Sarah Johnston’s “Briefs” Job Search Newsletter –

In this issue… An interview with a former client, the importance of thought leadership, phone interviews, the working future report, anti-ambition, LinkedIn profile tips, job search clubs…and more job search gold!

Dear Reader:

Is it harder to find a job while unemployed or start your own business? This is a question I have been asking myself a lot this past year.

Job searching unemployed feels a lot like you are in a dark cave without a flashlight looking for the exit. Because I’ve been a trailing spouse, I’ve had to job search unemployed 4x, and there’s no sugar-coating the fact that it’s stinking hard.

Last year, I launched a new startup along with two other esteemed career colleagues. We bootstrapped the business after beta testing the market last year. I’m really proud of our website and our value proposition— but we have had to hit the ground running.

I have felt, and continue to feel, a lot like a job seeker who just got a fancy new resume and expected offers to come… it never works that way, does it?

There are so many parallels… just like job seekers, we have to create a target networking list, send loads of personalized emails, market the heck out of ourselves, and evolve our value proposition.

My biggest takeaway is that when things feel big, take small and consistent actions forward. The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

Maintaining a posture of gratitude is so important for a weary heart. Along those lines, I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to THANK YOU for all of your support this year. Thank you for trusting us with your job search. Thank you for referring us to your friends and colleagues. Thank you for engaging with my content on social media. I am so grateful I get to do this work and blessed to get to work with people like you. Thank you.

Rooting for you,


Ps. My career colleague, Karin Reed, just released her latest book “Suddenly Hybrid: Managing the Modern Meeting”. I have one book to give away to a lucky reader based in North America. Interested? Simply reply to this email. The first response will win the free book.

Long-Term Unemployment

Long-Term Unemployment Advice from Job Seeker - Briefcase Coach
Long-Term Unemployment Advice from Job Seeker – Briefcase
Briefcase Coach, Sarah Johnston sits down with a client who recently landed a job after a period of long-term unemployment. They share actionable and valuable advice for other job seekers in the trenches of a search.

New & Trending

Sharma Hyder on the Importance of Executive Thought Leadership
Sharma Hyder on the Importance of Executive Thought
Recently, Apple and BlackRock made huge announcements – but they got completely overlooked by mainstream media. It’s a fascinating and telling story.

Parth Detroja on The Secret to Learning a Company's Future Strategy Before It's Public
Parth Detroja on The Secret to Learning a Company's Future Strategy Before It's

Parth Detroja– a best-selling author and Product Manager at Facebook– shared a thought-provoking LinkedIn post about how to learn a company’s strategy for they make it public. Have you ever done this before?

Interview Preparation

31 Common Phone Interview Questions (With Answers)
31 Common Phone Interview Questions (With Answers)

Hannah Morgan of Career Sherpa identified the 31 most common phone interview questions and gave sample answers. Briefcase Coach recommends using her list of questions as a framework for pre-interview preparation. The great thing about a phone interview is that you can have typed notes in front of you as a “cheat sheet”.

30 Questions to Ask Before Joining a Startup

AngelList, one of the top sites for finding startup jobs shares the questions to ask before joining a startup.

Times Are Changing….

BAIN & Company: The Working Future Report
BAIN & Company: The Working Future

Consulting firm Bain put out this report on the changing perceptions of work. The report shares the gains in living standards over the past 150 years are allowing us to spend less of our time working, but are raising expectations about what a job should provide. If you’ve been wrestling with why the Great Resignation and #AntiWork are happening, it’s a fascinating read.

From The Great Resignation To The Great Inflation. It's Time To Get Creative. – JOSH BERSIN
From The Great Resignation To The Great Inflation. It's Time To Get Creative. – JOSH

Josh Bersin on how companies should recruit and retain people in this market.

The Age of Anti-Ambition - The New York Times
The Age of Anti-Ambition – The New York
When 25 million people leave their jobs, it’s about more than just burnout.


“So, why are you not on LinkedIn?” I recently asked an executive who had no social media presence.

He told me that beyond not feeling like he had the time to manage his profile, he remembered that his CEO once said that whenever he sees people on Linkedin, it raises a red flag that they are job searching.

“I hear the concerns about time– I get that— and I can give you some tricks to manage your account sustainably, but the CEO’s concern is something we need to talk about.”

“Having an executive presence on LinkedIn is great for the company brand. Not only from a recruitment perspective but also for lead generation.

In this digital age, people are “Googling” you before they meet you in person.

And when I Googled your name, I found your political party donations, a spammy page with your net worth indicators, and an article from the newspaper announcing your promotion. That was just the first page of Google.

Had you had a LinkedIn profile, it’s likely that your profile would be on the first page of Google. LinkedIn is one of the most popular sites globally based on domain authority, which is a “link-based metric that models how Google ranks websites.” LinkedIn’s domain authority score is 98/100.

When you have a LinkedIn profile with a headshot, a first-person About section, and thoughtful keywords, you are helping control the narrative. When someone lands on your LinkedIn page, you get to tell them what they need to know about you.”

𝐓𝐡𝐫𝐞𝐞 𝐓𝐢𝐩𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐚 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐞𝐧𝐠𝐚𝐠𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐋𝐢𝐧𝐤𝐞𝐝𝐈𝐧 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐟𝐢𝐥𝐞

1. Written in the first person.

— My profile summary used to be in 3rd person. I used language I don’t use in real life. I tried to make myself sound as important as I could because I thought that would make me stand out.

Something along the lines of: “Sarah Johnston is an experienced Senior Recruiter with a demonstrated history of working cross-functionally……”

BORING. Would you want to hang out with that person?

LinkedIn only lets you preview the first 3-4 lines of an “About Section.” Your goal is to make the profile so enticing in those first three lines that someone will want to click “….see more” to continue reading. I’m content obsessed and have studied profiles over the years. The best profile about sections are engaging, they tell a story & they connect your audience to your WHY.

2. 💼 They are keyword optimized. Optimized profiles use words that recruiters would search for to find people like you. (Honest reality: if you aren’t using the right words, you might not be found). Using keywords, clearly describe the work that you do/value that you bring to an organization.

3. Make the profile fun to read. Remember, 50% of people are reading your profile from their iPhone. Use lining spacing to break up dense text. The website lingojam. com/BoldTextGenerator will allow you to create bold text on your profile.

SEO guide to optimizing your LinkedIn profile for more connections, better leads
Learn how to craft messages for new connections and attract clients to your profile with this SEO guide to LinkedIn optimization.

Job Search Strategy

Experts Share Job Search Strategies in 2022 - Job Search Journey
Experts Share Job Search Strategies in 2022 – Job Search
Job Search Journey career experts share modern job search strategy tips that work in 2022 to help you land top employment opportunities.

Job Search Clubs: How They Work and How to Find One - Executive Career Brand™
Job Search Clubs: How They Work and How to Find One – Executive Career Brand™
A job search club can be key to finding a good-fit job faster. Learn how and why they work, and where to find local clubs.

Final Notes

I’ll leave you with this final message from Willie Nelson’s new book “Willie Nelson’s Letters to America“. These are profound words when thinking about making a career change or embarking on a job search.

Take small and consistent actions forward.

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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