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Your Job Search Tools and How to Use Them


“Won’t I be limiting my job prospects if my resume focuses too much on one profession/area of expertise?”

“Do I really need a cover letter?”

“If I have a resume, what’s the purpose of having a LinkedIn profile?”

“Why can’t I just copy my resume and use it on my LinkedIn profile?”

I get questions like these all the time. They usually come from job seekers who haven’t had to  search for a job in the last 10 years; or people who are just unaware of how competitive the job market has become, and that a strategic search can yield faster results. Some folks even consider a resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile as interchangeable cogs in the job search wheel. I guess the thinking behind this is that as long as you have one you don’t necessarily need the others.

But that kind of thinking is a mistake that could stall your job search success; because each of these career tools  serve separate purposes and should ideally work together cohesively to convey your value, skills, and experience.

It makes more sense if you understand the purpose and function of each service. Once you do, understanding how to leverage them competitively in your job search  will be a piece of cake.

The Resume

Pulling together a professional resume isn’t as simple as it used to be. The hiring and screening process has changed quite a bit over the last few years.

Resumes of Yesteryear

  • Your current contact information.
  • An objective that clearly communicates the type of opportunity you’re seeking.
  • A chronological listing of the jobs and positions you’ve held.
  • A brief description of your duties and responsibilities so that prospective employers can determine whether or not you’re qualified to perform the job in question.
  • Education/certifications/licensing/training
  • A list of at least 3 references (if you really want to flex your professionalism)

Resumes of Today:

  • Your current contact information.
  • A strong profile summary that clearly communicates the type of position you’re targeting, your area(s) of expertise, the value you offer, and key skills that are important to the companies you’re applying to.
  • A chronological listing of the jobs and positions you’ve held.
  • A brief description of your duties and responsibilities so that prospective employers can determine whether or not you’re qualified to perform the job in question.
  • Crystal clear examples of your skills and how you’ve used them to benefit your current/previous employers.
  • Education/certifications/licensing/training
  • Optimize the resume for relevant keyword to pass an electronic ATS screening.

And we haven’t even discussed strategy… The resume is usually the initial step in the hiring process. A hiring manager reviews your resume (along with 200+ others) to determine whether or not you meet the qualifications to perform the job. With so many candidates vying for the same job, your goal is to stand out on paper in the best way so that you’re invited to interview.

The Cover/Job Search Letter

For those who ask if a cover letter is still even necessary in this day and age. Here’s what I tell them:

The true value of cover letters/job search letters is that you can share and expand on specific information about your achievements, project highlights, credentials, and other qualifications that relate directly to a job posting or a position shared by a network contact/referral.

The resume is focused on a specific job or area of specialization. With the cover letter, you can customize your message for each opportunity. It allows you to spotlight important items from the resume that will position you as a prime candidate for a specific job; and it also provides an opportunity to go beyond the resume and share additional details about a particular project, industry, etc.

The cover letter can also provide an opportunity to share information about special circumstances like your transition from one profession or industry to another. This type of information is difficult to communicate on a resume.


LinkedIn Profile

With LinkedIn, you have another way of communicating your expertise and value on an online platform where 97% of recruiters and hiring managers search for talent. You don’t w ant your LinkedIn profile to be an exact copy of your resume; you want it to complement the resume.

To really attract interest, your LinkedIn profile should balance WHO you are with WHAT you do. In fact, hiring managers will often visit your LinkedIn and other social media profiles after reviewing your resume (and before making a decision to contact you for an interview) in order to learn more about who you are as a person and to see if you will be a good “fit” in the company culture.


You can also invite previous managers and employees to write recommendations for you (this also optimizes your profile visibility and “searchability”). I recommend all my clients take advantage of LinkedIn – whether they pay me or decide to do  their own.


Follow-up Letter

A follow-up letter is basically a “thank you” letter. You’re thanking the interviewer(s) for the opportunity to meet with them, and restating your interest in the job. It’s so sad to think of how many people fail to send them because they underestimate their influence in the job search process.

A follow-up letter is a chance to keep your name in front of the hiring decision maker(s), to mention something relevant about the interview that shows you were listening, and to once again let them know exactly why you’re the right person to meet the company’s needs and challenges.

Plus it’s just good manners to acknowledge that someone is seriously considering you for a job and took time out of their busy work schedule to interview you. When you consider all that, how could you NOT send one?

Remember, all career communications are tools in your job search arsenal, and they can give you a leg up in your search when used effectively.

Photo Credit: Saulo Mohana

Now be honest… is the resume and cover letter you’ve been submitting for jobs getting you noticed? Are you receiving invitations to interview? If  not, we should talk! Contact me by phone: 1-866-562-0850 or email: for a NO COST, NO OBLIGATION 15-minute consultation. 

Kimberly Ben is a multi-credentialed Professional Resume and LinkedIn Writer and Job Search Coach. She has written hundreds of resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, and other career communications for multiple career industries and professions. Kimberly’s extensive education, training, and experience have resulted in a clear understanding of current hiring best practices and the most effective job search techniques, branding strategies, and insight on what it takes to gain the competitive edge and impress employers in a challenging job market.

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