Starting a Job Search? Begin with the Basics.

As a career coach I have reviewed, critiqued and edited countless resumes. The best ones sell the candidate and are backed up with verifiable facts; the worst read like job descriptions that have been cut-and-pasted. The latter type of resume – a bland list of duties and responsibilities, neglects to include important highlights and significant accomplishments that are of great interest to a prospective employer – and can help get a foot in the door. Want to improve your chances of getting your resume past the screener? Here are a few tips.

Grab the reader’s attention. When writing your cover letter, make your first sentences sing. Avoid bland clichés. Show your personality.

Always use spelling and grammar checks before submitting your resume. A resume containing errors says, “I don’t really care about this job to make a perfect presentation,” and may ruin your chance for getting an interview.

Word selection is key. One client sprinkled the word “ensure” liberally throughout his resume.  The dictionary definition of the word is to “make certain that [something] shall occur or be the case.” After explaining to him that using the word “ensure” was not the best word choice, he replaced each instance of “ensure” with an action word which more clearly made his case for the job.

Stress outcomes. A client’s resume provided a laundry list of job responsibilities but not many of his most relevant accomplishments were included. I suggested he select three problems he was tasked with solving, the actions he took, and the result of those actions. Was cost effectiveness enhanced through his creativity and initiative? Was a new process or procedure created as a result of his efforts? It helps to use either the acronym PAR: problem, action, result, or CAR: circumstance, action and result when describing examples of where you have added value in your current position. After several rounds of revisions my client landed a position for which he is well suited.

Tailor your resume to fit the job. Read the job description carefully. Be realistic in assessing whether you have the right skills and experience. Include highlights and accomplishments that are most relevant from your current position or from a previous position. Show the employer what you will bring to the table.

 Keep good records. It is useful to keep a journal in which you write all pertinent information on your work history. Include dates, places of employment, your titles, functions, projects and project results. Specify functional areas in which you have worked, such as finance, human resources, marketing, etc. When you need to update your resume simply sort your journal by function and use those notes to craft a cover letter and resume for a specific position. After years of work, your journal will showcase your accomplishments, and make resume writing an easier task.

Follow these basics and you will find your search will lead to the right job for you.

Linda Luciano, M.B.A., Ed.D.

Dr. Linda Luciano, is President and Coach of CareerCoachingbyLinda. She has successfully coached clients seeking employment and clients re-imagining their careers. You can view her website at

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Speak from your heart!

Speak from Your Heart!

June 14, 2017

Author:  Dr. Linda Luciano, M.B.A., Ed.D.

Career Coach and Founder,

Want to demonstrate your authenticity? It is simple: Always speak from the heart. Whether you are speaking with an audience of one, or presenting to a group of a thousand and one, your word choices, expressions and body language should all align, showing that what you express about yourself is both true and genuine.

Over the course of four weeks, I coached more than 80 students, helping them master the complex art of interviewing. Many of the students were initially nervous; for some, it was their first experience conducting themselves in a mock interview. Several of the students, already employed, attended the mock interview to comply with a course requirement. At the end of each interview, even the less engaged students said that they learned something about the interview process and their reaction to it. They could share valuable new insights.

Coaching job seekers and job changers is both an art and a science. The process of self-discovery, i.e. determining why you are applying for a certain position or embarking upon a specific career path, requires dedicated self-reflection and self-awareness. In working with my clients, I counsel them to understand precisely why they are applying for a position and believe it is the right job for them. I have found that when a candidate speaks from the heart, conveying genuine interest in a position, that their energy and enthusiasm translates positively in the interview. It can make all the difference.

The lessons I have learned through my consulting practice include:

Research, Research, Research and Prepare

You should be able to articulate the company’s or organization’s mission, vision, values and goals. Prepare thoughtful, interesting questions for the interviewer based upon your knowledge of the company and the requirements of the position.

Find Your Fit

Be able to describe your skills and talents, and how you can put them to work for the employer. Be prepared to discuss the ways in which your education, experience and notable accomplishments fulfill the requirements of the position. Give specific examples of situations in which you created better outcomes. Students, who may not have work experience, can reference relevant coursework.

Master Your Memory

Memorize the job requirements to smoothly articulate why you are the right person for the position. Remember to answer each question by linking your experience, knowledge and/or education with the job requirements.

Ask Away!

Present the interviewer at least three questions you have decided upon in advance. For example:

Can you describe a typical day for this position?

How would your employees describe the culture of the company?

Which attributes do you think will make for success in this position?

Final question: What are the next steps in the hiring process? When can I expect to hear from you? The answer will tell you if the interview process is the beginning, middle, or end. Be sure you know when to follow up.

Sell Yourself

Confirm your interest emphatically: “I am very interested in the position. Can you tell me when you plan to make your decision?” Ask for the interviewer’s card. Thank him or her for sharing time with you.

Make it Personal

A handwritten – in your best penmanship –  thank you note, sent by mail within 24 hours, is optimal. Be sure to check for spelling and punctuation!  The note should briefly reference the main topics of the interview and reiterate the reasons you are the right person for the position. A thank you note sent via email is acceptable. Ask someone to proofread it. Mistakes are easy to miss.

Remain in Pursuit

Send a LinkedIn invitation to the interviewer after the interview. If the interviewer accepts the invitation, keep in touch by sending interesting articles of topics you discussed during your time together. DO NOT overdo it though. Once or twice a year is acceptable.

Send a follow up email within the timeframe indicated for the interviews to be concluded if you were given permission to do so by the interviewer.

Perfect Your Newfound Skill

Role play interviews with friends or relatives, on digital video if possible, so you will be able to observe your body language during the mock interview. Record yourself being asked ten interview questions. If you need ideas for interview questions, look online; I have included a link to some questions. Dress in interview attire and try to sit at a desk or in a conference room to simulate the interview environment. Start the interview and do not stop at any point. Spend about 20-30 minutes responding to questions. After the first practice interview, try it again two weeks later. Ask the “interviewer” to ask you a few of the same questions and add some new questions. You should not have advance knowledge of the questions, so be prepared! The better you know yourself and your answers, the better your interview will be: Preparation equals confidence!

Pause to Deliver

The way to stop yourself from saying distracting words, such as “Uh,” “Um,” etc., is to pause prior to saying the word. Try pausing, before saying “Um.” The pause should be no longer than 2-3 seconds

Good luck! I hope you land the job of your dreams.

Dr. Linda Luciano, M.B.A., Ed.D., is Career Coach and Founder of Dr. Luciano earned a doctorate in higher education management, from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA, from Seton Hall University. She is Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of Caldwell University and Vice President of the Cedar Grove Public Library Board of Trustees. For more information please contact

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Welcome to my Web Site

I am so excited to introduce my new web site. Hope you enjoy the articles that I will post. I look forward to hearing and/or meeting each of you. Please share with your friends and relatives.

Warmest regards,

Linda Luciano, M.B.A., Ed.D.

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