TJF Career Coaching

Helping You Market Yourself into a Better Job

Transform Your Job & Internship Search with Data Analytics

By Tiffany J. Franklin

Everywhere you turn these days you hear about companies using data to drive business strategy and decision making. You can use those same principles to optimize your job search. Best of all, you don’t even have to know Python, SQL or R – all you need is an Excel or Google sheet.

Conducting a job or internship search can feel a bit haphazard at times as you submit application after application and wait to hear back. When you do receive that email or call, it may take you a minute to remember which job this recruiter is referencing. Organization is not only the key to an effective search, but it can also provide you insights on how to adjust your approach throughout the job search journey. There’s only so much time in the day given your classes, jobs, activities, and other commitments. You need to make every bit of effort count and to adjust your strategy as you go to maximize your results.

A great way to assess the effectiveness of your search is to track every application and create data points about the effort you put into each application. For example, the job title, company name, url to the description, recruiter name if available, date of application, location, and where you found the job/internship description. Next add, whether you tailored your resume to that job, did you use an ATS (applicant tracking system) site to optimize it for keywords (JobScan), did you send a cover letter, did you attend an information session, and if you networked with alumni or other contacts.

Here’s a sample:

It helps to have one tab for applications online/directly to employers and then a separate tab on the same sheet for networking contacts.

Once you have entered info for a few weeks, it’s helpful to check back and explore which combination of factors led to the most interviews. Keep in mind that there are not enough hours in the day to do everything for every job application. Instead, decide which ones are your favorite and check off all the boxes in terms of effort for those. For everything else, try various combinations and track the results. Throughout your search, check back and see which actions are working best for you, for example networking and targeting your resume and do more of that. This method is helpful when you are considering a few pathways and trying applications for each to see where you get interview requests.

One last tip: Have the spreadsheet app on your phone so you can easily access the information when a recruiter calls. On the spreadsheet, make the Job Title a hyperlink that goes back to the job description.

Remember, I'm here to help with your job search strategy and at every stage of the process. Email me at for a quote.

Photo credit: iStockphoto/Chainarong Prasertthai

The Best Advice for Seniors Considering a Home-Based Business of Their Own

Welcome to a new guest post series where professionals share their insights. Today's column focuses on seniors reinventing their careers through home-based businesses.

Guest Post by Carla Lopez

If you’re considering getting back into the working world after retirement, you aren’t alone. People are living longer, healthier lives, and as a result, many seniors are coming out of retirement to begin anew. In fact, some statistics indicate over 20 percent of all new entrepreneurs are between the ages of 55 and 64.

Is entrepreneurialism right for you? Read on for navigating the whys and hows of starting your own home-based venture later in life.

Home sweet home

As AllBusiness explains, there are plenty of advantages in working from home, particularly for seniors. It’s a flexible opportunity, so you can still enjoy the freedom of your retirement, setting your own schedule, opting who you work with, and so forth. You gain all the tax advantages of being a small business owner, yet you don’t need much capital to get your business off the ground. On top of all that, if you have any mobility concerns, you have the convenience of not having to travel to a workplace.

Develop a game plan

In order to be successful in a new business, it’s essential to map out a plan. Consider making a checklist identifying your to-dos. As you firm up your ideas, explore this guide, which leads you through all the ins and outs of starting a new business. It helps you understand everything from gauging startup costs, to researching your target market, to various financing options. Acknowledge your overall goals in order to carve out steps to meet them, and you’ll be on your way to success.

Choose your direction

Your new business might be very straightforward. Perhaps you have a hobby you’re ready to put to work, or you want to dabble in something you used to do full-time. Or maybe you plan to take your expertise to others as a consultant. These are great options for a new entrepreneurial venture!

On the other hand, we sometimes know we want to start a new project, but aren’t sure what direction to go. Perhaps finances are driving your decision or you simply miss the challenge of the working world. You might even have a loose idea of what you want to do, but aren’t sure how to frame it.

As an example, with the continued growth in tech, many people are drawn toward launching a startup. If that’s on your radar, Fortune points out you don’t have to be a computer guru to be successful, but you do need to be innovative. The climate calls for startups to be fresh, challenging, scalable, and disruptive. Outsource as needed to get off the ground, and be sure you hire team members who are fluent in their respective crafts.

Pool your resources

Before you go too far, you should contemplate what resources you have to get your venture off the ground. Chances are you would prefer to avoid touching your nest egg, and thankfully, there are alternatives.

There are a number of small business loans to consider, and it’s best to research your options to find a good fit. Your well-formed business plan can help you secure approval, and lenders will examine your credit history, just as for any other loan.

Various organizations also offer assistance. Some states participate in the Self-Employment Assistance program, or SEA program. Career Trend notes there are also grants available to some seniors who are starting their own businesses. Check in with local government and business organizations as well, since they sometimes offer incentives to new businesses.

Count on connections

When it comes to inexpensive fuel for getting your small business up and running, little beats networking. Get involved with your community, touch base with neighbors, and let your friends, family members, and former associates know what you’re up to. Consider joining industry-related forums, local business groups, and associations for small business owners. You can even look into meetups relating to what you’re doing.

Prep your spiel

Sometimes, people who are new to a leadership role feel awkward when first building their small business network. If talking about your enterprise doesn’t come naturally, one idea is to write out an elevator script and rehearse it. You’ll be well-prepared for impromptu opportunities, and word of mouth can be a powerful tool – put it to work!

Build a website

Nowadays, businesses will have a difficult time succeeding if they don’t have an attractive, user-friendly website for their customers/clients to use. According to USA Today, a website can help you build your brand, establish credibility, and help market your services/products. And while you can easily build a website over the course of a weekend using pre-built templates, it’s often best to hire a pro to create one for you. When you begin your hunt, it’s important to look for the right WordPress developer. As Upwork notes, WordPress sites can be simple or more advanced, and freelance WordPress developers should be able to fully navigate the entire WordPress content management system, including the ecosystem, back-end and maintenance. The right developer will create a website that is both engaging for your clients and that can take your business to the next level. As you start to interview freelancers, keep in mind that you could pay between $30 and $150 per hour for a WordPress developer depending on the size of your project.

Make space

Since you’re planning on working from home, it’s important to carve out a workspace that suits you. Remember any supplies you purchase are business expenses and can be depreciated, so keep your receipts.

Be sure to set up an area that promotes productivity and is comfortable. Inc. recommends aiming for a well-lit, uncluttered home office in a quiet corner of your home where you won’t face routine distractions. If you need a production area, space for customers to park, or any other details for your new venture, be sure to take that into account.

The time is ripe for seniors interested in a home-based business. Create a solid plan, pool resources, build a network, and establish an appropriate workspace. With your thorough planning, you’ll be set up for success.

Photo Credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz (iStock)

10 Steps to Find a Job When It’s Been Years Since Your Last Job Search

Dear Future Im Ready, message on paper

By: Tiffany J. Franklin

Congratulations on taking the first step towards a new job! While it can be comforting to stay at one company for years, finding a new job can be reinvigorating for your life. Not only will you have the opportunity to meet new people and tackle new challenges, but hopefully you will feel excited about your work in a way you haven’t in a while. Once you’ve mastered one role, it can be easy to slide into the same old routine and feel uninspired. Putting yourself out there can be really scary, but think of how happy you could be in a year by making changes now. Be good to your future self!

Now that you’re ready, it’s time to consider how the job market has changed since you last looked for a job. Strategies that served you well 5, 10, or 20 years ago could leave you trailing behind now. I’m amazed at how much things have changed in the past few years as asynchronous video interviews (company has prerecorded person asking you questions and recording video of your live answers for a 1st round interview) have become commonplace and it’s more important than ever to use keywords in your resume to do well with the applicant tracking databases used by top companies today.

Let’s dive in and go over a checklist to help you be successful with your search.

1) Get your resume done by a professional who knows the latest resume tricks.

This is not a shameless plug for my services, although I am available for resume overhauls. Whether you use my services or those of another career coach, you need an objective third party to help you maximize your experience for today’s job market. If you’d rather save money and do things yourself, it’s helpful to read articles about how to design your resume for today’s applicant tracking databases.  See this helpful guide

2) Tailor your resume to each job to which you apply

Often you hear people lament that when they apply to jobs, it feels like the application goes into a black hole never to be heard from again. That’s because over 90% of Fortune 500 (and many non F500 companies) utilize applicant tracking systems (ATS) to process hundreds of applications, or thousands with very popular companies. These applicant tracking databases are all keyword based, so it is a must that your resume and cover letter closely align with the keywords in the job description. There is no one size fits all resume or cover letter!!

While this sounds daunting, there are tools available to you as a job seekers to help in your search. My favorite is the job Scan website ( – this site allows you to paste your resume in one box and the job description in another, then it will show you in seconds what percentage of a match you are for the role. Better yet, it then shows you exactly which keywords you need to incorporate into your resume to make your job a better match. I have taken a resume from a 23% match to a 92% match all by reworking the keywords. It’s important to note that you must be truthful with this. It’s better to have a lower match rate and be honest, rather than embellish and be exposed later for lying. My rule of thumb is to see if I can get a resume to be at least a 70-80% match while still being genuine in the experience descriptions. Job Scan will provide you 5 free scans and then you can purchase a plan to get unlimited scans. If you share a link to Job Scan through your social media accounts, you may have opportunities to get additional free scans. Even doing a few free ones can help you understand how to approach future applications.

Another way to ensure your resume gets read by a decision maker is to engage your network. See step #5 below for tips for effectively leveraging your network.

3) Write a cover letter for each job you really want and tailor it to each job to which you apply

Over the years, there has been much debate about cover letters and whether they are needed for a successful job search. In my experience, I found that half of the recruiters swear by them and the other half of them don’t even read them. You don’t know which group you’re going to get, so hedge your bets and write one, especially for jobs you really want. Why wouldn’t you take the opportunity to pitch yourself to an employer and outline how your skills, competencies and past experiences will allow you to meet their needs?

During my recruiting days, I found cover letters super helpful because they not only showed me how a candidate communicated, but they also demonstrated that a candidate went above and beyond. Anyone can say they go the extra mile, but these candidates already did that. When I posted a job listing on LinkedIn and had 50 candidates apply, I would skim the cover letter applications first because of their effort. Did I always select a candidate with a cover letter? Not necessarily; when it came down to it, I had to pick the applicants that most closely aligned with the role.

Just as mentioned in number two above, companies also run cover letters through applicant tracking systems that are keyword based. The Job Scan website will allow you to enter cover letters into the system and show you how to align them with a specific job description. For more tips on cover letters, see the post – writing cover letters that recruiters will read.

4) Cast a wide net, diversify your job search and strategize in the beginning of the search

In an age of applicant tracking databases and people more readily moving across the country for jobs than in decades past, that means there is much more competition for jobs. That being said, not all of these applicants are a good match. Please do not be intimidated by the numbers of applicants. Instead, focus on optimizing your applications and connecting with your network.

When I work with clients who have struggled with a job search, the biggest challenges tend to be with the resume they have been using in the past and not applying to enough jobs. I’m not saying you have to apply to 100 jobs (although some candidates do) or that when you’ve applied to that 100th job, that’s the one you will get, but you do have to put yourself out there.

Once candidates have taken the time to get all their marketing materials together, I often recommend applying to a job a day when they are in the midst of a job search. Of course this depends on other responsibilities in your life, but it’s a great way to ensure you are in the game.

Another piece of this is to diversify your search – don’t limit yourself to just once job site. Check out Glassdoor jobs, LinkedIn (jobs tab), Indeed, Career Builder, and then the niche job sites for your field of interest. Remember to create search alerts for each of these sites, so that way you go fishing once and then the jobs are emailed to you each week.

Before beginning your search, take some time to think about what you value most in a new job and be purposeful. Check out this article on deciding what matters most to you in a job.

If you need help get started, email a for a quote and to schedule a career strategy coaching call.

5) Networking is Key

One way to get past the applicant tracking databases is to get your resume in the hands of decision makers through networking and employee referrals. Networking is simply connecting with people. At first, many say I don’t know anyone in that field, but you have more connections than you realize.

Make a list of all the people you know – friends, family, former colleagues, and former professors and supervisors. You also can reach out to alumni from your universities ( to see if they have any advice to offer about the culture of a company and what they wish they knew when starting their careers. Sometimes these conversations can lead to opportunities down the road.

As a general rule, I like to devote half my time to networking and half my time to sending resumes to job postings on the various job sites and company career sections.

6) Cultivate references now

Be sure that you think about people to list as references on your application at the beginning of a job search. It’s easier if you start asking for references at the beginning of a search, rather than frantically sending emails when you want to apply for your dream job posting the next day. Check out my Essential Guide to References with sample emails on how to ask people for references when it’s been a while since you last connected.

7) Mock interviews are a must

The difference between a mediocre interview and a great one is preparation. Even after 20 years of serving as a career coach, I still “study” for interviews, just as I take time to prepare presentations when I have to speak to a crowd.

As yourself, what are are the 5 main skills/competencies the employer wants you to have based on the job description. Then, come up with success stories that demonstrate these competencies in action. Check out the article on interview prep for more specific tips.

Hiring a career coach for a mock interview or even doing one with a friend if you need to save money will be helpful. You may think you know answers to Tell Me About Yourself and other questions, but when it comes to saying them aloud in a concise manner, that’s where practice and having someone offer a helpful critique is key. Keep you answers to interview questions between 90 seconds and 2 minutes long. It’s okay for the interviewing to ask a follow-up question. Remember, you are aiming for a conversation between you and your interviewers, not a monologue.

Finally, breathe! You’ve got this. No one interview or job determines the course of your future. If this one does not work out, then an even better job could be just around the corner.

8) Don’t forget the thank you note

Sending your interviewers a thank you note the evening of the interview (or next day at the latest) is expected these days. Send individual notes to each interviewer and vary the content slightly to reflect your conversation. Email is acceptable and ensures the interviewer receives it in a timely manner. If you really want the job, you can follow up with a handwritten note as well (although be sure you vary the content so it’s not the same as the email). For more tips on this, see my blog post on thank you notes.

9) Use principles of data analytics to track your progress and continually adjust your search

Data analytics is all about using data to identify patterns, gain insights and guide future decision making. This can be helpful with a job search. As tempting as it is to finish creating your resume and one cover letter and then say “mike drop – I’m done,” it’s more effective to see it as an evolving process. I recommend creating an excel sheet with columns for your job applications, company names, requisition numbers, dates you applied, which version of your resume you used, notes about when you heard back, if you have any contacts, and whichever details you find useful. Then, at the end of each month, see how many places you applied and which version of your resume is gaining the most traction. Ask yourself why you think that version is working and consider using that for future applications. Are you getting interviews for places where you have contacts? This strategy helped me when I moved from Nashville to Philly and applied to a few different types of places before landing at an international staffing agency as a recruiter.

10) Look for ways to stay relevant

Never leave your career to chance or in someone else’s hands. With the global marketplace shifting rapidly from year to year, you want to provide yourself with a firm, yet flexible foundation to facilitate future pivots you may want to pursue. Even if you love your current job, look at job postings one level up in your field (or in another field if you want to make a career change) and see which skills are necessary. It’s usually a combination of hard skills specific to the job and more general soft skills (communication, teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, and analytical skills). Once you identify potential skill gaps or areas for growth, see if you current employer offers any courses or if you have been out of work for a while, look for online courses (, Coursera, and many offered through colleges online or in person). The key is to always keep learning and being prepared to make career shifts to remain competitive in your space or shift to a new field.

Need help with your search? I am happy to help. Email me at to receive a quote and book your service.

Photo Credit: krung99/iStockphoto

Don’t Forget the Thank You Note

Thank You

How to Write a Thank You Note…

Congratulations! You’ve made it through your interview and you deserve to take a break and relax after all that prep work. Before you put those feet up, remember that follow-up is key and it’s important to send your interviewer(s) a thank you note.

Is it really that important?

Over the years, I have served on several search committees and this is a detail that is expected from candidates. It doesn’t have to be too long, but it should be timely and free from errors. You will stand out for the wrong reasons if you don’t send one.

You may ask why is it such a big deal. First, employers do not have much to go on during the interview. Anyone can say they are good communicators or pay attention to details, but showing you are those things makes all the difference. A thank you note demonstrates your interest in the position and is a sign of respect, reflecting that you value the time of the interviewers. Writing a thank you note is also another opportunity to remind the recruiter or hiring committee why you would be a good fit for that company.

Timing is everything!

I’m often asked if it’s acceptable to email a thank you. Yes, emailing a thank you note is fine and allows you to send the note within 24 hours of the interview. If you are one of the last people to interview and the hiring committee will make a decision soon, time is of the essence so emailing a thank you note makes sense. For positions I have really wanted, I have also sent a handwritten note as well. Just be sure to change the message slightly so it’s not the exact same thing. Handwritten notes are not as common these days, so it can help you stand out for the right reasons.

Should I include all the interviewers?

Ideally, yes you would send a thank you to each person asking you questions. During the interview, see if you can get business cards of those who interview you or a list of names and titles of the people you meet if they do not have cards available. The person who scheduled the interview should have this.

At the very least, email a thank you to the main contact who scheduled the interview with you. I once had a 6 hour interview with 14 people and I sent thank yous to each one. It took a few hours, but I believe it was one of the factors that helped me land the job.

What to write

A thank you note can be brief with only 5-6 sentences. Address the person by their last name (Dr. X or Mr./Ms. Y) and then write a line thanking them for taking time from their busy schedule to meet with you about the ______________ role. Mention how you enjoyed hearing about the department and learning more about the hospital. Be sure to include a specific detail you discussed in your interview. Finally, briefly talk about why you are interested in the role and how it aligns with your skills (mention the most relevant). For example, “During my program, the ultrasound rotation stood out as my favorite and I had the opportunity to assist with numerous prenatal ultrasounds. I feel this experience has provided me a solid foundation to thrive in the Gynecology/Obstetrics department of ABC Hospital.”

Tips and Tricks

Write your thank yous in Microsoft Word or Pages first so you can spell check and won’t be too close to the send email button while in the draft phase. Then, you can either cut and paste into emails or hand write the text after you have it perfected.

When writing notes to multiple interviewers, I start with about three versions of the thank you note and rotate these among the interviewers so they are not all starting with the same sentence. Then, add another level of personalization to each by mentioning something you spoke to that particular person about during the interview. After I’m finished with an interview, I will jot a few notes down about what I discussed and that helps with the thank you writing.

For hand written thank yous, I will buy one of those small boxes of thank you notes you can find at the grocery store, a drug store, or any hallmark or office supply place. I like the small notes because there’s less space to write, so 4-6 sentences will fill up the page. Short and sweet!

Good luck! After writing a Thank You Note, you are one step closer to landing that dream role.

Photo Credit: kemalbas/iStockphoto

Making the Most of Career Fairs


Young professional accepting business card from team at job fair

By: Tiffany J. Franklin

Have a career fair coming up? These events are a great way to connect with many employers in one day and learn about a host of opportunities. Here are a few tips to help you prepare.

  • Check the event website to confirm the date, time, parking, admission requirements, and dress code. It’s usually business professional, so be sure to dry clean your best suit.
  • Update and proofread your resume. Do you have a 1-2 page version that is flawless? If you are applying to companies from a few different industries, have versions tailored to each one. Get a portfolio (leather notebook with a tablet and pocket where you can keep your resumes) to look as professional as possible.
  • Look up the companies attending and determine which ones interest you the most. Learn about these companies using their website/LinkedIn page and formulate questions based on what you learned. You want to avoid walking up to a company and saying “What do you do?” Instead, be able to articulate why they interest you and that you’d like to learn more.
  • If the fair has an app, use it ahead of time to see company location and map out a strategy of which companies you absolutely want to see if your time is limited.
  • Have your elevator speech/pitch ready – 30 seconds about yourself as it pertains to that field and a line about why that particular company. Practice your handshake and making eye contact. You may only get 2 minutes if there’s a line, so be prepared to make the most of it.
  • After speaking with each recruiter, take a moment to step aside and jot notes about what you talked about and then send a thank you email that day if you have their contact info.

Without proper preparation, career fairs can be overwhelming, but taking a few hours to do research ahead of time can make all the difference. Good luck!

Tiffany Franklin is an executive career coach who works with clients of all levels with resume overhauls, cover letters, LinkedIn updates, mock interviews, and career exploration. Connect at

Photo credit: asiseeit/



How to Write a Cover Letter Recruiters Will Read

job application series

By Tiffany J. Franklin

Cover letters are one of the pieces of the job search that many job seekers would rather skip. In fact, some will only apply to positions that don’t require them and will say they’ve heard recruiters don’t read them.

In my experience, about half of recruiters see the cover letter as a valuable tool to learn more about a candidate and the other half don’t bother with them. The thing is, you never know which camp the recruiter reading your application falls into, so you may as well hedge your bets and have a great one. After all, a cover letter is really a marketing piece that allows you to make a strong case (backed up by examples) for why this company should hire you. During my recruiting days, I thought they were helpful when I had to decide between two candidates with similar skills – it indicated which candidate was willing to go the extra mile in the application process.

Here are a few tips for how to tackle that first cover letter.

1) At the top, include your address and the date

2) Address the letter to an actual person, not a generic “Dear Hiring Manager.” If you can’t find the contact name, Google “LinkedIn Company Name Recruiter” for ideas. Include contact name, title, company name, and address.

3) Opening Paragraph (I LOVE YOU) – Mention position title, requisition number if listed, why you want the company (see mission statement, About Us page), and a sentence stating why you are qualified to contribute to their team.

4) Middle Paragraphs (YOU LOVE ME) – This is the part where you pick 3-4 examples from your experience and bring your resume to life. Through success stories, you demonstrate your ability to do this job and highlight your transferrable skills. These examples should speak to the key skills mentioned in the job description. It may list 50 different qualifiers, but usually these can be grouped into a few primary categories.

5) Closing Paragraph (LET’S TALK) – Restate your interest and summarize key qualifiers, how to reach you (contact info), that you’ll be available for an interview, and thank them for the consideration.

The first letter may take a little longer to complete, but it’s worth the time investment and you can recycle a large percentage for similar jobs. Just be sure to tailor the I Love You part to each company and use examples best suited to each job description.
Tiffany Franklin is an executive career coach who works with clients of all levels with resume overhauls, cover letters, LinkedIn updates, mock interviews, and career exploration. Learn more and connect at or

Photo Credit: peepo/

What Do You Value Most in a Job??

job satisfaction concept

Tiffany J. Franklin, M.S. Ed.

When people talk about job searches, you often hear resumes, interviews, and job postings mentioned because these are tangible elements of the process, yet work values are often overlooked. When coaching clients, I urge them to take some time and think about what they value in a job. For example, is location most important to you because of a spouse or do you need a certain salary to meet your financial obligations? While these are often the most common ones you hear, there are an array of other work values to consider such as the importance you place on

• Helping Society
• Working in a team
• Influencing People
• Artistic Creativity
• Adventure
• Independence
• Time Schedule

For a complete list, check out this work values exercise and determine which 4-5 are most important to you. There are no right or wrong answers here and the order of these may change as your life circumstances evolve, for instance being single vs. having a family. Try this exercise at the beginning of your job search to ensure you apply to jobs which embody these qualities and then look at your list again as you choose between offers.

Tiffany Franklin is an executive career coach who works with clients of all levels with resume overhauls, cover letters, LinkedIn updates, mock interviews, and career exploration. To learn more, email her at and connect at

Photo source: PixelsAway/

Which Style of Resume is Right for You?

Tiffany J. Franklin, M.S. Ed.

iStock_000005359598XSmall - resume

Resumes are the building block of all job searches, so the format you choose is critical for the success of your search. Here are the three styles and when to use them.
1. Reverse Chronological

This is the most common and lists your most recent experience first. It includes bullet points under each job describing your duties and most importantly, your accomplishments. It’s best to use this style when applying for jobs related to your most recent positions and it’s great for showing how you’ve grown in your career.

2. Skills Based (Functional)

This type lists skill areas related to a job and bullet points under each that demonstrate when you have utilized that skill. At the bottom, there is a listing of your positions and companies without details under each. This one can be disorienting for a recruiter (like being lost without Google maps) because it does not provide context under each job. I’ve heard recruiting colleagues wonder if candidates using this style were trying to hide job hopping or a negative experience with their last employer.

3. Hybrid

This is a combination of the two above and uses the best of each. After the Career Summary, add a section called Key Skills and choose 3 skills that you can tell are most important from the target job description. For each skill, write a few bullets starting with strong action verbs that demonstrate your past success with that skill and quantify (if possible) to show the scope of your impact. These bullets can be pulled from any job you have had and mention the company and job title in the bullet. The resume proceeds like the reverse chronological one after this section, but with abbreviated descriptions under each job. This format is great for people with broad experience who want to highlight a few key areas. It’s also useful for those making a career transition and often preferred by the executive clients I’ve coached. If you have had many jobs or a bad experience at your last one, this can be helpful as well.
There are many choices when it comes to formatting your resume. Which of these will help you most effectively tell your story?

Tiffany Franklin is an executive career coach who works with clients of all levels with resume overhauls, cover letters, LinkedIn updates, mock interviews, and career exploration. 

To learn how Tiffany Franklin can take your job search to the next level, email or connect –

Be sure to check out Tiffany’s other career site for Radiologic Technologists:

Photo credit: peepo/

Is Empathy the missing piece in your Job Search puzzle?


Cooperation to solve a puzzle

Tiffany J. Franklin, M.S. Ed.

Going through a job search can feel like someone is sucking the life out of you. Day after day, you toil on your resume, cover letter, applications, networking, putting your best self out there, dreaming of what your future could be and waiting for crumbs of validation in the form of an interview. You know you would be perfect for this job, so why don’t recruiters agree? Do they remember what it’s like to wait for that life changing phone call? Do they care that your life is currently in limbo?

The frustration associated with job searches is something I remember well, but a little perspective can make the process less daunting. Keep in mind:

  • No one job determines your destiny. Sure, you may want one particular position badly, but your dream job or at least one that better aligns with your values and career goals may open in a month or two. If you received and accepted the original job offer, you would have missed out on something worth the wait.
  • A job search requires adaptability. If you send out 30 resume and no one responds, it’s an indication your resume is not representing you as well as it could. Go back and make changes for the next round of applications to see if it generates more interest. Same goes for your interviewing technique and the types of opportunities you are identifying.
  • Perseverance is essential. A successful job search entails many components and takes time. You may have to adjust your approach, but you can’t give up.
  • A little empathy goes a long way. Recruiters are dealing with a lot of stress as they sift through hundreds of resumes in a short period of time to try and make that match. Sure, it may not be the same type of stress as a job seeker, but connecting the ideal candidate with a position is not as easy as it looks. After years as a career coach, I learned this during my time as a recruiter for an agency. 

Big deal, you say, why should I care about the stress of recruiters?

  • Because displaying empathy and understanding other people’s pain points can help you be more strategic and efficient in your job search. If you think about what is stressing them out, you can present yourself as a solution to their problems rather than another person emailing them 5 times in one day.

Have you ever had to hire candidates for a job or find someone for a group/activity that you loved? What are the things that you looked for?

  • Someone who has the necessary skills.
  • A person who demonstrates passion for this role/organization, instead of the person who applied to 100 things and said you were the one who called back.
  • A candidate who can articulate why they are a fit for the role (with solid examples) and who has done the necessary research to show they understand both the position and the company.

Thinking about your target audience (recruiters, hiring managers, company leadership), their pain points and how you could be the solution to their needs can go a long way in helping you tailor your message and increase your odds for securing an interview and subsequent offer.

When preparing for an interview, pretend you are a hiring manager, and view your answers through that lens. What are the 4-5 key skills this job description requires? Does your answer to “What is your weakness” shed doubt on your ability to do the job? When you answer “Tell Me About Yourself” are you describing your experience in a way that is genuine and aligns with the essential elements of this job and the company culture? If you get a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when you think about the message your answer is sending, it’s a good indication you need to rework that answer.

Need more help? Email Tiffany at to schedule a mock interview (phone, Facetime, or Skype options).

Photo credit: FernandoAH/iStockphoto

Do You Have this Essential Interview Skill?

By: Tiffany J. Franklin, M.S. Ed.

iStock_000016656254XSmall - woman interviewing

Congratulations! You landed an interview for your dream job and you think you’ve done all the necessary prep work. Are you really ready to knock it out of the park and show this company why they should hire you? Before closing the book on your interview prep, you must be sure you possess this skill

 The ability to articulate your experience in a way that is meaningful to this particular employer.

The employer already has a vague notion that you can do the job or else they would not bring you in for an interview. Now, they need you to inspire confidence in them that will confirm their initial instincts about you were on point. Specifically, the interview process needs to assure the employer that

  • You have the specific Knowledge, Skills (soft and hard), and Abilities to perform the job duties
  • You have the motivation/initiative to do the job
  • You will work well with the team/clients and demonstrate emotional intelligence
  • You have problem solving skills and can offer solutions to company pain points

Now that we know what you need to accomplish, there are a few concrete steps you can take to prepare for your interview.

A. Know the job description inside/out and do in depth research about the company

This is huge! To tailor your message to this employer you have to understand who they are (Corporate website, About Us page, Mission statement, Press Releases, Social Media Accounts) and have a firm grasp on the key qualities they are seeking in a candidate. Most job descriptions will ask for 50 different things, but you can usually group these into 3 to 5 major skill areas (hard and soft skills).

B. Understand Yourself and Be Able to Tell Your Story

This is an exercise I call Your Greatest Hits.” This will give you a quick visual depiction of approximately 30 success stories across skills areas and is a great prompt for those behavioral, “Tell me about a time when” questions. They are based on the premise that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

On one sheet of paper write 10-15 skill areas (for example, Leadership, Teamwork, Cultivating Client Relationships, Demonstrating Initiative, Customer Service, Project Management, Problem Solving, Data Analysis, Persuasive Communication, Delivering Presentations, Mentoring, Product Management, Budgeting, Coding, and other technical/non-technical skills. Select those 5 skill areas represented in the job description (from step 1) plus soft skills and other skills applicable to your field/industry.

For each of these skill areas, write 2 – 3 CAR stories meaning Challenge (what was the challenge you encountered), Action (what were the specific actions you took to address the challenge), and Results (what were the positive results). The answers to these should be 90 seconds to 2 minutes long and demonstrate you using that skill. Pull examples from every area of your resume including jobs, volunteer work, research, hobbies, consulting work, etc., but focus the majority of your stories on your relevant past experience.

When doing this exercise, don’t write out long answers. You know your experience and should not memorize the answers – rather use the keywords and phrases to trigger your memory.

For example:


C: Wedding Planner for outdoor ceremony/reception in FL in July; forecast called for showers

A: Encouraged couple to consider party tent; called frequently used vendor and secured tent days before ceremony; worked with other vendors to adjust to new configuration for reception. Ordered umbrellas.

R: Sunny for ceremony, but rained most of reception. Tent in place, dry guests, good time had by all. Bride and groom happy and guests commented on beautiful event in spite of weather.

 C. Practice saying these success stories aloud

It will help you smooth out the flow (get rid of ums, pauses, likes), identify areas where you need to come up with a better example, and in the process increase your confidence. You are showing this employer how you could jump in and contribute right away to their organizational objectives.

iStock_000005218304XSmall business shake

By engaging in these exercises, you have made a significant step in preparing for a successful interview. You are now able to articulate how everything you have done in your career to this point has been building transferrable skills and leading you to this interview!

Need more help? Email Tiffany at to schedule a mock interview (phone, Facetime, or Skype options).

Photo Credits

Interview: GlobalStock/

Handshake: simonmcconico/





Are You Being Strategic in Your Job Search?

By Tiffany Franklin, M.S. Ed.

 Chess board

Photo Credit:

Everywhere you turn, you hear people talking about the need to think strategically and the value of this skill in the business world, but have you stopped to apply this principle to your job search? Taking the time to devise a flexible plan and map out mini goals for yourself can lead to a more efficient job or internship search. With all the competing priorities in your life between academics, activities, friends, family, work, etc. it can be challenging to find time for everything, so you want your efforts on the job search front to be as productive as possible.

You used to have a syllabus for each of your classes, so why not develop one for your job search customized to your needs? Start by creating a job search To Do list and then breaking this down into mini goals to achieve each week. That way, you are giving yourself direction and making progress in your search. If you feel overwhelmed keep in mind, you don’t have to secure your job tomorrow, but you can work on mini goals that will help you get one step closer to your big goal of finding a job. This will also prevent you from trying to cram all your job search tasks into a brief period of time, which is not productive in a search. You are giving yourself time to devote your best efforts to your resume and to your networking endeavors.

To get started, think about the types of jobs/internships you are seeking. Are they all similar and related to your major or are you conducting a concurrent search and seeking positions in two separate fields? If you answered yes to separate fields, then you will create a resume tailored to each field. Career Services is here to help you learn how to develop these resumes which emphasize different aspects of your experience. You want your marketing documents to reflect your job search goals. The same holds true for your cover letters and then you will further tailor them to each position to which you apply. By organizing your search efforts, you can also evaluate your progress along the way and make adjustments as needed. For example, if you’ve sent out many resumes and have not heard back from any employers, then it’s an indication you need to work on your resume and cover letter some more. If you’re securing first round interviews and not proceeding to subsequent rounds, then a mock interview would be valuable for you.

Other items to include on your To Do list include identify opportunities through a number of sources (LinkedIn Jobs Tab, Indeed, and sites tailored to each industry), research industries, prepare for interviewing, create a list of networking contacts, find new contacts in LinkedIn, attend career fairs and information sessions, and of course, apply to open positions.


Photo credit: porcorex/

When devising your job search calendar, first identify when the major events are coming up such as career fairs or professional networking events. There are too many to attend them all, so think about which ones interest you the most and include those on your calendar. Then break down the other steps and give yourself a goal of identifying and applying to a certain number of jobs a week. Be flexible with this plan since an interview invitation may mean you will focus your efforts on that during a given week. Keep in mind the first few applications take the longest to complete as you get used to the process.

At first glance, searching for a job or internship can be overwhelming with the sheer volume of resources available, but I am available for career coaching and can schedule a session to help you break the process into manageable steps and support you through each one.


Cultivating References

By Tiffany Franklin, M.S. Ed.

References Concept

When it comes to the job search, references are an often overlooked or last minute aspect, although they play a key role in the background check employers conduct. You’ll notice that applications ask you to list references when you first apply and then as you move through interview rounds, your prospective employer will ask for them prior to extending an offer.

They ask for these to verify that what you say is accurate in your application materials and during your interviews. If employers are choosing between top candidates, the strength of a reference can make all the difference.

So, how do you select the people to ask and what are the etiquette rules around asking for references?

  1. Make a list of supervisors you’ve had in your past internships, professional jobs, research positions, summer jobs, volunteer work, and your professors/academic advisors. Select the ones that can speak to your work ethic, problem solving, communication skills, leadership ability, specific technical skills, and/or teamwork.


  1. Contact your references, let them know about your job search, and ask if they would be available as a reference and if they could give you a good recommendation.


  1. Compile contact information for these confirmed references including current job title, company name, address, email, and phone number. Add a line about the context in which they supervised you or if you took their class and the dates. Have a sheet of references that accompanies your resume, but is a separate document. There is no need to write “References available upon request” on your resume since it’s a given.


  1. Provide your references updates about your search, including info about the kinds of organizations you are targeting, when they might be hearing from the employer and/or when the written letters of reference are due for your application. Respect their time and be sure to give plenty of notice for written letters.


  1. Keep your references posted regarding your progress in your job search. Be sure to thank them for their help with a formal written thank you note or card.


Keep in mind that it’s much easier to ask for references when you take the time to keep in touch with former supervisors and colleagues every few months. Demonstrate genuine interest in maintaining contact with them and not just when you need something. Get to know you professors by attending office hours and contributing in class. This will help your reference learn more about you and have more insights to provide your prospective employer.

Download this Essential Guide to references PDF with examples of outreach emails to ask for references.

Photo credit: cigdemhizal/

Making a New City Feel Like Home

By Tiffany Franklin, M.S. Ed.

Philly for DMB concert

In a few months, new graduates and students are moving all across the country and world to start new jobs, internships, graduate school, fellowships, and research positions. While this is an exciting time, it can be stressful and taking a little time to strategize can make a big difference in your experience. This topic is close to my heart since I’ve lived in a number of cities (Nashville, New Orleans, Atlanta, Jacksonville, FL, and Philadelphia) and have made big moves for both school and work. Here are a few things I learned that helped me make my new cities feel like home.

Preparing for the Move

There are a host of resources for you to read in the weeks leading up to your move to learn about your new city and all that it has to offer.

    • Going Global – Includes a listing of cities in the US along with the country guides. Resources include a city overview, cost of living guide, networking resources, and a list of top companies.
    • Chamber of Commerce sites – Check out the chamber of commerce for your new city for resources and a list of local attractions.
    • Local Newspapers online
    • City Search website
    • City Scene or other magazine with listing of concerts, art exhibits, restaurants, etc.
    • Local magazine – Philadelphia magazine for example
    • Facebook/Twitter
    • Alumni of your college – Search LinkedIn (Connections – Find Alumni sub tab)
    • Alumni Chapters for your college


    • Local Universities – Many med, law and business schools compile comprehensive guides for their incoming students that include a list of apartments, real estate agents, things to do, and info about the neighborhoods near the university. These can often be found with some creative Googling and are very helpful when deciding where to live.
    • Referrals – Utilize your college network and connect with other alumni who are living or have lived in your new city. Get their perspective on safe places to live, commute times, cultural amenities, and other factors that can shape your living experience.
    • Research – Check out websites that offer rating for apartments (such as and you can search by area crime rates as well.

First Weekend – Now What?

It may seem daunting that first weekend in a new city when you don’t know many people, but look at it like you did freshman year and stay open to meeting people. Strike up a conversation with someone at the coffee shop or next to you in yoga class. Try a new interest through classes or meetup groups (cooking, art, exercise, professional groups). Visit local parks and look into activities like sports leagues or volunteer opportunities with a cause that is close to your heart. Before long, you will have a whole new social circle and many things to fill your free time.

Colleagues or Friends?

Always remember to be professional in your internship or new job. You may start with a group of people, so you will have some built in work contacts. If not, offer to take a colleague to lunch or coffee. If you have finished your assignments, offer to help someone. Listen and be genuinely interested in people.

Give It Some Time

Acclimating to a new city is both an exciting and sometimes scary process. It may take you a few weeks or months to get into a new routine, but it will happen. Keep in mind that your social calendar requires more planning in the beginning. It’s okay to do some things on your own and be sure to diversify your group of friends, so you are not counting on one person to be your social life. If you feel a little lonely in the beginning, remember your friends and family are just a text, call, Facetime, Skype, or email away. Moving can be an amazing adventure and can provide you with a number of stories. If you are not loving your new city, keep in mind it doesn’t have to be permanent and you can move again. But first, give it a year and your new city may turn into your new home. Have fun making friends and embracing the new experiences.

Photo credits T. Franklin/iPhone


Show Me Your Skills! How to Create a Portfolio that Stands Out to Recruiters

By Tiffany Franklin, M.S. Ed.

What Makes You Stand out

Portfolios have long been part of the job search process for artists, designers, architects, and teachers, but in recent years professionals across industries have started using this powerful tool to convey their experience. With the proliferation of free portfolio sites, it’s now easier than ever to create a web page that will demonstrate the experience you write about in your resume and cover letters. A well-conceived web portfolio will provide examples of your Knowledge, Skills and Accomplishments and offer clues regarding your design aesthetic and the way you organize information. Portfolios bring your resume to life and allow recruiters to learn more about you as a candidate.

Designing a web page yourself vs. the free portfolio sites Consider your industry and the job to which you are applying. If you are applying for a Web Designer or Information Architect position, you should have the skills to design your own site as the best example of your work and what you could do for that employer. In other fields that will not involve designing web sites for a living, using one of the existing portfolio sites would be a viable option. Here are a few sites to check out – Coroflot, Behance Network, Carbonmade, Cargo, Dribble, Portfolium, Folionix, and Wix. Some people have even used blogging Platforms such as WordPress or to demonstrate their experience.

Experience to Include In addition to your internship and work experiences, portfolios are great places to showcase your academic projects and other projects outside of class. Create categories of examples to support your skills. Some people list their work by project title, while others will group items under headings such as interactive design, native apps, websites, sketches, logos, and more. It’s up to you to think about your audience (dream job/company) and design your portfolio in a way that tells your story in a compelling way and shows your capabilities in that context.

Tips for Making your Portfolio Effective

  • Select your best work and keep the portfolio updated
  • Be sure to include your contact information
  • Only include work that is your own and include descriptors that show your role in team projects
  • Mention the software you use to create the projects you list (Recruiters often use key word searches to find candidates, including specific software)
  • Edit every page of your portfolio (spelling, grammar, consistent look and feel); get a second opinion
  • Spend time planning your portfolio – clean layout; pay attention to design, colors, and typography
  • Look at other portfolios online and consider the qualities that make some stand out from others
  • Show the phases of your projects where relevant, from initial sketches to final product
  • Include the link for your portfolio on your resume, cover letters and LinkedIn

Remember, I am here to help! Along with resume and cover letter critiques, I can also meet with you to discuss your portfolio and offer suggestions.

Photo credit: cacaroot/

Making the Most of LinkedIn

By Tiffany Franklin, M.S. Ed.

 LinkedIn app on Apple iPhone 4

Are you utilizing every aspect of LinkedIn in your Job or internship search? It’s a powerful tool that goes beyond sending and receiving requests to connect. As a recruiter, I used to post jobs on LinkedIn all the time and search for quality candidates. Here are a few ways to make LinkedIn one part of your comprehensive search.

Jobs Tab – Under the jobs tab, look for the “Advanced Search” feature on the top right near the blue search button. That will allow you to specify the industry and location. Once you take that step, you can look at the categories on the left and type “intern” under job title or “Entry level” under Experience level. In many cases, you will see the name of the recruiter posting a position, so you can address your cover letter to that person. In addition, there are links to the company LinkedIn page.

Researching a Company via LinkedIn pages – Go to the search box at the top of your profile and select “Company” in the drop down option at the left hand side of the box. Then, type the company name and you will be taken to the company’s official LinkedIn page. This will show you a brief profile of the company, current job postings through LinkedIn and if you have any first or second degree connections. If you have second degree connections, you could see if any are someone you know well and if they would be willing to make an introduction for an informational interview. Remember, company LinkedIn pages are helpful, but be sure to go to the company’s website, Glassdoor, and the Vault, for more comprehensive research.

Networking – Speaking of informational interviews, LinkedIn is a wonderful tool to cross-reference with your university’s alumni site for possible informational interviews. Go to the Connections tab and “Find Alumni.” You can search by city, company, industry, majors, and skills and see all the alumni of your college and find the ones in fields relevant to you. Then reach out to them for advice. See for tips about how informational interviews fit into your job search strategy.

Your own Profile – Given all the activity on LinkedIn, you want to keep your profile in top shape. Be sure to update it frequently and include your academic projects, research, internships, activities, volunteer experience, professional development, and skills.

To learn how Tiffany Franklin can take your job search to the next level, email me at or connect –

Be sure to check out Tiffany’s other career site for Radiologic Technologists:

Photo Credit: Hocus Focus Studio/

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