Expert job search advice.

Sarah Johnston’s “Briefs” Job Search Newsletter –

In this issue the search for meaningful work, job search accountability groups, myths about applicant tracking systems, an exit strategy lesson, why someone would pay $400K for a picture of a monkey and more…

Dear Reader,

Are you like me and can’t get enough of a good rivalry? I live within 15 minutes of Duke and UNC, and I can attest this is a region divided. For the first time in history, these two teams are facing off in the NCAA Final Four championship. It is the culmination of Coach K’s farewell season – the energy is unprecedented and palatable. 

Preparing for a rivalry game feels different. The weight of the game feels different. Walking away with the win feels different.

Rivalries can add adrenaline and energy to any situation, including a job search. Knowing that you are in the running against another well-qualified candidate can help you reevaluate your strategy, put in a little more interview prep work, and leave it all on the table. As a bonus, you will feel a greater sense of accomplishment and success when offered the job. 

Some of the all-time greatest rivalries … which side do you fall on?

Red Sox or Yankees? Palmer or Nicholas? Manning or Brady?

Duke or UNC??

Rooting for you,


This photo was taken by my friend Travis Hornsby of in front of Carolina Coffee Shop on Franklin

Making a Move

A Lesson In Exit Strategy - Michelle Rademacher
A Lesson In Exit Strategy – Michelle

A client was trying to hold on until the bonus payout. While trying to do that, she was entangled in a toxic work environment and boundaries were getting crossed right and left. Career Coach, Michelle Rademacher presents a takeaway lesson in exit strategy.

The Great Resignation

'Great Resignation': Over 70% of workers regret quitting their jobs | Fox Business
'Great Resignation': Over 70% of workers regret quitting their jobs | Fox

Fox Business uncovers why seven out of ten workers — about 72% — admitted that they were surprised to learn that their new roles or companies were different from what they were led to believe during the interview process.

No One Left to Hire - Korn Ferry
No One Left to Hire – Korn

Maybe you’re over the “Great Resignation” and you don’t have the appetite for another article on the topic… I get it. This article offers insights that I haven’t seen before on how the low unemployment rate is impacting mid-sized cities like Birmingham, AL, and Indianapolis. The article was written for employers but offers insights valuable to job seekers in these markets.

Hot Topics

3 Reasons to Banish the "ATS Rejects 70% of Resumes"​ Claim & Other ATS Myths
3 Reasons to Banish the "ATS Rejects 70% of Resumes"​ Claim & Other ATS

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are the villain in the story of hiring today. But do they deserve that distinction? Marie Zimenoff, CEO of Career Thought Leaders explains why the role of ATS in hiring is complex.

Trapped in the search for meaningful work — Simon Kuestenmacher
Trapped in the search for meaningful work — Simon

Our obsession with having a meaningful job is a mental health crisis in the making. We will never run an economy solely on meaningful jobs and we must change our attitude towards work. I found this to be a fascinating read.

If Your Boss Has an MBA, You Might End Up Earning Less Money - Bloomberg
If Your Boss Has an MBA, You Might End Up Earning Less Money –

U.S. executives with a business degree are more likely to oversee declining pay at the businesses they run, yet tend not to deliver an increase in profits or sales, according to a new paper circulated by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

5 things I learned by leaving Wall Street to run a startup
5 things I learned by leaving Wall Street to run a

Jeff Dorman, the Chief Investment Officer at Arca, penned a great article on lessons learned in his pivot from Wall Street to Sand Hill Road.

Why Bored Apes Are Taking Over Twitter….

The Monkey Network - by Raoul Pal
The Monkey Network – by Raoul

Look, I’m not going to pretend like I understand NFTs. I still am in the “I don’t get it” camp, but found this article by Raoul Paul fascinating. It covers why someone spent $400,000 on an ape .jpeg— and the answer may surprise you. It’s all about people, connection, and a perceived “ticket” to a gated online community. What’s your take?

A Final Thought

Early on in my marriage, my husband & I got strong-armed into participating in a fundraising bike race.

We were both in decent shape. I was running pretty consistently & we were “biking” (note the intentional quotation marks) regularly at the downtown riverfront.

I’ll never forget showing up to the race wearing running shorts and a tank top. My husband– also inappropriately dressed–in basketball shorts and a t-shirt.

We had road bikes that were perhaps just a step up from a Huffy bike.

Y’all… we were clueless.

What we did not realize is that cycling is not a sport, it’s a lifestyle.

The gear, the clothes, the Cannondales… it was a world we had never experienced.

The event host gathered all 300+ participants around and announced a change in the race course. “For those of you who signed up for the 25-mile ride, I have some bad news for you. Because of flooding overnight, we’ve had to re-route everyone. Instead of 25-miles, your race is going to be 34 today”

My heart dropped. 25 was a stretch for me. 34 miles felt impossible. Every mile was practically uphill.

There was a moment, probably two hours into the race, when we were sucking in air– feeling miserable– when a man in his 70s breezed by & yelled, “Hey young’ens. Keep up!”

I think I would have quit if I could have, but we were 20 miles in the middle of nowhere. I had no choice but to finish the race.


Maybe that’s where you feel right now at work.



You’d quit if you could.

But you have a mortgage, grocery bills that are 2x the normal (thanks to inflation), and kids’ soccer uniforms to pay for.

People you love need you to work.

So I’ll give you the advice I give myself when things feel overwhelming and hard.

“The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time”

Small steps forward result in big gains.

Take small actions towards changing your situation. You may feel like you don’t have time to launch a job search.

But you owe it to yourself to commit to 20-minutes a day of job search activity.

1. Spend week 1 identifying your future role. What is your ideal future job title? Who hires people for that role?

2. Spend week 2 building a target company list.

3. In week 3, take that list a step further and think through who would hire you? Who would your boss/es? Take it a step further and find their profile on LinkedIn.

4. Start tackling your list. Every day give yourself the goal of either making direct outreach through a personal note to someone at the target company OR find someone in your network who can make an introduction to a decision-maker who could possibly be a bridge to the organization.

Remember: Just one. One conversation can change the entire trajectory of your job search.

Until April 29, my LinkedIn Learning Course, Navigating the Hidden Job Market is free using the link below. This course walks job seekers through how find a job by leveraging their networks, connecting with decision-makers and avoiding mass online applications. 

Find a Job in the Hidden Job Market Online Class | Free through April 29th
Find a Job in the Hidden Job Market Online Class | Free through April

LinkedIn Learning unlocked my job search course for LinkedIn users through April 29th as part of a learning pathway. You can find my course free along with courses from Jenny Foss, Austin Belcak, Dawn Graham, and more. Join the 318,000 people who have already taken it worldwide. There is no better time than now to invest in yourself and your future. Take the course and take action!

Motivation Monday Job Search Accountability Group
Motivation Monday Job Search Accountability

One of my respected career colleagues, Job Search Strategist Hannah Morgan, is launching a job search accountability group for mid-to senior-level job seekers ready to land their next job faster. I’m a big fan of not job searching alone and think that groups like this can help you stay on track and not lose your sanity.

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
  • 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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