Sarah Johnston’s Briefcase “Briefs” Job Search Newsletter –

In this issue: tips for writing a modern resume, jealousy at the office, retaining employees during the ‘Great Resignation’, women in the workplace, impacts of current events, trends salary negotiation, and more…

Dear Reader:

We all have bad days at the office.

How do you know discern if it’s just a rough patch at work or if you’re on a sinking ship? 

This is a question I’ve been pondering. I once heard that if you like 70% of your job, 70% of the time, you have a great thing. That’s utterly unscientific advice, but it’s stuck with me. It’s unrealistic to expect to love your job every day.

I posed this question to my LinkedIn followers and got some thoughtful responses. Diana Alt, a fellow career coach, said that she has a friend who “implemented a time-based rule. He wouldn’t apply for jobs until he’d been unhappy for six months. His stance was that if problems persisted that long, it was a fundamental change, not a rough patch.”

Adria, a management consultant, suggests, “when I persistently have more bad days than good in a week, it’s likely time to start seeking a new organization.” Linda, a healthcare leader, said, “when leaders aren’t held to the same accountability of those they lead, the ship is in serious trouble.”

Another fellow career coach, Julie Wycoff, recommends asking yourself two questions: “Does the end goal feel worth fighting for? Am I up for the challenge? ”

What about you? How do you “know” it’s time?


Featured: Resume Trends

Modern Resume Trends and Strategies
Modern Resume Trends and

The producers at LinkedIn #CareerTalks invited me to do a live presentation to an audience of 20,000 with Sr. News Editor, Andrew Seaman. We discussed current resume trends and strategies including how to make your resume “razzle” using the RAS-formula.

This 26-year-old tripled her salary to $100,000 by making a few small tweaks to her resume—here's how

This article in CNBC shares the story of a young professional who went from earning $34,000 a year in higher education to $100,000 as a project manager in manufacturing. The smart resume tweaks that she made demonstrate the value of a strong document strategy.

Salary Negotiation

Open salary calculator: Codacy’s commitment to transparency and fairness
Open salary calculator: Codacy’s commitment to transparency and

The software company, Codacy uses an open salary calculator in their commitment to transparency and fairness. I’m including this in “The Briefs” because many hiring leaders in Hung Lee’s Recruiting Brainfood community think that this could be the future.

Women in the Workplace

Research: How Bias Against Women Persists in Female-Dominated Workplaces
Research: How Bias Against Women Persists in Female-Dominated
A look inside the ongoing barriers women face in law, health care, faith-based nonprofits, and higher education.

Scarcity –> Jealousy at the Office

For better or worse, our jobs can give us a sense of our identity. Beyond a paycheck, most of us work because we love solving problems, working towards a goal, and motivating others to be the best version of themselves. When times are good, work is fun. 

But when your company is in trouble, your project is not a success, or the workload feels unbearable, the fun is gone, and the party is over. I’ve been in environments where leadership let us pit ourselves against each other to remain relevant. It was truly awful.

When times are hard, we naturally feel threatened. We fall into the trap of envy.

Envy–according to Patricia Polledri, a psychoanalytic psychotherapist and author of Envy in Everyday Life, “is wanting to destroy what someone else has. Not just wanting it for yourself, but want other people not to have it.”

According to a study published in the journal Psychological Scienceother people’s plans for the future irritate us much more than experiences they’ve had in the past. 

Scarcity promotes jealousy. Jealousy creates a downward spiral, often resulting in conflict, avoidance, and lack of collaboration.

If feelings of jealousy start creeping in, I want to encourage you to challenge it head-on using journaling, cognitive reframing, or cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Mel Robbins, NYT Best Selling author, summarized it best, “it’s normal to feel jealous about someone else’s success. But it’s how you use that feeling that matters. Jealousy is a teacher, and it’s telling you something more: you want what they have, but you don’t think you have what it takes to get it.

Don’t judge people on their success. Judge them on their journey. Study it. Learn from it. And use their story to fuel their fire, not extinguish it.”

HBR: Envy at Work
HBR: Envy at
If left unchecked, this deadly sin can sabotage your company’s performance—and your own.

Employee Retention

With So Many People Quitting, Don’t Overlook Those Who Stay
With So Many People Quitting, Don’t Overlook Those Who

In the frantic need to hire for open positions, it can be easy to forget about the people who stick around— perhaps your best employees.

It’s not just money. This is what’s still driving the Great Resignation
It’s not just money. This is what’s still driving the Great

Mark C. Crowley sat down with Gallup’s longtime chief research scientist, Jim Harter to discuss what factors motivate people to stay beyond a paycheck.

Employee well-being matters. “What we’ve found,” says Harter, “is that employees who are struggling or suffering in life have over two times the amount of turnover.”

Strong Job Growth Continues as Latest Covid Wave Eases - The New York Times
Strong Job Growth Continues as Latest Covid Wave Eases – The New York
The U.S. economy added 678,000 jobs in February and unemployment fell to 3.8 percent, the lowest level since the pandemic took hold.


How COVID-19 Wrecked Our “Weak Ties” | by Clive Thompson | Feb, 2022 | Medium
How COVID-19 Wrecked Our “Weak Ties” | by Clive Thompson | Feb, 2022 |

Randos make your life better. Clive Thompson writes about how random encounters have essentially ceased over the last few years and the impact on networking and relationships. Credit to Recruiting Brainfood for originally sharing the article.

Current Events

How to Tell News Fact from Fiction, Even During a War - WSJ
How to Tell News Fact from Fiction, Even During a War –
When emotions run high, people often share information online before verifying it. News-literacy tactics taught in school can benefit many of us.

LinkedIn’s users are tired of politics, so it’s creating a new feature in response – Fortune
LinkedIn’s users are tired of politics, so it’s creating a new feature in response –

55% of U.S. social media users say they are fatigued by political posts, and now with LinkedIn’s new “no-politics” feature, they can cleanse their timelines of political squabbles. YES, you can remove politics from your LinkedIn feed!

Five ways the Russian invasion of Ukraine could impact the US economy | TheHill
Five ways the Russian invasion of Ukraine could impact the US economy |

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the unprecedented sanctions imposed in response by the U.S. and western allies have rattled the global economy and financial markets.  Macro-issues can impact our work on a micro-level. This article is food for thought for those considering a job transition.

A final thought…

I have never met a party guest who said, “oh my goodness! these quinoa bites are just to die for.”

As someone who has hosted many parties and events in my day, I’ve learned that guests want three things:

– Cookies and cakes made with real BUTTER

– Dips made with SOUR CREAM

– and passed hors d’oeuvre with CREAM CHEESE

Party guests just want the good stuff.

Recruiters and hiring managers are no different. I’m not advocating that you show up to their office with your resume and a plate of gooey butter cake cookies. That’s not what I mean.

Recruiters and hiring managers want to see RESULTS on your resume.

They don’t want to be served quinoa…err, I mean fluffy resume content.

They want to see numbers. How you impacted the business and bottom line, created efficiencies that saved time or money, and KPIs that support you are a change agent.

Here are some real examples:

– Increased supplier capacity by 20%, jump-starting category growth ahead of schedule.

– Identified cost-cutting efficiencies in marketing & PR: saved $140K by leading 160% increase in digital materials and a 90% drop in print advertising.

– Grew EBITDA 18% YOY by developing an effective and disciplined pricing strategy. Positioned the division as company top performer in cost and pricing with record-setting top-line growth results.

-Drove 20% spend penetration into minority-owned enterprises, establishing long-term partnerships.

The other key thing to consider is to KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.

If I’m hosting a party for a group of vegetarians, I wouldn’t bring out a platter of cocktail shrimp…. even though I love shrimp.

Same with writing a resume. You have to spoon-feed your audience what they care about. Your resume–even though it’s about you– is not for you. Write the document to resonate with your target audience’s pain points. The key to understanding their needs is often found in the job description. Read it carefully as you’re crafting your resume.

Thank you for reading the Briefs. I hope that you found something of value in this edition. Have a wonderful week. I’m rooting for you!

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!
  • Recommend me as a paid speaker for your company events on networking, job searching, or leveraging LinkedIn
  • Share the link to my marketplace, Job Search Journey, with your friends who are unemployed or underemployed. We have hundreds of low-cost templates and scripts designed to help people land jobs faster.
  • Recommend my resume and interview coaching services to high performers wanting to work one-on-one with an executive resume writer / or experienced interview coach


  • 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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