Safety tips for your job search

Scammers are preying on desperate job seekers.  Are you conducting a safe job search?

One of my Denver clients recently called me with an unfortunate but common problem:

“I just got called by the police – they discovered an identity theft ring which had stolen my information from an online job application,” he said, totally despondent and heartbroken.  “I guess I’m lucky because the cops caught them, but I still have to deal with cleaning up the mess they made…”

In the past year, identity thefts and other scams that target job seekers has seen a sharp increase.  It is estimated that 50-70% of job ads on are fraudulent.  Compared to a rate of approximately 30% in 2008, it is easy to see that the thieves are banking on the desperation of the job seekers.

Fortunately, you can easily protect yourself from such scams.

Protect Your Information

One of the common tricks is to direct job seekers to an online application.  While many legitimate companies use online applications, or Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), look out for ones that require too much personal information.

If the application asks for any of this information, do NOT fill it in:

  • ·         Social Security number
  • ·         Birth Date (they should only ask if you are over 18)
  • ·         Bank account information (often disguised as trying to set up your direct deposit)
  • ·         Mother’s maiden name (often needed to establish credit)
  • ·         Previous names used
  • ·         Insistence on full salary history when you apply

If you are still interested in the job after running into these requests, call the company first. Sometimes legitimate companies will ask for these details, especially the salary history.  For example, the private service industry will frequently ask for some of these details, especially since they are recruiting people to work in private homes.

However, if you are suspicious about any opportunity, look for ways to talk to an actual person at the company, even if it is only the receptionist to verify that the job listing is real.  If the company’s name is not listed on the website, definitely run the other way.

A New Twist: Cloned Job Postings

The other day my husband called me to verify a customer service job he saw posted on  This was for an advanced customer advocate with a stated salary range of over $60,000 – obviously, much higher than the typical rate.  The problem?  The job posting was a clone that led to a dummy application system.

What the scammers did was find a legitimate job in another state, copied it, and pasted into the Denver job listings.  The website with the application used the original company’s logo and descriptions, but it didn’t have the supporting pages built around the rest of the site.

How did I find this out?  I went to the real company’s main website, which I found through Google.  They only had this same job available in Ohio and Tennessee, but certainly not for a Denver call center.  Had my husband filled out the fake application, I’m sure we would be dealing with some identity theft today.

Private Resume Posting

Scammers are also contacting people who place their resumes online.  Generally speaking, do NOT post your resume online unless you can do so in a completely private manner.

For example, when you load up your resume on or, you do have the option to list it as “Private.”  This means that your resume will not show up in a general search of the data base – only jobs that you actually apply to will receive your information.

Recruiters pay money to search the data bases, which is also known as data mining.  However, these jobs tend to be high-turnover jobs, such as 100% commission sales jobs.  You won’t be missing many great opportunities by posting your resume privately.

A private setting not only protects you from thieves that pay to search resumes, it will also decrease the amount of spam job listings that are targeting you.  Want to get rid of the pesky “opportunity to own an insurance franchise?” Only post your resume privately.

In cases like Craigslist that offers no privacy settings on resume posting, do not post your resume at all.  If you choose to upload a Word or PDF version of your resume onto your LinkedIn profile, be sure to remove your contact information first.

Don’t Accept Packages

Another twist from scammers is the offer to help someone run their purchasing business.  Usually coming from someone across the country or who “travels a lot,” the job sounds like a great way to make part time money.  All you have to do is receive the packages and ship them forward.

The first few deals may work out.  However, as you “prove yourself” on the job, you may get asked to make purchases on the employer’s behalf, with a promise to pay you back plus interest. Here the scam can run two ways: either you never get reimbursed or the employer asks for your banking information to send you money.

Anytime someone asks for banking information is a bad sign…

Legitimate professional shoppers or art dealers do not operate this way. They already have a network that they use for these services.

Work at Home

While there are many legitimate work-at-home opportunities, you do need to be careful.  Here are some of the common work-at-home scams:

  • ·         You have to pay for training
  • ·         You have to buy materials to assemble items for resale (either you can’t sell the items, or the “employer” won’t pay you for the work performed)
  • ·         Bogus direct deposit forms

If you are serious about a work-from-home opportunity, check out  While you do have to pay to see the full jobs listings, Flexjobs researches each and every job to make sure they are a legitimate offering from a real company.

Check Their Reputation

Before you apply for any job, you should research the company.  In particular, resources like Colorado’s Better Business Bureau, local Chambers of Commerce (including the internet Chambers of Commerce) and local news sources like the Denver Business Journal all carry information on local businesses.  In the case of the Better Business Bureau, they have free information on most of the businesses, whether they are members or not.  Seeing the number of complaints – or a lack of records – are all indications that a potential employer is not on the level.

One of my favorite tools for checking out companies is a simple Google search.  Try “company name scam,” or “company name reputation,” or “company name reviews.”  What I like about this tactic is that it will also reveal real companies that have a negative reputation or bad company culture.  After all, the job may be real, but you may not want it.

Use Common Sense

While the job search may be driving you crazy, don’t let desperation override your common sense.  If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Building and Protecting Your Reputation

As my friend and trusted business advisor Denny Basham of Subsilio Consulting says, “Reputation matters.”  Never has this been truer in business than it is today.  With Google at everyone’s fingertips and reviews available for everything under the sun, both the business owner and the job seeker need to be very conscious of what their reputation is.


Why does reputation matter?

In today’s marketplace, it’s very easy to find out a lot of information about individuals as well as businesses.  For job seekers, this equates the need to build positive, online reviews – just like a proactive reputation marketing campaign is important to a business.  One place we see this is on LinkedIn.

It is now standard practice for recruiters and managers to check out a candidate’s LinkedIn profile before offering them an interview.  Some of the main things they are looking for are the Recommendations, the size of the candidate’s network, the Endorsements, and his or her Groups.  All of this additional information gives insight into the candidate beyond just the resume.  Of these, the written Recommendations matter the most.  Endorsements for skills may be valuable key words, but when one of your connections actually writes a paragraph or two about your work, the recruiters will take notice.

Finally, one piece of the online reputation is consistency – if the work history is widely different than what was received in the resume, this reflects poorly on the candidate.  Of course, the work history and a LinkedIn profile shouldn’t be just a verbatim listing from the resume.  However, if dates, locations, company names, and other facts are inconsistent, it makes the job seeker look like they lack attention to detail.

Action builds reputations

Another factor that recruiters and managers check is how involved a candidate is online.  If he or she only has 20 connections and isn’t involved in the Groups, this doesn’t reflect well on how much they are willing to contribute to the industry as a whole.

Whenever you post a discussion or reply to a conversation, you are building your reputation within that Group.  Obviously, intelligent conversation is preferred, but sometimes just being involved is enough.  Of course, if you have something negative to say, don’t say it online!

Defending your reputation

Sometimes, things go sideways and your reputation may be attacked.  This happened to me recently.  One of my clients let me know that a former past connection of mine was tearing apart my work, stating that he would never get a job because he was following my advice.  This was especially hurtful because I have supported this business owner and his endeavors for years – both verbally and online.  Of course, my first reaction was to retaliate; thank goodness I’ve been self-trained to have greater restraint than that.

When faced with a reputation attack, first consider:

  1. The source – does this person have their own reputation problems or history of attacking people? If so, don’t take ownership of their character defects.
  2. Is it true? If yes, take the necessary actions to correct the behavior.  If not, think about what you can do to build on your positive reputation.

Now that the main questions have been addressed, come up with a plan to deal with the tarnishing event.  Your course of action may include:

  • Do nothing and let this person’s own karma catch up with them.
  • Reach out to your network and promote a positive achievement, idea, or action to counteract the reputation hit.
  • Journal writing about the incident. It’s normal to be mad or upset about the situation, but you don’t want to accidentally post a negative attack online or in an email that could come back to haunt you.

One of my mottos for my company is “Act with Honor.”  When faced with a reputation attack, I must keep this commitment first in my mind.  It’s very tempting to react to anger and bitterness with more of the same, but rarely does it lead to positive results – in business or in life.

Angles Mannies logo

Agency Spotlight: Angeles Mannies

When most people think of professional, in-home child care, the image of a female nanny comes to mind.  However, there is another aspect of well-qualified child care professionals that are often overlooked: the male nanny, or “manny.”  To serve this interesting niche market, a new agency has surfaced in the Los Angeles area, Angeles Mannies.

Founded by Daniel Butcher, a previous manny himself, this boutique agency strives to match private employers with highly skilled, dedicated, and multi-talented mannies that are committed to the industry.  Many of the mannies hold special certifications, college degrees, or special areas of expertise.

In today’s Agency Spotlight, Daniel tells us more about this interesting take on the traditional nanny industry…

1. How long have you been in business?

I have been placing mannies with families ‘pro-bono’ for a couple of years now, but decided to make it into a business around June/July 2015.

2. What makes your agency unique?
95% of our placement efforts are focused on 5% of the entire childcare population: Male Nannies. My goal is to showcase the different dimension males can bring to domestic childcare.

3. What types of positions do you place?
We focus on childcare placements for the most part and are open to all kinds of domestic positions. For example, we have placed tutors, chefs, personal assistants, sports coaches and swim instructors.

4. What is your ideal candidate?
Aside from a healthy list of requirements and certifications for safety reasons, we look to employ trustworthy, loyal, professional and creative individuals with a passion for childcare who are looking for a career in the industry, not stepping stones to something else.

5. Do you place across the country or locally?  If so, where?
Currently we are only serving the LA County area.

6. Do you look for any special training or certifications, such as college degrees, private service schools, etc?
We ask that upon hire, there is proof of CPR/First Aid certifications, TrustLine verification (a legal requirement in California for domestic childcare through an agency), and a college degree or equal qualification.

7. Where do you announce your open jobs?
Open jobs are announced to our existing pool of mannies via email. I am also a huge believer in word of mouth within the neighborhood and community – believe me, word travels fast!

8. How should a candidate apply for a job?  Do you want an online application, resume or both?

9. Do you belong to any professional associations?
I am a member of the International Nanny Association (INA), and am currently looking into Association of Premiere Nanny Agencies (APNA) and the Domestic Estate Management Association (DEMA). I will also be attending the Annual INA conference in Washington, DC in 2016.

10. How can people contact you?
People can contact us in a number of different ways

Phone 661-666-1012



We can also be found on Twitter and Instagram (@Angeles Mannies) Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn (

Are you an agency owner? Would you like your agency featured in our Agency Spotlight?  There is no fee!  Contact Donna Shannon at 720-452-3400 to find out how you can be included.  Our Agency Spotlight is provided as a service to job seekers, and is not a statement of endorsement.  All information is  provided by the participating agency.

hiring process infographic for private service and domestic staffing

Making sense of the hiring process: an infographic

For many private service professionals, the recruitment agency is a vital piece of their job search.  Employers frequently reach out the agency to list their positions, trusting them to make the best match based on experience, skills, and personality.  However, not all of the candidates understand exactly what goes into that hiring process.

Check out the infographic to learn more about the multiple phases required to secure a top position in the luxury lifestyle management industry…

hiring process infographic for private service and domestic staffing

Using the personal touch helps business people connect

Onboarding your new household staff or manager

Within the corporate environment, companies invest significant dollars into making sure that their new employees will feel welcome, acclimate to the culture, and become effective in their new jobs. Considering that it can cost up to 50% of the person’s salary to replace them, a solid onboarding process is a valuable strategy.

However, within the home staffing environment, how to get your new employees up-to-speed may not be so clear cut.  If you’ve never had private staff before, the challenge can be especially intimidating.  How do you create an orientation plan when you don’t know what to expect?

Here’s some simple guidelines and tips to make sure that you and your new employee will be off to a great start:

1.      Make time to meet with them on the first day

The first step to building a successful working relationship is to invest the time.  Even if it’s just the first hour of their first day, greeting them personally lets your new household manager, personal assistant or staff member know that they are a valued edition to the team.

Without a doubt, the #1 aspect that employees look for in a private service job is a good personality match with the family.  The best way to reinforce your family’s unique culture is to be there.

2.      Have an orientation plan

We all want someone to step into a position and immediately know where everything is and how to perform the work.  No matter how talented your new staff member or manager is, there will be a learning curve.  It takes time to become familiar with a new location, from identifying the cleaning products to accessing the passwords for the personal calendars.

Create a plan to orient your new staff to cover these important questions:

  • Tour of the home or office and location of key components to their work
  • Regular schedules and appointments
  • Introduction to other staff members, especially if they will be supervising this person
  • Child or elder care essentials, even if they are not providing direct care to other family members: allergies, activities, schools, and doctor’s information
  • Communication plans: who to call in emergencies as well as preferred communication methods for less urgent matters
  • Expectations for hours, reimbursable expenses, pay dates, benefits, and other payroll-related items
  • Processing employment paperwork

3.      A clearly defined job description

Hopefully, you will have created a job description before hiring your new staff member.  If not, be sure to do this critical step.  This is your guideline for all parties involved so that expectations are clearly communicated on all parts.  Remember, your new persona assistant or household / estate manager wants to make your life easier.  The job description lets them know in no uncertain terms what their responsibilities are.

4.      Setting boundaries

Personal boundaries can be a sticky area for new household employers.  While your employee is here to support your lifestyle, realize that they do have their own lives as well. Don’t ask them to stay beyond their normal hours every single day.  Don’t stifle their communication with their own family members.  While it’s not acceptable for them to be on Facebook every moment of the day, they may need to be contacted in an emergency.

A common term in private service is “friendly but not familiar.”  This means that while your staff is an important part of your household, they are not your family.  Some households reinforce the personal boundaries by having their staff refer to them as “Mr. Smith” or “Mrs. Jones.”  While a subtle difference, it can help maintain the professional nature of your new relationship.

5.      Your own adjustment

If this is the very first time you’ve had staff, realize that this is not like the movies.  It can be an adjustment to have someone new in your home or working closely by your side on a day-to-day basis.  Do you treat them like a guest or a servant?

The answer is neither. While you are clearly the employer, remember that you need to communicate clearly to your new person.  Sometimes they will have suggestions to improve the household operations.  Listen to their voice of experience, but ultimately, the choice is yours.  If you don’t like the way a task is being handled, speak to them about it.  Often times, writing it out before approaching your employee can help you clearly define the problem and devise a plan for how to change it in the future.

Simplify your life with a Personal Assistant

Personal assistant finding her center

The right PA can bring order to any chaos

What would you do with your life if you had more time to enjoy it?  Between the demands at the office and the home, everyone gets stretched thin.  Add in the important factors of professional associations, non-profit boards, children’s schedules, and the ever-present unexpected twists of a busy life, it can be downright maddening.  Fortunately, there is a dedicated, efficient, and organized solution: the professional Personal Assistant.

Bridging the gap between the home and the office, a Personal Assistant can tackle everything from representing you at non-profit board meetings to organizing your closets.  This specialized administrative professional utilizes all of the latest technological advances to maintain comprehensive calendars that merge your business, personal, and family members’ schedules – and can do it on the fly.  Too busy to handle crucial errands like shopping, dry cleaning, and vehicle maintenance?  The Personal Assistant can not only perform the work, he or she will also memorize your favorites and preferences, making sure that everything is done to your standard of perfection.

While all Personal Assistants are focused on making your life easier, there are different levels available to fit your particular needs and lifestyle:

The Executive Personal Assistant

Often working within the business office, the Executive PA is the pinnacle of personal assistance.  Not only can this trusted right hand manage all of the duties of the typical, high-level Executive Assistant, he or she extends these services to the needs of your personal life or properties.  Frequently, this includes helping with non-profits, from Board meetings to the planning and execution of large scale fundraising events.  The EPA works very closely with the employer, which may include traveling with the principal for extended periods, both domestically and internationally.

Most EPAs possess extensive experience in business, often serving as an Executive Assistant for C-Level executives for many years before adding coordination of personal affairs to their repertoire.

The Personal Assistant

Instead of being attached to the office, the Personal Assistant is more closely related to the concerns of a single person or persons and their home.  Ideal for anyone with a busy lifestyle, the PA is a trusted partner in meeting all of those obligations. Some of the typical responsibilities include personal shopping, event planning, calendar coordination, travel planning, and even domestic staff management.  As each job is customized to meet the particular needs of the employer, the PA is the epitome of flexibility and adaptability.

Since these jobs are so unique, PAs may come from many backgrounds, such as event planners, concierge, hospitality, administrative assistants, and professional organizers.  Regardless of their history, all true PAs are masters of technology, using everything from Microsoft Office programs to mobile devices to stay on top of all the demands of their employers.

The Family Assistant

For households who may not need a full Personal Assistant, a Family Assistant is a great solution.  Many times, a FA may help care for older children after school, coordinating their activities and appointments. During the day, they handle the essential “business” of the home: budgets, shopping, home organization, social obligations, and home maintenance coordination.  While they usually don’t perform the housekeeping or cooking beyond light housework, they do manage the staff or contractors who do.

Hiring Your New Right Hand

When considering hiring a new EPA, PA, or FA, start with making a job description.  While it may evolve over time, you need to define what areas you need covered to accurately evaluate candidates.  Next, think about the level of technical skills required.  For example, do you need an expert with Microsoft Office and cloud computing, or can everything be accomplished with your iPad? Should they be an experienced event planner, or does errands and personal shopping fit your needs better? Depending on these requirements, your salary range should be competitive in the market to attract the right candidates.

Next, think about security concerns.  When hiring anyone who will be involved with your personal affairs and family members, be sure to run complete background checks, including criminal and credit checks.  Consider using testing measures as well, not only for their technical skills but also personality traits.  After all, this is someone that you will be working with closely, and you want to make sure that their personality is compatible with yours.

Many times, private employers turn to specialized employment agencies to help with their search.  In that case, do expect to pay a fee on top of the annual salary. However, keep in mind that these agents are experts in the private service industry.  As such, they can help with every phase of the job search, from developing a workable job description to conducting comprehensive background and reference checks.  Most agents are contingency-based, meaning that the placement fee is only paid when the new PA is hired.  Some, like the Personal Touch Recruitment, offers retained searches as well as contingency hiring.  In that case, the agent acts as your own personal HR department.

A Vision for You

Thanks to the help of a talented Personal Assistant, you gain the most precious commodity: time.  Time to spend with your family, your work, and your true passions – like more golf!


About the Author

Donna Shannon is the President of Personal Touch Recruitment Services, a boutique agency that helps private employers find and onboard elite professionals such as Personal Assistants and Household Managers. For over 10 years, she has worked closely with the luxury lifestyle management industry, both as a recruiter and as a career coach for private service professionals.  To find out more about Personal Touch Recruiting and all of their services, please visit:

Perfect resume recipe

Hungry for a new job this holiday season? Follow this simple recipe for a tasty new resume and enjoy a main course of great interviews that lead to your next sweet job.


1 Microsoft Word document

3 – 4 relevant job postings

800 – 2000 words

3 cups experience

1 cup relevant skills

1 cup previous achievements

1 bottle Key Word marinade

3 tbls contact information

2 tbls education

Season to taste


  1. Preheat brain to 350 degrees. Lay out ingredients on Word Document in the following order: 3 tbls contact information, 50-70 words introductory paragraph, 1 cup relevant skills, 3 cups experience, 1 cup previous achievements, 1 tbls education. Combine ingredients in document.
  2. Place resume in warm brain for 20 minutes.
  3. Lay out relevant job postings on cutting board. Find key elements by cutting away fat, keeping only desired skills and experience. Combine to create the key word marinade.
  4. Remove resume from brain and add key word marinade. Return resume to brain and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Season to taste with personal flavor to capture your unique personality.
  6. Garnish with cover letter and serve to potential employer.

All metaphor aside, a good resume starts with a basic understanding of what goes into making one. When writing a resume, most people ignore some essential elements.  Just like a failed soufflé, missing the essential ingredients will make the resume fall flat.  Without the right key words, it can’t pass the screening process.  Not enough spice and it will bore the hiring managers.

Don’t forget to do a taste test before sending your resume out to potential employers.  Show it to colleagues, friends, and family to get their opinion.  Remember to put more credence on the opinions of people within your industry, but multiple reviews can also spot the simple grammar or spelling error that can ruin a resume.  If you are working with a recruiter you trust, they can provide some guidance as well.

Remember, your resume should be a representation of you on paper.  You want the employers to savor it, not just screen it.  While key words can get you through the door, you still have to impress the hiring manager with your relevant knowledge, skills, and experience to land the interview.

Agency Spotlight: Casa Bella Residential Staffing

Casa Bella Staffing logoFounded in 2015 and located in Palm Beach, FL, Casa Bella Residential Staffing offers hiring solutions for every role within a private estate, from the Estate Manager to domestic staff roles.  President and founder Isabel Marques has over 15 years of combined experience successfully placing household staff in fine homes across the nation, and working in private homes providing Personal Assistant and Estate Management Services to high net worth families.

Isabel has successfully placed household staff in some of the nations’ most prominent homes, including several clients within the Forbes 400. Because of her experience on both sides of the industry, Isabel’s understanding of client needs and candidate experience often results in the perfect fit.

In today’s Agency Spotlight, Ms. Marques tells us more about what makes her agency unique…

1.       How long have you been in business?

Nine months [as of October 2015 – Ed.], however, my business partner and I have over 20 years of experience in residential staffing and private home experience.

2.       What makes your agency unique?

Our team is comprised of professionals with experience as successful placement specialists and private service professionals. Our security team has extensive experience working within the finest estates and homes across the United States. This knowledge and expertise gives us a unique understanding our clients’ needs as well as our candidates’ experience.

3.       What types of positions do you place?

All Household staff positions, including Executive and Estate Security, Director of Residences, and Chief of Staff

4.       What is your ideal candidate?

Casa Bella Residential Staffing requires each candidate to be professional, discreet, and trustworthy and work with the highest level of integrity. Additionally, they must have verifiable references and must have a minimum of two years full-time professional domestic experience that is relevant to the position they are seeking.

5.       Do you place across the country or locally?  If so where?


6.       Do you look for any special training or certifications, such as college degrees, private service schools, etc.?

Special training and college degrees are essential for some positions, however, previous professional domestic experience relevant to the position they are seeking is equally important.

7.       Where do you announce your open jobs?

Our website, LinkedIn, Facebook, Estate & Manor Magazine, and Estate Jobs

8.       How should a candidate apply for a job?  Do you want an online application, resume or both?


9.       Do you belong to any professional associations?

DEMA (Domestic Estate Management Association)

10.   How can people contact you?

Office: (561) 805-9785

Mobile (561) 350-7370

Is your resume getting moldy?

Has your resume seen brighter days?

Has your resume seen brighter days?

In the modern job search, an up-to-date resume is an absolute given. However, plenty of job seekers still cling to some of the techniques that became obsolete 10 to 15 years ago.  Is your resume making any of these old fashioned errors?

The one page resume myth

Unless you are an entry level candidate, the one page resume is not going to support your job search.  This really changed back in the 2000, when online job searching sites like Monster and CareerBuilder became the standard.  Due to the online application process, even the tightest formatting would be converted to text, forcing the resume into a multi-page format.  While online applications and Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are more sophisticated now, recruiters and HR have come to accept the two page resume as standard.

Modern key words

HR relies heavily on key words to help them screen applicants for just about any job.  Even smaller companies can now afford the next generation of ATS, making the screening process more common than ever.  For these reasons, job seekers must make sure that they are using key words – and be certain that they are the modern version of those key words.

I know of one Controller who was having difficulty landing a new job, in spite of the fact that she had several years of relevant experience.  When we evaluated the key words in her resumes, she repeatedly used the term “periodic close.”  However, when we compared recent job postings, the term had changed to “financial close.”  While these terms technically mean the same thing – closing the books at the end of the month – one of them was the old fashioned phrase.  When she changed the key words to match the modern “financial close,” she suddenly began landing interviews.

Looking for modern key words is easy: always conduct an analysis of multiple job descriptions to make sure you use the current language trends for your industry.

Using Word templates

One of the biggest problems with the pre-built templates from Microsoft Word is that they are constructed with tables.  While this looks good on your computer or when you print it out, they are a curse to online applications.

Why?  It’s simple.  Computers don’t read like humans.

Whenever the computers view the tables, they read all of the first column DOWN, and then over.  As humans, we read the rows ACROSS and then down.  So the final result is that your data gets mangled in the computer.  If you’ve ever uploaded and resume and the preview shows all of your dates separated from your actual work experience, the ATS just choked on your table-based resume format.

PDF vs Word: what’s the best format?

Technically, this is a trick question: both are required for an effective job search.

A new trend in recruitment is to allow applicants to apply to jobs from their phone or other mobile device.  In this case, using the PDF version makes sure that the format will hold true no matter how the receiver views it.  Plus, many ATS now are intelligent enough to accept a PDF and be able to analyze the key words, experience, and education.

However, the Word resume is not dead yet.  While many current ATS can handle the PDF, companies still use the older versions that require the Word document to parse the information correctly into their database.

So which should you use?  Read the job posting carefully and make sure that you submit your resume in whatever format they tell you.

Keeping it fresh

Every couple of months, make sure to read through your resume with a critical eye. Are the key words still effective? Are the descriptions of your experience engaging and written in active voice? Are you addressing any of the current trends in your industry?

The modern job search is evolving. Let your resume evolve to stay relevant, fight off mold, and keep your inner fire lit.

Picking the best picture for your social media offers peer reviews of your social media pictures offers peer reviews of your social media pictures

Your picture: on social media sites like LinkedIn, profiles with a picture gain a significantly higher amount of views.  However, that picture can be either the kiss of death or the start of a professional relationship.  With so much riding on this first impression, how can you be sure that your picture is conveying the right image? is a website that allows users to upload a photo and gain insight from other users on key components on their first impression, specifically on competency, likability and influential factors.  You can do a quick, free test by earning credits by voting on other people’s photos as well.  Each picture you review earns you credits, which you can then use towards your own evaluations.

Common picture mistakes

I know that as a career coach, I cringe when I see people with a LinkedIn profile with a bad picture.  Some of the most common offenders are:

  • Poor picture quality, either in resolution or lighting
  • Bad framing – a full body shot of someone standing on a mountain trail doesn’t allow me to see the face
  • Wrong clothing choice – it’s not a good idea to use something too casual or a stuffy wedding reception photo
  • Group pictures – in this case, no one can really tell who is the right person for the profile
  • Extreme close-ups – these can make the viewer uncomfortable as a good portion of the face is hidden
  • Selfies – rarely are these the best choice, especially if it’s the mirror version or “duck face”
  • Disembodied limbs – if the other person is cropped out but there arm is still around the subject’s shoulder, that comes across as very unprofessional

Invest in your pictures

In most cases, spending a little money to get a professional headshot done is well worth the investments.  Many photographers can do this for $75 – $100.  Just make sure you get the digital rights so that you can use them online without paying royalties later on.

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