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Take the LinkedIn Photo Quiz: How Do You Score?

Take the LinkedIn Photo Quiz: How Do You Score?

Tamara Dowling

While checking out the latest posts on LinkedIn, I saw an astounding photo of a man in a costume. Well, I can only hope this was some sort of 1850s type costume and not his version of business attire. Then I started to review a series of photos. Of the bad photos, I saw a woman in a bikini top with a margarita, a cute cat cartoon, a man with an angry expression, and another woman who looked like she just finished a hike. Of course there were many other photos that were excellent.

Take our quiz to assess your LinkedIn profile photo!

  • Give yourself 2 points if your photo was taken by a professional photographer.

  • Add 2 points if your photo is a headshot, meaning just your face and shoulders.

  • Subtract 5 points if you are using a webcam shot or a mirror selfie!

  • Add 2 points if you comply with LinkedIn’s technical requirements.

  • Subtract 2 points if you are not facing the camera.

  • Subtract 5 points if you are topless, strapless, or in a swim suit.

  • Add 3 points for having a natural or solid color background.

  • Subtract 5 points if you are using a vacation photo or a vanity photo in front of a sports car/boat.

  • Subtract 5 points for including pets, children, and significant others in your photo.

  • Add 3 points for wearing a business suit business casual top.

  • Add 3 points for natural and flattering make-up.

  • Add 3 points for not wearing a sports cap.

  • Are you smiling and facing the camera? If so, add 5 points.

  • Was your photo taken within the last 5 years, add 2 points.

Did you score more than 17 points? Great! If you fell a bit short, it might be time to update your photo. When people visit your LinkedIn page, their eyes inevitably drift to your photo. Make your photo eye-catching and memorable for the right reasons. If you would like help updating your LinkedIn profile, contact me. I would be happy to help.

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Working From Home? 4 Ways to Care for Your Mental Health

Working From Home? 4 Ways to Care for Your Mental Health

By Scarlett Cole, Guest Writer

When remote work became the norm in 2020, employees faced several unexpected challenges. Burnout became quite common, especially amongst employees who frequently used teleconferencing tools like Zoom. The discomfort of online video meetings left many workers mentally fatigued, and the pressure of unnatural social interactions took a toll. Additionally, people who failed to set strict work-life boundaries carried their job stress into their personal lives.

With all of that said, the downsides of work-from-home arrangements do not have to exact such a toll. Workers simply need to adopt strategies that can help them effectively protect their minds. To that end, the following lifestyle changes can help you take better care of your mental health while working from home.

Join A Support Group

Each worker faces unique stresses based on the field they are employed in. Remote social workers, for example, must navigate the difficulties of managing intimate cases through the barrier of remote communication tools, such as teleconferencing, emails, and phone calls. Healthcare workers, on the other hand, have been extremely overworked due to labor shortages caused by poor working conditions and an extremely high demand for care.

One solution for stress factors like these is to join a support group to connect with individuals in your field. A guide to physician burnout published by the telemedicine network, Wheel, notes that joining support groups has helped many physicians feel less isolated. It has also allowed people in the field to seek advice and solutions from others who have experienced similar struggles. Similar benefits may be experienced by individuals across all occupations. Search online for support groups focused on your field; you might find groups in your area or on Facebook.

As a bonus, this sort of outreach may benefit you professionally. Our article entitled “Personal Interests and Hobbies on A Resume” points out that having active affiliations with other professionals can help your career. Joining a support group will grow your network, which might just connect you to a valuable partner or future employer.

Build A Self-Care Routine

Mental and physical health are inextricably linked. By protecting your body from disease, discomfort, and pain, you can reduce your mental stress. In the same way, taking proper care of your mind can make you more motivated to engage in physical activity.

To promote your health, build a thorough self-care routine. Such a routine can consist primarily of small daily habits, such as exercise, mindfulness, proper eating, proper hygiene, and sleep. You can also take on a specific exercise program that is manageable at home. In an article about building mental health routines aimed at busy workers, programming publication Smashing Magazine recommended doing yoga, specifically. Aside from strengthening the muscles, yoga can quiet the mind and improve memory, learning, and other cognitive functions –– making it a best-of-both-worlds option for physical and mental health.

Schedule Breaks

To prevent burnout, it is important to give your brain occasional breaks from work. Try scheduling short five to15-minute breaks throughout the workday. Giving your brain time to recharge will allow you to start tasks more energized and motivated. It also prevents stress from building up.

Beyond mental health, rest also has benefits regarding productivity. Studies from the National Institutes of Health found that the brain uses wakeful rest time to consolidate memories of previous actions. When the brain replays what had just been performed, absorbing the associated skill or progress becomes easier. With rest, in other words, you become more efficient at learning new things (which might just make you feel “sharper” all around).

Set Clear Boundaries

In a regular work setup, physical distinctions make it easier for the brain to separate work from life. Your brain will associate the workplace with work and your home with leisure, relaxation, and family. Moving in and out of these physical spaces allows you to easily switch between modes.

However, because remote work makes these boundaries less clear, remote workers find themselves carrying work stress even after they have clocked out. To minimize stress, you need to create clear physical markers that distinguish when work starts and ends. You can achieve this by designating a spare room for work purposes alone. If that is not possible, make sure to keep all work-related items, such as laptops, out of sight once you have completed your daily hours. Turn off all work notifications and resist the temptation to look at work-related messages.

Remote work comes with a few helpful upsides. It saves time and money while reducing health risks. To really enjoy these benefits however, remote workers need to adopt habits that improve their mental resilience. The suggestions above will set you off on the proper path toward a happier and healthier work-from-home lifestyle.

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Writing a Targeted Resume

Writing a Targeted Resume

Many years ago, a resume was a “one-resume-fits-all” solution. The resume simply said, “This is who I am, what I have done, and I hope you l me.” That was effective in an environment in which that type of resume was the norm. Employers were accustomed to weeding through non-relevant data to find what they needed. Perhaps your resume is stuck in the past.

Today, the old-fashioned resume won’t make the cut. To compete, your resume needs a new strategy. Sharpen your message to include accomplishments with measured results and each time you send your resume, align it with your job target. To be effective, match your resume with each recruiter or hiring manager. If you can prove the you are able to fill their needs better than the other candidates, you will earn an interview.

Identify the Needs that You Can Fill

The first step is to review the target job posting, an employers’ website, and their company page to define the major job requirements. This serves multiple purposes. As you research multiple opportunities, you can better understand the job market and clarify your goal. More importantly, you gain insight into the unique needs of each employer and general requirements for certain job types. That will help you to discern what to feature on your resume as well as gaps in skills.

Select Your Targets

Always begin with a target. Otherwise, how can you aim? “Any job I can get at any company in the Seattle area” is not a target. Conduct research and identify your targets. Many of my clients find it helpful to review postings on (or similar sites) and to review job functions. Most candidates have multiple career targets. If you have multiple career paths, customize your resume for each career path to increase your odds.

Overcome Barriers to Entry

What is preventing you from reaching your targets? Is it a specific type of experience? The job postings will inform you of the requirements. Know your barriers to entry and make a plan to break down the barrier. It might mean taking a position as a stepping stone while you get more years under your belt. Another option is to gain that experience in your current role through corporate committees, task forces, or cross-functional teams.

Tailored the Marketing Message

This is the key to a powerful resume. Create a resume for each target employer or job type. For example, one career path may be compliance manager at a pharmaceutical firm and another path may be in government relations. A third could be a position in academia. The skills are similar, but the specific duties and requirements are different. Create a different message for each target position. (In this article we are talking about your resume. Of course, your LinkedIn profile will be comprehensive to cover all of your goals.)

Fine Tune Your Resume to Be the Perfect Match

Take it one step further and identify the unique needs of an employer. Target your message to show your exposure to issues the company may be facing or how you can advance upcoming projects/products. Use the profile area of your resume to call out expertise in a particular project type, product, market, technology, or function. This takes a little more time, but you will be rewarded when that employer sees you at the perfect fit – – THE candidate that is poised to perfectly meet their needs.

The Bottom Line

If you find you are sending dozens of resumes each month and your response is zilch, it could be that your resume is not focused on the special needs of the hiring employers.

If that is the case, it is time to adopt a new resume strategy. If you need help, I am only an email or phone call away.

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When to Use the Title, Founder, on Your Resume and When to Lose It!

When to Use the Title, Founder, on Your Resume and When to Lose It!

As I read my LinkedIn feed, I see a flood of founders. It is an impressive feat to start a new business and develop it. However, does every business rise to the level of being “founded” and should everyone who operates a small business or solo practice be called a founder? Recently I was speaking at a conference and to my surprise, I was introduced as the founder of my business. It was awkward because although my business has a 20-year record of success and I did start it, founder does not fit. This may be a controversial concept because calling one’s self a founder is a source of pride for many. Let’s look at the use of founder as a title on one’s resume and LinkedIn profile page.

When Founder Fits

If you have started a new business, particularly one with plans to get on the fast track. Whether the goal is to remain a privately-owned business, become public, or get acquired by a larger company, if the company you started is on track to grow beyond a solo operation or very small business, the title founder probably fits. If you grew it from a fledgling operation to a major company, founder fits. The title of founder connotes something about the culture of the company in addition to the role of the founder.

What Is a Founder?

The founder conceived, developed, and acquired funding for the business. In many cases, there is more than one founder. As a company is formed there is a decision as to who are the official co-founders. This is reserved for the those conceiving the company and involved in executive level decisions. Even though you might feel like you’ve been there from the beginning you can’t call yourself a founder unless it is so.

Include Your Functional Title

In addition to your status and role as a founder, you have a job title. Examples might be CEO, COO, CTO, President, and so on. On a resume, it would look something like this:


Founder and Chief Technology Officer (2018 – Present)

Once a Founder Always a Founder

What about when the founder leaves the company. Perhaps the controlling investors want to replace key positions. Or maybe the founder leaves to start something new. Often people are serial founders and not interested in running a company. After leaving your leadership role at the company (CEO, COO, etc.), you may stay on as an advisor. In that case, you might show your history like this:


Founder and Advisor (2019 – Present)

Founder and CEO (2017 – 2018)

If you leave the company and do not retain any role, then you would simply show your position in the past.


Founder and CEO (2017 – 2018)

Functional Titles & Legal Titles

There are legal titles required based on the way a company is incorporated. So, legally you may need to assign yourself a title of president or CEO to indicate you are the authority. However, how you market yourself is another matter. You can choose to label yourself by your function alone or your function alongside your legal title. For example, if you are a solopreneur with a consulting practice you might write, “President and Senior Corporate Consultant” on your resume and LinkedIn page.

Founder Versus Entrepreneur

Every founder is an entrepreneur, but not every entrepreneur should call themselves a founder on a resume.

If you did not create the business, you are not the founder. Maybe you bought an established company or you bought a franchise, you are not the founder. That is a clear example of when it does not fit.

The Grey Area

Although you started the business, the term founder may seem inflated based on the type of business, trajectory of the business, or the culture of the business. A business type that does not fit the common definition might be that of a one-person business with no designs to be much larger than that. Examples of this might include a CPA, an interior designer, or a psychologist. These businesses might add staff to help with administrative tasks, but they still are companies centered on one person’s practice. An exception might be this. Let’s say you started as a CPA solopreneur and then you grew this into a firm with multiple offices and a large staff. At that point adding the term founder to your title would be appropriate.

The Bottom Line

When you think of using the term founder, ask yourself if your business is characterized in these ways:

> A new business that you conceived and formed.

> A business with plans to grow quickly, such as a business with a new product or service expected to be well received. Often investments are made to facilitate the development and growth.

> A business that has grown from a small business to a large business.

> Not a solopreneur business.

> Not always, but often a business with an innovative or unique idea.

> Successful or failed, this does not matter.

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Managing Unexpected Career Changes

career change

career change

Colby is a bright, energetic pharmaceutical sales rep who grew up in Laguna, California. She never lived more than a couple of miles from the beach, luxe shopping, and of course, iconic cliffside restaurants. At age forty when her husband accepted a position at a regional hospital in rural Ohio, her head was spinning. What, no Bristol Farms? Plus the idea of being land-locked made her a bit uneasy. She felt as though it might as well be Mars.

Before she could write her resume, she had to adjust to leaving her family, friends, and all of the places that she associated with home. Colby’s husband, Blake, found a realtor/relocation specialist. That was the first step to helping Colby transition. Good relocation specialists go beyond the routine of presenting suitable homes. They acclimate people to their new community, including a place of worship, schools, shopping, recreation, and local organizations. Colby gained a new perspective. For example, she was a short walk to a local river where a SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarders) meet-up group congregate daily and only a few minutes from a farmers’ market with produce, jams, and baked items that rival her former OC market.

Colby misses her life in California and hopes that her family will return one day. However, by connecting with an expert she was able to find happiness in her new community. After she adjusted to the idea of leaving California, she was able to focus on the job search and create a resume to support her new goal. More importantly she was able to adjust her attitude, enabling her to do the work necessary to drive her job search.

Many times, I have worked with clients who are stuck. They are so upset about what life has thrown them and they are convinced that they will never be happy. This negativity can block one from the creative thinking required to write a compelling resume, conduct an effective job search, and interview well.

If you find yourself facing a move that you did not choose, consider Colby’s story. Tap into resources as she did. If you continue to feel stuck, mentally blocked, or unhappy, perhaps consider counseling resources to help you burst through the block to find happiness and success. The choice is yours, stay stuck and unhappy or find adventure and joy in your new place.

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What Are the Best Ways to Enhance Your Resume?

What Are the Best Ways to Enhance Your Resume?

What Are the Best Ways to Enhance Your Resume?

Many job candidates ask what they can do to make their resume even stronger. They often ask which “buzz words” and resume designs get interviews these days. Some candidates sprinkle their resume with unncessesary words, such as “successfully,” “independently,” and “effectively.” Another tactic is to load the profile with over-used phrases such as, “results-driven,” “self-motivated,” and “proven track record.” None of those tactics will enhance your resume and often they are a distraction.

You must have a clean and sophisticated resume design, but content is king! Follow my top three strategies and you will transform your resume in a meaningful way.

3.) Customize your resume for each of your career goals.

Identify your career goals. What type of job are you seeking? Study sample job postings to learn the major requirements for your target job. Through your resume and LinkedIn profile, communicate how you meet the job requirements. When your resume is aligned with your target, you will score well with electronic ATS (Applicant Tracking System) software and you will be more likely to impress the hiring manager.

2.) Integrate keywords contextually and in a list format.

Keywords have been a part of resume strategies for many years. Today ATS software applications are very sophisticated and affordable for most employers. Employers and recruiters establish search criteria. Candidates score higher if their resume (and LinkedIn profile) contains these keywords. In many cases you score higher if the words are included in two ways. Most candidates can benefit from an Areas of Strength section. All candidates should integrate keywords throughout the Professional Experience section.

1.) Add relevant accomplishments with measured results.

The number one way to improve your resume is to add accomplishments that prove your expertise and abilities. This may include surpassing expectations for revenue generation, increasing efficiency through new processes or technology, and leading major projects. Don’t forget to show the measured results. If you struggle with accomplishments, think of “before and after” stories for each of your former jobs. A lack of accomplishments is the biggest mistake that candidates make. Don’t be that candidate.

Every candidate’s situation is unique, requiring a personalized resume strategy. However, some resume strategies are universal. The above three strategies will improve anyone’s resume. If you would like help with your resume, please contact me. I would be happy to help you!

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Determining the Right Mix for You

social media

social media

According to an Influential Executive February 2019 study, 54% of Fortune 500 CEOs have at least some social media presence. Half of the CEOs studied have a LinkedIn profile. Only 14% had a publicly searchable Twitter profile. Less than 1% had an Instagram or YouTube profile.

Why Tap into Social Media?

Social media has potential to be a broadcast channel and a branding vehicle. Executives active on social media and with appropriate strategic messaging create an image of a modern, accessible, and transparent leader. In an era of heightened skepticism in corporate and political leaders, improving messaging is critical. Using messaging that is a direct line from the CEO can increase customers’ confidence in a company. The power of the tweet on Twitter or post in LinkedIn goes both ways. An ill-considered tweet can cost your job or cause your company’s stock price to drop.

Social Media Mix

Let’s say you are not a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, what mix of social media is right for you? All active professionals, from junior analysts through CEOs, should be on LinkedIn at a minimum. A professional profile on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook will be right for some, but not everyone.

Select the appropriate social media outlets. You don’t need to be active on all platforms. Instead focus on the ones that are most effective for your situation. Visually driven content is well suited for Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat. Text-driven content works well on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Your target audience demographics can guide your decision. For example, Instagram and Snapchat have a younger demographic. Pinterest is used more heavily by women. Frequency of engagement is important too. Facebook has a high frequency of engagement rate and YouTube has a lower frequency of engagement rate.

Time Commitment

If you seek to be an influencer or you are the face of your company, social media is essential. Plan to spend a minimum of an hour daily on social media. Engaging with your audience means encouraging comments, replying to comments, and tagging others. Timeliness is important so strive to reply within 24 hours. When executives are highly active on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, they are building the corporate brand as well as their personal brand. Consider using staff support for the management of your social media schedule, strategy, and content curation, but don’t give up control of your personal accounts’ actual tweets, likes, shares, and snaps. Beyond a privacy concern, there is the matter of someone else having the power to misuse your social media voice.

Social Media Management Tools

If you are planning a dive into social media, consider the many options for social management tools. These are a few of the functions driven by management tools: scheduling, monitoring, content curation, automatic posting, analysis, and reporting. Many people post and hope for the best. If you are going to commit your time and expose your brand on social media, it is important that you leverage tools to optimize your social media operations and base your social media choices on analysis.

Goals Before Strategy

Determine your goals. Potential goals are building a community, increasing brand awareness, driving traffic to a blog or website, promoting an issue, lead generation, sales, and enhancing customer loyalty.

Content Ideas

One of the biggest reasons people are not active on social media is a lack of inspiration for content. Consider these ideas for content.

LinkedIn: Industry news, job postings, upcoming and past events, educational articles, announcements, and product news. Options for posts as well as long form articles.

Twitter: Announcements, product releases, articles, event news, awards, and links to photos and videos.

Facebook: Photos, quotes, company news, surveys, special offers, event updates, Facebook live interactive events, invitations to events, and videos.

Pinterest: Product photos, infographics, videos, quotes, and memes.

Getting Started

If you commit to a smart social media strategy, you’ll be able to lead the narrative on topics important to you and your company. It will help you to build your brand and engage with your target audience. You’ll also benefit from the immediacy of information, such as industry trends in real time. If you are ready to launch social media presence, check out these links for basic instructions:,,,, and

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Accomplishments, Results, and Scope of Authority

measured results

measured results

One of the most common issues I see with client’s prior resumes is a lack of accomplishments with measured results and the omission of scope of authority. Without those items, your resume will look like a job description. If you are being recruited by a company without competition and they ask for a resume as a formality, that type of resume may be adequate. In situations where you are competing against other candidates, you need a compelling resume. That means you should scrutinize what to include and what to omit.

Load Your Resume with Accomplishments

This is the cardinal rule for all job candidates. This can be challenging for some situations. In some positions, you feel as though keeping the boat afloat is the biggest accomplishment. Other times, you work on a project and move to a new position before you witness the outcome of your strategies and months of effort.

That may be true, however, you must sell yourself through examples of accomplishments. A job description can only go as far as stating the job functions and employer expectations. It does not show your performance highs and valuable contributions.

Here are a few things to consider when brainstorming for accomplishments:

  • What is the expected outcome? If the project was not completed, you can describe what you did and the anticipated outcome. For example: “Integrated A system with B system to produce a 21% reduction in expenses.”

  • How did you improve operations? Can you refer to a decrease in a turnaround time, achievement of quality metrics, improvement in communication, or addition of features to enhance efficiency? “Integrated variety of bioinformatics tools to support analysis of genotype imputation, which will improve accuracy of alignments and variant calling.”

  • How did you elevate performance? Sometimes things do not improve and the excellence is demonstrated through a steady record of achieving company metrics. This could be speed of service, time to market, timely releases, quality scores, maintaining compliance, or passing audits. “Attained and maintained 98% on-time delivery rate throughout tenure at firm.”

  • What did you do beyond your job description? This could be training new hires, selection for corporate committees, volunteering for special projects, or going the extra mile to salvage a key client. “Salvaged VIP account by mending previously-strained relationship.”

Proper Function-to-Accomplishment Ratio

A strong resume allocates the appropriate space for an overview of job responsibilities and enough space to feature top achievements. In most cases, this is three to seven lines to show the scope of responsibility. This is not copied from the job description. However, the job description can serve as inspiration. Build upon that foundation with things such as size of budget, span of sites, number of users, and employee headcount. A good ratio is one third for the overview and two thirds for the accomplishments.

Formatting Your Experience

In most cases, include your authority and functions in the paragraph overview. There could be a grey area, such as leading a training program. In the context of your history that may be a function. For another person that might be a top accomplishment. Below that paragraph overview, include your top accomplishments in a bulleted list. Studies have proven that if you have a ten or more lines of information, a mixed format of narrative and bullets is better. A list of bullets only tends to be skimmed. Narrative only formatting works with very little information. A narrative only format with many lines of information will be like a wall of words that may not be read.

Functions to Exclude

Most professional candidates can’t include every function of your job. Consider excluding items like these:

  • There are many functions of a job that are assumed based on the title, so skip those.

  • Showing every small step of a process may not be needed if it can be summarized by the name of the overall process.

  • Showing skills required to succeed in a function is a no-no. For example it is not necessary to say “Used my communication skills to sell products.”

  • Stating you were asked to do the task. Unless you were chosen from a large field to lead a high-profile program, you don’t need to say you were selected to oversee the corporate audit. Dive right in and say you oversaw the audit.

  • Present functions as facts and things done rather than charged with writing a new marketing plan. Instead, you wrote the marketing plan. (By the way, what is the scope of that plan and the outcome?)

Measured Results

Accomplishments have more weight when a measured result is attached. Whenever possible, quantify the results of your accomplishments with dollar values, percentages, and counts. Numbers attract attention and make an accomplishment more concrete.


Is a senior manager of a $200 million company the same as a VP of a $10 million company? It is important to put your title into context so the reader can identify where you might fit in their organization. Accomplish this by showing your scope of authority and span of operations. For example, “Direct 356-member Research and Development Division with offices in Santa Clara, Charlotte, Edenborough, and Hamburg. Manage $6.2 million budget and 16 VP-level direct reports.” This is an example of language for a non-managerial candidate: “Manage network operations for real estate corporation with 852 real estate agents spanning 17 corporate offices and as well as numerous remote locations.”

If you would like to see these suggestions in action, check out our resume samples.

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Best Email Subject Line When Sending Your Resume

Resume Writer

Resume Writer

Many job candidates spend more time on the subject line than the email message. There is so much on the line with a subject line that it can lead a candidate to analysis paralysis. This can turn a fifteen-minute activity into a dreaded task. Ideally, your subject line will beacon the recipient to open your message.

A blank subject line is asking for the message to be deleted or marked as Spam. Step up and write a professional subject line. If a colleague referred you, you might write, “Chris Jones referred me to you” as a subject. When responding to a job posting, write the name of the job and your name in the subject line. If there is a job posting number, include that too. (Software Engineer, #60398). After the interview, you could write “Thank You – Software Engineer Interview.” Be specific and concise so the recipient can quickly process who you are and why they want to read your message.

Demanding subject lines, such as “Open ASAP” or “Second Request,” are often a turn-off. Similarly, don’t shout at the reader with all capital letters (MARKETING VP AVAILABLE). Avoid glib lines because you do not know the reader and you do not have a sense of how your non-traditional style will be received. Dramatic pleas, such as “Hire me” or “Help,” may seem desperate. Instead keep your subject line professional and informative.

The subject line is a factor when the recipient decides to open, ignore, or delete a message. There is no guarantee that your email will be opened or your resume will be read. However, like any aspect of your life, if you make good choices it can make a difference over time. One hamburger or one serving of broccoli may not change your health. However, a lifetime of healthy eating and exercise can be physically and mentally rewarding. In a job search a series of good choices will lead to greater success. The subject line of your email is one of the little things among many other things that can lead to success.