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Welcome to

Welcome to I am a Burlington Vermont based Blogger, Career Coach and Resume Writer specializing in the job search process. I blog about networking, resumes and interviews to help people with their job search. I am also the author of the book "How to get a job in 90 seconds." Additionally I help professionals seeking new employment opportunities with resume reviews and writing, and coaching on job search strategies, networking guidance, interviews preparation, salary\compensation negotiation and job offer decisions. 

If you are looking for a good place to start I recommend these blog posts:
I love to hear from people. Please contact me with your feedback and questions on the blog or to learn more about my career coaching and resume services.


How to gauge if it's a good company culture

A job interview is as much you deciding if you want to work somewhere as the company deciding if they want you to work there. A bad company culture can mean you will be back looking for a job sooner rather than later. But how can you gauge if it is a good company culture?

Why is this position vacant?

One of the best questions to ask is "Why is this position vacant" or "What happened to the person who previously held this job?" How they respond gives you a good idea of the company culture.

Positive answers.

"They were promoted internally."

"The company is growing and this is a new opening."

"They retired." 

"They left for life reasons."

All these answers indicate a healthy company that people want to stay at.

Neutral answers.

"They were let go due to job performance."

"They gave two weeks but didn't indicate future plans."

"They left for an outside opportunity."

These answers aren't "bad" but you might want to probe a little further in to the culture if you hear these.

Bad answers.

"They were fired."

"I don't know."

"They quit unexpectedly."

Any response wherein the previous office holder is bad mouthed.

These answers all may suggest that its somewhere people don't want to work.


Listen to your gut when you are interviewing. If something doesn't "feel right" probe further. It might be disappointing to decline a job but in the long term it means you will find a better company and be happy. 

Barney Matthews - Resume Writer + Career Coach


Words to remove from your resume

When I am reviewing peoples resumes the single biggest problem I see is they use weak words or words that don't really say anything. These words are passive and they don't help sell you to the Recruiter or hiring manager. Here are some of the most common words that should be removed from a resume.


Just because you are responsible for something, doesn't mean you actually did it. My son is responsible for tidying his bedroom every night before bed - but that doesnt always happen! Instead of "responsible" say "coordinated," "executed," "implemented, "maximized" or "produced." These words convey that you were just responsible for, but you actually did.

Hard worker

Everybody is going to say they are a hard worker. This is one of those phrases that are used on a resume that don't actually mean anything. Replace "hard worker" with "passionate," "proactive," "savvy" or "versatile." These all convey the same sentiment in a better way.


Assisted suggests that someone else did most of the hard work. Use a stronger term instead, such as, 
"completed," -"executed" or "facilitated." These words show you actually did something.


Familiar is a weak word. It implies you only know a little. Instead use "competent," "strong" or "proficient."

People oriented

What does "people oriented" actually mean? Prove your people skills by using words like "collaborated," "cultivated," "directed," "fostered," supervised" or "trained."

Remember, your resume is a marketing tool. You need to use strong words to convince the reader they should bring you in for an interview.

How to create a brilliant resume

According to a study in 2018, the average job posting gets over 250 applications. There is evidence to suggest that during the current period of high unemployment caused by the pandemic that that number is closer to 600 now. Whilst some applications will get weeded out by Application Tracking System software, at some point a human is going to have to look at all those resumes. Believe it or not a recruiter or hiring manager will look at your resume for an average of 7 seconds before deciding whether or not you are worth considering for the job. That means you have to create a resume that clearly communicates the most important information required to get an interview. You need to create a resume that will help you stand out. You need to create a brilliant resume.

Think of your resume is a marketing tool. An average candidate with an exceptional resume will get an interview over an exceptional candidate with an average resume. It may not be fair but it is true. Candidates who submit resumes that "sell" them are far more likely to be invited to an interview. So, how can you craft a resume that will get you an interview?

Types of resume

There are 3 standard types of resume. It is important to pick the right one for your situation to give you the best chance of being invited in for an interview. The 3 types are: Chronological, Functional and Hybrid.


This is the traditional resume. It lists your work experience in order, starting with the most recent. It is best when your work history is closely related to the job you are applying for. This type of resume is generally preferred by recruiters because it requires less guess work for them. It also shows your skills in context so they can see your career progression. Some online job applications will ask you to enter your experience in this order so no matter what kind of resume is better for your situation it is a good idea to have a chronological version.


This type of resume emphasizes qualifications and accomplishments in place of specific jobs. It is best at highlighting skills. Functional resumes can be used to minimize career gaps or to show experience from several different industries. Generally computerized Applicant Tracking Systems don't handle functional resumes well. Recruiters can also be wary of candidates using functional resumes because they think they are trying to hide something. (Which can be true.)


This type of resume puts skills first before your work history. It is best at highlighting a mix of relevant skills and experience. This is the best resume format for most people because you get the benefits of a chronological and functional resume. For most people this is the best resume format to use. It combines the benefits of both the chronological and hybrid resumes.

A good layout for a hybrid resume is:
  • Name + Profession.

  • Summary.

  • Skills.

  • Experience.

  • Education.

  • Interests.

Name + Profession

Start with your name, profession and contact details at the very top of the page. Use your precious 7 seconds of the readers attention very carefully. Put your address and phone number at the bottom of the resume. They only need that information if they are really interested in you so don't waste some of those seconds on information that isn't going to get you an interview.

Your “profession” should be the type of job you want rather than what you actually do now. For example if you are a supervisor now but want to be a manager list your profession as “Customer Service Manager.” Putting your profession at the top subconsciously plants the seed with the person reading the resume that that's what you are. It also reassures them that you are not applying for a job you have no experience in.

Make sure you use a professional sounding email address. Recruiters will discard resumes with “funny” email addresses such as Even if your email address doesn't reflect who you really are, recruiters will often use the smallest excuse to discount a candidate and move on to the next resume. If your email address isn’t just your name, it’s worth signing up for a new account for your job search. “ is more likely to get an interview than


Jane Smith | Head Chef |


Use the summary in your resume to convince the recruiter you can do the job. Often people use the summary to list traits like “team player” or “results driven.” You may exemplify these things however you haven’t given any proof. Everyone uses these words so they don’t mean much to the person reading the resume. Instead tailor your summary to each job you apply for and included specifics.

Start with a sentence giving some context as to who you are. For example “I am a seasoned technology leader with 10 years of experience in Fortune 500 companies.” Again, you want to adapt this for each position you apply for to highlight why you are a good fit for this specific job.

Then list two quantifiable accomplishments that prove you are capable of doing the job you are applying for. Rather than just saying “skilled project manager” say “skilled project manager who managed $4 million software implementation 2 months ahead of schedule and under 5% under budget.” Prove to them that you can do what you are saying.

Here are some suggestions of good phrases to use in your summary.

Communication skills:

"Writes clearly and concisely."
"Speaks effectively."
"Openly expresses ideas."
"Speaks confidently in public."

Interpersonal skills:

"Works well with others."
"Delegates effectively."

Management skills:

"Leads groups."
"Counsels and coaches."
"Manages conflict."
"Directs others."
"Takes charge."

Organization skills:

"Detail oriented."
"Manages projects effectively."
"Sets goals."
"Meets deadlines."

Action words:



“Experienced Finance Director with 12 years of experience in a Big 4 company. Talented people leader who has supervised teams of 50 people in 4 states. Accomplished at budget management and reduced operating costs by 5% for 3 years in a row.”


The skills section should take up no more than 3 lines on your resume. In it list key words to articulate your skills across the page. Use the same terms as the job description. (Obviously only list skills you actually have.) This will help your resume get through the filter of an Applicant Tracking System. Also, if you are applying for a technical position, there is a good chance the HR person or recruiter looking at your resume may not know the nitty gritty details like C++ is an object oriented programming language.


PMI Certified Project Manager - Microsoft Project - Asana - Budget Management - Servant Leadership - Internal Communication.


The experience section is your last opportunity to prove you can do the job. Start by putting the company name, job title and dates on one line. Use bold formatting to make it stand out. Make sure to include the month and year of employment. Include an explanation for any gaps in your employment history to remove possible question marks from your application.

Example: : Project Manager : September 2010 - May 2015

Then put 3 bullets that quantifiably explain what you did in the role. List your top, relevant, achievements while you were in the position. You should only include accomplishments that apply to the job you are after. Remember you have precious seconds to convince the reader to bring you in for an interview. Make sure you include numbers to back up what you are saying.


Deployed Google Apps software to 5000 users across 7 geographical locations.

Lastly, include 2 bullet points that cover any parts of your job description not mentioned in the first 3 bullets. The further down your work experience you get the less information you should include. Use your precious seconds sparingly.


Unless you are applying to academia, or you are applying for your very first job, limit your education to listing your place of study, your qualifications and maybe one major accomplishment.


King's College London : 2005 - 2009
Bachelor's Degree in Economics
Dean's List 3 semesters

Cambridge High School 2000 - 2005
High School Diploma


Finally, put down what you do outside of work. Your interests may not be directly applicable to the work, but people like people like themselves - and people hire people they like. In fact studies suggest that 60% of the hiring decision is based on “likability.” List your hobbies and interests as a way to build common ground. It also shows you are a well rounded human. Keep it short though.


Skiing. Baking. Volunteering at Abandoned Orchid Farm.


A note about formatting your resume - unless you are a graphic designer, don’t be a graphic designer! Keep your formatting simple. Use the same font throughout your resume. Use bold and larger fonts for headings and use bullets and lines to break up the information. Avoid columns and graphics (unless you are a graphic designer) as these will get mangled by an Applicant Tracking System.

Proof reading.

Last, but not least, get someone else to proof read your resume. 63% of employers in a survey said they would reject a resume with a spelling mistake in it! It is impossible to correct your own work because your brain tells you what it knows should be there instead of what actually is there. A candidate with a resume with a mistake in will be discarded from consideration before a candidate with no mistakes in their resume. Again it might not be fair but a recruiter who has to go through 250 or even 600 resumes is looking for any reason to ditch a resume.

Example resume:


SUMMARY: An experienced pastry chef with a track record of reducing waste by 10% and increasing profitability by 20%. Graduate of Cordon Bleu Paris and studied under Chef Tresbien at Perfect Pastry.

SKILLS: Baking. Icing. Estimating baking jobs. Pastry Project Management. Portion control. Budgeting. Hiring. Lean 6 Sigma.


Perfect Pastry (June 2014 - present)
Head Chef
+ Baked for party with Queen of England.
+ Managed team of 10 kitchen staff.
+ Improved profitability by 20%.

Common Cooking Cafe (October 2010 - May 2014)
Sous Chef
+ Supervised entire kitchen on Chefs day off.
+ Implemented portion control and reduced waste by 10%.
+ Created choux pastry team.

McDonalds (July 2006 - September 2010)
Burger Cook
+ Cooked 200 burgers an hour.
+ Kept ice cream machine running for 2 months straight


Cordon Bleu Paris (2006 - 2010)
Degree in French Bakery
+ Graduated at top of class.
+ Won cookie decorating competition.

Safe Baking Certified

INTERESTS: Karate. Musical theatre.

Tailoring your resume.

The number one piece of advice people hear about resumes is "tailor your resume to each job." But how exactly do you "tailor" a resume? What exactly do you need to change? A good resume is about you. A great resume is about them. Alter your resume so it aligns with each position you are applying for. I firmly believe that a professionally written resume can increase the chances of getting an interview. However I consider them to only be the starting point. You should tailor your resume for every single position you apply for.

Match wording.

First go through and match the wording in your resume to the job description. This will increase the chances of your resume getting through an Applicant Tracking System filter. Also the Recruiter screening applications may not necessarily know the technical nuances of the position. If the job description says "finance" instead of "accounting" then put that in your resume. If the job description says "cloud" instead of "Saas" then put that in your resume. If the job description says "biscuits" instead of "cookies" then put that in your resume. Make it easy for the person (or computer system) reviewing your resume to see that you have relevant skills or experience.

Make the first bullet point relevant.

Change the order of the bullet points for each position so the first one is immediately relevant to the position you are applying for. Hook them in so they keep reading the rest of your accomplishments for that job before they skim to the next job you have listed.

Remove irrelevant information.

Remember a recruiter is going to look at your resume for 7 seconds. Remove information that isn't applicable to the position you are applying for. Don't make them have to read through information that doesn't help your application to find the information that is relevant.

Put skills in context.

Recruiters prefer to see skills in context. Show them how and why you have used a skills. This helps prove that you really do possess the skill. Make sure to include quantifiable accomplishments to further convince them.

Cover letters.

Should you write a cover letter? Imagine you are a recruiter trying to fill a new position. You have a stack of 250 (or even 600) resumes to wade through to try and decide who is worth bringing in for an interview. It's hard work! You have to analyze the resume to see if the person has the relevant experience and skills. Then you come across a application that also has a letter summarizing why the person meets the requirements of the job posting. That person just made the recruiters life easier and is more likely to be picked for an interview. In fact only 18% of candidates include a cover letter with their application. Those candidates are more likely to be invited for an interview because (a) they stand out because they put in a little more effort and (b) they made it easier for the recruiter to find the relevant information. That's why you should include a cover letter in your application!

Begin with a generic greeting like "to whom it may concern." Avoid upsetting the recruiter by making any gender assumptions.

Next, start your cover letter by letting the reader know that you are experienced in the job area you are applying for. This plants the seed that you are a whatever they are looking for.

Then tell them you would be great for the job because you can help solve whatever problem the business has in the job description. For example managing projects in time and under budget. Be sure to include the actual job title you are applying for. It is important to customize your cover letter for every single job you apply for. Never send a generic cover letter, it won't help your application at all and it may even count against you (recruiters can spot a generic cover letter a mile away!)

After that tell them that you really like specific roles in the job. For example budgeting, managing people, producing metrics. This tells them that you want this job not just any job.

Then call their attention to relevant skills you have listed in your resume. For example GAAP accounting or SQL server administration. This will make sure they go look for those details in your resume.

Finish off by mentioning something you like about the companies culture. Go to the "about us" page on their website and find a part of the culture or values they mention. If the company thinks its important enough to mention on the website then it is something they will look for in new hires.

Lastly sign off letting them know you can't wait to talk with them more about the position.

Sample cover letter:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am a seasoned professional with a background in (AREA.)

I would be a great fit for the (JOB) position because my experience will enable me to help you start (REQUIREMENT) quickly. I have a passion for (ROLE), (ROLE) and (ROLE.) You will also see from my resume I have a history of (SKILL) and (SKILL). Lastly, I am a big proponent (CULTURE.)

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best regards,



You resume really is the most important document in your job search. It is what is going to determine whether or not you are asked for an interview. The majority of resumes are lackluster. If you can create a brilliant resume you will stand out above the others. It takes some effort but it makes a difference.

Should you use an automated resume creation tool?

If you are out of work, hiring a professional to write your resume can see like a big expenses. Sites like and will create a nice looking resume for you for free. So should you use an automated resume creation tool? 

A resume can fail a candidate for one of two reasons. The first is that it is too hard to read. No matter how good the content, a poorly laid out resume will make it hard for the recruiter to glean the useful information about you. From this perspective using an automated tool to create a well formatted resume can be beneficial.

The second reason that a resume can fail a candidate is that it is not persuasive. You can have a really well laid out resume but if what is written in it doesn't persuade the recruiter that you are a good candidate for the job, it doesn't really matter. Most resumes I see as a career coach simply list job responsibilities as described in the persons job description. This really doesn't tell the recruiter very much and it certainly doesn't sell you as a candidate. One of my son's responsibilities technically is to tidy his bedroom every day. This doesn't happy though! The recruiter wants proof that you will be able to help the company achieve its goals. The way you convey this is by putting relevant accomplishments and skills in your resume. I find many people struggle to be able to articulate their own accomplishments. They are afraid of "bragging." I also find people find it difficult to clearly describe their accomplishments. I frequently see three paragraph summaries in a resume that don't say anything at all!

The layout of a resume matters. The words in the resume matter more. This is where the value of a professional resume writer comes in. A professional resume writer has the skills and experience to convey your work history in a compelling way. A recent resume I worked on was one of 4 people out of 600 who were picked for an interview. And this person hadn't worked in that job function before. This is what you are paying for. An automated resume creation tool will make a nice looking resume for you but unless you have the right words in it, it doesn't matter!

A career coach can help you create a resume that will sell you to a recruiter.

You might also be interested in reading: The complete guide to creating a resume.

Online tools to help with your job search


Here is  list of online tools to help you with your job search:



Job Postings:


A career coach can help you with your job search.

You might also be interested in reading: The complete guide to networking.

How to write a networking email that gets a response


At some point in your job search you may need to write an email to someone you kind of know asking for help. Perhaps you want them to introduce you to someone at the company. Perhaps you want them to put in a good work for your application. Perhaps you are looking for insight to the hiring process.So how do you write a networking email that gets results?

Use a friendly tone.

You are leveraging a human relationship so use a friendly tone in your email. Write like you would talk to them in person. Avoid being too formal.

Personalize the message

Avoid sending boilerplate, generic messages. These stand out like a sore thumb. Ask how their family is. Reference a shared interest. Above all, make sure you convey that you appreciate anything they can do to help.

Make it easy to say yes

First of all, make your request. very clear. Rather than just saying "I want to pick your brain" tell them "I would love to get your advice about transitioning to a being manager".

Next, make "how" they can help you easy to say yes to. Don't give them several options or ask them to make a suggestion. Instead say "are you available for a 15 minute phone at 2.00pm on Tuesday?"

A career coach can help you with networking strategies.

You might also be interested in reading: The complete guide to networking.