About Mary Elizabeth Bradford

Mary Elizabeth Bradford, CERW, MCD is a top resume writer, award winning job search coach, past construction recruiter, and author of the bestselling Amazon series: The Career Artisan Series – The Hidden Job Market Guide For The Perplexed Proven Strategies, Done-For-You Letters & Phone Scripts. This groundbreaking eBook reveals that job searching does not have to be hard--in fact, it is possible to easily set up a turnkey job search, increase company interest in you, land more interviews and bigger offers with companies you truly wish to work for using the easy to understand and apply methods outlined in this eBook. Get free job search and resume tips at her website www.maryelizabethbradford.com

Do You Know How To Get a Recruiters Attention?

I lost count of how many clients have told me they hung their hat on one or two recruiter relationships but nothing ever panned out in terms of landing a great job. If you don’t know how to work with recruiters you can easily be tempted to feel that you have been let down in your relationship with them.

Here are a few facts about recruiters to help you get a baseline of perspective:

A recruiter works for (and are paid by) their client companies. They don’t work for you, have no real allegiance to you and will only be interested in you if your career history is a match for their searches.

Knowing that will help you go into establishing relationships with recruiters with more objectivity.

Recruiters come in all shapes and sizes. I have met many of them and I was one of them for seven years. Some are good, some are nice, and some are not.

When you send your resume to a big handful of recruiters that specialize in your industry or position you will get a mixed bag of responses. Some will respond with interest, some will send you an automatic message to fill out their generic candidate forms on their websites, some will not respond at all and some may even respond negatively. Be prepared for all of it – and take none of it personally.

And by all means don’t skip this step! It’s a necessary step you must play out in order to garner the interest of the smaller percentage of recruiters who may be able to help you! If you are considering sending your resume out to recruiters I have a great distribution service here.

Recruiters generally like straightforward resumes. They tend to prefer the right keywords and summary statements that summarize your main selling points on the first page. They look at a lot of resumes each week and they don’t like to have to scan through a resume to try and guess what you do.

If you have a functional resume (one that highlights skills, rather than industry background and job history) don’t be surprised if you catch a couple terse comments from recruiting firms. But don’t worry, chances are your resume isn’t bad, nor have your done anything wrong. It’s just a typical preference for recruiters.

Recruiters look for job histories that match their search criteria. If you are looking to make a slight shift into a parallel industry or a slight shift in terms of your position, then a recruiter may be able to help you. If you are looking to make a career transition into another industry, then you can skip connecting with recruiters all together. They are paid to find exactly what their clients have asked them to find…and nothing less. Other job search methods will work much better for you.

What is the definition of a recruiter’s “star” candidate?  If you are looking to remain in your industry and have a solid and successful background in it, then you will be especially attractive to recruiters…a “star” candidate. “Star” candidates are also defined as those who have held no more than three jobs in the past ten years and those with a complimentary and impressive academic background.  The more attractive you are to recruiters, the more negotiating power you have.

What else does a recruiter look for? A good personality, tact, diplomacy, and promptness returning phone calls and emails are often major components to a successful match. Remember when a recruiter sends you to one of their clients; their reputation is on the line. They are acutely aware of this, and you should be too.

And one last valuable tip: a recruiter is somewhat limited in his or her ability to bring you “your dream job”. They can and will only offer you positions they are working on for their clients, and only if you are a potential match for the position.

Additionally, you will probably not be the only candidate they send to interview for the position. Generally recruiters send in two to four qualified candidates for each position they are paid to fill.

If you want to build good relationships both short and long term with recruiters you should:

  • Find either paid or free lists of recruiters who specialize in your position or industry. You can search on LinkedIn for recruiters in your industry and ask them to connect. Generally the recruiter’s geographical location is of little importance, they often have many clients outside of their physical location. I have a recruiter distribution here that goes via personalized email to over 1,000+ recruiters here.
  • Follow up with courtesy phone calls to the best recruiters on your list based on your needs and how they measure up. You will look more professional and get on their radar screen.
  • Always be pleasant, positive and diplomatic.
  • Treat the recruiter just the same as you would a potential employer in an interview.
  • If you are really attached to your industry, then building long-term relationships with recruiters isn’t a bad idea. Recruiters are heavily networked, appreciate referrals and the good ones will remember your generosity, kindness and professionalism. They will go out of their way to contact you with five-star positions they may have down the road.

Recruiters can be extremely helpful to you and your career and knowing their hot buttons and the best ways to find them and build positive relationships with them will not only save you time but serve to flush out additional job opportunities!



Best Job Search Strategies for Top Construction Executives

Executive level jobs and C-level jobs require very specific job search strategies and some work better than others! In this article I am going to go over the main executive level job search strategies, including the pros and cons of each. Hopefully this information will help you decide what job search methods are best for your particular situation.


Most C-level executives believe they are bound to recruiting firms to bring them opportunities – but this is not necessarily true. However getting your resume to the top construction recruiting firms can open up potential opportunities for you for 6-figure executive jobs in the construction industry.

Pros:  Working with recruiters, the job comes to you and there is a lot of cache. Executives enjoy that they have been handpicked by a recruiter to represent them to a company. Remember though that although the recruiter will present you to their client company – the recruiter represents the company, not you. It is the company who will pay the recruiters fee if you land a job there.

Cons: A recruiter must have company’s best interest at heart. You may have to relinquish some control over the situation and the recruiter may play a part in your compensation negotiations. A recruiter can only bring you one opportunity at a time and most always the recruiter will bring I n 3-5 qualified candidates. Built in competition for you

Your Best Move? Make sure if you do a recruiter distribution, you find someone with a good list of top recruiters (hint: I have one!). Treat the recruiter and the company with the same discernment.  You need to “sell” the recruiters on the value you bring to the company just as if you were “selling” directly to the company. It is, after all, the recruiter who will be passing your information on – on your behalf.


Networking can open up opportunities for jobs that are not advertised. If you are well connected – or you know how to take initiative and “make rain” – this is a viable option for you.

Pros: You can tap into hidden opportunities. Get third party endorsements from people that you know and that trust and respect you – that can be invaluable!

Cons: Networking can be tough for executives who don’t know how to do it. After all, how does an executive ask their associates if they know anyone who is hiring or who might be interested in them? This is largely demeaning for a powerful executive who is used to being a leader and in control. It can also take an average of 18 months to complete your job search if all you do is “network” in the traditional sense of the word and your income is over 6 or 7 figures.

Your Best Move? Learn how to network without asking for a job. There are executive level strategies and communication techniques that approach these conversations in more of a fact-finding and consulting spirit. You need to learn how to do it so you can network confidently. I show executives how to do this both through private coaching and through my DIY home study program, the Job Search Success System.


Executives who are looking at management consulting or an interim position, helping turn around a poor performing company, or are interested in a startup, may be interested in connecting with VC and PE firms.

Pros: If you are a C-level executive, it may be a pretty good move for you to send a distribution to these firms. There are companies that do this (including mine).

Cons: I have found that if you are below the C-level, distribution to these firms is less effective.

Your Best Move? If you are a C-level executive, you can send out a VC/PE email distribution for around $300 and it might land you a handful of good leads if you sell your skills correctly. Smart move!


I personally believe that understanding how to reach out to companies directly is the most powerful strategy for success. Direct mail means sending an actual letter to the key decision maker in a company. Not an email, an actual letter – preferably on engraved stationery and high quality Cranes paper. You will invest a little money up front marketing yourself like this, but the ROI blows away any other job search strategy I know of in this job market climate.

Pros: you can identify and isolate your industry and cherry pick who you want to reach out to. You can even do this for free using Google maps. Lists are free or cheap if you know where to look.

With the power of the internet you can use Google news alerts to have information on companies or industries that are growing sent right to your inbox. Companies that are growing are often hiring.

At a salary of $250k+, over 90% of jobs are filled in the hidden job market and never advertised. That means reverse engineering your job search and going after what you want vs. waiting and waiting for the right job to come to you – and competing with dozens or hundreds of other executive job seekers for the same position – makes logical sense for executives.

Learn how to tap the hidden job market once and use this method for the rest of your career. People tap the HJM when they want to leverage themselves in the job market, command more money, minimize their competition and shorten their job search.

Cons: Your success in terms of how many interviews/offers you land is predicated on your industry, supply and demand and is hard to predict. Between 2% and 5% is average. But I have also seen executives send out 20 letters and land 5 interviews. It depends on many factors. This still beats job boards, but if you don’t understand marketing numbers this can be discouraging to you.

You must be the type of person who can take initiative and “make things happen” to successfully manage this entrepreneurial driven strategy.

These methods at the executive level generally require some help from an experienced career professional who can be your sounding board and show you the shortcuts to using HJM strategies successfully. You will have to hire some help or at least do some self-study, otherwise be prepared for some frustration and roadblocks.

Your Best Move? I think everybody, not just executives, should learn how to find and capitalize on companies that are growing and know how to approach companies in an industry they potentially want to work for. I have seen executives grind away for a year in a fruitless job search – wasting precious time, losing confidence and often tens of thousands of dollars in income for those who were in between jobs – only to land multiple interviews in the first 30 days of refocusing their job search on the HJM (and often hiring a professional resume writer to beef up their marketing message). They all say the same thing in retrospect: my only regret is that I didn’t do this sooner for myself!


If you are a boomer executive that wants more flexibility you might want to consider your own consulting business. Management and technical consulting is one of the fastest growing industries. At 44% in 10 years, it’s grown four times faster than the workforce growth rate.

Pros: Consulting can be a nice “bridge” job and you might find the flexibility suits you. Many companies prefer hiring consultants – it’s safer for them and they can check you out first before they consider hiring you full time.

You can consult from anywhere. You don’t necessarily have to be a road warrior either. You can do much of your consulting via phone and internet (I myself have done this for years and rarely even meet my clients face to face).

You can consult in almost any field. One of our $500k+ CEO clients found businesses who could not afford to engage him full time as a CEO, but wanted his expertise. He negotiated a handful of engagements with several businesses – some one day a week, some for a few hours a week, and some for a couple days a month. He is now working fewer hours and making more than $500k per year. In one of our conversations, he remarked that he would never go back to a full-time job. (Courtesy: jobbait.com.)

You can generally charge about two and a half to three times your hourly rate (you will have to break down your salary to get this figure).

Cons: You will have to market your business and this may or may not be something you like to do. Be prepared to invest 15% to 25% of your revenue on marketing. But of course, if it brings you business and you don’t have a lot of other overhead, this is probably a pro not a con.

Interim full-time consulting gigs can leave you scrambling for new assignments and are problematic. Avoid them and try to find a few clients who need your help part time. This is safer relative to your income streams and it’s easier to land these gigs in general. If you find 2 clients who need you just one day a week, you might find yourself making as much as you made in your past full-time job. Many companies desperately need heavy-weight talent, but can’t afford a full-time person.

Your Best Move? If you are an executive with any kind of entrepreneurial desires, this could be an excellent move for you!

Career Management – How to Become a Thought Leader in The Construction Industry

Why is it important to become a thought leader in the construction industry? Many people find marketing themselves or “tooting their own horn” unsavory – but  self-marketing in for design/build/construction executives can and does have multiple career benefits including:

  1. 1.     Potential exposure to future “dream” positions – they contact YOU!
  2. 2.     More quality opportunities, better pay and quicker promotions.
  3. 3.     Establishment as an expert in a particular area of the construction industry.
  4. 4.     Wider networks.
  5. 5.     Greater ability to garner positive references and testimonials.
  6. 6.     More control over who you work with and how you work.

Different benefits will stand out as meaningful to different people. The real point is, managing your construction career gives you options… options you may not have had otherwise.

So where do you start? Here are three quick and easy tips:

Tip #1: Get a Platform

It’s easy to get a platform to express your opinion and ideas about your area of interest in the construction industry – one idea is to start a blog and discuss or focus light on issues, projects, best practices or technologies that you are passionate about.  WordPress.com is a free site where you can set up your blog in minutes (very easily by the way – even if you are like me and not technical). Other ways to “fill out” your blog is to have guest posts from others and comment on and link to articles of interest to you – that you might find in trade or association journals. Want that last suggestion to be even more turnkey for you? Set up a keyword alert in Google news alerts (for example: Hospital Construction Projects or Green Technology) so you can previuew and quickly comment on articles as Google finds them for you!

Tip #2: Leverage Associations

Another option is to get involved in your industries association and ask them if you can volunteer to write short articles for their blogs and/or newsletters on topics you are knowledgeable and passionate about. Associations are ALWAYS looking for content for their newsletters/ezines and blogs. You can position yourself as a thought leader in your industry quickly this way! Years ago, I began writing short articles for Career Directors International on job search cold calling, and those articles led to my being published in The Business Journal, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and MSN. You can also join an association’s task force in your area of interest.

Tip #3: Utilize Social Networking

A third option is to sign up for a LinkedIn account (email me and I will invite you to my list!). LinkedIn is a business-oriented networking site. Once you’ve set up your profile, you can answer questions other business people are asking on various topics by joining discussions in LinkedIn groups – a quick way to establish your credibility!

Tip #4: Rub Shoulders with High Performers in Your Industry

Get involved in a design/build/construction volunteer groups, trade or industry associations. These are two wonderful portals filled with people that care deeply about industries and issues – just like you! Not only will this broaden your networking circle, but it will keep you growing in your career!

And remember, if you attend an industry luncheon to listen to a great speaker, introduce yourself to him or her after their presentation. Give them your business card as well – and gulp – ask for theirs! It’s the little things you do as you “put yourself out there” to be open to new opportunities, friendships and possibilities that will pay off in the long run.

Tip #5: Grow Your Knowledge Base

What was the last LEED, PMP or other construction-related certification you received? How about ongoing training or even a construction project management or MBA degree? I recommend making sure that each year you commit to 2-3 actions that result in your learning a new tool for your tradebenefits to find out if your training might be a covered

Establishing construction thought leader status doesn’t mean you have a gigantic ego. It’s simply a wise career investment that opens doors of possibility for you. You will be amazed how putting these simple tips into action will quickly change up your construction career status!

REAL Resume Tips For Construction Professionals

Recently I worked with a top construction superintendent. He had worked on dozens of top projects across multiple industries for many years with an excellent track record.  But he had been sending his resume to top recruiters and top construction firms for 6 months with NO results. I crafted a visually appealing resume for him that targeted the kind of size/scope of position he wanted to focus on (see the actual commercial construction professional resume sample here) and long story short, within 7 days of distributing his new resume he had 4 interviews with top construction companies and an offer was already on the table at double his previous salary. That is 100% pay raise, and that is why professionals hire experienced, certified resume writers. The “career” ROI is often phenomenal.

You pay to earn project management certifications and construction degrees and give your all with years of “on the job training”.  The above story is a perfect example of why you should not overlook that equally important is mastering the art of communicating why someone should hire you.

Are you wondering what I did to this construction superintendent’s  resume that resulted in grabbing the attention of the same key decision makers that had let his original  resume slip by them just a few months prior? Here are some key steps I took that you can use too (and by the way – these tips are applicable no matter if you are writing a senior/executive construction resume, mid-level management construction resume or entry-level/new grad construction resume):

  • I focused his resume. The top keywords and opening statement of your resume need to be clearly defined and targeted to what you want. The opening statement should be no more than 4 to 5 lines deep. Your goal is to give your reader a framework of perspective about you that aligns with your career focus. Let’s say you are a PM targeting large construction projects. Your keyword at the top of your resume might include:

Project management | Hospital & Healthcare | Projects to $200 Million


  • I wrote to his ideal position. find a couple positions that represent your “ideal job”. Highlight all the keywords and phrases in those positions that match and resonate with you. Now make sure those keywords are integrated into the top first page of your resume. I call this the mirroring technique. It is extremely effective.


  • I told his story. In his career history section I began by listing the company name, something positive about the company including their general size and scope and why they hired him. Then I added a couple short stories of issues this superintended overcame which ended up making the companies he worked for more money in the form of more project work from happy clients. I topped this off by including call out boxes of selected projects for each company, highlighting that he had brought those projects in on time and within budget.

If you want or need to write your resume yourself – understanding these marketing elements is going to help you tremendously not only understand your own real and perceived value but will greatly help communicate your focus, strengths, achievements and branding to potential employers to quickly get their interest, beat your competition and ultimately land more interview and offers for positions within companies you truly want.

BEST Job Search Strategies for Construction Executives

If you are a construction executive you might be wondering what the best job search strategies are for executives in the construction industry – that you can use to move your career forward – and that are in alignment with your professional and personal goals.

Job Boards: It used to be that one answered job ad’s to secure interviews but with the glut of resumes that flood HR departments for each position advertised to millions of people when it hits the internet – those days are essentially over. Instead try to involve yourself in gold standard industry associations including top construction associations. Are you a thought leader or would like to be one? Write articles in trade and association journals about the topics you are passionate about and give problem/solutions scenarios, checklists and quick tips. These marketing methods have the “pull” power to attract opportunities to you. If you are highly specialized in a particular area there may be niche job boards that could yield you some results, but remember, general ROI on job boards is 1% to 2%.

Networking: Some construction executives tell me that up until now, they have always had opportunities come to them. They had always had recruiters call them. In my experience – since I field so many of these types of calls it leads me to believe that thinking this will always be true throughout ones career is a huge mistake and creates a false sense of security and a tendency to ignore the critical step of building up and maintaining one’s network.  One way to build and maintain your network is to make sure your LinkedIn profile is keyword optimized so the right “eyes” are attracted to your profile. Also you can invite people that are part of “your tribe” to join your network. You can invite members of the same groups, people you admire, colleagues and those in complimentary industries to yours.

Recruiters: Recruiters can be a great source of executive construction jobs and opportunities but only if you are a good fit for one of their projects with their client companies. Do you have a solid track record of success, a good academic background, industry expertise and have held positions with no more than 3 companies in the last 10 years? You might be a good candidate for a recruiter then! If you are looking to change industries, dramatically up level your positions, if you have been in a long job search or have some kind of liability that may be a concern (at least on paper) then you may not get the traction with recruiters you might be hoping for. Alternative job search strategies might be best for you in this case.

Going Direct: Want to tap into the plethora of awesome construction jobs in the hidden job market? Taking initiative to go direct to companies that are of interest to you can have high ROI. Use Google maps to find suitable companies in the construction industry or related industries in your geographic preferences. Use Google news alerts to find construction companies that are growing, moving, merging or working on projects you offer experience in. Find the key decision makers (not HR) and send them a letter directly. Some of my clients simply direct the reader to a website or LinkedIn profile and save the resume for the interview. A very effective strategy as the gatekeepers can circumvent a letter with a resume in it to human resources.