Monday, April 7, 2014

Overwhelmed? Try Keeping a Stress Diary


We all feel stress sometimes. You've got a resume you've been working on for days, and you just can't seem to find the right words to describe your client. Or a client has turned into a PITA. 

Stress is the natural response of our body to help us deal with difficult situations. Without it, we would be unable to survive. The problem is that nowadays, most people have too much of it. This can not only be detrimental to your health, it can also hurt your resume writing business. That's why it's a good idea to figure out what stressors are causing you problems and address them so you can be more productive and effective.

If you are having trouble losing weight, doctors will often recommend you keep a food diary. If you are having stomach issues, they will have you record food and digestive symptoms. Pain problems? Again, record your pain and anything that might trigger it.

If you're having trouble with stress, why not keep a stress diary? This can help you figure out not only what is causing you stress, but also what the most effective way to deal with it is.

You can use a blank notebook, or you can create your own form. Or, you can find stress journal forms online.

What you want to record each day is:

  • What stressor you have faced
  • How stressed you are.  Itís usually recommended to use a number scale instead of descriptive words.  This way you can easily compare different stressors and their effectiveness. 
  • Physical symptoms of stress.
  • What you did to ease your stress.
  • How well it worked. 


Once you've kept your stress diary for a while, you can then start analyzing it by looking at your stress and looking for patterns. It might help you figure out what stresses you out the most or what coping technique works best for you. You may also find things you didn't think you would -- for example, that you are less stressed in the evenings or around meal time.

The key in using a stress diary is actually doing something with the information you learn. If you're lucky, you will find a simple solution, like using a coping method to stressors that seems to work better than others. Then you can simply use this method and reduce your work stress.

While it may seem to be a bit complicated, stress diaries are fairly simple once you get the hang of them. This will not only help you work more effectively, it can also improve your health and even save your life.

If you are having trouble finding patterns and useful information in your stress diary, you might try taking it to a doctor or psychologist. They can not only help see issues, they can also help recommend more effective coping techniques for dealing with your stressors.

Once you figure out what causes you stress and how to best deal with it, you'll find yourself working and feeling better.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

CDI Offers Tip Sheets for Resume Writers

Since launching their library of downloadable expert tip sheets in March of 2013, Career Directors International has expanded upon the concept to now offer best practices in 24 different core areas for resume writers, career coaches, and career entrepreneurs. Sourced from the top minds in the industry, they provide at-your-fingertips advice to those wanting to save time, avoid reinventing the wheel, and know they are accessing the most up-to-date and cutting-edge data.



When Career Directors International (CDI), a global member-based organization of resume writers and career coaches, launched their Best Practices Tip Sheets program a year ago, they knew the sky was the limit on what could be done to improve functionality for industry professionals. Working with the guidance of their volunteer-based education committee, CDI has sought to address timely issues that plague their members.

CDI President, Laura DeCarlo, states, “We live in an era of information, which leads to overload, with much of that information being irrelevant or faulty. Our key goal with the Best Practices Tip Sheets is to help career professionals avoid a confusing and exhausting learning curve while allowing them to step out of the fray of data overload. The Best Practice Tip Sheets deliver timely, relevant information to solve the problems that plague them, whether it’s about writing a resume or handling a business-building challenge.”

CDI staff and volunteers have their ears to the ground, constantly monitoring internal discussions and industry trends and changes. In this manner they are able to pinpoint what their members need to know now so that they can deliver the standards that are needed industry-wide. Committee members work with the membership and other industry leaders to solicit, research, curate, and edit data to produce 1-2 tip sheets each month. Each tip sheet is meant to provide immediate value with a ready-made tip sheet that can be shared with job seeking clients or used by the professional to master a new skill set.

CDI’s current tip sheet library includes:

Business
  • Selecting a credit card processor
  • Calculating service prices/rates
  • Demonstrating cost of employment vs. cost of career services
  • Crafting a powerful and protective client agreement
  • Identifying and deflecting difficult clients
  • Setting boundaries and controlling clients
  • Strategies and tips for income tax preparation
  • Adding value to resume packages with bonus items
  • Using resume writing and career coaching guarantees
  • Relaxing and de-stressing
  • Taking a vacation without getting hassled or losing business

Interviewing, Job Search & Career Coaching
  • Creating interview portfolios
  • Helping older job seekers
  • Questioning strategies for coaching clients on job search
  • Strategies for job seeker telephone interview preparation
  • Educating clients on survival jobs
  • Networking for job search success

Resumes, Documents & Social Profiles
  • Creating LinkedIn profiles (8 pages!)
  • Helping older job seekers
  • Strategies for creating military transition documents
  • Handling employment gaps in the resume
  • Resumes and CVs for the UK (publishing soon)
  • Resumes and CVs for Canada (publishing soon)
  • Resumes and CVs for Australia (publishing soon)

The Best Practice Tip Sheets are just one of hundreds of ways CDI supports professionals within the careers industry. Members also have access to complementary resources including discussion support groups, mentorship programs, thousands of downloadable resources, articles, and tools; trend reports, business and marketing strategy, webinars and teleclasses, and over 70 hours of on-demand expert classes. More information can be found about membership on CDI’s benefits page.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Turn Resume Prospects Into Resume Clients

One of the most important reasons to have an opt-in mailing list of resume prospects (gained by getting visitors to your website and blog to sign up for your mailing list) is to smooth the peaks and valleys of your resume writing business.

If you've been in business for any length of time, you know that you're going to get tons of calls in January, April, and September. But you might find yourself twiddling your thumbs in July, unless you have a way of generating business.

That's why you continuously build a list of prospects, but don't wait until you need the client to fill a spot to start turning them into clients. Start from the moment they sign up for your list. If you do, when a spot comes open you'll have your choice of ideal clients from which to choose. You'll never be without the exact clients you want at the exact right time. Here's how.

Build TrustProvide all prospects with information and education freely without trying to sell to them. When someone signs up for your email list, or signs up for a teleseminar or webinar you're hosting, or reads one of your special reports or ebooks, they are trusting you to deliver a certain quality. Seek to exceed their expectations in order to build the trust they'll need to further open their wallet and choose you as their service provider. (Don't have time to create the content yourself? Check out Pass-Along Materials, which are done-for-you content packages that you can use in your resume writing business.)

Solve Their Problems
Jobseekers have problems. They have issues that you can solve with your expertise. If you can describe issues that your audience has and tell how you can solve those issues, then you show them that you provide solutions for them. But remember to solve the problem they ACTUALLY have, not the one that they THINK they have.

Jobseekers think they need a resume, but what they really need is job search support. They need someone to look at their skills, eduction, and experience and package it in such a way that it is attractive to someone in the position to hire them. In other words, you don't sell resume services … you sell interview-getting services.

Become a Resource
This might sound strange, but there will be resume prospects that you really can't help. But, you'll know someone else who can help them. It's important that you refer them to those people because 1) you've just made yourself a resource to your audience and 2) those whom you refer will remember the kindness and return the favor. Only recommend people you know will do a great job because next time that person needs work that you can do, they'll contact you again.

Provide a Fresh Perspective
Many prospective resume clients will come to you already frazzled. They need so much help that they don't even know where to begin. Take charge of the call (or email) and help your potential client make a list of what needs to be done ("You need a resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile update, and interview coaching") so that you can determine if you are right for the position. Help them think through the actions and work needed to reach their goal. Focusing on the goal will help your client focus too.

Finally, if you don't convert them to a paying resume client at the time of the first call, ask them to be part of your email list, so that they can receive more information. In addition, whether they're part of your list or not, follow up with them in a couple of weeks or a month or two to find out how things are going for them. (This is easy to do with an autoresponder like AWeber.)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Should You Consider Groupon?

On the NRWA E-List, Tiffany Benitez asked about using Groupon in her resume writing business.

Here is my response:

Groupon and similar services (LivingSocial, local daily deal sites, etc.) can be a great way to boost the visibility of your resume writing business and drive new clients and revenue. I personally know of one NLP (neurolinguistic programming) practitioner who secured 6,000 new clients to a membership program he promoted through Groupon.

A few years ago, I advised a marketing client on their local Daily Deal launch, and it was the Daily Deal site's most successful promotion to that date (and still ranks in the top 10 all-time), so this is a topic that I know something about! They sold out of their special offer, selling $30,000 in gift cards in under 12 hours, although the promotion was set to run for 72 hours (they netted $7,500 – the gift cards sold for 50% off their retail price, and they received 50% of the net revenues).

However, Groupon also has the potential to ruin your business. One-third of businesses who offer Groupon deals lose money on them. And really, you should look at it as a marketing expense, rather than a revenue generator. (There are better ways to jump start your marketing.) So tread carefully.

How do you know if Groupon (or similar services) are right for you?Services like this work best if you charge under $500 for your typical resume/cover letter package and/or you really need clients. Are you willing to use it as a lead generation service and work to build your mailing list in the hopes of converting some of these folks to full-price clients eventually?

Groupon *can* work for service businesses, but not how you would typically think of it. Instead of offering your typical resume and/or cover letter service as your Groupon special, instead offer a product or "fixed" service that can be a "lead-in" to your regular career communication services. Doing a resume for 65% off when it takes you 100% of the time and effort it normally does, doesn't work.

People who would be looking for a resume writer on Groupon aren't probably your "ideal" client. (However, you may attract some people who could *become* an ideal client.) And Groupon will either overwhelm you with customers (numerous photographers and other service businesses have almost been put out of business by Groupon, LivingSocial, etc.) or you won't get much interest at all (but the listing will stay out there "forever" and hurt your other marketing because it will show a seriously discounted rate you're willing to offer -- even though YOU know the trade-off for the low rate is visibility and exposure, potential clients will just see that you're willing to offer your services "at 65% off!")

However, you can use Groupon (and other services, like Fiverr.com) as a lead-generation tool. But you need to do it in a way that you're leveraging your time wisely.

So, consider offering one of these instead:
  • Resume review (using a standardized template form) and ebook – regularly $79 (even if Groupon sells it for $39 -- you'd get around $20), you can do a review in 15 minutes (or, partner with a new resume writer to do the reviews and help serve resulting clients).
  • Discounted registration for an online teleseminar/webinar on a career-related topic (something super meaty -- like Using LinkedIn in a Job Search). It can also be a good way to drive traffic to an in-person workshop or seminar. [Groupon can be used to promote events and workshops -- in fact, these are more likely to be approved.]
  • Fixed-term membership program – for example, a 4-part course on writing your own resume. (As you know, lots of people who purchase self-help resources end up upgrading to a done-for-you service). Other fixed-term topics that may lead you into your full-priced resume services would be things NOT related to resumes/cover letters directly -- i.e., salary negotiation, interviewing strategies, making a career change, LinkedIn, or creating a brag book for your career.
  • One-on-one coaching session (structured session on a specific topic -- like interview preparation or LinkedIn Summary Review or salary negotiation) or a discount on a multiple-session coaching package (like 4 or 6 coaching sessions).

Consider your price point for what you offer carefully. You are asked to discount what you're offering up to 90% (off retail pricing). Know what your time value is (base price you charge per hour, even if you don't actually bill clients an hourly rate) so that you're not overcommitting yourself. Take into consideration not just the time you're spending servicing clients, but also the time to set up the offer and provide customer service (including answer questions from prospective buyers).

Before submitting your application to Groupon, prepare yourself/your business. For example, if you want to do offer #1 above, you'd want to put up a page on your website with the $79 critique + ebook offer (so they can see you already sell this at FULL price -- even if you haven't sold any yet). You also need to write the ebook so you can show them a sample if they ask. If you wanted to do offer #2 above, you'd go ahead and put together the workshop curriculum and teach it at least once (even if it's offered as a bonus at no charge for existing clients) -- so you can record it and provide a copy of the recording to Groupon to show the value (if requested). And, most important, have the systems in place to facilitate a flood of orders, if it materializes.

When you're using Groupon as a lead-generating tool, it's really to build your mailing list. So you want to make sure you have a mechanism in place to capture their information when they redeem their Groupon voucher -- for example, using an autoresponder (like AWeber) with a form to enter their name and voucher number that returns an email requesting they send their resume as an attachment, and providing the download link for the ebook, and then has a series of emails that lead them into the purchase of your other services (resume and cover letter, LinkedIn critique, LinkedIn training program, etc.). Again, you want it as automated as possible.

Other tips:
  • Limit the number of vouchers you sell. You can always extend the deal or offer it again, but a scarcity premise helps. (Groupon will have some input into the minimum number offered, but you can insist on a cap.)
  • Let buyers buy one voucher for themselves and one as a gift.
  • If you can, do *two* offers together -- one for a low-priced product (<$50) and one for a higher priced (>$150). This gives people a choice, so they can choose something they want. But make sure BOTH offers are on the same topic – like a "DIY" option for $49 and a done-for-you service for $199. (This also establishes the value of YOUR expertise -- they're paying you for your time.) 
  • Research offers made by similar practitioners in other markets. This can also help with your application to Groupon by showing what's worked in other areas.
  • Research what's being offered in YOUR area too. Look at past deals -- what sold well? What didn't?
  • Market it yourself too! One of the best things Groupon offers is visibility and exposure. Leverage it by sharing with YOUR tribe too (your existing mailing list, on your social media platforms, etc.)
If you get turned down by Groupon, consider local daily deal sites instead. Two local newspapers in my area offer their own daily deal sites. Google "daily deal" and "your city" to find a local site.

Here was an offer made on a local Daily Deal site affiliated with a local university):


Also, you could consider offering your OWN daily deal. You can use a service like Constant Contact's "Offers" (which has a social marketing component), or Facebook Offers on your Page (as long as you have at least 50 Likes).
What are your thoughts about using Groupon in your resume writing business? Leave me a comment or question below.

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