Plan, Prep, and Focus Your Job Search

Noto Group job search series with Merryn Roberts-Huntley

Merryn Roberts-Huntley is a job search expert who has helped thousands of people learn the skills they need to land their dream jobs. Through her company, Made to Hire, which includes her book, online training courses, and workshops, Merryn provides job seekers with tools and resources to refine their personal brands and market themselves. Merryn joins Roy Notowitz, President of Noto Group Executive Search to discuss her insight into how job seekers can successfully navigate this challenging time.

Roy Notowitz: This is the Noto Group Job Search Strategy podcast. I’m Roy Notowitz, Founder and President of Noto Group Executive Search. As a retained search firm, we’re hired by client companies to help them fill key leadership roles with outstanding candidates. This means that we often hear about the challenges and frustration that many candidates face when trying to land a great job in a competitive market.

We’re recording this podcast series at a time when millions of newly minted job seekers are faced with the challenge of landing a job in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some industry sectors and companies are still hiring for key roles, but many opportunities have disappeared. In this series, job search experts share how job seekers can effectively market themselves in a competitive field. I hope that the tips you hear will help you find job search success a little bit faster and with greater confidence that you’re on the right path. 

My guest, Merryn Roberts-Huntley, has 20 years of experience marketing global brands and has helped thousands of people learn the skills they need to land their dream job. Merryn teaches marketing and professional development at the University of Oregon and is the author of a book and online job strategy training series called Made to Hire

Thanks for joining us today. 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: Thanks for having me, Roy 

Roy Notowitz: Merryn, can you start by sharing a bit more about your path to becoming a job search expert?

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: I would love to. Yes. As you mentioned, I’ve worked in business for a long time and I started doing career coaching about 10 years ago, but it wasn’t until about five years ago, when I was teaching at the University of Oregon, that I realized I needed to share my career search and career strategy methods more broadly.

What ended up happening was my students who were taking a marketing strategy course said to me, Merryn, you keep infusing this information about career success and job search and marketing yourself. And we want more of that. We want to learn all about how to market products and services, but the thing is that you keep teaching us about marketing ourselves is just blowing our minds.

And so it was that insight five years ago that led me to create my company Made to Hire and ultimately led me to release my series of online courses and my book. 

Roy Notowitz: I remember when we first met and you were telling me about that, and it was such an interesting perspective that you have coming into the job search coaching world. 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: And I convinced you to be in my book.

Roy Notowitz: I know that a lot of job seekers coming into this time will feel a sense of urgency to get their resume out there. What are your recommendations for how somebody should approach the preparation phase of their job search to make sure that they get the best results?

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: Yeah, it’s a great question, Roy. And you know, obviously this is a really tough time, so I want to acknowledge that, you know, I know you and I feel the struggle that a lot of people are going through with job searching right now.

But you know, the first big thing is figure out what your destination is, where are you trying to go? What’s your goal with your job search and not just kind of going at it haphazardly. You know, another big thing is actually establishing a personal brand for yourself. A big part of that is, is learning how to tell your own story and learning how to create and use tools that represent you really well in the job search and interview process.

Roy Notowitz: Yeah. I always say that you can’t arrive at a destination without an address. A lot of times people want to leave their options open or they might have a broad range of experience and it’s hard to get really focused in on that destination or that address. 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: I agree. I mean, you know, and you think about even in a typical market, right, where there are more jobs than we see right now, you have to be darn close to the perfect applicant to land that position. So if you’re throwing out bait in all sorts of different directions, how truly strong of a candidate are you going to be in that many directions you really need to focus. 

Roy Notowitz: LinkedIn obviously has become a much more successful tool for people to network, and so therefore the requirements on jobs have gotten very steep in terms of the selectivity and what companies are looking for in each and every role.

And there’s also more candidates. Even if you’re a passive seeker, you can find those opportunities more readily and people are networking directly with their contacts and that generates more people in the pool. So companies can be a lot more selective. 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: Oh, for sure. And look at the world that we’re living in right now. Right? So we have people taking different approaches to the job search. We have some people who are saying, “I’m just going to wait. There’s not much out there.” Right? And then we have other people who are saying, “This is the time to really button up myself, my story, my professionalism, all of that.” And it’s those people who are going to come out ahead.

Roy Notowitz: But I think, far too often, people are judged by their profiles or their resumes or the companies that they’ve worked at. And it’s been my experience that there can be great talent at mediocre brands and mediocre talent at great brands. Unless you actually take the time to get to know somebody and their strengths and weaknesses and how they communicate, how they think, how they make decisions, how they lead, their values, it’s really hard to know from just looking at a profile. 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: A job seeker has to get really good at bringing those things to the forefront and not making a recruiter or a hiring manager have to do too much work to figure those things out. 

Roy Notowitz: Exactly. So that’s the point of this podcast. It’s uber competitive.

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: I think you and I are on the same page, Roy, and we come at this from different, but very complementary angles with our expertise, with what we do for a living. And at the end of the day, you and I both know that you have to stand out if you want the offer. And there are things that you can do. There are ways that you can handle yourself, ways that you can come to the table or the video call that are going to make you stand out. And I think that’s what you and I want to talk about here today. 

Roy Notowitz: Yeah. And it’s really difficult from just being in my position and the position that my recruiters are in. Often we have great candidates, but there’s only one job. And the decision is made with, you know, one tiny difference, right? Or a gut feeling that somebody might have. And it’s not really anything that they’ve done wrong. 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: Well, I would argue it might be something that they’ve done wrong. You know, and that’s why people hire me. Right? They either read my book or take my course, or they hire me and work with me one on one and we figure out, if they’ve been struggling, we figure out what it is they’ve been doing wrong.

Roy Notowitz: Well, let’s dive into that a little bit. In your book, you emphasize the importance of establishing that personal brand as a foundation for the job search. So can you provide some context as to what those elements are? What matters most when doing that? 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: Yeah. You know, it’s interesting how personal branding is a new concept for a lot of people.

They haven’t really thought about this idea of getting very clear on who they are, on what they stand for. And that’s really what personal branding is all about and then putting forth the best version of yourself. So being very clear on what your strengths are, using tools to represent yourself, on telling your story in a very effective and concise way.

Personal branding really is who you are and showing that in the best possible light. 

Roy Notowitz: Because everyone is connected within their industry, their personal brand, isn’t that also defined by their reputation, or more specifically their track record of success or failure or mediocrity or whatever the case might be?

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: I think that’s a great point, Roy. I think that’s a big part of it, but that’s not going to get them the job. They’re still going to have to come to an application, come to an interview and really knock the person’s socks off. I mean, and I have a lot of clients who, upon first look, you look at the resume and, “Wow.” They have 10, 20, or more years of experience, but they’re just not packaging themselves in a way that’s truly showing that. I agree with you that reputation’s a big part of it, but I’m going to say it’s half. 

Roy Notowitz: Right. It’s not really always the most validated or accurate way to get information secondhand, through people who may have worked with somebody and every job or context is a little bit different as well. So somebody who maybe wasn’t successful one place can be successful in a different situation. You know, on the flip side, for people who are hiring, I would say to explore candidates more deeply than when they hear information that might be concerning versus just throwing them out. 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: Right. I think that’s fair. I think, you know, certainly if you’re going to ask for feedback on a candidate, ask more than one person, 

Roy Notowitz: What is the methodology that you use to help somebody tap into their personal brand in an authentic way?

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: I’m glad you asked that. I have an exercise in my book that takes you through actually exploring your background, right? So what were your formative years all about? Were you a kid who was just diehard into sports or into being creative or, you know, what, what’s your background? And then I suggest they look at, if you had to think about yourself in terms of the things you’ve accomplished in your life, what are you known for?

And try to do this exploration in a way where you’re not being too humble, right? Because you are going to have to talk about yourself. And then the next thing is I always encourage people to think about words that they want to have define them. And then also, when you look at yourself, thinking about the areas where you have expertise, so that could be industries, that could be functional areas.

So I really, in my book, I go through this journey with the reader around helping them make sense of themselves in a marketing way, because that is what we’re doing in the job search. Right? We are marketing ourselves. 

Roy Notowitz: Yeah, we’re definitely a product of our experience. So I think it’s good to really dig deep. And also, I think it’s important to maybe validate or get feedback from people, maybe, that you’ve worked with too, because you know, it’s easy sometimes to think maybe you have a strength in an area and it actually… not so much. So, you know? Or it’s easy just to list stuff off. And I think what you’re trying to get at is, you know that authenticity, what’s your real superpower? What’s the thing that, that you do repeatedly and successfully in any setting? 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: I also love what you’re saying too, which is really looking at feedback as a gift. And as you are defining your personal brand and thinking about the words that you’re going to use, you know, near the top of your LinkedIn profile or near the top of your resume, can you really stand behind those words? Are those things that people who have worked with you are going to vouch for? So I like how you’re thinking about it too, which is, you know, making sure that you ask people what your strengths are, how you’re seen, you know, maybe where opportunities are for you.

Roy Notowitz: One thing that I’ve talked to people about when they’re either preparing to write their resume or thinking about preparing for interviews- and we’ll talk about interviews later- is to create what I would call a FAB sheet. That is a feature accomplishment and benefit. So the feature part is like, what are the three to five strengths?

The things that are truly strengths and then the accomplishment is really what are the stories? You know, we talk about telling stories, we’ll get to that, but what are the stories that support that example or that feature? It’s good to have maybe two stories per strength. How does that tie back to maybe the types of opportunities or your destination you’re targeting?

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: I love that, Roy. Not only does that help you get real with yourself about your brand, but that actually really helps you set yourself up for interviewing. 

Roy Notowitz: Yeah. And I think that’s a good way to get started. Because it’s hard to just spew bullet points on a resume and things like that. Right? Especially if you’re writing it about yourself and those are examples that obviously people can dig into when they’re doing their storytelling later.

So let’s talk about that. You have a section in your book called the best way to tell your story. Can you elaborate on this? And what advice do you offer on how to do this well? 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: It is, in my opinion, one of the most important skills that you need to have. You need to tell your story well, and I see there being four keys to a great story.

I think the first thing is you need to be authentic and memorable, right? So that’s what we’ve been getting at here. Be true to yourself, but also tell your story in a way that helps you to stand out. Right? So what is it that’s unique about you that’s going to make someone want to know more? 

And then the second thing is actually have compelling content in your story. So, you know, when you think about your story or I think about my story, there are, gosh, a hundred different ways that we could tell it, but we actually need to tell it in a specific way, based on who we’re telling it to and what our objective is in that conversation. 

And so my third key to telling a great story is know your audience. Know who they are, the perspective they’re coming from. You know, I’m going to tell a story in a very different way if I’m talking to, you know, a journalist at Fast Company versus if I’m talking to one of my students, let’s say.

And then the final thing that I will suggest people think about with how they tell their story is the length. And this is a really important one. So you should have a great, super quick story. Like a ten second story. You should have a really good story that kind of caps at about a minute. And then you should have a story that’s a few minutes long. 

Roy Notowitz: I agree. When you talk about the length, I’ve gotten on calls with candidates or people who I asked them to tell me about themselves or take me through their career briefly and half an hour later, they’re still talking.

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: Oh no!

Roy Notowitz: And so I think that’s one thing is to think about that. 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: I tell people, be prepared that the hiring manager is probably going to make the decision in those first five minutes. And so much of that is based on how you tell your story and if they want to learn more. 

Roy Notowitz: Exactly. And I’ve also heard you give the advice about the balance of personal and professional and making sure, like you said, that there’s elements that people can understand about you personally, that would help give them some context, but also the balance of professional and accomplishments and how you communicate is a big piece of this. And you talk about the idea of that first five minutes being a reflection of how they’re going to represent the company or how you might represent their company. 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: Oh, for sure. I’m a huge believer in that. Like what you just said, Roy, if you can’t tell a succinct story about yourself in the first few minutes of an interview, and if you’re rambling on for 15 minutes, the interviewer is sitting there going, “I cannot put you in front of a client, a customer. I, I have no idea where that would end if I did that.”

Right? I think you and I both really agree on the idea that the job search process and the interview experience should be very intentional, very strategic. It’s not this kind of, you know, random throw some things out there and see what happens. 

Roy Notowitz: Right. Let’s talk about that first five minutes briefly. What makes that so important? 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: Well, it’s really positioning you as someone who either is, or isn’t a great fit for this role, for this company, for this team. Right? And so if you learn how to tell your story in a way that seems intentional as if your story is leading you to this role, and if you show an alignment with the values of the company in how you tell your story and in what you’re passionate about, the interviewer in their mind is nodding their head going, “I can see you here.”

Right? And then the rest of the interview becomes a validation of that initial gut feeling of, “I can see this.” You know, if, if you’re focused on talking about parts of your story that are irrelevant to this job, they’re going to check out. That’s the reality. So that’s why it’s so important. 

Roy Notowitz: Is that true within networking as well?

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: I think with a networking contact, there’s not a 30 minute interview scheduled, right? It’s a quick opportunity to make a great impression. So it’s a tighter window within which it needs to make sense to that person, why they would want to build. More of a connection with you. What do you think? Do you agree?

Roy Notowitz: Yeah, no, I agree. I think a lot of times candidates will say things like, “I want to pick your brain.” I’m really happy to help, but I really appreciate it when people actually think about what they want to learn, how I can specifically maybe help them move their process forward, versus just generic questions like that.

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: Can we take even a step back from that? Right? Because I know how busy you are. And, you know, if somebody emails you and says, “Hey Roy, can we meet for lunch?” It’s not possible. That would be, you know, a big chunk of your day. 

Roy Notowitz: I don’t even have time for lunch. 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: Exactly. Right? And so I always say to my students and clients, if you have somebody who you’re trying to network with the goal is to try to get them on the phone for about five minutes. That would be a win because you know what, if someone asks me for five minutes, I can swing that. Whether I’m on my way to a meeting or between meetings or whatnot, but I don’t have time in my day for lunch or coffee.

Roy Notowitz: I agree. And I would say even 15 minutes is fine. Sometimes it’s just easier if somebody would just pick up the phone and call versus trying to schedule. Right? And, or Calendly, which is a great app or a tool that I use to make it really easy for me to see somebody’s schedule and schedule myself on there.

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: Yeah, I love that idea. So what about if they start with asking for a 5 or 10 minute call and then maybe hopefully it goes longer? 

Roy Notowitz: Yeah.

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: I get nervous about when people over ask and they scare the person off, but then you said something earlier too, which I totally agree with, which is, if someone asks me for time, they need to come prepared with questions.

Roy Notowitz: Yeah. And I would say not a lot, just one or two, and I think it’s okay also to be honest about the purpose of the call, like I think sometimes candidates or people who are networking, think that they have to be creative, or… I think it’s fine to just say, “Hey, listen, I’m job searching, or I’m expanding my network. And I’m interested in learning more about you.” I think that’s a better way to approach it than trying to get…

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: Trying to backdoor it or make it about something else, right? Yeah. I agree with you. If you’re polite and professional and are honest with somebody about, you know, “I’m transitioning from this to that, or I’m looking to learn more about this. I noticed your background. It’s really impressive in this area. Can I steal five minutes from you over the phone at some point this week? I’d love to just work around your schedule if there’s any point where you might be able to fit me in.” I always say, try to make it difficult for them to say no, try to remove the barriers that, you know, in the person’s mind would be telling them I don’t have time for this.

Roy Notowitz: Yeah. You know, in order for the relationship or the conversation to continue later, I think you have to have the perspective of how can you invest in that person’s success? How can you understand or be of service to that person or company in the long run? And that might not always be necessarily clear starting out.

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: I think it’s a great point though, right? Which is, you know, at least do your research. If you’re going to ask someone for time, even if it’s only 5 or 10 minutes, do your research on the person, have read their LinkedIn profile, understand their story so that you come with interesting questions. And when you send them a thank you email for their time, perhaps you include an article that is something that you think they might find interesting. That’s news that that is current. 

Roy Notowitz: Absolutely. So once you know what you’re really going for and what companies you’re interested in geographically or size or by type, or what stage they are or what scope of role they might have that’s appropriate for you, then you can develop a strategy and organize yourself so that you can plan your day, your week, your month.

Can you talk a little bit about how you would recommend people organize their efforts and track information and things like that? 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: I am so glad you’re bringing this up, Roy, because I know this can feel overwhelming to people. “How do I go about this? How do I keep track of it?” There’s so much to potentially do.

Right? And one of the things that I always suggest to my students and clients is to make a target list. And I actually haven’t found an app or a program that works better than using just Microsoft Excel. It’s just, it’s so simple, you know, you have columns and on the far left hand column, the header is “Company,” right?

And maybe there are only two companies you’re interested in. Maybe there are 10, right? So jot them all down there and then leave enough space because you may have several inputs for each company. Right? Because the next column is the title of the person who you would ideally report into. Is that a VP, a director?

What level is that person in? And what area are they in? And then. go onto LinkedIn. And in that third column, actually put the name of the person who you would ideally want to report into. And then the next column would be looking at, do I have any connections that could connect me directly to that person?

And then the final column, for me, would be what’s the status, right? And you know, that becomes your homework is filling out and executing on, making progress on that Excel spreadsheet. So whenever I talk to somebody who I’m coaching, I say, let’s look at your Excel and let’s see how it’s going. I think how well you are progressing through building those relationships is directly tied to the success you’ll have.

So if you tell me, “Hey, Merryn, and I’ve got a great Excel spreadsheet, there are 30 people on it.” And then I say, “How’s it going, Roy?” And you say, “Haven’t actually connected with any of them yet.”

Roy Notowitz: Exactly, I think if networking or promoting yourself is not a naturally comfortable thing, I could see how you can focus all your time on research and doing more passive outreach then than really engaging those contacts 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: Do you view the target list in the same way as me? 

Roy Notowitz: Not exactly. There’s two things. I want to talk about volume and I want to talk about who. So, I also think it’s helpful not only to put the person you might want to report to, but also to look at the entire leadership team, maybe somebody in HR. Also think about recruiters and then people who are actually in the jobs you want as well, because what’s the first thing that they do when they change jobs? Well, they change their LinkedIn profile. If you’re tracking on those people, you’ll be able to see maybe that position just became vacated or maybe the company hasn’t even posted the job yet.

That’s one way to maybe learn about a job before it actually becomes available. 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: That’s really good. And I 100% agree with you on the comment about building relationships with people in HR. Get on their radar too, because we know that they’re going to be the front line of, of screening. 

Roy Notowitz: When we’re actually recruiting, I always tell my recruiters that activity produces luck. And if we looked at the average number of people that we connect with, or that we cultivate relationships with to fill a job, the numbers like 345. So in order for us to create a competitive funnel of candidates, let’s call it 3 to 5 really great candidates, we have to reach out to 345 potential leads, contacts, people to network with. 

They might be parallel to that position or a senior to that, but we’re cultivating a network within that ecosystem to generate those, call it 20 people that we screen, 25 people that we screen to get to the 5 that we recommend.

I think the same is true for job seekers. They need to think about the idea that activity produces luck. So the volume eventually will result in success. So I’m not saying to shotgun, because that’s definitely not what we want. Quality is better than quantity, but there is an element of both. I think you need to make sure that you are sufficiently focused on the volume as well as quality.

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: I think that’s a great point, right? You’re basically saying you need to have enough irons in the fire, you know, so that something’s always burning, but then be very mindful of how you’re handling each of those irons in the fire. Right? Because one of the things I feel really strongly about is if all you do is submit your resume online, that’s it?

You might as well have put it in the trash because at least one person is doing way more than that to impress the hiring manager, to get on the radar of the recruiter. Right? So I think you’re right. It’s both of those things. It’s volume and it’s approach. 

Roy Notowitz: One other thing I want to mention about that list, and I love that you have in the column around who do I know that knows this person, or that might be connected, I think 70% of the effort should be around focusing on people that you know, and getting warm introductions. I don’t know if that’s the right percentage or not, but more energy there. And then 25% can be generating connections, maybe without an introduction. 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: I agree with you. I think it’s a great point. Start where you know, right, Roy? If I’m looking for a position and you know somebody connected to it, that, that is a small ask of me to ask you to send a short, polite note introducing me to that person. And that’s going to go a long way if you actually have a good relationship with that person. Versus me just cold calling or cold emailing them.

Roy Notowitz: So I think we should cover resumes and LinkedIn profiles a little bit. What’s the goal around each. And what’s your advice for getting the best results? 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: You know, I view LinkedIn and your profile on there as your virtual career billboard, you know, and for me, the biggest keys with your profile really are you got to do a couple of things right.

You’ve got to make a great first impression with what I see before I even scroll. So that’s your headshot, that’s the image behind your headshot, which most people just have blank with that default blue and white LinkedIn graphic. And then there’s that headline on LinkedIn that you get to write about yourself and yeah, you could just write your current job title or your last job title, but you’ve got actually 120 spaces there to write more than just that. Right? 

So you could write your job title, you could write, “Experienced Project Manager, Motivator.” whatever words that you can come up with that’ll help sell you. And then below that is that about section, which I think on LinkedIn is so incredibly important to write that well if you want somebody to actually, you know, scroll down. 

A couple other things about LinkedIn that I think are awesome and unique are the fact that you can have recommendations written about you on there, you can link to your resume on your profile. You can link to videos. You can link to examples of work all there on your profile, right? Versus your resume, which is a more static document. You can have endorsements of yourself on there.

And when you look at a profile, one of the first things you also see is how many connections someone has. And so if you have a hundred connections or if you have the little 500 plus signal, that shows a very different strength of network. 

Roy Notowitz: Yeah. I mean, I always look at who the person’s connected to, how many I share in common and then who those people are.

I think that’s a really interesting thing because it gives me a little insight into the quality of their network and relationships as well. What’s great about LinkedIn and what’s different than the resume is that there’s more information there. It’s a really powerful tool. And I think the other thing that’s really interesting is that when you do reach out to people, you can have the setting to where your profile shows up and people can see that you viewed their profile.

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: I don’t know if you remember, but that’s how we met. 

Roy Notowitz: Oh, is it? 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: I looked at your LinkedIn profile and then you sent me a note and you said, “Hey, who are you? We need to know each other. We’re in the same world, in the same city.” And the rest is history. And then I talked you into being in my book and here we on your podcast.

Roy Notowitz: That is the perfect example. That is exactly how it happens. So it’s basically like being able to throw your resume in front of somebody anytime you want. 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: I remember you saying, you know, that’s one of your best pieces of advice for job seekers is go look at recruiters’ profiles, try to get their attention. 

Roy Notowitz: I don’t know that everyone does this, but I actually do reach out to people and spend time getting to know them because that’s my job. Right? I want to know what’s going on. That’s funny that you remembered that. And I totally remember that now. I’m glad I did that. Thank you. 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: It worked out really well for us. You also asked me about resumes and how a resume can differ from a LinkedIn profile. And I think we touched on it a little bit. But I also want to make the point that I view it as your one page journey that you craft specifically for the job you’re applying for. This isn’t just a one size fits all resume. You curate it to tell a very intentional story. 

At the top of your resume, you need to have a summary statement, one sentence that describes you. So that could be, you know, where your expertise lies, how many years of experience you have. And then a second sentence that talks about what you’re looking for. Don’t make the recruiter have to try to figure you out. Make it really clear. 

Roy Notowitz: Lose all the flowery words, like “inspirational leader,” and just try to be as factual as possible and…

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: Get to the point too, right? So the number of resumes, because I do a lot of resume work, and the number of resumes I look at that have this huge section at the top with all these fluffy adjectives. Delete it, it’s not serving you. 

Roy Notowitz: I think recruiters, they might only look at it for five to eight seconds. So I’m trying to figure out what slot does this person fit into? Trying to understand what is their level of experience? What’s the scope of responsibility? What is it that they are looking for? 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: And it’s not a biography. It is specifically curated to highlight your experience that is most relevant to the job that you’re applying for. So it’s okay to leave some things out. 

Roy Notowitz: Yeah. Just to kind of contradict your one page, I think two pages is okay. If you have more than 10 years experience. On the bullet points underneath those chronological resumes, I would think about each job as, what is it that you want to highlight about this job and what is it that’s different or additive to the one before? Versus just repeating the same things, making sure that you’re focused on achievements and quantifiable or qualitative type of information. After each bullet point, ask yourself, “So what, why does this matter? What’s important about this?” Making sure that it communicates at the right level and it ties up to the bigger picture and the strategy I think is really important as well. And of course, absolutely no spelling errors whatsoever. 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: No spelling errors. Ooh. And Roy, one more. Don’t just call it “Resume.” 

Roy Notowitz: Put your name on it, yeah. 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: And the other thing that I see people do that I just think is wacky is on their resume, they put a name that is not the name they want to be called. Be a human, right? So if you know, if people call you Bob Jackson, that’s your name. Right? So if they’re going to run a background check on you, you can clarify that your, your legal name is Robert Jackson III.

Roy Notowitz: Right. Generally speaking, just use an economy of words and just really try to be as efficient as possible. A lot of times I’m helping candidates, like when I’m looking at their resume, merge bullet points, you know, cutting words out, getting rid of widows, you know, where it goes down to the extra line.

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: Well, and, and also be creative with your spacing. Right? So put the cursor in, and even though your font for your resume is, let’s say it’s 10 or 12 point font, make your spaces smaller, make those spaces five point font, right? 

Roy Notowitz: Yeah. I didn’t even know you could do that, but that’s great.

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: That’s why my resumes, they’re all one page.

Roy Notowitz: Okay. So there’s all this prep work. How will someone know when they’re ready to put themselves out there? You know, does all this stuff need to be perfectly dialed in or at what point is it, okay, this is good to go. 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: When you believe that you’re ready to put yourself out there, I would suggest gut-checking with yourself and, and seeing if you can answer these four questions. 

The first thing I would say is, “Am I clear on what I’m looking for?” Right? So, “Do I know what I’m trying to get out of this job search? Do I know how to tell my story well?” I would also ask yourself, “Am I proud of my LinkedIn profile and my resume? Are they looking good? Are they representing me well?” And then the final thing that I would check in with myself on is, “Do I have a target list that I’m going to use to track my progress?”

And it’s okay to have all this as dialed as you think it can be and then see how it goes, right? And reassess and tweak as you need to. 

Roy Notowitz: That’s great. Thank you so much for sharing all of your wisdom. 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: Thank you for having me, Roy. It’s been so fun being here and chatting about all this with you. 

Roy Notowitz: I’m looking forward to the second part of our conversation.

Merryn Roberts-Huntley: I am too. 

Roy Notowitz: My conversation with Merryn will continue on the next episode of the Noto Group Job Search Strategy Podcast. So far, we’ve discussed how job seekers can successfully plan, prep, and focus their approach. Next time we’ll get into job search activities like networking and interviewing.

For more professional resources, visit Sign up for our newsletter to get updates and featured career content. 

This podcast was created by Noto Group Executive Search. We work with notable consumer brands in the athletic, outdoor, fashion, food/beverage, grocery, and natural product sectors. 

Our producer is Anna McClain. You can find out more about her great work at