Job Search Best Practices: Answers to Your Frequently Asked Questions

by Mike Whillock on in Blog, Candidate

Unfortunately, we find ourselves back in a situation where more and more of us will be looking for a new job. This will be the 3rd major job market meltdown I’ve been through: the bubble of 2000, the Great Recession in the late 2000’s, and now this mess. It’s an important time to share some tips and answers to frequent questions I get about job searches, resumes, etc. that I’ve mentally collected over the course of 25 years as a Corporate Recruiting Leader and as a Headhunter.


  • Attitude is huge. Maintain a positive attitude as best you can, especially when it matters. It’s imperative that when you speak with recruiters, managers, hiring managers, peers, etc. you maintain positivity. Don’t take this as a need to pump sunshine, but these are not the people you want to dump your problems or negative thoughts on, at any time in the process.
  • Having a network of fellow job seekers is a good place to commiserate on the challenges of your search, not a hiring manager.


  • Don’t try to cram everything into a one-page resume. A two-page resume is great, a three-pager is starting to push it a bit and four is too much.
  • If you want to put your picture on a resume, that’s fine. Historically, they’ve been frowned upon here in the US. It’s not expected. If people want to see what you look like, they’ll look on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. or look you up on Google.
  • Take the time to tailor your resume and experience a bit for the job that you’re applying for. In my opinion, this is better than spending time writing a cover letter.
  • Include a brief description of what the company you work(ed) for does. It helps provide context and understanding of the companies and industries you’ve worked within. I can’t tell you how important this is as more and more resumes get submitted. I get resumes every day with names of companies that I have no clue what they are or what they do. I don’t have time to look up a company that is not well known. If I see a resume that has the name of a company I don’t know without a description of the company, I’m likely to move on. You’re also able to put keywords here too, which helps with ATS searches.
  • Take the date out of the document name. Change your document to read: Mike Whillock Resume.doc or pdf. Not MW Resume 102019. The last one tells me you’ve been looking for 6 months. A PDF or Word doc is fine.
  • Put some sort of address on there- Denver, CO 80202 or something. If it’s not there, I think you’re hiding something (which you probably are).

Cover Letters:

  • Your call here. I don’t know many hiring managers that go through the effort of reading them. Frankly, I think I’ve read about twenty-five cover letters in my career. A well worded brief email introduction is much better.


Ah, networking. It’s the first thing that someone recommends when you are on a job search. “You’ve got to tap into your network!” 90% of people think- I don’t have a network or my network is at the company I’m about to leave! So, don’t feel bad if you don’t know what to do. Here is my advice:

  • Make a list of all the people you know. Reach out to them and let them know you’re on the hunt. Don’t be shy. They’ll either be glad to hear from you and want to help or they won’t and won’t return your call. Don’t take it personally. Most people will be happy to help.
  • Reach out to peers that are in similar roles and let them know you’re looking. They may have openings at their company or know of openings. Recruiters are also likely to call them about open jobs they have. Tell them they’re free to give your name and contact info out as they wish and share your resume with their network.
  • Help people help you. When you have a call with a peer, a recruiter, or former boss, be prepared with information ready that they can use to help you. This information includes companies you’re targeting, industries, individuals they might know from past companies, their LinkedIn network, etc. Then, get what you need on the call or at the meeting. “I’m targeting these 10 companies; do you know anyone at these companies?” OR “I’m targeting company XYZ and I saw on LinkedIn you are connected to Betty Smith there, would you be open to making an introduction?”
  • When networking, “Keep me in mind” is not a strategy. Don’t look to or expect them to follow up. When they hang up the phone or go back to the office (let’s hope soon!) they’re going back to what they were focusing on and you’ll go out of their thoughts. Give them an action plan and follow up.
  • Be respectful of a person’s time. You can do this by having a purpose for the call with the tips above.
  • A bulk email through LinkedIn to your contacts is not a good way to go about connecting with them. We’ve all received those and you know they’re completely impersonal by the way they’re written.

Job Boards

  • Job boards are a great place to find out about new open jobs. I highly recommend utilizing your network to find your way into the company and to get your resume in front of the hiring manager or recruiter. Don’t be scared to make a cold call.
  • Recruiters get flooded with resumes from job boards. Typically, I would say roughly 5% of submitted resumes are qualified for the role. If you’re qualified, they’ll likely find your resume in the stack. Keep in mind that companies are frequently looking for people with industry experience or experience that is very similar to their industry.
  • Don’t always expect a reply to a resume submitted and don’t be offended by an automated reply. Because it’s so easy to apply and throw your resume at any openings that are available, recruiters get tons and tons of resumes for jobs.

The current market downturn may feel like a difficult time to job search, but the above tips will help you streamline your process. There are many additional tools and resources out there to help you, such as Lois Todd’s short, sweet, and informative “Outta Work Mondays” YouTube series. Implement the job search best practices that work for you, and you’ll be well on your way to a new role.

If you have additional tips, thoughts, or questions, reach out to me and let’s discuss.


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