compensation because you can make an immediate impact with your proven track record in that similar industry.

The challenge with bull’s eye roles, however, is that they are more limited. If you’ve pursued this target without results, you might need to alter your aim. Or perhaps you feel that your last role was not really a great fit, or maybe you want to change industries to find a new challenge or work that’s more inspiring.

How do you look beyond the bull’s eye without losing focus? How do you target your search outside the ring of obvious positions? There is a strategy to expand your pool of options while remaining competitive as an applicant.

Target #2 – One Ring Out: Different role OR different industry

Aim one ring outside of the bull’s eye by looking at different roles within your current industry or similar roles in different industries. Change one, but not both at the same time.

For example, if you are a sales associate working in retail, you could focus on a sales role at a technology company. Same job (sales), but a different industry (technology vs. retail). Or, you could stay in the retail industry but try to land a marketing position. Different job (marketing vs. sales), but still the same industry (retail). Make sense?

Either scenario is one ring outside of the bull’s eye, but in both cases, the candidate brings related qualifications (role or industry) to a new employer who would value that experience. To use another gaming analogy, it’s like a basketball player who plants one foot and pivots the other to find a better shot.

When people are feeling stuck in their job transition, I’ve found that the most successful career moves are one ring out. This broadens the field to hundreds of relevant options without compromising your competitive edge.

Target #3 –Two Rings Out: Different role AND different industry

Target #3 represents the most drastic change. It requires aiming outside of your core job experience to search for a different role in a different industry. You are now competing with everyone—from the people with qualified work experience to the people without any relevant experience—without any advantage.

For example, if an accountant in the manufacturing industry decides to apply for a sales job in real estate, that’s a different job (sales vs. accounting) AND a different industry (real estate vs. manufacturing). A big change!

This strategy means hitting reset on your career and moving back to an entry-level role. Pursuing a job that’s two rings out is very hard because you’re among the least qualified of applicants, most of whom likely bring at least some relevant experience to the table.

Despite the perils, aiming “two rings out” is a mistake I see all too often. When bull’s eye jobs are scarce or slow in coming, job seekers panic and start applying for any job anywhere, hoping that a higher volume of activity might lead to results. But these widespread options yield a much lower positive response rate, which only fuels internal fear and doubt.

To make matters worse, if you do land a job two rings out, chances are the learning curve will be very steep and the work will be a struggle—for you and for your new employer—jeopardizing your shot at future success. You may also end up typecast based on your new job, which is not where you intended to be which makes the next job search harder too.

As a general rule, avoid targeting jobs or industries unrelated to your previous work. The only thing you’ll likely find is wasted time and frustration. Instead, focus your energy on the bull’s eye or one ring out. In retrospect, you will realize your prior experience gave you valuable skills and insight that prepared you for future roles which make a logical link.

The Career Two-Step

What if you want to make a change in both your job and industry?

It’s possible, but I recommend a two-step process, rather than trying to make the big leap all at once. Aim for two one-ring moves back-to-back as you map out your career journey and anticipate your next couple of jobs.

For example, let’s say our marketing person in the manufacturing industry really wants to make that jump into a sales role in the technology industry. I would recommend starting with a marketing job in tech or a sales job in manufacturing. 

In summary:

  Same Role Different Role
Same Industry Bull’s Eye Good strategy
Different Industry Good strategy Risky, consider two steps



For more helpful job search tips: Ultimate Job Search Guide: Recruiter Insider Tips

The Right Way To Handle References

When a company asks for your references, it’s often the last step in the screening process before receiving an offer. As long as you verify with your contacts, and as long as you have been truthful in your resume and interviews, the reference check should be a non-event.

You are on the homestretch. This finish line is in sight, but you’re not there yet. Scrambling for references or fumbling this step can trip you up. Be proactive and prepared for this step, and you will be soon celebrating your new job. 

Before talking strategy, it’s good to understand what the employer likely is looking to learn from your references. A company reference check is the “trust but verify” stage prior to extending an offer. They are looking for a few key things in a quick 10-15 minute phone call:

  • * Verification – At a basic level, does the role, dates, titles, and responsibilities you indicated on your resume match up with reality? They want to confirm that you did what you said you did. Any fudging of the truth is a big red flag.


  • * Work performance – What were your strongest attributes in your last role? What key results did you deliver? How did you stand out from your peers?


  • * Team & culture fit –How did you resolve conflict and communicate your ideas? How did you build and mentor your team?

  • * Growth areas – What areas could you improve in order to get to the next level? What struggles or areas were you being coached through? What is the greatest misperception of you on the team? No one is perfect, so a reference that cannot cite any areas for growth may be enough to invalidate their perspective.


  • * Motivation/drive – What drives you and inspires you? What advice would you give to a future manager on how to best lead you? This is more of an onboarding question, but it leads to an interesting insight.


  • * Reason for departure – Why did you leave? Was it a “mutual parting,” or something unstated? Not all companies and roles are an ideal fit, but if the stories don’t line up with what you stated in interviews, you’ll get yourself in trouble.


  • * Recommendation – Would your former employer recommend hiring you? The question should yield a “yes” or “no” response, and hopefully, it’s a foregone conclusion by the end of the interview.


  • * The unspoken message – The interviewer will be listening for enthusiasm or hesitation in the voice of your reference. When a company hears very robotic, HR-approved answers, this raises concerns something is being hidden.


With the perspective of your potential employer in mind, here are three key things you can do to proactively prepare for the reference check request, and ultimately increase your chances of closing the deal:

1. Build your roster for ideal references.

Companies like to see references across your last 2–3 employers. The ideal mix includes your direct manager(s), peers/co-workers, and direct reports (if relevant) for each company. You’ll probably only need 3–4 of these folks, but it’s good to have a broad list ready.

Who your past job references are carries as much weight as what they say. Providing a company with the contact info for your last three managers communicates transparency and confidence. If your list is limited to personal friends and your mom, that sends up a red flag!

When you provide a prospective employer with references, you’ll want to include  the following information for each:

  • * Name
  • * Current job title and employer
  • * Email and cell phone
  • * Relationship context


When describing relationship context, mention what title/role the reference held while working with you. Include 1-2 sentences regarding the types of projects you worked on together, and any specific areas where they would be helpful for comment. By doing this, you steer the conversation toward the points you feel would be best for the reference to share.

2. Ask permission and prep your references

For each job opportunity, select references that might be the best fit in terms of personality or background. Then, ask if they would consider serving as a reference.

Make the ask in a phone call for a personal touch, and to connect with them faster than over email. Most will agree, but never list a reference without their OK first. It doesn’t look good if they are surprised when your prospective employer calls.

After getting the OK, set up your references for success. They want to help you, but they are also busy so make their job easier and prep them. It shows respect, helps them focus and will increase the quality of the reference.

Send an email (so they can refer to it later) including:

  • * Job description of the role for which you are a finalist.


  • * Explain why this role and company are exciting and a good potential fit with your skills, interests, and career plan.


  • * Guide them on a few particular project stories or culture areas you expect the company to ask about.


  • * Prep them on the person who will be calling—job title, company, LinkedIn profile.


  • * Confirm details. Send your reference the same contact info and context you plan to provide the company in order to double-check for accuracy, and so that they know what the company has received.


3. Thank them.

Say “thank you” to your references with a personal note. They are busy, and being a reference requires an investment of time. Consider including a $10 Starbucks card. Do not overuse the reference, if possible.

Keep engaged with them during the search process, and let them know if you landed the job. If they gave a reference, they will be curious about the outcome, and likely want to celebrate a positive result.

Job Reference FAQ

Should I include personal references?
From the employer’s perspective, personal references are not usually useful or respected since they have not seen your work performance. One exception might be if you’re applying for your first job, but even then you should first try to cull references from internships, volunteer efforts, or college work-studies.

My prior company has a “no reference check” policy. What should I do?
Unfortunately, some companies prohibit references under the guise of legal concerns. But I wonder if this is actually a selfish way to prevent managers from getting distracted with reference calls. Provide any contact you can, even if it’s only HR staff.

One way to get around this is to find a former employee not bound by the gag rule. Or you could request a recommendation on LinkedIn rather than a formal reference phone call.

Should I ask my references to post a recommendation on my LinkedIn profile too?
Yes. If possible, when requesting a reference, ask if they would be willing to post a quick recommendation on your LinkedIn profile. Employers see this as a proactive effort, which boosts your credibility, and they may even decide a reference phone call isn’t necessary in addition.

If I’m currently employed, how do I provide a reference for my current employer without raising suspicion?
A prospective new employer should respect the situation and not require a current employer reference, but they won’t want to go in blind either. A common approach is to provide the names of the references, but ask that they not be called until you have a written offer that is mutually agreeable, pending positive reference checks. You can also consider finding a co-worker you really trust to serve as a confidential reference. Or find a former co-worker who is no longer with the company.

Should I add references to my resume?
No. You don’t want your references called unless you know it’s going to happen. Some recruiters will harvest reference contact information to call for unrelated roles, which you don’t want.

If a job application asks for references, should I provide them?
A job application of this nature is often an HR form you are completing. Companies like this simple process, and people just fill things out without thinking about it. I would recommend not filling this out until you understand what happens with this information. Instead, you can write, “Full references provided, assuming mutual interest.”

If they still press for references, you could provide the minimum amount of information and request that they refrain from contacting anyone until a mutually agreed-upon point later in the selection process (toward the offer stage). If they check your references before interviewing, I would walk away. It’s not wise to the risk of overloading references with a job you are not sure about, and the company is not respecting this courtesy, which is not a good sign.

What if I’m concerned that I might not get a good reference?
If you’re not sure about what a reference might say, consider paying a reference checking service. I haven’t used one personally, but there are many online to help confirm your concerns or remove doubt.

If your last job didn’t end well, it’s good to be upfront about what happened, what you learned from it, and how the job you are applying for is a much better fit in terms of role, company, or culture. Then, if they call your reference and hear similar things, you are on the same page. The strategy, in this case, is to minimize surprises.



For more helpful job search tips: Ultimate Job Search Guide: Recruiter Insider Tips

Should I Send A Cover Letter?

You may feel your cover letter is a beautiful thing with just the right words, tone, and customized message. I hate to break it to you, but it’s a waste of time.

The truth is, most recruiters ignore cover letters. Even if the cover letter is a relic of the past, however, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook entirely. Here’s what you should do instead.

A history of cover letters

People used to mail resumes. As in, put a stamp on it, put it in the mailbox, and get it opened by a company recruiter. The idea of an introductory cover letter was an extension of the means and more formal cultural norms of the time.

Companies also didn’t always receive many resumes each day. Real people actually had time to read through resume submissions. Today, resumes are much easier to send by email, which is easier for you.  But this means companies are overwhelmed by the volume of resumes in their inboxes and don’t have the time to read everything like they used to.

People skip right to the resume

On average, most recruiters look at a resume for just 6 seconds before deciding whether the candidate is a possible fit and worth further review. If the resume doesn’t work, a cover letter isn’t going to help. If the resume does work, the company will want to schedule a phone interview and the cover letter is irrelevant. Either way, the cover letter is a non-factor.

The purpose of the cover letter was to persuade a company to talk with you. Just take that same approach, and put the content in a resume instead.

Email is the new cover letter

The modern cover letter is the email you send with resume attached. How you email your resume is important. Some quick tips:

  • * Less is more.


  • * Include a one-sentence introduction that outlines the role you are interested in.


  • * Reference any internal connection, if you have one (employee referral or insight from personal experience with the company).


  • * List your 4–6 key sell points. If you follow the Top Third Rule on your resume, copy the Objective and Skill Summary sections, and paste them here. Include your name and contact info at the bottom of the message (email address, mobile number, and LinkedIn profile link).


  • * In the subject line, write your name and the type of role you’re hoping to land.


Don’t forget to attach your resume before you hit send.

What if a cover letter is requested?

Some companies will request a cover letter. Presumably, this means someone actually wants to read them, or it could be a test to see if you can follow directions.

In this case, the good news is you can take exactly what you would include in an email, as described above, and just drop it in a Word doc or PDF.


For more helpful job search tips: Ultimate Job Search Guide: Recruiter Insider Tips

Stumped in an Interview? Answer With “3 Things”

So let’s imagine being in an interview. You get asked a challenging, open-ended question, such as “What makes you different as a Financial Analyst?” Or, “On that product launch you just described, what did you learn?” How do you reply when you are not sure what to say next?

I’m going to share a fun communication tip that has worked well for me over the years. When you don’t have an instant answer at the ready, say, “That’s a great question. I’m glad you asked. There are 3 things…” This is a simple but proven technique, and I can explain why this secret trick works so well.

Examples of “3 Things” in action

Let’s go back to our hypothetical questions and as a practical example of how to use this technique.

Question #1: What makes you different as a Financial Analyst?

3 Things” Example Response:
Great question. I appreciate you asking about what makes me different as a Financial Analyst. Three things come to mind:

First, I have experience working in a similar setting, at a midsize manufacturing company, so I know the types of issues that come up. I can get up to speed quickly.

Second, I’ve had experience with the same technology systems and processes you mentioned that you also use here.

Third, I am known for talking business first, and Financial Analyst second. What I mean by that is I listen to understand the business needs, and then work to produce reports in that language, based on what the leaders care about.

If you were the hiring manager, how would you feel after hearing that answer?

Question #2: On that product launch you just described, what did you learn from it?

That product launch was an amazing experience, and I definitely learned a lot that has helped me with future projects. Let me think for a moment. I’d say three things come to mind:

First, I learned to consider possible delays. I’m naturally an optimistic person and assumed our development vendor would deliver on time as promised, but they fell behind. While we still launched on time, everyone had a few late nights. Now I always check in on weekly progress and add in a few days of time to plan for the unexpected.

Second, I learned the power of marketing analytics. On this product launch we worked hard to develop key metrics and data tracking so when I had to present to my executive leaders on the project, I was ready and they were impressed with the numbers and presentation style, which I still use to this day.

Third, I learned how to be the “voice of the customer” by providing direct, specific customer feedback on issues we were having (it was a checkout issue in the shopping cart). While Engineering pushed back saying, “It works fine,” I had to demonstrate with customer feedback that the user experience was confusing. We developed a new system in a day. Developers were still skeptical, so we did an A/B test and overwhelmingly found that customers liked the new flow.

Another solid answer that will leave the interviewer nodding and writing.

Why “3 Things” works

If you liked these answers, you might be surprised why. Here’s a test: Without cheating, how many of the three reasons from the first example can you remember? Maybe one? Even if you can’t remember any details, however, you likely recall a general sense that it was a good answer to the question. Why?

Organized & Confident – People will remember that you seemed confident and organized. After all, if you had three points in your answer, you must know what you are talking about! It shows you are a good communicator and can organize your thoughts into a few key points. Sometimes, how you answer the question is just as important as what you say.

Take Notes – People love lists. That is why so many marketing articles and blog posts include things like the top 10 one-liners, the top 5 things to look for in buying a new car, 7 reasons to paint your house a new color, etc.

When we hear a list coming, we naturally want to write it down. The interviewer will pick up a pen and start writing down the number one and your answer. This creates organization and order in the recruiter’s notes, which gives a positive impression and engages the listener by signaling that something important is coming up.

Rule of Three – There are lots of studies about the number three being balanced and orderly. You see this ranging from the Trinity, to interior design, and trilogy series.

My favorite example is from the Marines. Apparently, in the heat of battle, even highly trained military personnel can only remember three key objectives at most, which makes sense. Sticking to the Rule of Three, forces combatants to focus on what is most important and not get caught by “mission creep” with too many objectives.

Bonus points if you noticed I have 3 main points to this article.

“3 Things”: How to use it

Trust it. I rarely know what I’m going to say next when I use this reply. Yes, that sounds scary and risky. But the mind can work quickly, and you’ll be surprised at how you can develop a clear answer in a few seconds.  

Buy yourself some valuable time by repeating the question or asking the interviewer to clarify.  That will give you a second to come up with the first answer. Think of a second while you answer the first, and then the third while answering the second.

Once you commit to this, you need to complete it. If that sounds like too much pressure, remember that it’s better to give mediocre answers inside a great framework than a polished, forgettable response. Say it with confidence, own the answer with your body language, and your listener will think you are more profound than you might think.

Practice it. The “3 Things” response is a skill that doesn’t come naturally for most people. It takes a little practicing to declare your three-part answer before you know what it is. Practice in social settings with friends and family to give yourself a personal challenge. If you get any open-ended question, like “How was your weekend?” or “What is new with the kids?,” start your answer with, “Well, three things come to mind. First…”

Don’t worry about having perfect answers, just push through and you will do better than you realize.

Save it. You can use this tactic more than once in an interview, but save it for the tough questions or the very open-ended ones. Don’t use it on every other answer, or it will seem repetitive and odd. You want all of your answers to feel conversational and natural.


For more helpful job search tips: Ultimate Job Search Guide: Recruiter Insider Tips

How To Give Notice

If you land a new job while currently employed, you need to break up with your current employer. I know this is uncomfortable, but don’t make it worse than it has to be. Give notice well, and the transition can be respectful and professional instead of feeling like an awkward, junior high break-up.

Whether you went out and found another job got recruited, make sure you have a plan to inform your current employer and leave a classy final impression.

Future employers will want to contact your past employers for references. The circumstances of your departure will color their memory, for good or bad. With that in mind, here’s a simple checklist for how to give notice well.

  • Schedule a strategic time to talk in person. Find a time to meet one-on-one with your hiring manager, but don’t tell them the topic. The ideal time is toward the end of the day, so you can wrap-up and then leave. Toward the end of the week is also better, as the weekend allows time for the news to sink in and space to let your boss work through preliminary details and return on Monday with a game plan for communication and wrap-up.


  • Organize your thoughts. Before the meeting, take the time to write down your thoughts. Practice your statement out loud at home. Giving notice can be emotional and stressful, and a little practice will help you stay on message and be more confident.


  • State that your decision is final. Early in the conversation, let your boss know that the purpose of the meeting is to give official notice. “Be straight with them. No fluff. Just facts,” as Brad Pitt’s Billy Beane says in Moneyball. Let them know that your decision is final, and you’re not looking to entertain any counteroffers.


  • Focus on primary issues, not secondary issues. The first question you will get is, “Why?” Proactively answer by volunteering the key issues (one or two) that drove your decision. There will likely be another 5-10 things that you didn’t like about the job, but just keep those to yourself. These additional reasons will confuse the conversation. Ideally, your main concerns were already discussed in the context of trying to fix your role, so your decision to leave should not be a complete surprise.


  • Tell them what you are doing next. The next question will be, “Where are you going?” Your boss may be concerned about the competition, so it’s good to let them know if you are not joining a rival. In any case, it’s only a matter of time before they find out—either through company gossip or LinkedIn—so there is no benefit in withholding this information. You can mention how the new role addresses your key issues and goals.


Show modest excitement in the new job, but, out of respect, don’t go on about how much better it will be. Limit the detail to the company, title, and general role scope. I would not share any compensation data. If you’re asked, respond with something like, “They did offer more money, but details are not important and not my primary driver for making a change.”


  • Project management handoff. The next concern your boss will have is how to handle your current workload. This allows you to shift the conversation from the departure to project management. Come prepared with a list of open projects and a game plan for setting your successor up for success. Be prepared to talk in detail, but realize they might not want to dive into specifics then and there.


  • Show appreciation and thankfulness. Let your boss know you have appreciated the opportunity to work together. State several things you really enjoyed about the job and the company. Give an example of how you grew professionally, and how you will speak well of the company to others.


  • Tell co-workers. Ask your boss when it would be appropriate to tell other people on the team, so that everyone is on the same page. Stay on message and share the same primary reasons with others, even as you’re tempted to divulge the “real reason” you decided to leave.


  • Finish strong. After giving notice, you will be more excited about your new job than your current one, which is normal. But finish strong by working diligently on remaining projects. Work some extra hours if you have to. Speak well of the company and make them really miss you. This will help solidify the last impression and future good references.


As you work through the checklist, be sure to avoid these two common mistakes:

Mistake #1: Be vague and try to keep everyone happy

Leaving a company can be tough, especially if you’ve been there for many years and enjoy friendships, shared experiences, trust, and a sense of family. Understandably, you want to make people feel good and leave on a good note.

That said, don’t sit down and tell your boss, “It was a hard decision, but I just felt the other role would be a good fit. I can’t totally explain it, and I may regret the decision, but I just feel it’s something I should do. It wasn’t anything you did, and everyone here is great. This just came up, and I decided to make the change.”

Can you see why your boss would think, “Huh?” Lack of specifics will not help your employer understand the situation. It actually makes them more concerned about the unspoken issues you are hiding. It also raises concerns about your decision-making process, if you can’t clearly articulate the change.

Ambiguity may also encourage your current employer to come up with a counteroffer. This draws out the process and, if the decision is truly final, you’ve just set yourself up for a second break up conversation. Ninety percent of people who accept counteroffers end up leaving in the next 12 months anyway. Trust has been broken, and the extra cash or title was likely not the underlying issue.

Mistake #2: Get specific and hurtful

The opposite overreaction is to take your exit as an opportunity to air grievances about all the things wrong with the company and the people you work with. Keep your professional filter on, and don’t unleash on your boss.

It may feel good in the moment, but emotion-induced verbal bombs won’t help your career goals.

Rather than go out with a bang, give notice and finish your job on a high note to preserve relationships and cultivate goodwill. Both are necessary components of a lifelong career journey.


For more helpful job search tips: Ultimate Job Search Guide: Recruiter Insider Tips

Thank You: The Last Step In Your Job Search

A job search reminds us that we need each other. It’s all but impossible to land a good gig without some help along the way. Some resume feedback here. An inside connection there. A word of encouragement at just the right time.

Once you finally step onto that new job stage and accept your offer, don’t forget to follow up with the people who got you there. A simple expression of gratitude is an important final step in the job search process, for a number of reasons.

Keep in touch

Painful as it can be, a career transition is an excellent opportunity to reconnect with old friends and make some new ones. It would be sad to lose these new connections after you arrive at your next destination.

Of course, once the new job begins, you’ll bid a fond farewell to the flexibility of unemployment and the extra time it allows for lunches, coffees, and phone calls. Maintain contact by looking for natural opportunities to stay in touch, starting with the post-offer thank you.

“Thank you” keeps relationships alive.

People care about you

Inviting others into your job search journey creates a natural interest in your story. Your friends and contacts encounter you in a moment of crisis and change—don’t leave them hanging!

Assume that people will be encouraged and excited, or at least pleased, to hear that you have found a job. It’s always nice to get good news, and it’s satisfying to hear that you’ve made a positive impact in someone else’s life. Sharing what you’ve learned along the way may impact them in ways you don’t realize, or benefit someone else they know.

“Thank you” is a gift to others.

Gratitude shapes attitude

Take a couple of seconds and think about all of the people who have influenced you and helped you get to where you are. Parents. Friends. Colleagues. Bosses. As you run through this mental list, it’s hard not to feel humble, moved, and grateful.

Reflecting on the fact that you’re not an island, you’re not alone, and you don’t have to figure everything out yourself, brings a sense of peace that permeates your life. Gratitude brings an empathetic desire to care for others in the same way that others have cared for you.

“Thank you” is good for the soul.

The right thing to do

There’s a difference between treating people as strategic pieces that benefit you in the game of life, and treating people as fellow travelers on the common journey of life.

If you need a job, don’t feel bad asking for help. But make an effort to use your job search to build relationships, even as you use those relationships to get a job. Approach these connections as a pleasant benefit to an otherwise difficult experience, rather than a means to an end.

A simple letter, email, Starbucks gift card, or phone call to say “thank you” to someone who has done you a favor is a great victory lap for your job search, and a way to celebrate together with the people who cheered you on.

“Thank you” makes us human.


For more helpful job search tips: Ultimate Job Search Guide: Recruiter Insider Tips

10 Steps To Negotiate a Job Offer

How would you like to land an easy $1–10K in salary for the same job? That’s the power of negotiating on your job offer, one of the most misunderstood steps in the job search process.

I have helped hundreds of candidates negotiate job offers in my career as a recruiter. A lot of misperceptions and emotions come into play during the negotiation game, because those of us in the US are generally unaccustomed to the practice. 

When I traveled to Turkey and Africa, I realized that negotiation is a daily actively for much of the world, and a skill most Americans lack. This goes for most job seekers and company hiring managers. People are not typically trained or equipped for the negotiation process, so a little strategy on your part can go a long way.

Negotiate poorly and you could leave a lot of money on the table—or lose the offer altogether. Use these 10 quick negotiation tips to focus on the goal while maintaining a professional relationship with your new employer:

1. Say you want the job

Is this the job you really want? Are you willing to pass on any current or future opportunities to get it? It’s easy to get excited and take the first thing that comes along, but make sure the job aligns with your ideal criteria. Don’t negotiate for a job you really don’t want.

2. Get an estimate in advance

Do you know roughly what the company will pay for this role (salary/bonus/equity)? Do they know your compensation history? If you set clear expectations and asked good questions during the interview process, there should be few surprises when you reach the offer stage. It’s OK to share your compensation history and general expectations early in the interview process. There’s a misconception that divulging compensation history will put you at risk as if the company will use the information against you. But when candidates refuse to share this information, they fail to build trust and the offer process gets awkward.

Likewise, it’s also OK to ask the company about the pay range and what historical bonus payouts have been in recent years. Go to for a free salary report of other people working the same jobs in your industry for additional context.

3. Make a list of required and preferred items

What would you like to change about the offer? Once you get an offer, make a list of details you’d like to change. Ideas could be salary, bonus, bonus timing, equity amount, sign bonus, title, pre-planned vacation time, parking, professional memberships/events, hours, etc. 

You typically cannot negotiate standard benefits, such as retirement plan, healthcare benefits, vacation days, expense reimbursement policy, bonus percentage, and payout structure. But you can ask to offset shortcomings with a sign bonus or increased salary to cover the difference.

Separate your list into two categories: required (“I will walk away from the offer if I don’t get this”) and preferred (“I would like to get this, but will still accept the offer without it”). Look at the potential cash value of each item, and consider what is most important to you right now. Review this list with your spouse and/or a trusted friend to get a good outside perspective on what is important.

Out of everything on your list, what is the single most important item? The more you can simplify the negotiation process to focus on one (or two) key issues, the more likely you are to get them. For example, instead of walking through six areas where the company benefits come up short, just summarize them into a single negotiated item. For example, “An extra $5,000 salary would close the gap on the benefits and other small things.”  

4. Remember why you’re at the table

Why are you excited about the job? It is good to remind yourself (and the employer) of why you feel this role could be a good fit, and why you’re enthusiastic to make this work. Having a prepared list of reasons that you can recite will make a positive impression and help add negotiation momentum to your request.

5. Know your timeline

Assuming things worked out, what would be your earliest start date? Think through how long it will take to give notice, wrap up projects, and accomplish any other final tasks prior to starting a new job. If you have not had much of a break between jobs, adding in a 1–2-week break for rest or vacation is typically a good idea to help you transition and get recharged.  

6. Write and rehearse your negotiation statement

When the time comes to negotiate, what will you say? Take everything you’ve thought through in #4–6 above, and pull it together in a script to help you stay focused and professional when negotiating. The general flow might sound like this:

Thanks again for the offer. I’m very excited about the idea of joining [company] as a [role title]! I feel this is a good fit for many reasons, including [your list of items].

I sense a good mutual fit, and could see this being a great, long-term career move. I’ve talked this over with my spouse and friends, and they are also encouraging me in this direction.

In reviewing the terms, I feel this is a fair and strong offer. We are really close to wrapping this up, and I’m leaning toward accepting. Simply put, the only thing that is holding me back is [your top item, such as salary]. I’ve been at the $ ____ level for a while in past roles, and I’m looking at this long-term. If we could just add $____ to the salary, I’m ready to sign the offer and we can set a start date of _____.

Most likely, you’ll be nervous when the time comes to say all of this in person, so I recommend writing it down and practicing it out loud a few times. This will help you come across as confident and professional.

7. Shut up

Important: Be silent after stating your case. Once you make it through your negotiation statement, be patient and let it sit. It will likely only be five seconds of silence, but it may feel like longer, so resist the urge to keep talking. Be sure the other person speaks next. Most likely, they will repeat/clarify your statement, and then they’ll tell you that they need to talk with the hiring manager and they’ll get back to you soon to try and work out the details.

By clearly stating your simple negotiated request and start date, you have helped the internal company recruiter by providing a clear roadmap on how to close you.

8. Negotiate once, but not twice  

Are you ready to accept, even if you don’t get exactly what you asked for? Once you hear back from the company, unless there is a significant concern, I recommend accepting the offer they return with. Why? Chances are, they met you in the middle, which is a fair negotiation strategy, and you can feel good knowing that you didn’t leave anything on the table. If you got everything you wanted, you shouldn’t add anything else to the decision process.

People make the mistake of pushing too hard for small things, which they can likely get, but this nit-picking hurts the relationship. It can also raise concerns about what you might be like to work with and how you might resolve work-related negotiations, which will come up. You want it to feel like a “win-win,” not a “win-lose”.

9. Make your final requests

Are there any items on your preferred list you’d still like to get? Assuming you’ve agreed to a deal that covers the important things, you still have a chance to ask about any secondary, non-decision-making items.

Raise the question before formally accepting the offer, while you still have a little leverage but nothing holding you back. For example, here’s what your response to the counteroffer might be:

Great, sounds like we have a deal. That was the key thing I was looking for in order to make a decision. In wrapping up, I had two small requests. I’m going to accept regardless, but wanted to ask about two details, if possible.

First, I see your healthcare doesn’t kick in until after 30 days. Is it possible to cover my COBRA for the month in transition? 

Second, I have a pre-planned vacation with my family in two months. We’re scheduled to be gone for a week, but I realize my vacation will not accrue in time. Is it possible to still take this week off without pay (not asking for any extra vacation days)?

As I mentioned, I am planning to accept and start regardless, but just wanted to ask a favor to see if you could help me out on these secondary issues to wrap things up.

Whatever they come back with, you go with. But it never hurts to ask. If there were any changes, be sure they are included in the final offer letter.  

10. Formally accept the offer. 

Did you review the final offer letter? It’s OK to ask for clarification on anything you don’t understand. Be sure everything that you agreed upon verbally appears in writing. Often you will find standard legal blocks of text that everyone gets in their offer. You can’t really change these sections.   

Get the offer back to them ASAP—don’t wait around. In my opinion, the best way to do this is to scan and email a PDF. That way you also have a signed copy for your records at home. If the company uses an online signature system like DocuSign, you typically receive a confirmation email, or you can request a copy that includes your digital signature.

Congrats! Now celebrate!


For more helpful job search tips: Ultimate Job Search Guide: Recruiter Insider Tips

4 Ways To Measure Job Search Progress

THE BIG IDEA: Track what matters in your job search: personal meetings, target companies, hours worked, and positive deposits.

The best way to get totally frustrated in your job search is to stress about things you can’t control. No matter how long you stare at your phone, you can’t make a company call you back, schedule an interview, or extend an offer.

Instead, identify ways to measure progress in areas that you can control. Track these each week to develop a healthy mindset and focus on things you can actually influence.

Measuring what matters

Last year I decided to join a CrossFit gym because my workout routine was getting boring and I wasn’t seeing results. The new program was really hard and challenged me in a lot of areas where I wasn’t strong.

Some workouts were great, and some were humbling, but I knew that if I just showed up consistently, good things would happen over time. So I blocked out time for the workout on my calendar. I set an alarm and put out my clothes the night before to increase my odds of just showing up.

Rather than measuring incremental progress or worrying about weight goals, the single fitness objective I tracked for the year was the number of CrossFit workouts I attended.

It’s amazing how you get what you measure. This concept works in measuring success during your job search as well.

The challenge of a job search is that you are typically not accountable to anyone except yourself, so it’s easy to be unfocused. Measure nothing, and you’ll start drifting. Measure things you can’t control, and you’ll start to feel stressed and frustrated. You’ll end up focusing on what is not working, which leads to a negative mindset. 

How do you measure your job search in a productive, meaningful way? In working with hundreds of people on a job search over the years, here are four things I’d recommend tracking as part of your weekly job search success dashboard:

1. Number of new in-person meetings.

It’s easy to hide behind email and LinkedIn on the job search, but success happens when you meet people in person. Getting out of the house and having conversations adds momentum. It’s also good for interview practice and confidence building. 

Go through your contacts list and LinkedIn list – you know a lot more people than you realize who would enjoy meeting you. Think about past co-workers, vendors who called upon you and church/volunteer groups you are part of. Look at potential networking breakfasts or lunches in your target industry where you can show up and meet new people.

If possible, meet onsite at the person’s place of employment. Use your job search to learn more about new companies, roles, and industries where your friends work. This will open up your mind, and you might be surprised. Employers often start with referrals when looking for prospective hires.

Set a goal of scheduling five new in-person meetings each week. Whether it’s a hiring manager at a company where you’d like to work or coffee with a friend, just get at least five a week. Some weeks you may get 10-15, but keep consistent and schedule at least five new meetings each week.

And double book. Once you schedule a meeting in a particular part of town, think about anyone you might know who also works in that building or nearby, and see if you can schedule something before or after your other meeting. It’s efficient and gives you a credible excuse to connect (“I’m going to be in your neighborhood on Tuesday at 2 next week for a meeting. Want to grab a coffee before or after?”).

2. Number of new company targets.

Once you start to gain some traction, don’t pin your hopes on the few companies you are interviewing with. You need to keep moving and adding new targets to the mix, as it helps to always have new options. 

In reviewing the hundreds of prospective companies in your area, focus your energy and time on the top targets—places you’re excited about and that could be a good fit.

To separate your target companies from the mere prospects, do your research.

  • * What do they do?


  • * What’s their culture like?


  • * Have they received any news coverage lately?


  • * Do you know anyone who works there?


  • * Who are their Competitors?


  • * Do they list any job openings that could be a fit?


  • * What would the commute look like?


  • * Who might be the hiring manager, and can you connect with them?
  • * What is your compelling reason why they could be an ideal fit? What is your “quick pitch” if they called you?


Come up with a list of 20 target companies, and build your personal knowledge about each one.   

3. Number of hours “worked.”

Are you getting up at the crack of noon? Are you spending thirty minutes on Facebook and then complaining about the tough job market?

Treat your search like a job that requires 40 hours per week, and prioritize your time just like you would for a regular paid job. The majority of people I talk with about their job search honestly spend 10-20 hours max each week, because they have distractions at home and they don’t have anyone keeping them accountable for their time.

Set an alarm. Shower. Exercise. Establish a schedule and show up on time. The discipline and habits you practice during the job search set you up for success with your next job as well.

The difference between a successful job search and an unsuccessful job search can simply be a matter of hours. If you spend 40 hours a week truly “at work” on your job search, you’re bound to see increased results.

4. Number of positive deposits.

Our minds are like a bank account and you want to have more positive deposits than negative withdrawals. When we get busy in our jobs and our lives, we often forget the good stuff and get anxious about the unimportant stuff, and then find ourselves overdrawn.

Keeping a positive outlook and a heart of appreciation is helpful in life, but also in a job search. In a season of struggle, gratitude reminds you of the many things going right in your life and how blessed you really are.

This is not just a Tony Robbins self-help kind of thing, but also a very practical strategy to help you win a job. How? Companies are looking for people who are healthy, happy, centered in who they are, interesting, and confident. In a competitive job market, these attributes can make the difference between multiple qualified candidates.

Create an intentional daily ledger to track positive things and healthy disruptions to your normal routine:

  • * Writing down things you are grateful for.


  • * Talk with someone who loves you and say thank you.


  • * Work out. Eat right and catch up on sleep.


  • * Read an encouraging book.


  • * Put up an inspirational quote, verse, or saying on the mirror and memorize it.


  • * Watch a funny or inspirational movie.


  • * Get a coffee and walk around a new neighborhood.


  • * Eat at a new restaurant.


  • * Write down a new insight you are learning.


  • * Volunteer at your favorite non-profit.


  • * Watch an new TED talk or podcast.


After a few weeks, you will find you come across healthier, happier, more at peace, more interesting (as you have been learning new things), and more confident. It’s your choice. Do you want a surplus or deficit in your mental account? This balance won’t happen by accident, so you need to make a plan.

The secret ingredients

Your attempt to track your job search will fall short without two essential tactics:

  1. 1) Write it down. Track your weekly progress in each of these four areas. You can do this however you like, but we’ve created a free template to encourage you to get started. Download your Weekly Success Tracker Template (Excel).


  1. 2) Invite accountability. Ask a spouse and/or close friend to check in on your weekly activity. This will motivate you to pursue successful progress to report, and people who are close will know practical ways they can encourage you.


For more helpful job search tips: Ultimate Job Search Guide: Recruiter Insider Tips