Advice & insights: masterclasses from industry leaders

Teegan Bartos’s Strategies for Effective Job Searching & Resume Building

Teegan Bartos

Teegan Bartos

Career Coach & Resume Writer

Key Takeaways

  • Focus on Resume Content and Design: Highlight your unique value and skills; use a clear, visually appealing layout.
  • Strategically Address Gaps and Career Changes: Use your resume and cover letter to provide context for any employment gaps or career shifts.
  • Utilize Powerful Action Verbs: Differentiate your resume with dynamic verbs like ‘Pioneered‘, ‘Orchestrated‘, or ‘Transformed‘.
  • Adapt to Digital Job Search Platforms: Leverage platforms like LinkedIn for visibility and networking, but remember the importance of personal connections.
  • Avoid Common Application Mistakes: Tailor your resume specifically for each job application and focus on proactive job search strategies.
  • Effective Networking is Key: Use existing connections and be specific and respectful in your networking approach.

Strategies for Effective Resume Writing

Teegan Bartos, an accomplished career strategist and founder of Jolt Your Career, shares her expert insights in this informative Q&A session. With a focus on effective resume writing, job search strategies, and navigating career transitions, Teegan offers valuable advice drawn from her extensive experience in helping professionals achieve their career goals. Her approach is tailored to modern job market dynamics, making her guidance particularly relevant for those looking to advance or pivot in their careers.

What are the key elements that make a resume stand out to hiring managers?

“When facing the challenge of making your resume stand out to hiring managers amidst hundreds, if not thousands, of applications, there are two crucial elements to focus on: Content and Design.

Content – It is essential to articulate your unique value proposition or what sets you apart. This goes beyond listing your years of experience and buzz words; it’s about presenting who you are, your approach to solving problems, and your ability to deliver in the workplace. Your resume should be a reflection of not only what you’ve done, but how that has positioned you for what comes next, tackling your company of choice pain points.  

For those with the common dilemma of needing experience to get experience, this can be addressed through compelling storytelling content. Leverage all relevant aspects to this next career phase including continued education, stretch assignments, and ongoing education. Weave these elements into a narrative that showcases your growth or pivot, making your resume not just a list of jobs and duties but a compelling story of why you’re a top choice candidate. 

Design – The design of your resume is more than just aesthetics; it’s a tool to make your application immediately stand out. Opt for a layout that is easy to skim with strategic design elements to highlight your accomplishments and qualifications.”

How do you think someone should handle talking about gaps in their work history or major career shifts on their resume?

“In navigating employment gaps or career changes on a resume, it’s important to remember that each situation is unique. In today’s market, even top performers can face layoffs, so it’s about finding the most advantageous way to minimize red flags. For some, this might mean listing only the years of employment, not months, to de-emphasize short gaps. In cases of layoffs due to organizational restructuring, a brief note in the employment section can provide necessary context i.e., Position impacted by organizational restructuring during PE buyout. That way a recruiter won’t have to guess if you were fired or leave them negatively curious about currently being unemployed. 

For those changing careers, the focus should be on showcasing a progression or trend towards the new field, possibly highlighting relevant continuing education. In instances where the resume alone might not fully convey the rationale behind a career change, like a teacher to a program manager, a well-crafted cover letter can be a valuable tool to explain the transition and reinforce the candidate’s suitability for the new role.”

Could you us some examples of really strong action words or phrases that can spice up a resume?

“Anything but ‘responsible for’ or the same verbs everyone else is using can create a bold image on paper. Use verbs that evoke powerful feelings. Some of my favorites include:

  • Trailblazed
  • Masterminded
  • Orchestrated
  • Revolutionized
  • Amplified
  • Championed
  • Accelerated
  • Helmed
  • Pioneered
  • Catalyzed
  • Spearheaded
  • Transformed
  • Overhauled

Modern Job Search Strategies

“Digital platforms like Applicant Track Software (ATS), Github, ChatGPT and LinkedIn have significantly reshaped the job market. The advancement of ATS technology and platforms like LinkedIn allows companies to source candidates globally, intensifying competition in the job market.

This shift necessitates that job seekers refine their strategies to stand out. While portfolios were traditionally associated with creative fields, platforms like GitHub, Medium, and Canva now empower professionals in the Tech, Sales, Finance, and other sectors to visually showcase their projects and achievements.”

“A common mistake among job seekers is leveraging the ‘spray and pray’ method. This approach involves applying to numerous roles, regardless of their long-term career goals or personal values. Without proper research into the companies, such a strategy often leads to landing a less than optimal role.

Another significant issue is excessive rewriting of the resume prior to applying. A well-crafted and targeted resume should only require minor tweaks, not complete overhauls for different applications. These reactive strategies can be major time wasters. To avoid falling into these traps, I recommend diversifying your approach with proactive activities. This includes networking, attending industry events, creating company-specific case studies, and engaging with other value-adding activities that offer a higher return on your time.”

“The old aged, ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,’ has always underscored the importance of networking as the most effective job search strategy. Today, with platforms like Twitter/X and LinkedIn democratizing access to professional networks, building valuable connections is no longer an exclusive privilege. It’s about being open to meeting new people and maintaining a sense of curiosity.

The most accessible approach to networking involves tapping into your existing circles. Start by asking people you already know for introductions, reconnecting with alumni, touching base with former colleagues, volunteering, and joining professional organizations. These methods allow you to build your confidence and hone your approach before ever making a cold outreach. When networking, the key to success lies in making specific, concise requests and focusing on the person you’re engaging with. This approach not only shows respect for their time but also demonstrates your genuine interest in the interaction, making the connection more meaningful and likely to be fruitful.”

Career Transition & Personal Branding

“Embarking on a career pivot, while daunting, can be a rewarding process to finally find career fulfillment. To approach this methodically, start with a self-assessment to understand what it is you enjoy doing, not just what you’re good at. This foundation will guide you in researching various career options that align with your values.

Next, conduct a skill gap analysis to identify if you need additional qualifications for your new career path. Then you can focus on rebranding yourself to reflect your new career direction. This includes updating your resume, LinkedIn profile, and even in your conversations. Finally, develop a strategic plan for your transition including realistic goals, timelines, and considerations for potential setbacks.”

“Effectively communicating your brand during a career transition is all about clarity in your professional identity. It’s essential to concisely articulate your ‘why’ or purpose – the core reason that drives your professional endeavors. Along with this, clearly defining your mission, or how you put that mission into action is crucial. When you can explain why your mission matters, both to you and in a broader context, your brand narrative becomes cohesive and compelling.

For instance, consider a CIO I’m working with who aspires to transition into a CDO role. His passion lies in making the world a better place, and he has a strong commitment to uplifting his teams. For him, moving into a digital-focused role isn’t just a career shift; it’s an opportunity for transformative impact. His brand narrative, therefore, centers around this vision of change and the leadership qualities that enable it. This approach not only articulates his professional identity but also aligns his aspirations with his personal values, making his career transition meaningful and purpose driven.”

“Social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, have greatly simplified the process of personal branding, more so than ever before. They provide a platform for individuals to craft and share their story will billions of people. By carefully selecting the content you share, you empower others to understand and communicate your professional narrative as you intend it.

For example, I worked with a professional athlete transitioning into the tech industry. By simply posting his home lab projects on LinkedIn, he was able to effectively showcase his technical skills and passion for the field. He was accepted into the ASW Community Builders program because of it and landed multiple offers without ever having to apply for a role. Such is the power of social media during career transitions.”

“One of the most inspiring career pivot success stories I have witnessed is that of my mother. Her journey is a testament to the power of grit and self-determination. Without a college degree, working in a male-dominated industry, and the aging realities of her territory sales job in the shoe industry, she faced a significant challenge when she was laid off during COVID. Always having a deep love of horses, she made a bold move from Chicago to Scottsdale to be closer to a hub for Arabian horses while she figured out what would come next.

She began volunteering with various equestrian organizations and immersed herself in the community. During that time, she met a Broker who suggested her sales role and horse contacts would make for a great career in real estate. Embracing this new opportunity, she completed a three-month real estate course, passed the state exam, and closed over $2M in sales in her first year, far out making her commission in shoe sales. This career pivot was not just a change in industries; her story is a powerful illustration of how betting on oneself, despite uncertainties, can lead to extraordinary achievements and a fulfilling new career path.”

Overcoming Career Advancement Challenges

“A key strategy for increasing visibility for promotions within an organization is not only having a mentor but also securing a sponsor. While mentors are instrumental in skill development and providing guidance, sponsors play a more active role in your career advancement. A sponsor is someone typically in a position of influence who actively advocates for you, especially in your absence. They can open doors to new opportunities and endorse you for promotions or high-visibility projects. To cultivate a sponsorship relationship, demonstrate excellence in your current role, build relationships with senior leadership, communicate your career ambitions, and seek opportunities for visibility.” 

“Feelings of being undervalued in the workplace can stem from various factors, and it’s important to pinpoint the root cause. If you’re experiencing these feelings, start by identifying why. Is it due to a lack of recognition from leadership? Are you aware of a colleague with similar responsibilities earning a higher salary? Understanding the source of these feelings can guide your next steps.

Once you’ve identified the reason, you can make a more informed decision. If it’s primarily about financial compensation, then preparing to negotiate a higher salary might be the right course of action. This involves gathering data on market salaries for your role and highlighting your contributions to the organization. However, if the issue is deeper, such as misalignment with the company’s values, it may be time to consider seeking a role elsewhere that offers the respect and professional growth you deserve. In either case, taking the time to assess your situation thoroughly will help you determine the most effective way to address your feelings and take steps towards a more fulfilling career.” 

“As an ambitious professional working with equally driven clients, my approach to career stagnation is straightforward yet strategic. The simplest solution might seem to be landing a promotion at a new company, but true career growth requires a more personal and proactive approach. After all, no one is more invested in your career than you are. For those determined to break free from stagnation, it’s crucial to start with self-reflection. Understand where you are, where you want to be, and what’s holding you back. Seeking feedback is also vital – it provides external perspectives on your strengths, areas for growth, and corporate politics you might not be aware of.

Developing new skills through side projects can be particularly effective. It not only enhances your skill set but also demonstrates your initiative and capacity for self-driven growth. Additionally, fostering positive relationships with colleagues and superiors is vital. These relationships can provide support, mentorship, and sponsorship opportunities. Ultimately, overcoming career stagnation isn’t about waiting for opportunities to come to you. It’s about actively creating them.”

“Adversity is an inevitable part of life and career journeys are no exception. When faced with setbacks, we essentially have two choices: let these challenges crush us or use them as a springboard to achieve our goals. It’s important to acknowledge that setbacks are tough and embrace grit. To navigate setbacks, I recommend a three-pronged approach:

  1. Prioritize self-care and mental well-being.
  2. Develop a strong support system.
  3. Stay flexible and embrace change. Setbacks can be opportunities for growth and learning if we let them.”

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