Job Search: Pre-Interview Worksheet and Checklist

Jobseekers Guide Interactive Pre Interview Worksheet and Checklist - Job Search Advice from

Pre-Interview Worksheet and Checklist

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 Read this post first – Jobseeker’s Guide to Preparing for the Job Interview. Remember, research on the company can be vital information that you can use to your advantage in the interview. It will also shape your ability to answer the interviewer’s questions, and can give you a strategic advantage when it comes to salary negotiation.




Job Title You’re Interviewing For                                                                                                       

Date/Time of the Interview                                                                                                               




Company Name                                                                                                                                 


Phone Number                                                                                                                                   


  • Review the company website — in particular, the “About” page, “Media” section (if there is one), and information about their products and services.
  • Check out the source code on the company website to see if there are particular keywords that give insight to the company’s focus. (Go to the company website. In your web browser, go to the “View” menu and choose “View Source.”) Note: Not all companies include this information in their source code (look at the title code and meta tags).
  • Describe the company (Is it a subdivision of another company? How many employees? How many locations? What industry? Structure — public, private, family-owned, nonprofit, etc.)



Facebook business page:                                                                              

  • Look at the content the company posts, but also look at what other people post on the company’s page. Can you identify any potential problems that need solving?


Company Twitter handle:  @                                                                                                                      


Blog URL:                                                                                                                                           

  • Review the blog for greater insight into the company.

YouTube channel:                                                                                            

  • Take a look at the official videos posted by the company.
  • Also do a search for the company on YouTube and see if there are any videos posted by employees, the media, or affiliates.


Notes/thoughts based on online profile research                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


  1. Do a Google search on the company. Review the first three pages of Google results — anything interesting?



  1. Look at what other job postings are open at the company — these can help you identify growth opportunities in the company.
  2. Do a Google news search on the company (


Any news stories?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Any major announcements in the last 18 months?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   



Search “Companies” on LinkedIn

  • Does the company have a profile on LinkedIn?         Yes          No
  • How many followers does the company have on its company page?                            


If the company has a profile, does it list:
Company type:  
Company size:   
Year founded:                                                                                                                                    
Headquarters (location):                                                                                                                   
Makeup of employees (location, job title, education):


  • Also look at the “Viewers Also Viewed” list of companies. These are potential competitors for you to research.
  • You will also be able to see if any of your existing connections are affiliated with the company. You can also see “2nd degree” or “3rd degree” contacts. You can click through to those profiles for additional information on the employee’s background.
  • The “Insights” tab (if one is available for the company) will give you information about the company’s employees
  • If the company has provided “Company Updates,” be sure to read those.
  • On the company’s LinkedIn page, click the yellow “Follow” button, and information about the company will be included in your “Updates” feed on the home page of your LinkedIn profile



You can often find this information on LinkedIn, Facebook, or through a Google search.

  • Who Are You Interviewing With?


Job Title                                                                      

  • Google your interviewer’s name.


    • Twitter handle:   @                                                                                                                
    • Approximate Age (and Date of Birth, If Known):                                                                  
    • College/University                                                                                                                 
    • Degree Pursued/Achieved                                                                                                     
    • Year Graduated                                                                                                                     
    • Military Service __ No  __ Yes (if yes, which branch:                                                )
    • Family – Married? Kids?                                                                                                        
    • How Long in Current Job?                                                                                                      
    • Previous Positions with the Company                                                                                    
  • Previous Company                                                                                                           
  • Previous Job Title                                                                                                             
  • Professional or Trade Organization Memberships                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Social Clubs / Associations / Affiliations                                                                          
  • Active in Community (Community Service) or Religion (describe)                                                                                                                                                                          
  • Honors/Awards                                                                                                                
  • Hobbies / Recreational Interests*                                                                                   

* Do not bring these up unless confirmed by evidence in interviewer’s office (i.e., trophies, awards)

  • Sports Interests (Teams)                                                                                                  


  • Do a Google Image search to find a photo of the interviewer (
    • Is this individual making the hiring decision?   __ Yes  __ No
    • If no, what is the name/title of the hiring decision-maker?
    • Name                                                                               
    • Job Title
  • Does the interviewer have a profile on LinkedIn?  __ Yes  __ No
    • Who do you know in common? Who do I know who knows this interviewer?
  • What LinkedIn groups is he/she a member of?
  • If the interviewer is a technical manager, have they written any LinkedIn Recommendations for current or previous employees? What skills/attributes did they value?



Who is the company’s biggest competitor?                                                                                                  



Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats (SWOT) Analysis


STRENGTHS (compared to the competitor, what is the prospective employer’s greatest strengths in the market)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    






Who does this position report to (name and job title):                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


Do any employees report to this position (names and job titles):                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        


What are the top three challenges of the job?





Which “employer buying motivators” apply to this position?

__        Make money                                       __        Save money

__        Save time                                            __        Make work easier

__        Solve a specific problem                     __        Be more competitive

__        Build relationships / an image           __        Expand business

__        Attract new customers                       __        Retain existing customers


Based on salary research, I would expect this position to pay between:
$                                    and $                                     .




What is my biggest strength/qualification for this position? What sets me apart from other candidates?





What might keep me from getting the job?





What question do you least want to be asked in this interview?





Context / Challenge / Action / Results Statements (CCAR)

  1. Prepare 2-3 CCAR stories (Context – Challenge – Action – Result) based on your research of the company and the position.

Employers generally formulate their interview questions around the skills they are seeking in a candidate. These skills can be:

  • Job-Specific: Technical skills that are gained through education, training, and/or hands-on experience.
  • Transferable: Skills such as problem-solving, organization, or leadership – that are inherent to you, not specific to any one job.
  • Interpersonal: Skills such as communication and collaboration.


Identify up to five skills that are required for the position you are seeking. These can be skills identified in the job posting or by reviewing job descriptions online, on O*NET —, or the Occupational Outlook Handbook —


By “nicknaming” each of these skills, it will help you remember it more easily in the interview.

  1. SKILL #1 – Nicknamed
    Context (“While working at”)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
    Challenge (“I was given the responsibility to”)
    Action (“So I”)
    Result (“As a result of my efforts”)
  2. SKILL #2 – Nicknamed
    Context (“While working at”)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
    Challenge (“I was given the responsibility to”)
    Action (“So I”)
    Result (“As a result of my efforts”)
  3. SKILL #3 – Nicknamed
    Context (“While working at”)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
    Challenge (“I was given the responsibility to”)
    Action (“So I”)
    Result (“As a result of my efforts”)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Based on your research, what three questions would you want to ask in the interview:




Who are your “ideal” references to use for this position? Contact each of them to ask permission to use them as a reference for this position; let them know you’ll be in touch with them after the interview to let them know how it went and prepare them for any specific issues they may be asked to address.


  • Reference #1                                                                                                                               

Contacted on (date)                                                                                                                     

  • Reference #2                                                                                                                               

Contacted on (date)                                                                                                                     

  • Reference #3                                                                                                                               

Contacted on (date)                                                                                                                     







Take a few moments right after your job interview to write down your thoughts. Read through these questions before the interview so that you’ll have an idea of what kind of information you’ll be recording. Research shows that we forget almost half of what we’ve heard after just four hours, so the sooner you can complete the post-interview worksheet, the better.



Job Title You Interviewed For                                                                                                                        

Date/Time of the Interview                                                                                                                           

Most Important Questions You Were Asked:


“Connections” — What did interviewer like most/best about your skills/education/experience?


“Disconnection” — Did the interviewer raise any concerns about your skills, education, and/or experience?



Does the company offer continuing education/training (describe)?


Opportunities to advance (describe)?



Pay/Benefit Information*

* Do not ask about pay/benefits unless the interviewer brings it up. Consider giving a salary range.



Contact your references and let them know about how the interview went and any specific issues (good/bad) they should be aware of, if contacted by the interviewer.


  • Reference #1
    Contacted on (date)                                                                                                               
  • Reference #2
    Contacted on (date)                                                                                                               
  • Reference #3
    Contacted on (date)                                                                                                               



Follow-up/next step (Will they contact you? More interviews?)


When is hiring decision expected?
If I don’t hear back by this date, I will follow up:                                                                              

  • Send a thank you note to the interviewer (handwritten or via email, within 48 hours of interview).


Additional notes from interview:



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LinkedIn Profile Checklist

Download this information as a FREE 1 page PDF – LinkedIn Profile Checklist.

 LinkedIn Profile Checklist - Job Search Advice from


Profiles that are considered “complete” by LinkedIn’s standards receive 40 more “opportunities” (contacts from prospective hiring managers and recruiters) than incomplete profiles, according to the social networking site.

Filling in your profile improves your chances of being found by people searching for you specifically, or someone with your qualifications, credentials, and background. And that’s true even when using sites like Google and Bing. As LinkedIn’s own materials say, “LinkedIn profiles typically appear among the top search results when people search by name.”

LinkedIn has its own criteria for “profile completeness,” which has changed somewhat over time. As of June 2012, to be considered “complete” by LinkedIn’s standards (the score you see on the right side of your “Edit Profile” page reflects how close you are to finishing these items) you need these items in your LinkedIn profile:

  • Profile photo
  • Your current industry
  • A current position with description
  • Two or more positions
  • Education
  • At least five skills
  • At least 50 connections
  • A summary

To maximize your success in using LinkedIn in your job search, you should also complete these activities:

  • Customize your LinkedIn profile URL (
  • If you’re including a link to your website or blog, customize the text link (rename it so it doesn’t just say “Personal Website” or “Company Website”).
  • Include your contact information. LinkedIn allows you to add your phone number (designated as home, work, or mobile), Instant Messenger contact information (AIM, Skype, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, ICQ, or GTalk), and multiple email addresses (in addition to your primary/sign-in email).
  • Add languages that you speak
  • Fill in key projects you’ve worked on (this is a separate section within the profile).
  • Add a list of courses you’ve taken. (This helps with keyword searches)
  • In the “Settings,” change the “Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile” to “Your name and headline (recommended).”

Most important:

  • Proofread your profile carefully. Check grammar and spelling!
  • Update your profile regularly! Not only will your connections be notified when you update information on your profile (bringing your profile additional visibility), but you’ll also be confident that someone searching for you will have access to the most current information!

Update your LinkedIn profile photo today!

View Jessica Smith (Benzing)'s profile on LinkedIn

Check out my other posts about LinkedIn here.

Jobseeker’s Guide to Writing an Effective LinkedIn Profile

Download this information as a FREE 16 page PDF – Jobseeker’s Guide to Writing an Effective LinkedIn Profile e-book.

Jobseekers Guide to Writing an Effective LinkedIn Profile - Job Search Advice from

 Having an online presence on LinkedIn can be important in your job search. Your LinkedIn profile can present your credentials to prospective employers and hiring managers, increasing your chance of securing an interview.

Your LinkedIn profile should complement your resume, but it shouldn’t duplicate it directly. To have a strong online presence, you must be clear about who you are, and who you are not. (An unfocused LinkedIn profile may be worse than no profile at all.) Your LinkedIn profile can also be more comprehensive than your resume, since it offers you more room to showcase projects, publications, and experience.

A successful LinkedIn profile gives readers a snapshot of who you are and how you can contribute to their organization. You must understand and be able to articulate and communicate what makes you exceptional and compelling.

The purpose of this report is to help you develop a LinkedIn profile that will lead to job opportunities, contacts from prospective employers and recruiters, and increased visibility online. All of these will help in your job search.

One of the most effective ways to establish a presence online (so that you are found when someone “Googles” you), is with a LinkedIn profile. You want an online profile that you control, that you can take with you — independent of any employer — and that demonstrates what kind of job candidate you are (and what you do). Best of all, LinkedIn’s basic features are free.

Your LinkedIn profile is a marketing piece — not a biography or a resume. It’s not designed to outline your entire professional history. Instead, it provides enough information to get people to connect with you — and/or make a contact with you. Because it’s a marketing piece, you need to come up with a headline that will instantly attract the attention of your reader. You have approximately 20 seconds to catch the attention of a visitor to your profile. Consequently, you must find a way to stand out in a crowd. If your profile is like every other profile on LinkedIn, you won’t stand out, and you won’t be found as easily.

Standing out with your LinkedIn profile can mean highlighting the strongest qualifications you have for an employer in your LinkedIn headline, backing up those qualifications with accomplishments throughout your profile summary, and using strategies that will help you become found by the people who most need someone like you.

“Don’t try to be all things to all people.” Although you can create different targeted versions of your resume to target different types of positions, you’re limited to one LinkedIn profile. On LinkedIn — as on your resume — one size does not fit all.

The most difficult part of creating your LinkedIn profile is sounding original. By articulating what makes you unique and valuable, you will attract attention from prospective employers. Be specific about what distinguishes you from others with a similar job title.

The answers to these questions may give you some ideas for creating your LinkedIn profile and headline:

What specific job titles are used to describe someone in your position? (Be specific regarding level, functional role, and industry.)


In performance reviews, in what areas do you receive the highest scores or the most positive feedback?


What is the most important part of your current job?


What is your biggest achievement in your job — have you saved your company money, helped the company make money, or helped it become more efficient, improve safety, improve customer service, etc.


What are your top three skills?


What are you best known for at work?


If you were asked to select your replacement, what qualities would you be looking for?


What kind of challenges at work do you most enjoy working on?


Do you have any specific training or credentials that distinguish you?


What makes you different from other (job titles)? Is there an area where you are better than others?


Can you distinguish yourself by the geographic area you work in or your years of experience?


When someone searches for you on LinkedIn, they will see three things: Your name, your LinkedIn headline, and your location. In many cases, hiring managers and recruiters will make the decision to read your full LinkedIn profile based on just these three things. Consequently, the LinkedIn headline acts like a newspaper or magazine title. It gives the reader an idea of what your profile will include (just like a newspaper headline previews a story). Being specific results in a much better headline. Great headlines attract attention, and the more people who view your LinkedIn profile, the better your chances of connecting with the right person who can lead you to your dream job.


Your headline needs to quickly identify you as a certain type of person — i.e., manager or executive, or someone who specializes in a certain field or industry.

A well-written headline will also help you to structure the rest of the information you include in your LinkedIn profile. If the information doesn’t support the headline, consider whether it should be included at all. Remember, focus is important.

Note: LinkedIn’s default for your headline is your job title and company. If you don’t change it, this is what LinkedIn will show on your profile.


The Role of Keywords In Your LinkedIn Profile

Keywords also play an important part for you in being found by people who don’t know you on LinkedIn — this is particularly true for jobseekers who are hoping for contacts from prospective employers and recruiters. Keywords are a list of words and phrases that are related to your work — they are the words that a prospective employer would search for when trying to find someone like you. LinkedIn headlines are searchable fields using the “People Search” function when someone is looking for particular skills, interests, qualifications, or credentials.

You can also incorporate keywords throughout your LinkedIn profile, including:

  • Your LinkedIn profile headline
  • Current and former work experience
  • LinkedIn summary section
  • Specialties or Skills section

Where can you find keywords? Brainstorm them. Write down a list of words that relates to you, your work, your industry, and your accomplishments. Try to come up with as big of a list as you can; you will narrow it down later.

You can also find keywords in job postings or job descriptions. Check out online job boards for positions (don’t worry about where the job is located, just find positions that are similar to the one you’re seeking and write down the keywords.)

You can also find broad job descriptions — with plenty of keywords — in the U.S. Department of Labor’s free Occupational Outlook Handbook (

Another great research tool is Google’s Adwords Keywords Tool, which can be found at: You can use keywords you identified through your earlier research and it will suggest related keywords (it will also tell you the popularity of the keywords you enter as they relate to current Google search results).

Now it’s time to narrow down your keywords and pick a “Top 10” that you will use in your LinkedIn headline and profile.

The keywords that you select for your profile must fit two criteria:

  • They must speak to your “onlyness” — that is, what you want to be known for.
  • They must align with what employers value — that is, what they want.

Focusing on these areas enables you to get the most out of your online efforts while differentiating you from other job candidates with the same job title. You need to express clearly: “I am this.” Someone who is reading your LinkedIn profile should be able to recognize you in it. If what you wrote could apply to anyone with your job description, revise what you’ve written.

How to Write an Attention-Getting LinkedIn Headline

The headline and the first 2-3 sentences of your LinkedIn profile summary are critical to making connection and securing opportunities from recruiters and hiring managers.

You can learn a lot about developing your profile from online dating sites — because the concept is the same. You have to get someone’s attention. Your profile may be the first impression that hiring managers have of you — so make it count! You’re trying to get them to take a first step and reach out to connect with you.

Focus on what you have to offer a prospective employer; don’t focus on you. The information you provide should be 80 percent about what you have done for your current employer (accomplishments-oriented), and 20 percent about you and what you’re looking for. Unfortunately, most LinkedIn profiles (especially the summary section!), are the reverse.

Think of it this way: Prospective employers are tuned into a particular radio station — it’s called “WIIFM.” All employers are listening for is: “What’s In It For Me?” (WIIFM). Remember: Employers hire for their reasons, not yours.

What proof do you have that you can offer the employer the results they are seeking? Quantify your accomplishments as much as possible in terms of numbers, percentages, and dollar amounts.

Don’t copy someone else’s LinkedIn profile. Be original! Look at other profiles for ideas, but don’t copy someone else’s headline or summary. Remember — your online presence must speak to your “onlyness.” Also, give your profile some personality!

People who make a connection with you through your profile are more likely to contact you about a career opportunity.

Formula for Writing an Effective LinkedIn Headline

There are generally two schools of thought when it comes to writing your profile headline. The first is using a narrative or descriptive title; the second is simply using keywords separated by commas, bullets, or the pipe symbol on your keyboard ( | ).

LinkedIn’s current algorithm gives higher ranking to matching keywords, so strategy number two appeals more to computer searches, while strategy number one appeals to human readers. Eventually, all profiles found through computer searches will be reviewed by a human being, however, so it is important to balance readability with the inclusion of keywords.

You are limited to just 120 characters in your LinkedIn headline, so it’s also important to be succinct and direct.

Things you can consider including in your LinkedIn headline:

  • Job titles
  • Types of customers / projects you work with
  • Industry specialization
  • Brands you’ve worked for
  • Certifications or designations
  • Geographic territory specialization

Note: If you don’t write your own headline, LinkedIn will create one for you — usually, the most recent job title in your profile and a company or organization name. This is very similar to strategy number one, so this is the most common type of LinkedIn profile you will see on the site.

To improve readability, capitalize the first letter of each of the words in your headline.

Here are some strategies for writing your LinkedIn headline, along with the advantages and disadvantages that go along with each tactic.

  1. Keep It Simple. Say it simply and directly: Your job title and the company you work for. This is a good strategy if your job title is a strong keyword and/or the company you work for is well-known. The advantage is that it clearly communicates who you are and what you do; the disadvantage is that it doesn’t set you apart from many others who could claim those same credentials.

This strategy can also use the following formulas:

    • (Job Title)
    • (Job Title) at (Company Name)
    • (Job Title) for (Industry) at (Company Name)
    • (Job Title) Specializing in (Keywords)

For example, here is an example of a headline that incorporates a job title and keywords:

  1. What You Do. This strategy focuses on job functions instead of job titles. The advantage to this headline strategy is that job functions often make excellent keywords. The possible problem is if you simply string together a bunch of job functions without creating a story to explain who you are — along with what you do — so make sure you add some context to your keywords/job functions.

This strategy can also incorporate key projects and/or the names of key clients or important employers, especially if any of those have high “name recognition” value. You may also wish to include a specific industry or geographic area to your job function-focused headline.

Here is an example that uses job function and targets the kinds of clients this consultant serves:

  1. The Big Benefit. It’s important to identify the primary benefit you have to offer a prospective employer. Target what author Susan Britton Whitcomb says are “Employer Buying Motivators” in her book Résumé Magic. The 12 specific needs a company has include the company’s desire to: make money, save money, save time, make work easier, solve a specific problem, be more competitive, build relationships or an image, expand their business, attract new customers, and/or retain existing customers.

How can you be a problem solver for your next employer? Think about the job you want and what your next boss would want in an employee in that role. Make that the focus of your headline.

This can be expressed in several different ways:

    • (Job Title) That Gets (Results)
    • (Adjective) (Job Title) With a Track Record of Success in (Results)

For example:

Be specific! Adding numbers and other specific wording can make your LinkedIn headline much more powerful. Here is the same strategy, but this one quantifies the scope and scale of the benefit to the employer:

But try not to include the “Top 10 Overused Buzzwords in LinkedIn Profiles in the United States.” Here is the 2011 list:

  1. An Enthusiastic Testimonial. This headline strategy works best when you’ve received honors or recognition within your field. This can be an extremely effective strategy if you word it correctly. It’s important that the designation is clear enough to stand on its own without too much detail. It if requires too much explanation, you may not have enough room within LinkedIn’s 120-character limit. A word of caution, however: Don’t trade on honors or recognition that are too far in the past. “Four-Time President’s Award-Winner for Revenue Growth in the Ball Bearings Industry” isn’t as impressive if those awards were for 1998, 2001, 2003, and 2005.

This strategy also works if you can make a claim that is defensible (if the statement is “arguably true”). Put the claim in quotes so it appears as if it was published somewhere.

If you are having trouble writing your LinkedIn headline, write a very rough draft. It doesn’t matter if it’s not good, or if you have to leave some blanks. Having a framework will make it easier for you to complete later. Go ahead and finish writing the rest of your LinkedIn profile and then come back to it. Oftentimes, the headline will become much clearer at that point. (Just remember to review your LinkedIn profile to make sure all the information you’ve included supports the focus of the content, as directed by the headline and summary.)

You can also look on LinkedIn for inspiration. Check out the headlines and summaries of people you’re connected with, or do a search for others in your field. Just remember not to copy their information; instead, use it as inspiration.

How to Change Your LinkedIn Headline

Sign into your LinkedIn account. From the main menu, choose “Edit Profile” under the “Profile” tab.

On the “Edit Profile” page, click next to the “Edit” button next to your name.

You will be taken to a “Basic Information” page where you can type your headline into a text box labeled “Professional ‘Headline.’”

There’s one more thing you should consider on the “Basic Information” page. Remember, LinkedIn will display your name, headline, and location on its search results page. You can adjust what information LinkedIn shows in the results using the “Location & Industry” section. Be sure to click “Save Changes” before leaving the page.

Writing Your Profile Summary

The “Summary” section of your LinkedIn profile is a vital part of your LinkedIn presence. You have 2,000 characters to give readers a brief snapshot of who you are.

The first 2-3 sentences need to instantly get your prospects interested in your profile — or, even better, get them excited about reading the rest of your profile. How do you add more value to the company, or solve problems better than other job candidates? Your LinkedIn summary can set you apart from other jobseekers on LinkedIn by demonstrating that you understand what employers want — and what you have to offer that meets that need.

Address these questions:

  • How will your next employer benefit by hiring you? Quantify the value in terms of numbers, money, and/or percentages. Use specific numbers and facts to build credibility.
  • What experience can you offer that will provide value to your next employer?
  • What additional skills do you have that set you apart from other candidates with a similar background?

Write naturally and conversationally. In contrast to your resume, you should use pronouns in your summary. Speak in the first person, not third person. (“I did such-and-such.”) Write as if you’re speaking to an individual reader. Make it personal. Be sure to emphasize outcomes — as well as what makes you uniquely qualified to do the job you do. Try to find a common THREAD through your work. Then, once you have a theme, use storytelling principles to write your summary as a narrative. Have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Your summary can be anywhere from a few sentences up to a few paragraphs. But don’t waste any words — make the most dramatic, powerful, attention-getting statement you can. Don’t use any more words than is necessary, and don’t be overly flowery in your language. The point of the first sentence is to get the prospect to read the second sentence. And the next sentence. And the next.

Be conversational and informal in your tone. Use contractions (“you’re” instead of “you are”). Every word counts! And pay attention to grammar and spelling. Make sure there are no mistakes in your profile. Re-read and edit it. Have a colleague, friend, or spouse read it. Copy-and-paste it into a word processing program and run a spell-check on it.

You can also use asterisks, dashes, hyphens, and other keyboard characters to format the summary and make it easier to read.

Here is Jane Jobseeker’s profile summary:

Notice the format:

  • In the opening paragraph, draw attention to issues, challenges, or problems faced by your prospective employer.
  • In the second and third paragraphs, demonstrate the value you offer to employers by quantifying the accomplishments in your current position (ideally related to the problems outlined in the first paragraph).
  • In the fourth paragraph, talk about why you might be open to inquiries (if you are a passive candidate). If you are unemployed, you might state the reason why your most recent position ended (if the company closed, for example) or that you are available immediately. Give the reader information on how to contact you. (Note: LinkedIn’s Terms of Service prohibit you from providing your email address directly in this section. Instead, direct them to connect with you on LinkedIn, or use one of your links to provide a method for direct contact.) You can also use the “Personal Information” section to provide a phone number.

Using these strategies, you can develop a LinkedIn headline and summary that will lead to job opportunities, contacts from prospective employers and recruiters, and increased visibility online for your job search.

Miscellaneous Symbols and Bullets to Customize your Profile

Consider adding some visual appeal to your resume by adding bullets, but use SPARINGLY! You want your profile to look professional.

Simply COPY & PASTE into your LinkedIn profile!

Stars: ★ ✪ ✯ ✰

Traditional bullets: ■ ♦ ◆ ●
Ticks: ✔ ✘ ☐ ☑ ☒
Arrows: ☛ ☚ ☜ ☝ ☞ ☟ ⇨ ► ◄ ► »
Email: ✉ ✍ ✎ ✏ ✑ ⌨
Phone: ✆ ☎ ☏
Lines: ☲☲☲☲☲☲☲☲☲☲☲


These symbols are called Unicode Characters – more ideas on Wikipedia’s page List of Unicode Characters. For more symbols, visit Wikipedia’s page on Miscellaneous Computer Symbols.


p.s. Remember to use sparingly and stay professional!


Customizing Your LinkedIn Profile URL

You can customize your public profile URL when you edit your public profile from the Settings page. Custom public profile URLs are available on a first come, first served basis.

  1. Go to Settings and click “Edit your public profile”.
  2. In the “Your public profile URL” box on the right, click the “Customize your public profile URL” link.
  3. Type the last part of your new custom URL in the text box.
  4. Click Set Custom URL.

View Jessica Smith (Benzing)'s profile on LinkedIn

Update your LinkedIn profile today!

Check out my other posts about LinkedIn here.

Tips for Your LinkedIn Profile Photo

Tips for Your LinkedIn Profile Photo - Job Search Advice from

 Your profile photo on LinkedIn is very important. Did you know that profiles with pictures attract 50-70 percent more inquiries than profiles without pictures?

Here are some tips for your LinkedIn photo:

  • Don’t use an old photo. There are few things worse than meeting someone for the first time and not recognizing them because the profile on their LinkedIn profile is from 10 years ago (or longer)!
  •  Use a photo of you in your profile — don’t use a photo of an object.
  •  Consider using a full body shot of you sitting or standing. At a minimum, your photo should include your head and shoulders, not just a close-up of your face.
  •  Smile! Radiate warmth and approachability in your photo.
  •  Photos should be professionally done, if possible (but not Glamour Shots).
  •  Wear your most complementary color. Bright colors can attract attention, but avoid patterns.
  •  Don’t have other people in your photos (and don’t crop other people out of your shot — there should not be any errant body parts in your LinkedIn photo!).
  •  Make sure the background in the photo isn’t distracting.
  •  Relax. Look directly at the camera.
  •  Take multiple shots and ask people their opinion on which one makes you seem most “approachable.”
  •  Tips for Men: Wear a dark blue or black dress shirt. No t-shirts or Hawaiian shirts. No busy or crazy patterns.
  •  Tips for Women: Wear something you feel comfortable in. No t-shirts. No big or busy patterns. Soft, dark v-necks look great. Black always works; avoid white. Remember to fix your hair and makeup.
  • Evaluate – what does your picture say about you? Is that what you want it to say?

Update your LinkedIn profile photo today!

View Jessica Smith (Benzing)'s profile on LinkedIn

Check out my other posts about LinkedIn here.

Don’t Make These Mistakes On LinkedIn

Do not make these mistakes on LinkedIn ResumeButterfly Job Search Advice

  • Don’t Dismiss LinkedIn as Something Only for People Who Are Looking For a New Job. The best time to build your LinkedIn profile, connect with people, and participate on LinkedIn is now, before you need it. If you find yourself suddenly unemployed and decide that now is the time to start using LinkedIn, you’re going to be playing catch up. Instead, take time to “dig your well before you’re thirsty,” as author Harvey Mackay says.


  • Don’t “Set it and Forget It.” Your LinkedIn profile is an evolving snapshot of you. You should be updating it regularly with new connections, status updates, and activity (within LinkedIn Groups and LinkedIn Answers, in particular).


  • Don’t Ignore It. Check in on LinkedIn regularly; at least every other day if you are in active job search mode; at least once a week for passive jobseekers. Plan on adding one new status update each time you log in.


  • Don’t Be A Wallflower. LinkedIn is most effective when you engage with it. Seek out opportunities to connect with thought leaders in your industry. Join 3-5 Groups and participate in conversations. Respond to, or ask, questions in the LinkedIn Answers section.


  • Don’t Be Selfish. You will get more out of LinkedIn if you focus on how you can help others, not how they can help you. The phrase “give to get” is very powerful on LinkedIn. You can earn the respect of your peers and people of influence if you “help enough other people get what they want,” in the words of Zig Ziglar.


  • Don’t Wait For Others To Find You. Use the LinkedIn People Search function to look for people you know and invite them to connect with you. You should aim to add 2-5 new connections each week if you are a passive job seeker, and 6-10 connections a week if you are actively searching for a new job.


  • Don’t Forget to Explore the People Your Connections Know. One of the most powerful functions of LinkedIn is the ability to connect you with people who are connections of the people you know. Follow LinkedIn’s guidelines on connecting with these folks, however (using InMail or requesting connections through your mutual friend), so that your account is not flagged for spam.


  • Don’t Indiscriminately Try to Connect With People. One of the strengths of LinkedIn is the connections you make, but it’s not a race to get to 500 connections. Have a reason for each of the people you connect with — either it’s someone you already know or are related to, or someone it would be beneficial to connect with. If you don’t know someone, get to know them a bit before sending a personalized connection request. (You can do so by seeing who you have in common — or who they are connected to, checking out their LinkedIn summary and work history, visiting their website or blog, and seeing what Groups they belong to).


  • Don’t Forget to Check Out “LinkedIn Today.” On your home page of your LinkedIn profile is a roundup of stories that LinkedIn thinks may interest you. Check out these “Top Headlines” to stay abreast of important information in your industry.


  • Don’t Forget to Give Recommendations. Acknowledge and recognize the contributions of people you know by providing unsolicited, genuine Recommendations for them.


  • Don’t Restrict Your LinkedIn Networking to Online Only. Use LinkedIn to connect with people but then request in-person get-togethers, when possible. Meet for coffee, or lunch, to catch up. The LinkedIn “Events” section can also alert you to in-person gatherings in your industry or geographic area.

Update your LinkedIn profile today!

View Jessica Smith (Benzing)'s profile on LinkedIn

Check out my other posts about LinkedIn here.

Wise Words from Neil Armstrong

Rest in Peace Neil Armstrong (1930 – 2012)

Wise words from Neil Armstrong "I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don't intend to waste any of mine."


Jobseeker’s Guide to Leaving Your Job

You may remember this article: I Quit: How to leave your job (without burning bridges) Below is a more detailed guide to leaving your job.

Every few months, you’ll see an example in the news media of someone who left their job in dramatic fashion. Examples include the JetBlue flight attendant who famously deployed the emergency chute on the runway, or the Goldman Sachs executive who wrote a “Why I Am Leaving” article in the New York Times.

I Quit - jobseekers guide to leaving your job - resumebutterfly

These stories catch our attention because they showcase an over-the-top way to exit a company — but they are also cautionary tales for jobseekers. When at all possible, don’t burn bridges at your current employer. You never know when you’ll run across your co-workers — or current supervisors — in the future.


When you’re thinking of leaving your job, there are things to consider in three phases of the separation — things to think about before you even begin to apply for a new job, considerations to keep in mind as you look for a new job while you’re still employed, and how to leave your current job gracefully.


Before You Start Your Job Search

When you decide to start looking for another position, take the time to review your old files and make a list of your accomplishments in the position. If you haven’t been collecting accomplishments all along, now is the time to start. This information will be useful in developing your résumé as well as in interviews. Make copies of documents that support your accomplishments (unless company policy prohibits it). You may not have access to this information once you submit your resignation — especially if you are asked to leave immediately.


The first thing to consider when you’re ready to resign is whether your company has a policy or guideline about how much notice you should provide. You should also check your employee handbook and any employment agreement you have with the company. If you’ve worked at the company for any length of time, you should have some idea of how resignations are handled. Does your boss ask the resigning employee to leave immediately, or do they generally ask him or her to stay on until a replacement is found? How much time is it customary to offer to stay? You should always offer to stay two weeks, but have a contingency plan in place if you’re asked to leave immediately.


Before you notify your supervisor of your resignation, make sure you are prepared to leave. You don’t want to tip anyone off that you’re leaving — things like taking your photos off your desk or boxing up personal items on your bookshelf are noticeable — but you can quietly clean out your desk and files.


This includes cleaning off your work computer. If you have personal documents on your computer, save them to a jump drive or CD, and then delete the originals from your computer. You can forward any personal email messages you want to save to your non-work email address, and then delete the originals. (Be sure to delete messages in your “sent mail” folder too.) If you have online accounts that use your business email address for the log-in, change the accounts over to your personal email. If you downloaded software to your computer that isn’t related to your job, be sure to uninstall it. And, finally, learn how to delete your computer’s browsing history, cookies, and saved passwords from your Internet browser.


When cleaning out your desk and files, shred or trash old files that won’t be needed by your successor.


If you bring home a few personal items at a time, it won’t be as noticeable. The goal is to be able to easily bring home all of your personal belongings in one or two boxes — and, to be able to leave your job without leaving behind any personal information.


Conducting a Job Search While You’re Still Employed

Research shows it’s easier to find a job when you have a job, but there are special considerations you must take into account when conducting a job search while you’re still employed.


In correspondence with prospective employers or recruiters, mention that you are conducting a “confidential” job search. You can use a phrase such as “I am contacting you in confidence about this position.” However, keep in mind that prospective employers are under no obligation to respect your wishes. Also be careful when replying to blind advertisements (ones that do not provide a name for the prospective employer). More than one jobseeker has accidentally submitted a résumé to his or her current employer this way.


Don’t conduct your job search on the company’s time — or dime. Reserve your jobseeking activities to before work, on your lunch hour, or after work. If necessary, take personal leave (not sick time) to go on interviews. (You can simply say you have an appointment.) Don’t use your company computer (including accessing your personal email account) for your job search. Don’t take employment-related phone calls during your work time; allow these messages to go to your voice mail, and return the calls during breaks or before or after work. And don’t list your employer’s phone number or your business email address on your job search documents.


How you dress during your job search can also be tricky. If you work in a “casual” workplace, wearing “interview attire” to work can be a red flag that something is up. You may want to change into your more formal clothes before an interview (don’t change at work!) — or schedule job interviews on a day when you’re not working.


Providing job references is also likely to be an issue. Even if you’ve told the prospective employer that your current employer doesn’t know that you’re looking, you may still want to mention that you do not want the company to contact your current employer for a reference until they are ready to extend a job offer, so as not to jeopardize your current position. In this situation, you may need to provide several references outside of your company who can speak to your credentials and expertise.


Put your LinkedIn profile up sooner rather than later. Developing a comprehensive LinkedIn profile — and building up your network of contacts — is something to do right away. If you create one before you start your job search, you can honestly say that you’re doing it to create a network of contacts to assist you in being more effective in your current position. Having a newly-minted LinkedIn profile (especially one that mentions you’re open to “new opportunities”) can tip off your supervisor (or co-workers) that you’re looking for a new position. Routinely updating an existing profile, however, is not as suspicious.


How — and When — to Tell Your Supervisor That You’re Leaving

There’s rarely an “easy” way to let your current boss know that you’re leaving the company. This is especially true if you have been with the company a significant amount of time, or if you have a strong relationship with your supervisor.


If you’ve had discussions with your supervisor in previous performance evaluations about your desire to move up, but these opportunities don’t exist within the company, your departure may not be a surprise. If your company was recently sold or acquired — or if your department has had a lot of recent turnover — that fact that you are leaving may not be unexpected. But if you are a key player, your resignation may be surprising, and may even cause big problems for the company.


The simplest guideline is to let your current supervisor know as soon as you can. For most jobseekers, that means as soon as you’ve secured your new position (including getting the particulars of the new position in writing, if possible).


Writing Your Resignation Letter

Is a letter of resignation necessary? It depends. Many jobseekers simply tell their boss verbally that they are leaving — but there are several advantages to actually writing a resignation letter.


  • It can help start the conversation about you leaving the company. You can simply give it to your boss and say, “I’ve prepared this letter of resignation to let you know I’ve accepted another job.”


  • A resignation letter can provide you with an outline to discuss the issues related to your departure from the company (timing, unused vacation or sick leave, etc.)


  • It can help you leave the job on the right foot — without burning bridges, and leaving the door open for future opportunities, should they arise.


Structure of a Letter of Resignation

Letters of resignation should be positive in tone. This is not the time to air your grievances. Your resignation letter will likely become a part of your permanent file, so choose your words carefully. If at all possible, hand-deliver (don’t email) your letter of resignation.


In the future, the person verifying your employment with the company might not be someone you worked with previously. They may review your file, and what you write in your letter of resignation might be important. A strong recommendation can be important — and it’s appropriate to reiterate your contributions in the resignation letter so that information is in your file. Just don’t go overboard; this is about you leaving the company, not angling for a raise or a promotion.


In your letter, be sure to thank your employer for the opportunities you had. You can also reiterate valued personal relationships in your resignation letter — acknowledging your work with your coworkers and supervisors.


What to include in your letter of resignation:

  • The date you are leaving (if at all possible, give at least two week’s notice).
  • Include a forwarding address for mail and correspondence. Also include an email address where you can be reached.


A sample resignation letter might sound like this:


Dear (Supervisor Name):


This letter is to inform you that I am resigning from my position as (job title) with (company name), effective (date). I am willing to stay on for two weeks — until (date) — in order to provide a seamless transition for my replacement.


I have appreciated the opportunity to learn from you and contribute to the company in this role. Being able to be a part of the team that launched the (name of project) that sparked the division to its highest revenues ever is something that I will always remember.


One of the most difficult things about moving on is the loss of your guidance. I have greatly benefited from your leadership and mentoring, and I would welcome the opportunity to keep in contact in the future, as I sincerely value your knowledge and experience.


We will need to work out my final work schedule as well as disposition of my accrued vacation/leave time and employee benefits; I will await your guidance on how to handle these issues.


Personal correspondence can be sent to me at my home address (list address), or via email at (personal e-mail address).


I wish you — and the company — all the best.




(Your Name)


Making a Successful Job Transition

Don’t neglect the details when making a job transition. Even when you initiate your departure, there will be paperwork to complete. This can include:

  • An exit interview. Many companies conduct a brief interview with departing employees to see if they can identify trends or areas of improvement to help them retain more employees.
  • Health insurance benefits. You may need to take advantage of COBRA coverage to extend your health insurance benefits until you start your new position. Make sure you have this information from your company’s HR representative.
  • 401(k) or pension rollover, or stock sellback. If you have participated in the company’s retirement program or stock purchase program, you may need to take action to secure these investments once you leave the company.


The Etiquette of Departure

Don’t tell your boss — or your coworkers — that you are even thinking of looking for a new position. If you can’t afford to be unemployed for any length of time, don’t give your employer a reason to let you go before you’ve had a chance to find a new position. Sometimes, even the idea that you’re seeking a new position is enough for you to jeopardize your current job. For example, your boss might not assign you to a new project because “you’re not going to be here long enough to see it through anyway.”


Don’t tell your coworkers you’re leaving before you inform your boss. Even if you have a friend or confidant in the office, don’t let him or her know you are interviewing for another position, or that you’ve landed a new role. You need to tell your boss first.


Don’t share — or dwell on — your reasons for seeking a new position. Don’t try to justify why you are leaving. If you are leaving to escape a toxic work environment, there’s nothing to be gained by pointing that out. It’s fine to say that you are leaving to explore new opportunities.


Make a good impression all the way to the end. Remember, “Often, the last thing people remember about you is your last days on the job, not your first.” What should you be doing in your last few days and weeks on the job? Whatever your boss wants you to. Have a conversation with your supervisor. What does he or she want you to work on? Will you be training your replacement? Are there any major projects to complete? Can you document processes and procedures in enough detail that someone else could complete the tasks?


Ask your supervisor for a reference — either a letter or a LinkedIn Recommendation. You can also ask what information will be provided in the future when someone contacts the company for information to verify your employment, or for a reference. Some companies have a policy that they only provide dates of employment, and that all reference checks must go through the Human Resources department — so your supervisor may not be able to provide a reference.


Don’t neglect your colleagues. Although the formal resignation letter is for your immediate supervisor, consider writing separate notes to co-workers to let them know you appreciated working with them. Take steps to keep your connections with your current (soon-to-be former) colleagues. Collect personal contact information for valued contacts and assure them their professional calls and inquiries will be welcome in the future. Connect with them on LinkedIn — you can further solidify your connection with them by providing a Recommendation for them on their LinkedIn profile.


What If They Want You to Stay?

Be prepared for a counteroffer from your current employer. When your employer finds out you are leaving, you may be tempted with an offer to stay. However, most research — and anecdotal evidence — on this subject finds that employees who accept a counteroffer often end up leaving the company anyway, often within a year.


In many cases, your current employer may make a counteroffer out of panic. If you are instrumental to a current project, for example, your supervisor may be desperate to keep you until the project is complete. Once that happens, however, you may find yourself expendable. Also, employees who accept another job offer — even if they ultimately end up staying in their current position — may be perceived as “disloyal.”


You were seeking a new position for a reason. If your motivation was purely financial, you may receive a counteroffer that meets that need, but it may create dissatisfaction with your co-workers if they learn you stayed with the company and received a raise. If you were seeking a new job for other reasons, staying at the company may not resolve those issues.


If you do accept a counteroffer and decide to stay with your current company, make sure you have an open and honest dialogue with your supervisor about any changes that need to be made. Again, look to your reasons for seeking a new position in the first place. Can these be addressed? For example, taking on different assignments, or making changes to the structure of the position (i.e., different hours) can be critical changes. Simply staying in exchange for more money won’t make you any more successful in the same position — which will likely lead to your eventual departure from the company anyway.


The Door Is Always Open

If you handle your departure from the company with grace and tact, you may find the door is open for you to return to the company in the future. New positions don’t always work out, and mergers and acquisitions (especially in smaller industries) are a possibility. You may find yourself working for the same supervisor — or company — in the future.

How to leave your job (without burning bridges)

I Quit - Leave your job without burning bridges

Important: Wait until you have another job before leaving your current job if at all possible. Looking for another job can be tricky, do your homework and be smart to save yourself and the company a headache.


First, review your legal paperwork, HR employment agreement and any other documents that outline your requirements such as contract or non-compete terms. Sidenote- build up your LinkedIn profile and recommendations well before you are looking.


Once you decide to go on the job hunt it must be done 100% on your own time, off company property (you don’t want to be fired while you are looking). Use a personal email, cell phone, computer and your own time. Also, careful not to raise any red-flags that you are looking – ie change into your “normal” work clothes if you had been dressed up for an interview. I will never forget a co-worker of mine came in very well dressed in a full suit (out of character) It was obvious that she had been at an interview, especially when she came in late. It might be wise to use a vacation day to interview so you aren’t rushed. Be discreet in your job search, don’t tell your co-workers, even if they are your friends, it might backfire. Watch what you post on Facebook, your blog or LinkedIn.


When you do land a new job be professional and keep in mind “less is more” when submitting your resignation letter and telling your co-workers. You don’t want to be the one bragging about how you are leaving and going to a great new place while they are stuck behind. You never know when you might need a connection, don’t burn your bridges. Keep your files in order and perhaps even prepare a training binder to pass along. 2 weeks notice is customary, but don’t surprised if you are told that the day you resign is your last day. Good luck in your new adventure. Best advice- if you were the boss and your employee was leaving how would you want them to leave your company?

p.s. When I quit a previous job I felt so guilty because I felt like I did so much and my team would suffer without me. That may have been true in the short term, but the company moved on, just like I moved on to a new opportunity.

What are your tips for quitting a job gracefully / leaving your job without burning bridges?

Want more information – check out this post- Jobseeker’s Guide to Leaving Your Job.

Note: This is not legal advice, just some ideas to think about.

How to Create a Professional Job Search Portfolio

Create a Professional Job Search Portfolio

A job search portfolio is essential tool for all job seekers (not just artists!) Everyone should have a professional portfolio that includes at least the first 4 items listed below. Consider having an online portfolio too! Below are some suggestions!

Cover Letter: It should answer the question – Why should I hire you? It should grab the employers attention and point out why you, above all other applicants, should be contacted for a personal interview.

Traditional Resume: A summary of your education, work experience and skills

References List: A list of three to five people (including full names, titles, addresses, and phone/email) who are willing to speak about your strengths, abilities, and experience. Remember to ask your references before you give them to a potential employer.

Letters of Recommendations: A collection of any kudos you have received -– from customers, clients, colleagues, past employers, professors, etc. Consider including copies of favorable employer evaluations and reviews.

Samples of Your Work: A sampling of your best work, including reports, papers, studies, brochures, projects, presentations, etc.

Extras: A collection of any certificates of awards, honors, community service, military records, transcripts, certifications etc.

Need help creating a professional job search portfolio? Contact me!

Job Search Portfolio - Job Search Skills - Resume Butterfly - Get Ready - Professional Portfolio

Words of Wisdom for the World of Work (WOW for the WOW)


GET READY for your job search: Private Profiles & Professional Email and Voicemail
Private profiles on Facebook & Other Social Media

Social networking websites like Facebook can be great tools for socializing and networking, but they can also hurt a job seeker’s chances of landing a new job. What if a potential employer saw pictures from your birthday party or what you did this weekend? Would it help you get the job or make them run the other way? TIPS: “Google” your own name and check out the results. What will a prospective employer see if they perform a Google search?  Set pages to “private.”  Remember that even if it is private it isn’t 100% confidential. Be careful about what you post online. LinkedIn can be a great way to network—keep your profile very professional and updated!

Professional Email & Voicemail

A first impression is lasting. What does say about you? Set up a new professional email address such as People sometimes forget to pay attention to the little detail of how their email or voicemail message sounds when they start filling out job applications. Employers will definitely notice. If your voicemail message sounds unprofessional, they will just hang up without leaving a message, and you’ll never get a chance to interview with them.

Voicemail Don’ts (some seem obvious, but I’ve had them happen a lot!)

* Messages recorded by your kids * Call Tunes Music * Goofy messages * Sarcastic  or rude comments * Mumbled greetings * No message

Voicemail Do’s
A professional voicemail message is a simple greeting, such as “This is Jessica Smith,  I’m not available to take your call right now. Please leave your name, number, and a detailed message and I will return your call as soon as possible.”

Are you prepared for your job search?

Job Search Preparation - Job Search Skills - Resume Butterfly - Get Ready - Private Profiles - Email - Voicemail