Monday, June 30, 2008

QuickBooks Plug-in

Is your resume writing service one of 2.6 million small businesses using QuickBooks to maintain your financial records? I heard about a new product from my credit card merchant account provider that may interest you.

The SmartPayments™ products introduced by Hypercom intergrate electronic payments into QuickBooks Accounting software that may save you time and resources.

SmartPayments products are Microsoft Windows plug-in applications designed to capture transaction data from many popular Point-of-Sale (POS) applications. These products allow your business to process payment card transactions, automatically transmit the data to First National Merchant Solutions (my merchant account provider) and simultaneously update your QuickBooks Accounting software.

The integrated solutions support multiple users, include robust reporting features, and are set to auto-close your daily credit card transactions.

If you're interested in more information, call Hypercom at 888-679-0240. (It's possible the product works with your credit card merchant account provider too.)

I use Mac products exclusively, so I haven't tried this, but I thought it might be of interest to resume writers who process a large number of credit card transactions each day (for example, resume writers who subcontract their writing out to other resume writers.)

Friday, June 27, 2008

When Mother Nature Attacks...



Just yesterday, I talked with my insurance agent after receiving my business insurance renewal policy. I wanted to make sure that my coverage was still adequate, since it had been a couple of years since I'd looked at it.

Good thing. A huge, fast-moving storm moved through today, packing 80- to 100-mile-per hour winds. We lost two of our mature trees in our yard (see photos), although it could have been much worse. Neither tree hit the house -- although the way the wind was blowing in (straight from the west), the one in the back yard should have crashed into the house. Instead, it fell to the south, taking out the fence, but sparing the house.

Although we didn't have damage that would require filing an insurance claim, I'm glad that I have business insurance (in addition to our regular homeowner's insurance). If the tree had come into the house, we'd have business interruption coverage that would help replace the lost income from not being able to work while the home was being repaired.

As I told my husband MANY times today ... it could have been a lot worse.

Let our loss be your gain -- take the time to double-check your insurance coverage. Make sure your limits are adequate for your equipment, and consider business interruption coverage.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ideas for "Prospering Despite a Downturn Market"

As I mentioned last week in my post on Free Continuing Education, Career Directors International offers free monthly "Best Practices" teleclasses to help resume writers and career coaches brainstorm best practices.

Yesterday, I cleared my schedule for an hour to listen to the most recent one, "Best Practices in Prospering Despite a Downturn Market." There were some great ideas. I was particularly interested in some of the strategies shared by career coach Laura Drew, of Carolina Career Coach, Inc.

One of Laura Drew's best practices is quite attention-getting. She ordered double-sided business cards from VistaPrint. On the back side is a list of teleclasses she offers. She also ordered a baseball cap that has "JOB HUNTING?" in all capital letters. On the business cards, she wrote the word "Hat" in the corner. When she wears her hat out in public (while she's running her errands, she notes), people ask her about the hat, and she gives them her "elevator pitch" and business card.

In one recent outing, she took 50 business cards with her; by the time she got home, she had distributed 47 of them. Those 47 cards turned into 13 paying clients.

That's just one of the ideas from the teleclass. There were more. Members of Career Directors International can access the MP3 audio files from all previous calls, including:
  • Background Investigations Mega Trends
  • Best Practices in Career Services Pricing
  • Best Practices in Coaching Clients Using SWOT Analysis
  • Best Practices in Creating Resume USPs
  • Best Practices in Millennial Resume Writing
  • Media Strategies Tips Seminar
  • New Trends in Interviewing
  • Paperless Resumes Mega Trends Report
  • Resume Fraud Mega Trends Report
  • Selling Career Research Services to Clients
  • Social Networking Mega Trends Report
  • Toast of the Resume Industry (TORI) Q&A
  • 2008 CDI Conference (Seattle, WA) Q&A
  • World's Best Resume Writer Competition Q&A
And here are the upcoming free teleclasses from Career Directors International:
  • July 22: Best Practices in Advertising Your Career Service Business
  • Aug. 12: Best Practices in While Life/Office Organization
  • Aug. 20: International Resume and Career Services Q&A
  • Sept. 16: Best Practices in Resume Data Mining (Client Information Gathering)
Laura DeCarlo is offering a special CDI membership offer for Resume Writers' Digest readers: Join CDI by July 31 and save $25 off the regular membership. Use this link: JOIN CDI and type in "Resume Writers Digest" in the comments box. The cart will show $150, but your credit card will only be charged $125 (you save $25).

Here's another quote from a CDI member who also listened to the best practices audio:

"I just finished listening to the recording of the 'Prospering Despite a Downturn Market' teleseminar. WOW!!! An hour of my time well spent. Thanks, Laura, for giving us such an extensive list of great, mostly free, ways to market and build business. I'm glad I was keyboarding everything you said, so I didn't miss much. You offered a number of specific things to do and places to go to get them done -- things I can get moving on right away. Some are things already on my to-do list, some are new ideas to me. A terrific push to be proactive and work thorugh slow times. I'm all fired up and anxious to get started."
-- Meg Guiseppi, Executive Resume Branding


Free Business Cards Plus 14 Day Free Shipping $50+

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Cinderella Story

Wow, what a story of persistence. As I wrote in yesterday's post, the Georgia Bulldogs took on the Fresno State Bulldogs in game three of the College World Series, college baseball's national championship. Down 5-0 in last night's game, the Fresno State team battled back to win 19-10, evening the series to 1 win apiece.


So it all came down to tonight's game. Fresno State took a 6-0 lead and never looked back, winning the national championship 6-1. This was a true team effort -- pitching by committee, no first round MLB draft picks (although Georgia had 2 on their side, including ace closer Josh Fields), two of their best players battered and bruised (two playing with serious hand injuries) -- and their star pitcher had been injured earlier in the year and didn't even make the trip to Omaha.

Called one of the "greatest sports stories in recent years," the unseeded Fresno State team was an unlikely national champion. But they gutted it out.

"Fresno State was forecast to be a Top 25 team coming into the season, but the Bulldogs lost 12 of their first 20 games. They needed to win the Western Athletic Conference tournament just to make the NCAA field of 64, fought off elimination in regionals and super regionals, and became the first No. 4 regional seed to reach the CWS since the tournament expanded in 1999."

I tell you this story because it's an inspirational tale. Sure, your client may not have the qualifications on paper, but if they can just get the chance to do the job, they can "hit one out of the ballpark." In the end, the one that wins is not the one with all the credentials, but with the guts.

Congratulations to the Fresno State Bulldogs...



(The 2008 College World Series theme song -- with some great shots of Omaha -- oh, and cornfields...)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Omaha, USA

ImageKeep your eyes on Omaha this week -- my hometown is a hotbed of sports activity this week as college baseball's national champion will be decided tomorrow in the College World Series as Georgia takes on Fresno State -- go Fresno State!

Then, from June 29 to July 6, Omaha's Qwest Center is the home to the Olympic Swim Trials. Michael Phelps will be here!


Omaha's a great place to live ... I can't help but brag. Maybe we'll get one of the professional associations to hold their conference here someday ...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Starting Up, Starting Over

For many years, in my daily planner (I love my Franklin Covey planner), I had a page I called, "If I Had to Do It Over." On it were the steps I would take if I were starting my resume writing business all over again. I get a lot of inquiries from new resume writing businesses, wondering about success secrets from those who are making it work.

Here are a couple of ideas for those who are getting started -- or thinking about reinventing themselves.
  • If I were starting this business today, from scratch, what would I do differently?
  • If I ran a competing firm, how would I beat us? How would I distinguish myself? What weaknesses would I attack? (Price, service, customization, turnaround times?)
  • What are you known for?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Option Paralysis

I'm re-reading a great book, "What Clients Love: A Field Guide To Growing Your Business," by Harry Beckwith (who is probably best known for his first book, "Selling the Invisible.")

On page 47, he talks about "Option Overload":

"Knowing they cannot know and understand all their options, they increasingly choose the most trustworthy and seemingly competent person -- or choose no one at all."

He adds, "Today's clients cannot chose among services and products -- they cannot gather all the information. So they choose among people."

Researchers at Stanford University found that we suffer from "option paralysis" with even simple products. Faced with a few varieties of jams and jellies to choose from, most people will buy at least one jar. When given more options, however, they usually leave empty-handed."

How does this apply to your resume writing service? One popular pricing method throughout the years has been to offer clients "levels" of service -- usually bronze, silver, and gold packages. But offering clients too many choices may keep them from deciding at all.

You might consider offering:
  • Resume Only (digital files)
  • Resume and Cover Letter (digital files)
  • Resume Only (with laserprints and CD)
  • Resume and Cover Letter (with laserprints and CD)
But go too much beyond those four options, and you're likely to induce "option paralysis." Just something to consider...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Become a Get Hired Now Facilitator

get clients now facilitator's kit

In the September/October 07 issue of Resume Writers' Digest, I wrote an article about the "Get Hired Now!" program and how resume writers and career coaches can become licensed facilitators as an additional revenue stream and service for their clients.

The Get Hired Now! licensee program is designed to provide group coaching and training for job seekers. The program consists of a three-hour seminar designed to be delivered to groups of 2-20 people and follow-up group coaching sessions conducted in person or by phone (teleseminar).

There are two licensing options -- the basic kit for $495 and the Masterful Facilitator Training option for $695, which includes four hours of additional training covering tips for conducting successful groups as well as marketing and selling the Get Hired Now! program.

If you're interested in learning more about becoming a Get Hired Now! facilitator, sign up for the free Q&A session about becoming a facilitator on July 30 at 2 p.m. EST.

The next Get Hired Now! Masterful Facilitator Training Program will be offered Aug. 6-27, 208 (four Wednesdays) from 4-5 p.m. EDT.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Free Continuing Education

The price of gas is up; airfares are outrageous; you can't even THINK about leaving your office for more than a day ... what's a resume writer who wants to keep on learning to do?

One option is teleseminars and webinars. I list lots of those in each issue of Resume Writers' Digest -- but did you know there are FREE teleseminars out there too? In addition to the ones I've listed on here from the Reach Branding Club, if you're a member of Career Directors International, you can also take advantage of their free teleseminars. And if you're not able to attend the live call, you can download the audio from the Members Only section of their website at any time!

An e-mail from Laura DeCarlo caught my attention as a member was raving about a recent program* on "Prospering Despite a Downturn Market" So I checked out some other programs that are available in the free section. Here are just a few of the other offerings:
  • Background Investigation Mega Trends
  • Best Practices in Career Services Pricing
  • Best Practices in Creating Resume USPs
  • Media Strategies Tips Seminar
  • Resume Fraud Mega Trends Report

If you're already a member of Career Directors International, log in to the Members Only section and click on "Audio Recordings." If you're not a member, consider joining. Go to www.careerdirectors.com and click on "Future Members" for a list of membership benefits. Click on the "Join Now" button on the right side of the page.

If you join by July 31 and mention "Resume Writers' Digest" in the "Special Instructions Field," you'll save $25 off the regular $150 membership rate! (Note: The cart will show $150, but when you type "Resume Writers Digest" in the comments box, it will be processed at the special rate of $125.)

* This quote from Laura Labovich of A & E Consulting, LLC, is what caught my attention in the e-mail:

"To think I almost missed the call! My head is spinning since the call ended. I wish I had been more prepared to take notes, because the ideas that were suggested were nothing short of brilliant. I honestly did not want the call to end. In short, I learned easy ways to increase my exposure in the marketplace during a market downturn, without spending a lot of money or dumping my last dollar into advertising. I think this could be a 10-part series, and I know that I wouldn't miss a single one. What a great class...thank you!"

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Survey: Heavy Workloads Affecting Financial Folks

Accounting and finance professionals are feeling the pressure of heavy workloads, according to a new Accountemps survey. Thirty-five percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed said heavy workloads are the number-one workplace concern for their financial teams. Coming in second was job security, with 19%.

The survey was developed by Accountemps, the world's first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance, and bookkeeping professionals, and conducted by an independent research firm. It was based on telephone interviews with more than 1400 CFOs across the United States.

Executives were asked: Which one of the following do you think is the greatest source of work-related concerns for finance and accounting professionals?

Their responses:
  • Heavy workloads - 35%
  • Job security - 19%
  • Corporate governance mandates/compliance issues - 17%
  • Personnel issues (coworker conflicts, office politics) - 14%
  • Work/life balance issues - 11%
  • None of these - 2%
  • Other/Don't Know - 2%
"The combination of compliance mandates, traditional projects and shifting priorities has challenged accounting and finance professionals to keep up with their growing workloads," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International and author of "Human Resources Kit for Dummies: Second Edition." "The problem is further compounded by a shortage of highly skilled candidates in many specialties."

Friday, June 13, 2008

Business, Interrupted

http://llnw.image.cbslocal.com/0/2008/05/03/320x240/tornadoes_midwest.jpg
Omaha has gotten pounded by storms over the past few weeks. Last Thursday night, we had tornadoes and high winds. Sunday morning, I was awakened by tornado sirens at 2:30 a.m. (two tornadoes damaged the suburb areas of Omaha, causing $20 million in damage). And then on Wednesday night, we had more tornadoes (including a twister that killed four Boy Scouts at a training camp less than an hour north of the city), plus marble-sized hail, and enough rain to start a river running down my street.

Weather is an issue wherever you live. From earthquakes and wildfires in California to hurricanes in the South, to tornadoes in the Midwest, there's a high likelihood that sometime during the course of your business ownership, something will happen that will interrupt your business.

In Nebraska and in Iowa, saturated ground can't handle any more rain; flooding is already a problem.


A couple of years back, I wrote an article for Resume Writers' Digest about this subject. Rather than dig it out again, I'm just going to give you the highlights of what you should do to make sure you're protected.
  • Make sure you have adequate insurance. You should have a separate business policy to cover yourself -- and it should include business interruption coverage. In the event of an extended event, it will replace some of your lost income. Make sure you also have adequate coverage for your business equipment. Some personal policies have a "cap" on the total amount of computers and similar equipment covered (could be as low as $2,000-$3,000). If that's the case, add a rider to your personal policy to increase your coverage.
  • Inventory your home and office. Most people are unaware that if you have a claim -- especially an extensive one -- your insurance agent will need a list of all of your possessions, including purchase dates and serial numbers. Not only will having this information readily available increase the likelihood that you are reimbursed for everything you lost (who can remember everything you own in a time of disaster?), but it will also speed up processing of your claim. I recommend hiring a member of the National Association of Home Inventory Professionals to do this. (Otherwise, it's one of those items on your to-do list that you "always meant to" get around to, but didn't.) Make sure you keep a copy of your inventory offsite too (mail it to a friend who doesn't live near you, or a relative). Keep it updated -- check it at least every six months and add new purchases.
  • Back it up. This is another subject I've talked about before -- and honestly, I'm not as good about it as I should be. So make it automatic! Subscribe to an online service that offers automatic backup capabilities. For the stuff that can't be backed up online automatically, make it a habit to back that up on the first day of each month. And be sure to keep a copy of your backup offsite!! It will do you no good to have a backup in your basement if it floods and everything is destroyed.
  • Buddy up. I've talked about this concept before in terms of having a professional will, but it's also vital in an emergency. Partner up with a colleague in another part of the country who would be able to take your calls and handle new business and projects while you're in recovery mode. Keep an emergency list of contacts, including your buddy and the phone number (and passwords) you'd need to transfer your phone service and give your colleague access to your e-mail and website.

No one likes to think about this kind of disaster affecting your life -- but if you're in business long enough, it's inevitable. In the past week alone, we've dealt with wind damage and power losses. In the past, an ice storm knocked out our power for 12 days.

So take a cue from the Boy Scouts -- and BE PREPARED!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Have You Been Critiqued by TheLadders?

There has been some controversy in the resume writing community lately as clients of a few resume writers have submitted their new resume to The Ladders for a free resume critique and come back to their resume writer with the feedback that the client's resume needs further help.

I received an e-mail from a member of the Career Management Alliance that TheLadders is concerned about this issue, and wants your feedback:

IF YOU'VE BEEN UNFAIRLY CRITIQUED…THELADDERS WANTS TO KNOW:

Daniel Cohen from TheLadders writes the following:

TheLadders.com is committed to providing the best possible services to our current and future members. We are equally committed to working to promote goodwill in the resume writing community.

If you feel your work has been unfairly critiqued please send an email to Daniel.Cohen@theladders.com. The following information, while not required, will allow him to investigate the matter and make sure that all necessary action is taken;

Please provide:
-Client name
-Client email address
-Copy of the resume you provided (so I can verify it is the same one sent in
for a critique)

If you are one of the resume writers involved, and you want to share (anonymously, of course) what the situation is ... call me at (402) 393-4600. I'll report the details, but will keep your specific information confidential.

Monday, June 9, 2008

World's Best Resume Writer (WBRW)

It's the ultimate bragging right: World's Best Resume Writer.

Career Directors International is launching a worldwide search for the "best of the best" -- the top three resume writers in the world with their new "World's Best Resume Writer" competition.

The contest is open to any English-writing resume writer in the world. You do not have to be a member of CDI to enter. The contest will be judged by a judges panel comprised of HR managers, senior recruiters, OD specialists, and several certified resume writers.

Unlike other resume writing contests -- including CDI's Toast of the Resume Industry (TORI) competition -- all entrants will be working from the same client information. You will receive a note file on a target client in the sales and sales management field.

Laura DeCarlo will be lead a free 30-minute Q&A call tomorrow, Tuesday, June 10 at Noon Eastern time. The conference dial in number is 651-715-3300. Your participant access code is 506334#.

The entry fee is $39.95 (one entry per person) and you'll receive a copy of the CDI Resume Writing Guide, a $39.95 value, with your entry.

Visit the CDI website for more information. The entry deadline is Nov. 1.

You can also read more information about this contest in the May/June issue of Resume Writers' Digest.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Resume Addendum

At the NRWA conference in Scottsdale in 2006, the icebreaker at the pre-conference welcome party was a game where a resume term would be affixed to your back, and you'd have to ask other guests questions to see if you could identify what you were.

I was a "resume addendum," a document that I rarely produce (and wasn't able to guess in Scottsdale, despite some great clues from my husband and others).

But Friday, I saw a client situation that clearly called for a resume addendum. My client, Joe, is an executive with a 30-year work history. His early experience was in developing international markets -- in his words, he was "the guy that gets off the plane and sets up the company's office in Dubai." This was in the early to mid 1980s, mind you. He later became a guru in the world of franchising, creating the systems that sustained hundreds of franchise outlets for a couple of different franchise companies.

Joe came to me with the challenge of turning his bio (the only career document he had) into a resume -- actually, two resumes, at my suggestion. The first resume I created targeted franchisor systems development, where he'd spent the bulk of the last 20 years. The second was a chronological format that included his earlier international business experience.

Joe loved the first resume -- and got immediate, positive feedback on it from several recruiters and hiring managers, including a few outside the franchise field. And that led to a phone call in which he expressed his disappointment in the second, international-focused resume.

Upon further exploration, we initially came up with a solution to his major complaint: that his international experience was "buried" in the resume, since it was chronological in nature -- despite my highlighting the relevant experience in the Qualifications Profile.

My first thought was to make the second section of the resume (after the Qualifications Profile) into an "International Business Experience" section, minus the dates that would clearly who that this experience was almost as old as I am.

But in further conversation with Joe, I discovered that he really loved everything about his franchise resume -- he just wanted an extra page he could add on when he wanted to target a position using his international experience.

Aha! A situationg fit for a resume addendum! So this weekend, I'll be working to create a page that fits the formatting and style of the original franchise resume, but that highlights his early international business experience.

I'll let you know how it all works out ...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Stuck In a Rut

It's been a busy week around here ... I don't know if it's something in the water, or something in the air, but all of a sudden, I've gotten three new projects yesterday from quotes I did a couple of weeks ago. Which is great ... but it certainly fits that "feast or famine" adage.

But lately, I find myself creatively challenged with the resumes. Not with the content, but with the design. Looking back to more than 15 years ago when I first started writing resumes, design wasn't a problem. I could use great fonts to help create an attractive document. But when I transitioned to a fully virtual practice in 2004, I had to make the change to providing resumes in primarily Arial, Times New Roman, and Verdana. B-O-R-I-N-G. But font compatibility and system issues meant that providing a resume in one of those boring fonts meant I could spend less time troubleshooting file problems (which I don't charge for) and more time writing (which I do charge for).

But now I'm feeling stuck in a rut. I haven't bought a new resume book in probably two years. There hasn't been a good session on resume design at a conference (at least not one I've been to) in a while .... I'm looking for inspiration. Anyone have any good recommendations for a book with some great designs using these tried-and-true fonts? I'd love to have someone write an article for a future issue of Resume Writers' Digest on this subject. If you're interested, or know of a great resource, post a comment or e-mail me at RWDigest@aol.com.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Industry Reputation Update

A job seeker posted a comment on my Sept. 2007 "Industry Reputation" thread today. It's the third one from a job seeker who found the post by Googling either "Resume Pro Writers" or "Stanford Writing Institute."

He wrote:

Wow. Thanks for posting this. I was just about to contact Resume Pro Writers when a little voice told me to Google the Stanford Writing Institute. You just saved me $125 and two weeks of aggravation. Thanks again, and good luck in your job search.

I guess I should be writing a couple of posts each month about how to choose a resume writer and other positive attributes of working with the professional resume writing community. Plus, all of you who are interested in getting more exposure should be contacting me to get profiled... a topic I'll get into more when I finally get around to writing up my impressions of the great teleseminar with branding expert Rob Frankel. (As I imagined, he had some great insights about branding both yourself as a resume writer and your clients...)

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