Briefcase Coach’s Career Briefs: Job Search Smarter!

In this issue: when to use a two-page resume, the latest copywriting trends, why one company is firing dozens of employees, the stark reality of a CMO’s tenure, the negative effect of a ‘quitfluencer’ on your office, how to land an informational interview and more…

Dear Reader:

Last week I was on vacation with my girls and my nephews, and for better or worse, I taught them to play Blackjack. While I am not a gambler, I think Blackjack and other card games can be a fun way to practice math with children. Did you know the overall probability of an overall win in Blackjack is 42.22%? Or that the dealer will bust most often when the up card is a 4, 5 or 6?

In most situations, there is a statistical probability of getting the outcome you are hoping for. A job search is no different. Did you know historically, October has been the best time of year to look for a job? LinkedIn analyzed all U.S. job postings data from the last five years (January 2014 – December 2018) and uncovered that October has the highest number of job postings.

Did you know the average time to fill in a position is 42 days in 2022? Typically, when a position gets posted, the recruiter spends the first 2-4 weeks publicizing the job and screening candidates. The next 3-5 weeks are spent interviewing candidates, and the final 6-7 weeks the recruiter checks references, performs a background check & administers any assessments before making an offer.

42 days is the AVERAGE time to fill for all positions.

Why does this number matter? – if you are being rejected from positions, consider the timing of your application. If you applied 37 days after the position was posted, it’s likely they are well into the interview process. If the org is still actively recruiting after the average time to fill KPI, as a candidate you may want to question if the organization is being unrealistic or if there are internal red flags.

Are you a gambler? Are you a risk-taker by nature? If you are in the season of a job search, keep your head up, take the chance, and if the odds are against you – make it your mission to devise a strategy to beat them.

As always, I’m rooting for you!


Resume Development

How long can my executive resume be? Are two or three pages in length OK? - Briefcase Coach
How long can my executive resume be? Are two or three pages in length OK? – Briefcase

The days when a two-page resume was frowned upon are over. New(ish) research shows that recruiters prefer 2 (and even 3!) page resumes.


I dedicated a whole section in my newsletter this month to help you be a better writer. Why? Because being a strong writer and communicator is one of the most important skills in business. No, I’m not saying you need to start writing content on LinkedIn (although now and then would be great…); I’m suggesting that communication skills factor into who gets promoted.

Research: Simple Writing Pays Off (Literally)
Research: Simple Writing Pays Off (Literally)

Financial writing is full of jargon and complexity. But a series of research suggests that investors are drawn to simple, clear writing with short sentences. HBR’s Bill Birchard reviews a series of studies on the financial value of good writing and offers a few tips to companies looking to communicate more clearly with investors, or with anyone else. Takeaway: Keep your office emails concise and full of complexity.

13 Timeless Lessons from the Father of Advertising - Copyblogger
13 Timeless Lessons from the Father of Advertising –

David Ogilvy was a master at copywriting and advertising. His successful advertising campaigns demonstrate how to persuade prospects. Copyblogger’s Beth Hayden looks at some of Ogilvy’s words over the course of his career. If you want to be a better writer… read this!

How to tweet product news like Twitter
How to tweet product news like

Twitter is known for posting with a lack of style and grammar that most are accustomed to. Marketing Brew unpacks Twitter’s delivery of their most recent product news – the unveiling of the ‘edit’ button.

Hot Topics

CMO Tenure Hits New Low
CMO Tenure Hits New

The revolving door of the marketing C-suite has been greased. According to Marketing Brew, the average tenure for a CMO is 25.5 months. For comparison, the average CEO tenure is 6.5 years. Ryan Barwick looks to uncover the reasons behind this stark difference. (Side note: I am personally seeing an increase right now in the number of marketing leaders requesting fractional CMO resumes).

‘What People Don’t Get About My Job,’ According to Workers
‘What People Don’t Get About My Job,’ According to

Derek Thompson looks into the common misconceptions about pastors, playwrights, postal workers, and other professionals

Should I post about my mental health battle on social media? - Briefcase Coach
Should I post about my mental health battle on social media? – Briefcase

Mental health is an important topic to discuss and advocate for, but are there benefits to talking about your mental health on social media? Here are my 4 reasons why you may want to rethink when and what you share online. (I’ll warn you, you may not agree with my take, but I do want you to consider potential implications)

Gen Z canceled the ‘hostile’ thumbs-up emoji and wants to ban these 9 others
Gen Z canceled the ‘hostile’ thumbs-up emoji and wants to ban these 9

Buckle up, cancel culture has officially come for emojis 😭. New York Post reporters Jack Hobbs and Alex Mitchell showcase the cancelled emojis that Gen Z finds passive-aggressive among other negativities.

Hiring and Firing

How Equifax used employment records it collects from 2.5 million companies to fire dozens of its own employees for working second jobs
How Equifax used employment records it collects from 2.5 million companies to fire dozens of its own employees for working second

Business Insider explores the story behind how and why Equifax fired a slew of remote workers in recent months as part of a probe dubbed ‘Operation Home Alone’ that investigated thousands staff and contractors. Mind-boggling. (Side note: about a year ago, I was hiring for a new part-time client services coordinator. I posted the job and got at least 5 applicants who shared with me that they were employed full-time and “bored” at work. They had plans to do both jobs at the same time).

AI tools fail to reduce recruitment bias - study - BBC News
AI tools fail to reduce recruitment bias – study – BBC

Artificially intelligent analysis of job applications or videos is “pseudoscience”, researchers say. BBC’s Chris Vallance looks at the research and ways AI is helpful and reasons it could be harmful to the process.

The ‘Quitfluencer’ In Your Office Could Cause A Quitting Contagion
The ‘Quitfluencer’ In Your Office Could Cause A Quitting

Every department within a company has a “quitfluencer.” Once they receive a job offer, the person openly shares the good news and excitedly discloses to co-workers the significant increase in compensation, stock options and higher corporate title they received. A snowball effect ensues. Forbes’s Jack Kelly explains ways management can help combat the situation.

Networking with Informational Interviews

Photo by Kendall Kreations

I have to confess… I have eaten my weight this week in what I am calling “honey-roasted goodness” (or simply: honey-roasted peanuts, pecans, and almonds mixed with candy corn). It’s the perfect mix of sweet and nutty. (This delicious mix is featured in the photo above by Kendall Kreations. Get the recipe here.)

Speaking of something that may feel a little nutty but has a sweet reward (ehh, like what I did there?)….

When is the last time you sent an email to someone you admire asking for a 15-minute conversation?

“Informational interviews” are truly the secret sauce in a job search. I landed my last two jobs through cold outreach to a decision-maker at organizations that I admired.

The KEY to great emails is they are:

1. Personalized. No copy/paste message. You have to do your research and find common connections, interesting news, or compliment them on recent writing or podcasting.

2. Clear meeting expectations. You are not asking for a job at the meeting. Instead, you are learning more information.


Hi Marie,

I hope that this email finds you well. I am a regular listener of Bruce Marble’s EmployeeCycle podcast. I stumbled upon your podcast last week and found myself jotting down notes as I was listening. I loved your ideas around on-boarding remote employees.

I am a senior technical recruiter who is also passionate about intentionally recruiting the best talent and creating an employee experience that breeds creativity and high productivity. The work you are doing is really interesting to me.

I imagine you are extremely busy—would you have time for a 20-minute informational meeting with me? I’d love to learn more about your career and if you are willing, advice on how to position my experience to hiring managers of innovative start-ups. I know your office is near the Philz coffee on front. I’d love to treat you to a mint mojito coffee or caffeinated beverage of choice.

Thank you for your time,


Have you had success with informational interviews? What is your secret sauce to landing that coveted meeting?

Finding Your Fit

Women in leadership are leaning out (and into a better job)
Women in leadership are leaning out (and into a better job)

Data from McKinsey and’s annual Women in the Workplace report shows that women leaders are leaving at the highest rate on record — to find better jobs. Vox Senior Correspondent, Rani Molla examines the data and trends leading to this reality.

A study of what makes the best employers 'irresistible'
A study of what makes the best employers ‘irresistible’

HR Analyst Josh Bersin sits down with Tech Target’s Patrick Thibodeau to discuss his new book ‘Irresistible’. The book looks at data on how successful employers set their own course and don’t rely on technology or best practices.

The 'Forever' Fallacy (Or: Why You're Probably Not Going To Find Your Perfect Career, And That's OK)
The ‘Forever’ Fallacy (Or: Why You’re Probably Not Going To Find Your Perfect Career, And That’s OK)

Job seekers long for that beautiful ‘click’ of finding a perfect fit. But does it really exist? Careershifters’ Natasha Stanley explains the fallacy of the ‘forever career’, and the mindset shift that can break you out of the paralysis it induces.

Upskilling Programs that Tackle One Skill are 'Naive,' Experts Warn
Upskilling Programs that Tackle One Skill are ‘Naive,’ Experts

Panelists at a Brookings event emphasized that jobs typically require a bundle of skills, not just one. Nextgov reporter Kirsten Errick looks at the effectiveness of upskilling and reskilling training programs and what might be a better option.

Can you do me a favor?

I’m on a mission to help job seekers land amazing jobs. Would you consider doing one of the following:

  • Forward this newsletter to your job-searching friends or post about it on social media. This small act really helps!
  • Reach out to us about featuring your executive job posting in our newsletter. We are looking for hiring managers, founders, and search firms to talk on video about their ideal candidates.
  • Consider sharing my company name with your HR leadership. We are a great “white-glove” boutique option for executive outplacement
  • Recommend me as a paid speaker for your company events on networking, job searching, or leveraging LinkedIn
  • Recommend my services to high performers wanting to work one-on-one with an executive resume writer / or experienced interview coach

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  • Sarah Johnston

    I’m a former corporate recruiter and industry “insider” who got tired of seeing talented high-achievers get passed over for opportunities because they did not have the right marketing documents or know how to position themselves in interviews. I have relocated multiple times across the country as a “trailing spouse” and have had to execute job searches in completely cold markets (where I literally knew no one!) I have been named a LinkedIn Top Voice in the career space in 2019, HR Weekly’s Top 100 Most Influential People in HR, named the owner of the “best resume writing firm for experienced executives” by Balance Careers and a “top follow” by JobScan in 2019 and 2020.

Sarah Johnston

Sarah Johnston is a former corporate recruiter and industry "insider" with a passion for empowering high-achievers in their career journeys. Frustrated by talented individuals being overlooked due to ineffective marketing documents and interview strategies, Sarah made it her mission to equip professionals with the tools and knowledge to succeed. As a seasoned "trailing spouse" who relocated multiple times, she understands the challenges of executing job searches in unfamiliar markets. Sarah's expertise and impact have earned her recognition as a LinkedIn Top Voice in 2019 and a spot on HR Weekly's Top 100 Most Influential People in HR. Her resume writing firm has been acclaimed as the best for experienced executives by Balance Careers, while JobScan listed her as a top follow in 2019 and 2020.

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