How Dieting and Job Searching Are Similar

In this issue of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Pump Club newsletter, there’s a section titled “The Anti-Diet Diet Plan”. What it reports is there’s no magic bullet, no one-size-fits-all diet.

Here’s the thing: all successful diets have one thing in common: caloric restriction. Apparently it doesn’t matter what plan you follow (keeping away from highly-processed foods, added sugars, and refined grains, per the article). As long as caloric restriction is in play, the diet will give the same results.

It made me think of job hunting. Job seekers often tell me that they’re getting conflicting information from different sources.

I think job searching could be compared to dieting. Just like every body is different and one person’s keto doesn’t work for a high-carb fan, in job hunting you get to pick your path, experimenting and course-correcting along the way.

Since everyone’s path to finding a job is slightly different, influenced by the marketplace, their background, their network (or lack thereof) and what they’re seeking, there is no magic bullet, no ‘do this and you’ll find a job, guaranteed’.

The internet is full of well-meaning advice. Like: how many pages are appropriate in a resume. What’s the “right” way to network? Do I apply directly via the company’s website? Not apply and find someone inside to champion my candidacy? What about fractional work? Or work that is one-off or not the right fit? Accept it for the salary + benefits and keep looking? Hold the line and keep searching?

These  job hunting tips, tricks and tools have probably had beneficial results for their advocates. I used to be much more formulaic as I coached job seekers and those whose resumes and LinkedIn profiles needed tuning. But with today’s rapidly-shifting marketplace and innovations like AI, it’s impossible to offer a universal formula.

Like caloric restriction, the common theme in a job search is persistence and experimentation.

You could compare dieting’s themes of caloric restriction and staying away from added sugars, refined grains and ultra-processed foods to job hunting’s snuggling up with discomfort, staying away from unhelpful emotions like self-judgment + fear, and wondering when your efforts will ever yield results.

Speaking of results: if something is working for you (a five-page resume instead of a three-pager, for instance), keep it! Results speak louder than advice. You get to pick your path, no matter what advice you hear or see on the Internet.

Isn’t that liberating? Confusing and possibly overwhelming, yes, but also freeing.

So get on out there and try different things. Be curious, be willing to fall on your face, be told ‘no’ or ignored. It’s not personal.

Here’s the thing: you don’t know where that golden thread that leads to your next job is going to come from, so persist. On a day of blind alleys and bridges going nowhere, remember: the law of odds is in your favor (they teach this in sales). For every ‘no’, your ‘yes’ is one step closer.

Keep calm and carry on. You’ve got this.


Are you struggling with your job search & need an experienced recruiter’s perspective? Now offering one-hour coaching to those who want a magic bullet of their own. Use it for resume-turning, interview coaching, job search strategy-building, or mindset. Click here to book yours.

Copyright Katherine Turpin 2024. All Rights Reserved.




Writing prompts for Tech Leaders | Creating Value, Visibility, and Authority on LinkedIn

Everyone likes a good story, whether it’s about a personal adventure, a crisis averted, or a how-to article. Well-written articles not only entertain, but they offer ideas and insights for others to learn from.

My favorite LinkedIn posts happen to be just such articles: short, engaging, real-world bursts of information that offer a new perspective, a glimpse of someone else’s world. Call me a tiny bit voyeuristic, but if the success of reality TV is any indication, I’m not alone.

For tech leaders who want to become more visible on LinkedIn but who are stumped about where to begin, here are some writing prompts.


Begin with your specific area of expertise. Is it software development leadership? Corporate technology and systems? Connecting a global technology organization infrastructure? Defending an organization’s perimeter? Keep to this playing field, for consistency’s sake.

Think of a specific episode within this playing field. Without breaking confidentiality, tell your story.

If you’re not used to writing, it will feel sludgy at first. Use ChatGPT or another AI tool to get started, then customize to make it your own.

Here are some writing prompts:

  • How we transformed our technology organization from waterfall to Agile.
  • How we built a pipeline of new grads into a pool of promotable engineers.
  • How we went about choosing (pick one) a particular provider, platform technology, etc.
  • Lessons learned in implementing xyz.
  • How we groom top individual contributors for leadership roles.
  • How we partnered with Talent Acquisition to ramp up our hiring (and get the right candidates)
  • How we learned to communicate effectively with our business partners.
  • What it’s like to lead a team of engineers in a (name your space) environment: pros/cons/what works well.
  • We learned from our mistakes in choosing the wrong (insert language, ERP system, tool, unnamed vendor here)

You get the picture. And I bet you have lots more.

Here are some guidelines:

Keep it fairly high level (i.e. not too long or detailed). It should contain some color (it’s okay to share missteps), and offer some insights.

Keep it relevant to the qualities of your own professional brand. You should highlight your domain of knowledge, industry, leadership style and/or values.

What you’ll find is that by telling (and humanizing) stories, connecting with others will become easier. When you write and post regularly, it gets easier. We get to know you a little. You also become more visible, and who knows where that will lead: speaking engagements? Collaboration? A new role?

When I started writing blog posts and posting on LinkedIn, it was terrifying. I felt like I was onstage, no clothes. Out there for the world to see (and make fun of). In hindsight, it’s pretty funny. It gets easier, so I’m glad I kept going. We all have stories and insights  – why not share yours with us (and reap some benefits in the process)?


Using my recruiting experience, I help technology leaders better-define their professional brand and navigate their job search. Want to know more about my signature Professional Branding Package? Click here.

Not sure yet, or you’ve got questions?  Use this link to schedule a FREE, no-strings intro call.


Copyright Katherine Turpin 2024. All rights reserved.

Unlocking Opportunities: When a Cover Letter Makes a Difference in Your Job Application

What’s your opinion on cover letters?

“I never send one (they’re old-fashioned).”
“A cover letter should hammer home why I’m a perfect fit for the job.”
“I think a cover letter should be included with each job application.”
“I honestly don’t know.”

Right?

Back when resumes were snail-mailed, a cover letter was an integral part of the application process, a friendly ‘How do you do?’ before the resume-reading began. Today, cover letters aren’t always needed or expected.

So when SHOULD a cover letter be used? Here are some situations where, as a recruiter, I would expect one.


When you’re applying for a job that’s a slight pivot from your current one, use a cover letter to address the reason why your skills/experience are a fit (pick 2-3 skills found in the job description and briefly talk about yours).

When you’re applying to a lower-level role. Again, keep it short, acknowledging that you’re applying to a less-weighty role and focusing on the value you can add while dialing your work responsibilities back, i.e. “I’m ready to move from a leading role to a supporting role.”

When you’re applying to an onsite position from a different location
, use a cover letter to briefly address what brings you to our fair city (i.e. to be near family, partner got a job here, etc.). In my experience, hiring managers are wary of bringing someone to a new city JUST for a job. Also, timing is helpful (how soon do you expect to be local?);

And anytime the company whose job you’re applying to ASKS for a cover letter.

OK – that’s the when; here are some tips on what to say:

Start by reviewing the job description; select 1-2 key requirements (don’t just match years of experience ~ talk about similar industry, company size, growth trajectory or how you’ve successfully conquered issues your target company may be facing).

Craft a couple of sentences about your experience as it relates to those requirements (ie. “with experience creating scalable processes within a fast-growing company, my background should be a good fit.”

Invite: “I’d welcome the opportunity for a conversation / interview / discussion”.

Add a little flattery, if it’s sincere and well-researched: “I’ve heard great things about <company / company’s transformation / thought leadership in xyz / other buzz>.”

To whom should your cover letter be addressed?

Do a quick LinkedIn search on the company you’re applying to. Can you figure out who the hiring manager is? If so, address it to that person and say something like, “Based on my research, it seems likely that this position reports to you.”

If you can’t figure out who the hiring manager is, see if the job is posted on LinkedIn. If it is, who’s the recruiter listed as the point of contact? Use that name. If there isn’t a name, address your cover letter to ‘Talent Acquisition’ or ‘<company name> Recruiter’ or ‘Hiring Team’.

Now put it all together:

Want your cover letter to be read? Don’t just regurgitate everything that’s on your resume.

Keep it short, relevant and curious/confident (vs. a ‘pick me! I’m the perfect fit!’ feel). It’s much appreciated when you, the applicant, help us connect the dots.

There are no guarantees that your cover letter WILL get read, but when you’ve kept it tidy, friendly and trim, it’s much more likely that it will be. Go on, you’ve got this.

Using my recruiting experience, I help technology leaders better-define their professional brand and navigate their job search. Want to know more about my signature Professional Branding Package? Click here.

Not sure yet, or you’ve got questions? Use this link to schedule a FREE, no-strings intro call.


Copyright Katherine Turpin 2024. All rights reserved.

How to DIY Your Professional Brand | Part 2 of 2

If you followed the action steps in Part 1 of this series, you’ll have reviewed and prioritized your accomplishments, taken a look at how others view you and your skills, and made notes on what you like to do. This is the foundation of crafting your professional brand.

This self-awareness functions like a roadmap. It’ll help you better describe yourself, and more fluidly answer questions about your expertise and preferences (get used to talking about yourself – it’s not bragging!). It will give a framework against which to measure potential jobs, and it will help others grasp your unique combination of skills, personality, and experience.

Let’s continue! All you really need is one crisp sentence, each world carefully selected. Having this juicy line in your back pocket will arm you for any situation, whether it’s professional (as in interview), or informal (Little League game or happy hour). Imagine the relief you’ll feel!

There’s a formula for this snappy mini-manifesto, thanks to copywriting genius, Nikki Elledge Brown. Here it is:

“ I help *audience* + “benefit* + *feature*. ”

Simple, yes? You define your audience (ideal job / company), tell them the benefit they get by hiring you, and finish with a feature offering a soundbite of how you’ll help them get that benefit.

Naturally, your professional brand will evolve over time. But this little powerhouse will work great to get you started. Which would you rather hear: a well-crafted, authentic brand statement? Or the standard, “I’m a VP at XYZ Bank”? I know which one I’d pick..

Grab a notepad and let’s dive in:

1. Who’s your audience (the WHO)?

List the kinds of companies you’d most like to work with. For me, it would be startups or early stage, growing companies, mature companies that are retooling, tech companies, entrepreneurial and innovative companies.
What are yours? In your notes, write down your potential employer or customer.

2. What benefit do you bring (the WHY)?

Why do people love working with you? What special sauce do you bring? Unparalleled uptime? Elegant code? Someone who can drop in anywhere and turn a project around?

Be accurate, clear, and juicy. Aspirational, even. This should be something that prospective employers would drool over. In your notes, list the big, headlining benefits companies get when they work with you. Be sure to use language they can identify with and get excited about.

3. What feature do you bring (the HOW)?

How do you actually achieve those results? By elegantly using the array of skills you’ve gathered? By combining your entrepreneurial experience with TONS of customer-facing problem solving? By teaching them to be smarter about their product management strategy?

It’s super important to be clear here. There are many ways to achieve these delicious goals. The ‘feature’ section tells us how YOU do it.

In your notes, make a list of what you do to achieve these benefits. Focus on what sets you apart from others who offer a similar benefit.

4. Put it all together

From your three lists, start piecing phrases together. See what you like, what resonates. Say it out loud, imagining yourself using it at a job interview or a happy hour. 

Does it make sense?
Do you feel comfortable using it?
Does it look good in writing? Is it too long, too short, too blah?
Adjust, edit, trim, swap out words or phrases until you have something that feels authentic.

6. Celebrate!
You’ve just given yourself a huge gift – a clear, authentic and memorable mini-elevator pitch! From here on out, you have a multitool to help you in social or professional settings, in job searches, in going for that promotion and in interviews. 

With your shiny new professional brand statement, you’ll now be guided as you craft a more-meaningful resume and LinkedIn profile. You have a launchpad for that uncomfortable question, “tell me about yourself” that you can use anywhere. Well done!



Still feeling like you need a trusted guide? I help technology leaders define and articulate their value, creating ease as they seek opportunities for professional advancement.

Want to talk first? Use this link to schedule a FREE, no-strings intro call.

Copyright Katherine Turpin 2024. All Rights Reserved.