Expert job search advice.

Sarah Johnston’s “Briefs” Job Search Newsletter –

In this issue: tricks of the trade for resume development, pros and cons of returning the office, lesson in keeping closed doors open, insight into company-sponsored professional development and more…

Dear Reader:

As much as I love warmer weather and longer days, Spring is such a busy season. It feels like every organization is having an event, Spring sports are in full swing, and my kid’s schools have end-of-the-year parties. It’s all GOOD stuff, but the days are long and without a lot of margins. 

I’ve spent more time this month trying to intentionally connect with friends and do work that’s energizing to me. I’ve also been reflecting on Andy Cope’s advice in Be Brilliant Every Day. “Busyness has got a grip of us to the point that we’re not immersed in life; we’re skimming the surface of it.” “Set your aim to ‘enjoy the week’ or ‘to inspire people. And when setbacks occur, ask yourself, ‘Where is this issue on a scale of 1 to 10 (where 10 is death)? If it’s death, you are allowed to feel down.” 

If your job search is the root of your unhappiness, this month’s newsletter offers valuable tips to help you land your dream job. However, before you jump ship, make sure that your feelings are rooted in unchangeable circumstances.

I’m rooting for you,


Tricks of the (Resume) Trade

3 Ways to Create a Modern Executive Resume
3 Ways to Create a Modern Executive

Is your resume up to date? Many modern companies want to hire thoughtful, mission-driven employees and are looking at “the total package” highlighted in a modern executive resume. This article gives three ways (with examples) of how you can modernize your resume.

Secrets of the ATS: Your Questions Answered
Secrets of the ATS: Your Questions

Recruiting software company, Lever‘s CEO Nate Smith answers questions about Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), how they work, and if they’re blocking your applications from ever being seen.

Build and Maintain Relationships

Don't Keep Closed Doors Shut
Don't Keep Closed Doors

I was talking to an executive job seeker this week. He is now a finalist for a C-Suite role at a really cool company. He’s expecting an offer soon— and it all moved very quickly.


This isn’t his first rodeo.

In fact, he was a finalist for the same exact role in Q1 2020.

Then Covid happened and the position was iced.

He was surprised when the search firm reached back out with this opportunity

I’m not— when the position was put on hold, he sent a note to the search committee thanking them for their time and expressing continued interest in the role.

He’s also checked in quarterly with the search firm.

He’s a master of managing relationships (and an impressive candidate)

Remember: when a door closes, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s locked.

Sometimes doors open later.

Sometimes better doors open.

The More We Know about Others, the More We Think They Know About Us
The More We Know about Others, the More We Think They Know About

Jeff Cockrell of Chicago Booth Review explores why privacy does not always benefit us. “When you check a new colleague’s LinkedIn profile before meeting for the first time, you may be trying to get to know the person a little better. But, the research suggests, you may come away feeling, and acting, as though your colleague knows you a little better too.” Great food for thought.

Return to the Office

An anonymous social network that lets you complain about your job is exploding in popularity
An anonymous social network that lets you complain about your job is exploding in

Fortune’s Chloe Berger takes a look at the social network, Blind where employees at Apple, Goldman Sachs, and others are anonymously venting about their employers as they return to the office.

How Tech Companies Are Trying to Woo Employees Returning to Work
How Tech Companies Are Trying to Woo Employees Returning to

Tech companies really want their employees to be happy — or at least less annoyed — about returning. Daisuke WakabayashiErin Griffith and Kate Conger of NYT explain the perks they are using to lure employees back. What do you think… will the local bands, beer and wine tasting, and even classes for making terrariums work??

It’s not about the office, it’s about belonging

To retain employees, organizations need to evolve their approach to building community, cohesion, and a sense of belonging at work. Aaron de Smet and others at McKinsey explore changes to be made. Article gives some ideas for rethinking employee engagement.

Tech Wage Inflation Puts Pressure on Companies
Tech Wage Inflation Puts Pressure on

WSJ’s Suman Bhattacharyya reports that corporate tech chiefs say many technology workers are commanding compensation increases of 20% or more.

Personal Development & Mental Health

Take 5: How to Be a Better Mentor
Take 5: How to Be a Better

Contributors from Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern give tips for being a better mentor. One takeaway – be sure your mentee “owns” the relationship—and don’t shy away from tough conversations.

Young adults hardest hit by loneliness during pandemic, Harvard study finds
Young adults hardest hit by loneliness during pandemic, Harvard study

As experts worry the COVID pandemic is triggering a loneliness epidemic, new Harvard research suggests some of the hardest hit are older teens and young adults.

A Final Thought…

Over the last few months, I have had 3 different clients get their companies to pay for a custom resume work using 3 different strategies:

Client 1 works for a FAANG company. As part of his total comp plan, he gets an annual budget for coaching and professional development. He hired me to do a YouMap strengths assessment, and debrief and we included personal branding documents (resume + LinkedIn) that spoke to these strengths in his coaching package.

Client 2 worked for a small company (under 500 employees) doing corporate layoffs. She was at the Director level and as part of her severance agreement, she was given outplacement services. She negotiated with her (now former) employer to get the cash equivalent of the company-selected outplacement option. The company paid her out $5,000 for job search support. She used some of this budget to hire me for career branding documents. This gave her complete control over the process.

Client 3 was tapped as a “high potential” employee and was selected to participate in a rotational leadership program. As part of her employee development, her company paid for her to have a professional resume and some interview coaching. They want to retain her and wanted her to present better on paper and in person so that she could get more internal visibility.

Keep an eye out for outside-the-box ideas for company-supported career development. It is a win-win for companies to support the education and advancement of their employees.

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

Did you enjoy this issue?



Written by: