Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Nine Takeaways From the NRWA Conference

There were a LOT of takeaways from the 2016 NRWA conference in Annapolis. You can read some of my tweets at the #theNRWAConf2016 hashtag, but I did a Facebook Live broadcast today with my top nine takeaways. You can watch them here.

Here's part one (takeaways #1-7):





And here's the second video (takeaways #8-9)






Takeaway #1: Jean Austin: Presenting Your Clients' Talents, or Answering the Big "So What" Question?


Sometimes we forget that accomplishments do not have to include numbers -- they can be things that can't easily be measured. Here are some questions you can ask:


  • Did they complete a project ahead of schedule?
  • Did they satisfy an unhappy customer?
  • Do they go above and beyond the scope of their job?
  • What would others who worked with them say they contributed?


Takeaway #2: Thomas Powner: Cover Letters: Adding the Human Touch to Ignite an Interview


Thomas got us thinking about the reder of the cover letter. What do they want to know about the jobseeker?


He sent a cover letter survey to 190 recruiters, hiring managers, and interviewers. One-hundred sixty people participated. Some highlights of his findings:


  • 63% read the cover letter
  • 49% read the cover letter after the resume

Powner developed what he calls the "Human Voice Cover Letter," which includes four elements:
  • Opening statements that connect the jobseeker to the company
  • 3-5 "human voice" snapshots
  • Answer any questions asked in the ad
  • Closing statement/call to action

Takeaway #3: Colleen McKenna: "LinkedIn: It's Not Social, It's Business"
  • 5.4 people are now involved in most corporate decisions -- including hiring. That means more than one person is looking at your LinkedIn profile.
  • The number one activity on LinkedIn is looking at people's profiles -- everyone's sounds the same. The ones that stand out talk about the "why."
  • 60% of people look at LinkedIn profiles from a mobile device -- keep it short and sweet.
  • If you're using LinkedIn Publishing, experiment with Sunday morning posts. One thing McKenna said is that she thinks browsing social media has replaced the old habit of reading the newspaper on Sunday mornings.
  • If you want to increase your chances of getting your LinkedIn Publishing posts picked up on LinkedIn Pulse, have great content. Publish frequently. Use hashtags. Include 5-6 images on video. And produce long content -- 750 to 1000 words.

Takeaway #4: Kimberly Schneiderman: Recruiters: Answers to Everything

I think my favorite session at the conference was Kimberly's. She took the initiative to conduct a survey of 273 recruiters and hiring managers (plus 10 one-on-one interviews) using the RiseSmart database. 


She shared the results with NRWA conference attendees -- including dozens and dozens of relevant takeaways. Some of my favorites:
  • 40.7% cited LinkedIn as an online source of candidates.
  • "Oneline job boards might results in an interview, but they are LESS likely to result in a job offer." Very interesting.
  • 67% of recruiters actually use their Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). So it's particularly important for resume writers to make a strong tie between the client's job requirements and the position.
  • Some recruiters said an unnecessarily long resume will date you.
  • 84% of companies use in-person or phone interviews. Only 4% use recorded video Q&As.

NOTE: If you use any of these statistics, please credit Kimberly Schneiderman/RiseSmart



Takeaway #5: Pricing Town Hall

One of the neatest things about conferences is the opportunity to interact with other participants before and after sessions, and learn from them in the sessions. Conference chair Dawn Rasmussen added four concurrent "Town Hall" sessions this year to allow this kind of interaction among participants. I attended the one on pricing.

The content in this session was generated by participants. Here's some of my takeaways:
  • Several resume writers said they have trouble quoting high prices over the phone -- so they tell clients they will email them a proposal.
  • Remember that not everyone who calls you is a customer.
  • Ask questions before you quote a price. (This will help you determine if you're a fit with the client's needs, and if they're a fit for your process.) You can use the "First Call Questions" special report to help identify questions to ask.
  • If you're not rejected everyone once in a while (told your prices are "too high"), your prices are too low.

NOTE: If you are a Free or Bronze level member of BeAResumeWriter.com, sign in and check out the Free Level Resources page for some additional pricing research and resources!


Takeaway #6: Robin Schlinger: Applicant Tracking Systems

I always love Robin's insight into Applicant Tracking Systems -- even if the information scares me a bit. ATS software is more pervasive than ever, and is probably the number one thing that will impact the resumes we write in the next 1-5 years.


Here's what she had to say:


  • Taleo ATS software is being used by 36.4% of companies -- or about 1/3 of jobs that are publicly advertised. How can you tell? The job posting may say "Powered by Taleo" or the URL of the job posting may include Taleo.
  • Robin likes to give clients ONE resume (not an ATS friendly one and a non-ATS-friendly one).
  • Font doesn't matter with the ATS. Standard bullets may not be read, but they don't mess up keywords if they're not read correctly, unlike text words. Robin pointed out that accented words will screw up keywords. This also applies to client names with an accent mark -- like José -- as one participant on the Facebook Live broadcast pointed out.
  • Tables, graphics, and columns CAN mess up fiends in the ATS -- "like big-time mess up" -- it can put data in the wrong fields entirely. Robin pointed out, however, that it won't "kick out" the resume -- that's a scam. But you won't know if a particular company's ATS software can overcome the formatting issues. So, better safe than sorry.

Robin also shared "Known ATS requirements":
  • Use standard header names to help the ATS categorize information (i.e., "Education," "Training," "Work Experience," etc.)
  • Do not put titles after the client's name -- i.e., MBA, CPRW, PE. These may cause problems with data field population too.
  • Here was an interesting one I'd never heard before: Did you know that Taleo has a setting that (if enabled), allows the hiring manager to reject all resumes without a physical address on it? So include the address, city, and state. Just in case.
  • Repetition is encouraged in ATS-friendly resumes, even if it duplicates information from work experience to work experience. Duplicate content can strengthen keyword density.

Takeaway #7: Modernize Your Resumes: Content, Format, and Design with Wendy Enelow

Following immediately after Robin Schlinger's session on ATS resumes, the logical question (one asked by audience member Thomas Powner and deftly answered by Wendy, was: How do these beautiful resumes fit into an ATS-friendly (ugly!) world? 

Wendy's answer: She would only do these types of resumes (with images, tables, charts, and other graphics) if the client's job search was focused primarily on networking and referrals. If you're not doing an ATS resume, graphics, tables, and images can communicate information effectively and succinctly.

One thing that hasn't changed with the "modern" resume format -- the importance of the top third of the first page of the resume. Wendy advocates "Start With the Wow" -- make every word count in this area. Consider including third-party endorsements and testimonials for additional impact.

Also, Wendy says to consider fonts and design choices on the modern resume -- they need to correlate with the client's desired industry and their personality.

Takeaway #8: So, Tell Me About Yourself … Translating Personal Branding Into Powerful Resumes and Interview Skills with Elaine Lien and Lucie Yeomans

There's no more powerful testimonial for the information that Elaine and Lucie shared than the fact that right before their presentation, Lucie swept the ROAR Awards (Recognizing Outstanding Achievements in Resumes) for Experienced Resume Writers. To me, that really communicated the value of assessments that they use in their branding work. Specifically, they focused on the Reach360, DISC, and StrengthsFinder assessments.

Lucie emphasized how having this assessment information helped her overcome writer's block -- the data gives her both concrete information and a point of view for her client, which makes the resume easier to write.

With the StrengthsFinder, she buys and sends the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book to clients. Each book contains a unique code for clients to go online and take the assessment. She then asks them to send the results to her. (Individual tests can also be purchased online here.)

Again, this strategy is obviously working for Lucie, as her award-winning resumes demonstrate. Assessments like these are things that more of us resume writers probably need to be using.

Takeaway #9: "5 Steps to Creating a Million Dollar Brand" with Dr. Brandi Baldwin-Rana

"Doctor Brandi" was hilarious, and I wish more of the attendees had been able to participate in her presentation. As is usually the case, though, attendees who departed the conference early to make a flight missed this fabulous closing session.

One of the things that resonated most strongly with me is her assertion that resume writers need to work on their own branding. "Perception matters," she noted. (I always say that resume writers/career professionals are like the proverbial "shoemaker's kids" -- they're always barefoot.)

Doctor Brandi suggests creating an Ideal Client profile and using that to attract your perfect clients. (I believe strongly in that too!) She also had attendees write down "3 words that describe your brand." This was a fun exercise.

Then, she encouraged resume writers to align their ideal client profile and personal brand and articulate it -- and COMMIT to it. She said "you never want to be off brand."  


There were a LOT more takeaways from the NRWA Conference, and I'll be sharing more of them, so stay tuned!




Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Career Professionals: Are You Making These Mistakes With Your Social Media?

On our "Social Media Strategies" call last month, Sean asked me to come up with the "Biggest Mistakes Resume Writers Make On Social Media."

Here is an excerpt of four items from that list of mistakes.

Sean asked me to handle the part about the biggest mistakes that résumé writers make because, again, this is an area that I have not only a lot of interest in -- but I also analyze a lot of what those of us who are posting on social media have done.

Mistake #1: Not Posting EnoughThe first mistake that I have seen is that you’re not posting enough. That’s one of those things that’s a hard thing to handle -- especially when you’re getting started, or you have a small following. You think, “Gosh, is it worth my time and effort to put that content out there, if nobody is reading it?” But the neat thing about social media is it has a huge shelf life. So even things that you have posted months ago or weeks ago you can always resurface that content as your audience continues to grow. Not posting enough is probably the biggest mistake.

Aligned with that is not prescheduling content. I talked before we started the call recording, a lot of us obviously wear a lot of hats, and so I know when I get busy with working with my actual one-to-one resume clients, the stuff that suffers the most is my marketing -- my blogging, my social media posting -- so one of the things that you can do is if you’re finding yourself in a slow period, go ahead and preschedule content. I use Hootsuite -- as well as Facebook’s native ability to preschedule posts -- so that I have content that is out there on a more regular basis, otherwise I look up, and suddenly it has been a week and I haven’t put anything out there. Make sure that you are using your time and scheduling the content ahead of time when you’re not as busy, so that it is out there on a consistent basis.

Consistency in social media is probably one of those things that’s universally not done well. People tend to post a whole bunch of stuff and then they go silent -- and you just don’t want to do that, because Facebook in particular is going to penalize you, if that is the case. If you haven’t had a lot of engagement from your followers in a while, then they (Facebook) take your post out of the news feed -- and that’s what Sean is talking about in terms of organic reach -- the ability for you to reach folks who have raised their hand and said, “Hey, I want to get content from you, related to the job search.”

Mistake #2: Only Posting on Your Facebook Business PageAnother big mistake that I’ve seen — and I’ve seen it on both sides -- I’ve seen it as a mistake when people don’t do it and I’ve seen it be tremendously effective when people do it -- is when you only post on your (Facebook) business page. If one of your goals is to try and grow your Facebook following, one of the ways to do that is to get people who already know, like, and trust you as a human being, to follow your Facebook Business Page. So, cross posting some of that content — although not at the same time — that is also one of the mistakes — posting the same content, either on multiple pages that you manage or on your personal and business page at the same time, don’t do that.

But if you shared a resource over on your Facebook Business Page, then share that on that your personal Facebook page too: “Hey, I just wrote this blog post about the five biggest mistakes people make on their resumes” and put that on your personal profile, because for at least 99 percent of us, we are more likely to have more friends on Facebook than we have followers for our business page. 

One really effective way that you can grow your audience on your Facebook Business Page is to get some of those friends to follow you. I talked about this on the Get Clients Now program for the last couple years, the sources of new clients for established resume writers a lot of times are referrals, and it’s not just referrals from past clients-- it’s people that we interact with on a daily basis.

So, posting content on your Facebook business page and then sharing it on your personal Facebook page, or just sharing information about the work that you’re doing with clients on your personal page. 

I have seen several examples of resume writers who do this successfully — and it can be as simple as celebrating a win for one of your clients. Not naming them by name, not tagging them, but just saying, “just helped an accountant get her first job” if you’re working with someone who is new to the workforce, “helped this client land a $10,000 raise through interview coaching.”

Here's an example:


Celebrating and shouting out the work that your clients are getting in terms of results -- but putting that on your personal Facebook page so that folks know that you’re a resume writer. There are career industry colleagues that you would never know what they do for a living if you just looked at their personal page-- and maybe they are doing that intentionally -- but if it’s your goal to get more fans and followers and engagement and clients and all of those things, that’s a simple way that you can help increase your ability to get your message out.

Mistake #3: Talking AT Your Fans and Followers, and Not WITH Them
Another mistake -- and Sean mentioned this, too -- is the one-way conversation. A lot of times on social media, I’ve seen career industry colleagues who post a lot of stuff -- and then, when people comment on it, they don’t respond back. Just like with Facebook Live, you want to acknowledge when people send you stuff. Monitor your Facebook content to make sure that if people are asking you questions or are saying, “Wow, that’s a great resource” -- just acknowledge them, like their comment -- or, even better, comment back or say, “Hey, thanks for the feedback.”

All of those engagement strategies are going to help your content get organically boosted in people’s Facebook feeds going forward. Don’t look at it as just a one-way conversation; look at how you can encourage engagement. And, like Sean was talking about, with Facebook Live, we talked about having people submit questions. You can do that on your own Facebook page too. “Hey, I am working on a new resource on job interviews. What questions do you have about the job interview?” and then let people submit questions onto that post. It not only gives you better insight into what challenges and struggles people are having, but it also helps you identify particular clients that you might be in the position to help.

Mistake #4: Doing Too Much of One Kind of Content
The other thing is to mix up your content. Another mistake that people make -- and particularly when you’re talking about pre-scheduled content -- is that they focus primarily on text-based posts, because obviously those are the easiest, in terms of creating the content. But you really want to have a mix of text posts, videos, and picture posts. 

I know a lot of you guys use the BeAResumeWriter.com Pass-Along Materials and quote those directly. 

I just saw a perfect example today Sterling Career Concepts took one of the excerpts from a Pass-Along Materials content and made it into a picture post. So she took the text and just put it over a background and shared that content. Look at different ways that you can share the information in terms of not just doing static posts.



These are just FOUR of the mistakes I outlined for career services professionals.

If you're interested in learning what the OTHER mistakes are -- and the other information Sean and I shared in the training about growing your fans and followers, using analytics to get better engagement, and more, check out this special offer!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Is Self-Employment Right For You?

Choosing to be your own boss can be amazing. But if you're currently working a "regular job" -- and have never been self-employed before, I suggest you consider starting your own business ONLY if you know the pitfalls, and what to expect and how to deal with it.
  • You Must Be Self-Motivated. You need to be the type of person who can get work done when it needs to be done without anyone telling you to do it, including wearing the many "hats" of a sole proprietor, such as bookkeeper, paperwork coordinator, and marketer.
  • You Must Have Good Time Management Skills. No one is going to tell you when to work; you will be in charge of that. You will need to be able to estimate accurately how long any one job will take you, when you're going to do it -- and you must be able to do this with multiple clients simultaneously.
  • You Must Be Able to Work with Many Personalities. When you are self-employed, you don't work with just one client at a time. You typically will be working for several at once, all with different personalities. If youíre good with people and are able to take criticism, you will do great as a self-employed resume writer. Also: TRUST YOUR GUT when taking on new clients. Don't be desperate -- if you don't get a good feeling when you talk to someone initially, do NOT take them on as a client. You will end up regretting it.
  • You Need Your Own Equipment. When you're self-employed, you must supply your own tools such as computers, Internet connections, software, and so forth. As the business owner, you're responsible for all your own stuff.
  • You Must Pay Your Own Benefits. If you currently have health insurance in your job, you need to know that as a self-employed person, you pay for your own benefits -- including self-employment taxes, insurance, and more. Health insurance can be VERY expensive, so you need to know what this will cost you before you leave a job with insurance.
  • You Must Be Able to Ride the Wave. Payments don't always come on time like with a job.  (This is the thing my Mom had the hardest time with understanding. She keeps trying to get my self-employed brother to get a job so he has a "steady paycheck.") The reality: You won't get a paycheck every two weeks, so it will make it harder to budget your money. You will likely have times of feast and famine. If you can budget through the hard times and ride the wave, you'll make it as a business owner.
  • You Must Be Good with Money If you're not good at budgeting, being self-employed might be difficult for you. For example, you should set aside 15-25% of all revenue you receive for taxes, savings, and for the slower months.
Hopefully, this didn't discourage you. You have to remember that some of the security you think you have in a regular job is just an illusion. Getting paid every two weeks isn't as important as making enough money on a regular basis to pay your bills and save for your future. All you have to do is train yourself to mind your money and build your business without anyone telling you what to do and you'll be successful as a self-employed resume writer.

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