Sharon’s List: Top 5 Quiet (Enough) Places in The Loop


Nothing’s more awkward than scrambling to find a quiet (enough) spot to conduct a phone interview. Duck into a Starbucks and you’ll compete with the baristas’ Dave Matthew’s playlist. Dodge into a hallway and sure enough, your boss will end up strolling right past. Working in the ‘burbs may afford you the luxury to retreat to your car cocoon–but if you work downtown it’s tricky to find a quiet place to chat. Well I’m here with the rescue–check out my list of top 5 places to have a phone interview in Chicago’s Loop!

Set Time to Walk Your Path

Hiking Path

How often do you pause to reflect on your career or job search path? The momentum of 9-5 and post-work duties can easily overshadow time to reflect on possibilities or envision your Next Step. Setting a date to walk your path will bring vision—and action—to the surface.

At times our career paths are very well defined. They may be well defined by a clear rank and file or by the yearly goals you set with your manager. One step on the path clearly leads to another. But what happens when we feel stuck? Or directionless? That uneasiness can permeate through months or even years of our professional lives. Our life circumstances may begin to dictate, or interrupt, our next steps. Taking time out of a busy day to “soul search” may feel like wasting valuable time along your career path. Oftentimes, soul searching becomes “ searching” involving frantic, urgent keyword searches on the train to work or while you eat your sandwich at your desk which quickly leads to feelings of defeat or shoulder shrugging as if to say, “Well, there’s nothing better out there.”

Set Sites on Priorities 

The New Year/New Start mantras we see through our LinkedIn feeds are either highly motivating or highly stifling. The endless scroll of opportunities, job descriptions, and off-track job titles is very daunting. In these times of uncertainty, reflect (or build) your Priorities List. I’ve touted the importance of a strong Priorities List before—the priorities list is your quick, 3-5 non-negotiable life and career pillars that work for you now, in this moment.

Making Strides

If you crafted your priorities list over the summer it’s a good time in this New Year to reflect and see what has—or could—change. Here are some tips to initiate change:

  • Build time into your routine during a commute, five minutes before bed, first thing in the morning, whatever works to give yourself time to meditate or contemplate (some might even say “pray”) over your priorities and visualize yourself feeling fulfilled, content, and motivated.
  • Ask for your vision to materialize. Why don’t you mark a date in the new season of spring, a date that feels right to you, to realize your manifestation of what is your right move.
  • Devote the time to yourself to take control of feeling stuck and take a step toward what’s next.

Change your New Year into a New Season.  You can do it and I’m always here to help.

Your Parachute Plan


No matter if you are happy in your current role, faced with unemployment, or foresee organizational restructures looming, the New Year is a great time to define your your path for what’s next…your parachute plan. Individuals with decade-spanning careers have common threads: they stay relevant and are hands-on. Spend some time contemplating your talents, wishes, and capabilities to prepare your plan.

A parachute plan prepares you for the unexpected and helps you strive toward your goals and aspirations. You will breathe a bit easier in facing obstacles and frustrations with a fresh perspective knowing that the 9-5 isn’t your only game. If you do need your parachute plan, you pull some strings and you’re free. Here’s some tips:

  • Seek out company-provided training (typically free) or certifications within your financial reach. Online certifications are less expensive than intensive MBA programs. Local libraries are treasure troves of relevant software and business training—you’d be surprised.
  • Look for ways to contribute beyond your assigned role. Volunteer to run lunch and learns to share your expertise (you’ll grab experience in Keynote), write blog posts to share your expertise and perspectives (you’ll build up your social profile), mentor fresh new hires (what a way to stay current….), or develop training materials. Being creative in thinking of ways to offer and contribute your talents will build and enhance your skills.
  • Think of how you present yourself. If you’re feeling trapped in a negative work atmosphere because of your salary, flexibility, or benefits the organization provides to you or your family, write down new ways to shift your perspective to the value you provide your organization. Companies tend to hire (and promote from within) those with a positive demeanor.  Any scent of negativity you cast during your tenure or job interviews will be detected.
  • Craft case studies and use those as a framework for a new, digital, relevant portfolio. WordPress and SquareSpace are awesome sites to venture into and explore if design isn’t your forte. Portfolios are not just for creatives. Marketing executives who include visual samples and case studies on their LinkedIn profiles are effectively translating their hands-on communications abilities.
  • Play up and accentuate your hands-on capabilities in your resume and LinkedIn profile. While it’s absolutely valuable to discuss your high-level strategy, budgetary experience, and team leadership abilities, demonstrating your ability to be hands-on and produce positively monetizes your background for your current and future organization.
  • Mock up a business plan. If you haven’t professionally freelanced or comprised an income based on independent contracting, carve out some time to consider what you would need to bill on a weekly basis to cover your budget. If optimizing blog sites is part of your parachute plan, think about how many sites you’d need combined with how many billable hours you’d require as an independent contractor to make a viable income. Putting some Excel behind your plan helps you understand your plan’s viability.
  • Stay in trend with fashion and appearance. It’s uncomfortable for me to write that without feeling trite or cliché—but our industry is appearance focused and it’s certainly important to stay in step to your comfort level with what is out there.

Developing a parachute plan is a powerful step as your career progresses. Taking ownership of your destiny is a route to empowerment and unshackling yourself to an organization. Setting your path helps you feel in control. Let’s discuss your strategy—I’m here for you!

Searches: The One Who Wins

pexels-photo-730614The whirlwind of spending over a decade in the creative and marketing staffing has taught me many things…one of which is what candidate is most likely to be selected for the role. I’ll spare you the decade of experience and fast-forward to the answer. It’s very simple. The candidate the client chooses is the hardest one to get.

Here’s a common scenario. I will present three candidates to a hiring manager. Candidate #1 and Candidate #2 are super eager, less active on the market, and will do anything to work at the company. Candidate #3 is actively interviewing, maintains an updated portfolio, and optimizes her LinkedIn profile on a regular basis. Candidate #3 knows her value and sets the tone accordingly with a “you’re lucky to get me” mantra. Her confidence, swagger, and perceived un-attainability lends to her candidacy. When I ask my hiring managers to stack the candidates in order of interest, Candidate #3 is always at the top. So just how does Candidate #3 become Candidate #1?

 Strong Search Momentum

The cardinal rule above all others is to always be fielding job activity: update your LinkedIn profile & portfolio, solicit meetings and interviews, engage in conversations with recruiters, and network your heart out. Check out this tip for really working your LinkedIn connections and join a MeetUp that resonates with you. You may only be interviewing for one position but no one has to know that. Keep that business to yourself but keep your activity up. Make job applications a part of your everyday routine. Engage in conversations.  Continue to explore. A confident candidate wins the game and while that confidence can be very hard to muster during a months-long job search it’s important to put on a cloak of positive attitude…even if it doesn’t feel super authentic. Every drop of energy in your search should be pushed toward creating a multi-faceted job search. Create the aura that you are a hot, viable commodity on the market and you will be. Hiring managers want who they can’t have.

Curb your Enthusiasm

As a hiring manager yourself, consider what level of enthusiasm from a prospective candidate would be flattering versus a turn-off? As a candidate, the method of which you display your enthusiasm really is key. Turn-offs include candidates who come across as over-eager and compare their affinity towards a brand to their personal feelings versus their professional capabilities. Yes, it’s important to share that you’re passionate about a brand’s values but also share or follow up with samples or thoughts about how your work in digital marketing will really move the needle. Give the hiring manager something tangible, of benefit, and on brand to make them want more.

Keep Materials Current & Updated

There’s a difference in having a current portfolio and one that is Updated. If you’re keeping a portfolio site that you created 5 years ago updated, it’s current. If you’re constantly engaging with your site to see how it renders on new technology, pushing the envelope with your design, and ensuring your site stays fresh…well, you’re keeping it Updated. Have the courage to reinvent yourself. It can feel daunting to embrace new technology or to reinvent your personal brand. Start small and consider your site’s platform (are you using Wix when maybe SquareSpace might be more modern?) to leveraging some of LinkedIn’s tools such as SlideShare to tell your story with case study examples.

Stay confident in your search. I’m here to help you along your path so always feel free to reach out to me. Good luck and stay confident!

Hiring Trends: Fall/Winter 2017

The staffing industry typically mirrors the economic and political state of affairs and this year was no exception. Q1, 2, and 3 were each comprised of drastic ups and downs in the staffing market–both clients and candidates had difficulty making commitments. One thing did ring true across the trifecta of quarters: adequate salaries are not the problem in the offer stages. Salaries continue to be strong and within market demands. The competitive energy of 2017 is palpable. As you look forward to hiring or starting a search in the New  Year (a very common resolution), check out some more tips and trends to carry you into a successful Q4:

Hiring Trends: Fall/Winter 2017

Cook County launched a new Paid Time Off policy. Its intention is good—the gist is that folks who need to care for sick family members or are sick themselves maintain both wages and job security.  Many jurisdictions within Cook County have opted out of this policy—many states around the country already embrace this policy so the tide is turning in the policy’s favor so it’s time to think about how your HR team will handle organizing and tracking employee PTO days. Read more on the WunderBlog about this important HR policy!

Passive Candidates are a myth! 2017’s slow start regarding candidate responsiveness  rapidly shifted to a candidate-driven and in-demand market. A candidate-driven market results in a  “passive candidate” falsehood. Hiring managers always cherish the coveted “passive candidate.” A candidate not actively on the market is always a catch but the moment the recruitment process commences that passive candidate is now a Hot Commodity. The candidate is in full job search mode now–her resume is polished, the suit is dusted off, she’s pressed and ready to go.  Increased confidence and an updated resume makes a job search much easier. Time is of the essence. Don’t let your lengthy vetting and interview process cause your sleeper of a candidate to become an in-demand commodity.

Career Mantras: Fall/Winter 2017

Always wondered WHO lands the job? Check out this in-depth article to read about the one hiring managers usually select. The answer may surprise you.

Are you using your LinkedIn Connections effectively?  Having 2,000 connections is great but when you’re out looking for a job how do you ensure you’re actually reaching out to all 2,000 people? You can learn the very same tip that I use to organize my many connections and stay in touch with my network.



Connecting with Your Connections

LinkedIn is the most powerful tool you can use for an effective job search. You’re one click away from your 200, 500, or 1000+ connections for your next role. Many folks I speak with in a job search aren’t accessing their connections in the most effective way to really ensure they are maximizing their reach. There’s an easy trick for this!

Use this simple process for your search and you can guarantee that you’re out there, contacting every single connection you know! The trick? Download your contacts into a .csv and then convert that to a Google Sheet. The document gives you all of your connection information including their email address and date you connected so you can reach out and ensure you’re effectively connecting with all the folks you know.  Here’s how to get your list:

Access Settings & Privacy 

LI Step One



Access Your Archive

LI Step 2


Access Your Archive & Happy Contacting!

LI step 3


Online Job Applications

pexels-photo-276459Ugh…just the mere thought of an online job application can make you completely sick to your stomach. They always crash. Always. And they crash riiiiiight as you complete the Tell Us Something Amazingly Unique About Yourself box. Always.

These Online Job Applications reside within robust Applicant Tracking Systems, or ATS, that were typically used by larger corporations to track and house the thousands of applicants pounding on their door for a job. As competition has crept into the staffing and online recruiting space, all sizes of organizations are warming up to implementing these systems. While these systems allow for internal recruiters or human resources executives to safely house, store, and search candidate information they do yield a hands-off, less cozy application process for the job seeker.

Empowering yourself with reverse engineering these tools will allow you to raise above the competition. Check out this great article on Glassdoor (my opinions included!) for some great tips on circumventing this time-consuming, yet ever-important part of the job search process.

Hiring Trends: Summer 2017

The job market is heating up in Chicago after a very odd and slow start to 2017. The election certainly had an impact in the job market. Direct Hire recruiting in February felt like a virtual Ghost Town…candidates were not interested in even having introductory conversations let alone leaving  their current roles. “Safer to stay” was the general mode in the market for direct hire positions. The tide turned around mid-May and since then the market was been hot with candidates being more and more receptive and open to exploring new roles.

Salaries are UP! For the first time in 18 months I have noticed that salaries for marketing and creative positions seem to be normalizing and reaching more market-standard rates.  Salaries over the past few months for creative and marketing positions have better reflected market demands which is very exciting!

Candidates are in Demand: Higher salaries and more elevated hourly rates mean competitive offers. As a result, candidates are flying off the market…it is typical for candidates to be fielding several, simultaneous offers. Some are notifying us that in between interviewing onsite and driving home they’ve already fielded (and accepted) a competing offer. Timing is of the essence—when you meet a candidate that fits your expectations any delay may cost you!

Career Mantras 

Job Seeker Interview Questions: The types of questions that you ask your interviewer are indicative of your engagement and level of interest as a candidate. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are – whether you’re a pro in your field, getting started, or getting a feel that an interview is more casual in nature…ask open ended, curious questions that illicit problems that your expertise can solve. Prepare 3-5 questions and bring them with you. 

Make a Priorities List: What really matters to you in your life and career? Make a short list of those items: tucking your kids in bed most nights of the week? Being emotionally available for your family? Managing a team? Being able to bike to work? Become familiar with your motivators and take a few quiet moments to jot down your 3-4 priorities. Keep these notes in a spot that you can visit easily and frequently. I created a “note” on my phone, for example. Your list will evolve and change and you can reference the list to help ensure you’re on the right path. Also, this short list will help serve as a reference if you’re exploring a new career. Comparing the ins and outs of a new job to your Priorities List will help determine the fit of a new role.

Customize your LinkedIn URL: Your LinkedIn URL is a quick, easy hyperlink at the top of your resume where folks like me and hiring managers may quickly view who you are, see samples of your work, and quickly connect—all in one place! Follow these instructions to learn some quick tips about customizing your LinkedIn page.



LinkedIn Roadmap

Miniature businessman on map of Europe

Here is a short roadmap to help you navigate getting your career documents such as your resume, online portfolio, and LinkedIn profile updated.

First Thing First: Update Your Resume

Brainstorm what your overall responsibility is at your current role, i.e., why did the company hire you? What was/is your expectation at your current role?

  1. Dig deeper talking about your overall, everyday tasks. Don’t worry about making things “flow right” or sound impressive: just write. You can shape it into something professional later.
  2. Craft an overall paragraph at the top of your resume which is your “elevator pitch.” You can use this template paragraph for cover letters, introductory emails to potential hiring managers or recruiters, your LinkedIn overview, and/or can be easily customized to create specific resumes for specific opportunities.
  3. Ensure that your public profile URL on LinkedIn is added to your resume
  4. Transfer your resume into your LinkedIn profile.

Update your LinkedIn preferences to preserve your confidentiality if you don’t want your employer to know you’re looking for a job:

  1. Under your name in the right corner of the main LinkedIn page (after you’ve logged in) select “Settings”
  2. Under Privacy Controls, turn off activity broadcast and who can see your activity feed. 

Start compiling samples. Think about the following:

  1. Password-protected samples can live on a website.
  2. Samples can be sent as a follow-up in a PDF format.
  3. Using “Slide-Share” you can weave your story visually (and for free) into your profile!

Be sure to have a current and up-to-date email address.

Email address such as or are not current. Creatives are either using their own domain OR using addresses such as or even better, Do not use your company computer for any job-search related notes, email submissions, or searches.