Career & Coffee

Resume Writing, Job Search, Industry News and Erin’s weekly musings on all things career.

Importance of the Thank You Letter June 26, 2008

Filed under: Job Search,Resume Writing — erinkennedy @ 3:33 am
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The Importance of the Thank You Letter

I’ve been asked many, many times, “Do I really need to send a Thank You letter to the employer?”… and the answer is always, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

Okay, so I am a bit uptight about Thank You letters. I know that–especially after a wedding or birthday. But do we need to do it after an interview? Does the employer really care? Does it really make a difference?


When in the job search process, a little bit of manners goes a long way. A Thank You letter can literally boost your chances of beating out other candidates, according to a new study on, a human resources website.

In a recent online poll taken, a question was posed to HR managers “Are you more likely to hire someone who has sent you a post-interview thank you note?”. 61 percent answered either “yes” or “perhaps”, where 39 percent said “no” or “probably not”.

With fierce competition out there these days, HR professionals are looking at more and more criteria to help them decide on the best possible candidate. The right thank you letter can give a hiring manager additional insight on your intelligence, manners, and written verbal communication skills, as well as your desire for the job. Guess it’s time to dust off the box of thank you notes.

Studies repeatedly show that candidates who follow up the interview with a thank you always get chosen before their peers. Sending a customized thank you note gives you an edge. It helps remind the interviewer who you are. Many recruiters of Fortune 500 companies admit that some candidates get lost in the shuffle, only to rediscover them when receiving a thank you note.

A thank you note reiterates your strong points. It reminds them why they should hire YOU.

Here are a few tips about writing a thank you note:

1- Proofread. Double check and make sure that not only is your thank you error-free, but that you are sending it to the right employer!

2- Restate Your Strong Points. Hiring managers state that a thank you note is “literally the last chance candidates have to sell themselves to an employer”. Remind them why you are the best candidate.

3- Impress Them With Your Listening Skills. State something in the letter that relates to the conversations you had at the interview. Show them you really were listening to them, not daydreaming about what the benefits and compensations are going to be.

4- Thank Everyone. If 3 people interviewed you, then they each get a thank you. Not only will they be impressed, but they may show it to each other in an attempt to get the others to want to hire you, too. Just remember to customize each letter. A letter that is not well-thought-out (or the same to each) can only hurt you. If you are stumped on what to write, just think about the topics you discussed during the interviews.

It only takes about 2 minutes and a stamp to make a lasting impression.


Salary Horoscopes June 19, 2008

Filed under: Salary — erinkennedy @ 4:37 am
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Thought this was too cute to pass up. Sent to me by CDI’s, Laura DiCarlo

2008 Horoscopes – Salary Negotiation By Sign

By Shanon Lyon, Special to

We’d all like more money, but how you approach a salary negotiation depends largely on your personality and work style. These 2008 horoscopes provide a bit of insight on how to approach your next salary negotiation.

Career Horoscope for Capricorn
December 23 – January 20

As a Capricorn, you work hard for your money. And, since you’re ambitious and patient, in most cases, you’ll likely get what’s due to you without having to ask. If you fear you’re being passed over, approach your salary discussions in your usual practical, no-nonsense way.

Career Horoscope for Aquarius
January 21 – February 19

You’re original and inventive, but you prefer to fly solo. Unfortunately, your lone wolf approach could cost you a promotion or a raise. Before entering a salary discussion, make sure you’ve demonstrated your ability to work well with others. And let your boss lead the negotiation. Suppress your impulse to throw out the first number.

Career Horoscope for Pisces
February 20 – March 20

Trust your intuition this year. If you think you deserve a little more cash in your pocket, you probably do. But, as a quiet fish who’s in danger of getting stepped on, you’ll have to speak up. Know exactly what you want before you ask, then ask with confidence. If your employer doesn’t meet your needs, consider looking for better opportunities elsewhere.

Career Horoscope for Aries
March 21 – April 20

You’re cool and confident, but you can also be impulsive and impatient. The salary negotiation tactic that will serve you best is a well-made plan. Know exactly what you plan to say and make sure you schedule a meeting for the discussion. Don’t approach your boss at the end of a meeting or in the hallway. You’re a great champion for a cause, so, with a plan in place, you should have no problem making a convincing case.

Career Horoscope for Taurus
April 21 – May 21

You’re not one to stir the pot, but, you won’t get a raise unless you ask. Realize that “no” is the worst that can happen. Use your natural business sense to approach the discussion in a straightforward, business-like way. And if your request is denied (or your raise isn’t as high as you’d hoped), don’t let your occasional hot temper flare. Ask for suggestions on how to improve and get to where you want to be.

Career Horoscope for Gemini
May 22 – June 21

You love to talk, and your eloquence and charm can come in handy when it comes to money. Make the conversation less about you and your needs and more about what you have done and will continue to do for the company and your boss. And, as hard as it might be, let your boss do most of the talking. You’ll get more information this way and be better able to negotiate. Silence can be a very effective strategy.

Career Horoscope for Cancer
June 22 – July 22

Though you’re outwardly thick-skinned, on the inside, you’re a sensitive person who takes negative feedback to heart. Your cautious and non-confrontational ways could keep you from approaching your boss about a raise, but, remember that business is business. Keep your emotions out of it, and you’ll be able to handle the discussion with grace and ease.

Career Horoscope for Leo
July 23 -August 21

As the king of the zodiac, you’re self confident and self-controlled. You know what you want and how to get it, which sets you up for a successful salary discussion. It’s in your nature to shoot for your stars, but make sure you do your homework first. Find out if there’s a salary scale for your position and then assess what others in similar positions are making. Aim high, but be realistic.

Career Horoscope for Virgo
August 22 – September 23

Don’t let your worrying ways get the best of you when asking for a raise. Before approaching your boss, write down all your accomplishments and contributions (better yet, keep track of them throughout the year). You’re often reluctant to take credit for a job well done, so ask for some peer input as well. Review your list several times before discussing your salary with your boss.

Career Horoscope for Libra
September 24 – October 23

As a Libran, your sense of justice and fair play is remarkable, but your reluctance to ruffle feathers could prevent you from making more money, even if you deserve it. Be assertive and ask for what you want. If you get what you think you’re worth, great. If not, perhaps you don’t belong there anyway.

Career Horoscope for Scorpio
October 24 – November 22

Because you dislike (and can easily detect) superficial flattery, you prefer to see the fruits of your labor in the form of cold, hard cash. Your straightforwardness will fare you well, just don’t get impatient. Temper your typical bluntness with diplomacy and keep a lid on your emotions when you discuss your salary with your boss.

Career Horoscope for Sagittarius
November 23 – December 22

You’re adept at social situations, so use this to your advantage when negotiating a raise. As a natural born traveler, you’re also a perfect candidate for alternate forms of compensation. Be flexible and willing to consider other options. Perhaps an extra week of vacation would be more valuable than money?


Background Checks

Filed under: Interviewing,Job Search — erinkennedy @ 4:13 am
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Background Checks and Candidate Research– Hype or a Reality?

For the last few years we’ve been hearing more and more about celebrities or high-powered executives being publicly cast as liars after being caught lying on a resume. Why did these people do it? Didn’t they know they would get caught? Well, probably hoping they wouldn’t be discovered, and “back then” we didn’t have the internet and other public information at our fingertips.

This leads me to another related topic…. being aware of our actions. For example: a picture of you marching down a main street protesting a political party, or posting a picture of yourself for your friends to see of you chug-a-lugging it at a football game, might seem okay or fun to you, but casts a shadow of doubt to the hiring person. They want to know, are you the candidate for them? I’ve had to tell a few clients to use a different email address because, on a hunch, I did a search on the email address and pulled up 2-3 pages of links to a few different blogs and message boards all containing controversial topics not at all suitable for an employer to read in a potential candidate.

Most checks are for criminal records or education verification, driving records, credential verification, sex offender registry, reference checks, Patriot Act search and credit reports. Some employers use several different kind of checks while most use one kind and look for extremely bad reports.

While it may seem like a scary inconvenience for the employees trying to get a job, they might want to keep in mind that a search on potential employees might just benefit not only the company itself but also the current employees in the long run.

Food for thought…

Erin Kennedy, CPRW


Using Fung Shui to Create more Wealth in your Life June 12, 2008

Filed under: Career & Workplace — erinkennedy @ 11:54 am
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Using simple Feng Shui tips to create more Wealth and Career success in your life

Feng Shui (pronounced Fung Shway) is the Chinese Art of Placement that has been practiced for over three thousand years in China with the belief that positioning one’s things released vital energy, or Ch’i, that would create a harmonious flow in human life.

I’ve had an interest in Feng Shui for about 15 years. I try to use some of the tips when I remember to (which isn’t all the time, I admit). I know that some things really have worked. A few little changes here, a major one there, and I could truly tell a difference in the energy around that area. Here are a few things to remember:

The water element is a strong force in activating career luck. However, do not worry if you cannot act upon every tip. More is not always better. Balance if vital. Sometimes just energizing one method or activating one direction can be sufficient. When you find yourself becoming very busy, it is a good indicator that your Feng Shui is working.

The direction Southeast is considered the corner of the home or office that represents wealth. If this corner has good Feng Shui, then the wealth aspirations have been actively energized. If it the corner is bad, it may lead to loss and failure in business. It is vital to remove any negative energy from the southeast corner of your home or office. Only keep healthy thriving things there. If there is something old, stale, or give you bad memories/vibes, GET RID OF IT. To create good energy, you need to apply the theory of the 5 elements: fire, wood, water, metal and earth. Here are some simple tips you can try:

– Placing a plant in the southeast would be excellent wealth Feng Shui, symbolizing wood (avoid pants with thorns or spines, like cacti or bonsai, as they are thought to be inauspicious).

– Wealth and prosperity colors include blues, reds and purples.

– The number “9” is said to be enormously auspicious because it represents heaven and earth.

– Place a mock money bag containing a $10.00 bill in a rice urn. It is supposed to enhance family wealth.

– Keep an aquarium with goldfish, or a small artificial waterfall in the garden to activate the water element.

– Add any valuable possessions to your wealth area including collections, antiques, art, coins, crystal, etc.

– Chinese coins are believed to be an auspicious tool in attracting wealth and luck. Place three Chinese coins (or any type of coin will do) tied together with a red ribbon in your wallet or change purse and you will see your wealth luck changing. The coins can also be hung on the doorknob, facing the room.

Brighten southeastern walls and corners to attract wealth. To ensure productivity and activation of your wealth area, get rid of dark rooms. Dim lighting increases uneasiness.

It doesn’t have to be a gaudy display of everything at once. You can place these things on either floor of your home—1st floor, 2nd floor or basement will work, too. For example, on my first floor, I have a small shelf in the corner with three coins tied with a red ribbon and two thriving plants. On my 2nd floor which also happens to be my bedroom, I have a plant and a couple of red candles with holders, representing the color of prosperity. You can really have fun and be creative with it.

According to Chinese traditions, these are some simple and fun ways to increase your wealth and prosperity. However, I’ve only listed a few. To get more ideas and Feng Shui tips, I would suggest doing an online search and buying a few books. Feng Shui also works for every other area in your life to create balance, harmony, love, and prosperity in your environment.

Erin Kennedy, CPRW


Talking Yourself Up on your Resume June 10, 2008

Filed under: Resume Writing — erinkennedy @ 3:41 am
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Hey Bragger… yeah, I mean YOU! or Why Talking Yourself Up on Your Resume is a Good Thing!

Are you bragging about yourself enough on your resume? I don’t mean bragging in an obnoxious or fictitious sort of way, but in a “look what I can do” sort of way.

One of the main things I notice with my clients and their existing resumes is that they don’t BRAG enough about their accomplishments. They don’t talk enough about what they’ve done above and beyond their daily responsibilities.

My worksheets are very C.A.R.-oriented. The C.A.R. methodology is this Challenge, Action, Results. What Challenge did you face? What Action did you take to rectify it? And lastly, what were the Results? It is a very accomplishment- focused method and works wonderfully every time I have a client who doesn’t talk enough. When I send these out to clients, I am amazed at the achievements that come pouring out. Why did it take sending a worksheet to get this VITAL information out of them? I ask each client. The response is generally the same– either, “I didn’t know how to word it” or “I didn’t want to sound too braggy”. Many of us were raised to be humble about our accomplishments, not to be boastful. I know I was. Not that we couldn’t be PROUD, but it was just kept a little on the quiet side.

Here are a few tips about bragging in a non-braggy way on your resume to get yourself noticed:

1) List your daily responsibilities clearly in your narrative under the job title. Even the ones you think aren’t worth being mentioned. If there are too many for more than a 5 or 6 line paragraph, then summarize.

2) Think of each thing you did in that made a difference, something you were praised for, something that saved the company money. Readers LOVE to hear how you saved the company money or drove revenue by 43%, etc. For example:

** Currently implementing a new sales method that will eliminate 6 trucks from the road and save company $45,000/year.

3) Add the accomplishment, even if it has a negative undertone or you were fighting challenging conditions. For example:

** Despite negative sales growth in Michigan’s harsh economic climate, met the challenge of producing positive topline growth successfully while managing net revenue and contributing to margin gains.

See how this one sounded? Even though my client struggled the last 2 years and saw a -2.2% sales decrease, to her company this was a good thing because of Michigan’s dismal economic climate.

4) Your resume is the place to SELL YOURSELF. Think of yourself as a product. What would you buy? The new ‘OKAY’ car model that has all the basics and does it’s job but has nothing super special about it? Or would you buy the ‘WOW, THIS CAR IS AWESOME’ car that is fully loaded, has a mini fridge in the dash, and wings to automatically make you airborne if traffic looks too heavy? The ‘WOW’ car may cost you a bit more, but isn’t it worth it? The same goes with your salary… but that is an article for another time. You have to sell yourself and turn yourself into the ‘WOW’ car. You have what it takes, you just need to put it on paper.

I hope this helps you rethink that bland little ‘OK’ statement, “streamlined processes and increased productivity” with something more ‘WOW!’. Let’s face it, we all want the WOW! car.

So does the employer.

Until next time,

Erin Kennedy


Executive Recruiter Distribution June 4, 2008

Filed under: Job Search — erinkennedy @ 11:13 am
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For the Executive on the move….

I’ve recently added an exciting new service to my site called, “Executive Recruiter Distribution” ( .

Whether you are actively seeking a new position or just monitoring the job market, the most effective way of getting a new position is to work with a recruiter. I can get your résumé in hands of select recruiters who are most likely to be looking for you. Quite unlike a typical “resume blast”, my database content is specifically targeted and based on your unique preferences and project parameters. Updated quarterly, my database consists of 15,800+ recruiters. I attach your résumé to a recruiter targeted letter in PDF or MSWord format. Upon completion you receive a Microsoft Excel file with the names, addresses and contact info for each recipient. The database is comprised of retained and contingency recruiters, and major recruiting firms such as Korn Ferry, Boyden, Heidrick & Struggles, Egon Zehnder, Christian Timbers, and more. We also have a database of more than 3,000 Venture Capital and Private Equity firms that we can distribute your résumé.

Don’t miss this great opportunity to get your name out to the most prestigious recruiting firms! Act now!

To learn more, call 1-866-793-9224 or go to my website at for more details.


How People are Finding Jobs

Filed under: Career & Workplace,Job Search,Networking — erinkennedy @ 11:11 am
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How People Are Finding Jobs

Some interesting statistics are in from a couple of trusted Internet sources, WEDDLE’s ( and, on the topic of how people find jobs.

WEDDLE’s 2008 Source of Employment Survey ran from March 2007 to March 2008 and generated responses from over 15,600 individuals. The respondents were 65% male, 35% female; they had a median age of 40-45, with more than 60% describing themselves as managers, mid-level professionals, or executives.

When asked to identify where they found their last job, the respondents listed the following sources as their top ten (not all sources are listed so the percentages will not total to 100%):

· 13.3% An ad posted on an Internet job board

· 7.0% A tip from a friend

· 6.8% Other

· 6.3% A newspaper ad

· 6.2% They posted their resume on a job board

· 6.0% A call from a headhunter

· 5.8% They were referred by an employee of the company

· 5.2% They sent a resume to the company

· 4.9% At a career fair

· 4.8% By networking at work.

Survey Source: released its recent Employee Job Satisfaction & Retention Survey, where a total of 7,482 individuals and 245 human resource or other company representatives responded. Among the individual employee respondents, 7,101 were employed and provided valid responses. Of those, 57 percent of employees indicated they are “somewhat” or “very” likely to intensify their job search in the next three months, down slightly from last year’s 62 percent. The most popular job search activities that employees are involved in, in order of preference:

· 46% are surfing online job postings

· 42% are updating their resume

· 32% are reading classified employment listings

· 32% are networking with friends/colleagues

· 27% are posting or emailing resumes

Survey Source:

If you combine WEDDLE’s “tip from a friend” and “referral by an employee of the company” you get nearly the same number as the #1 response “an ad posted on an Internet job board,” which implies that networking should receive the same amount of attention as surfing online job postings. The questions that arise are these: Are you spending an equal amount of time networking? And, if not, how can you make that happen?

Source: Career Coach Academy