Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Thank You

Send a thank-you note when prospective clients request information (even if it's just an e-mail thank you). Send thank you's even to those prospects who decide not to take advantage of your services.

See if you can collect some information from prospects when they first contact you. At a minimum, you should get their name, phone number, and e-mail address. This will enable you to follow up with them until they make a decision about whether to retain your services.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Survey: Social Networks Attract Affluent Individuals

Thanks to Robyn Greenspan of ExecuNet for passing along the findings of this survey.

According to the latest Wealth Survey from the Luxury Institute, more than 60 percent of wealthy Americans (those with an average income of $287K and net worth of $2.1M) participate in online social networks -- compared with just 27 percent a year ago.

These affluent individuals are most likely members of 2.8 social networks (with roughly 110 connections). Those with even higher incomes belong to more social networks (3.4 on average).

Here are some of the most prominent social networking sites:

ExecuNet is a closed network which allows members to have a direct connection with thousands of senior-level business leaders.

LinkedIn: One of the most popular social networks for professionals.

Facebook: Originally for students, this network has grown to encompass more professional members -- but is still more often used by the Generation X and Y sets than the Baby Boomers.

I just found out about a new social networking service -- Ning -- that I'm experimenting with. I'll let you know what I think about it once I've had a chance to play around with it.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Talent Shortage Helps Shield Executives from Unemployment

According to the March 2008 ExecuNet Recruiter Confidence Index (RCI) survey of 118 executive recruiters, 52 percent are "confident" or "very confident" the executive employment market will improve during the next six months -- up slightly from 51 percent in February. Seventy-two percent of survey respondents expect at least a 10 percent increase in search assignments during this period of time.

"Economic uncertainty has not put executive job growth on hold," says Mark Anderson, president of ExecuNet. "While demand for executive talent may be increasing at a slower pace than it was just one year ago, recruiting and retaining effective leaders remains a challenge for most companies."

Introduced in May 2003, the Recruiter Confidence Index is based on a monthly survey of executive recruiters conducted by ExecuNet.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Executive Resume Toolkit

I haven't bought it (yet), but I have to tell you without even seeing it, this is a toolkit that almost every resume writer will want to own. I own pretty much all of Wendy and Louise's other books (too many to list!) and they have been invaluable in helping me stretch my creative skills... especially when facing challenging clients.

So I'm excited to learn more about the Executive Resume Toolkit -- which, although designed for clients, it sounds like from the description below -- is sure to teach "old" resume writers like me some new tricks.
  • Resume Writing Guide: 50-page guidebook (with optional exercises) to help you strategize, write, and design your own winning, executive-level resume
  • Resume Sample Gallery: 123-page book, including a selection of 50 best-in-class executive resumes that you can use as the foundation for writing/designing your own best-in-class resume
  • Worksheets: All of the worksheets discussed and used in the book are also provided in a separate Word document so that you can easily use them to pull together your essential information and construct your resume
  • Resource Guide: Short guidebook with "live" links to online resources designed specifically for executive candidates
  • Executive Tip Sheets: Two tip pages to keep close at hand while writing your resume - one detailing the top Executive Resume Strategies and the other detailing the top tips for writing Powerful Experience Sections
  • Audio Broadcasts: Two 20-minute audio recordings with expert career management advice - one titled "Top 10 Resume Writing Strategies for Executive Success" and the other titled "My Resume's Not Working ... What Do I Do Now?"
The Toolkit is a downloadable product, meaning once your order is processed, you'll receive an e-mail with the link and your password and will be able to access it immediately.

Already bought it? Comment on this thread and let me know what you think of it!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

CIO Survey Reveals Effective Retention Methods for IT Staff

Money talks, but it's not the only employee loyalty tool being used in the information technology industry, according to a recent survey by Robert Half Technology. When Chief Information Officers (CIOs) were asked to identify the most effective ways to retain IT staff, compensation topped the list at 27%, but providing opportunities for professional development was close behind, with 21% of respondents citing this method for employee retention.

Another 18% said flexible schedules helped improve retention rates, followed by telecommuting (7%), extra vacation days or time off (6%), and granting company stock or options (2%0.

"Attractive pay is always a key selling point for IT professionals, but it's only one element of an effective retention program," says Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology. "Creating an attractive corporate culture, which includes everything from training to work/life balance programs, is crucial for keeping valued employees, especially when the hiring environment for highly skilled professionals is competitive."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Helping Clients With "Thin" Resumes

While Googling to see if any of my colleagues received any visible publicity from a previous blog post about lying on resumes, I came across a couple of blog posts that were from college students who were blogging for a class. They had apparently read an article about lying on resumes and were writing their response.

I was particularly interested in this post by Amy, who mentions a "sparse" resume as one possible motivator for people to lie on their resume. I agree that this is probably a big reason for lying on resumes. When confronted with a job posting listing a laundry list of "requirements," some job applicants become intimidated, feeling their work history or experience is inadequate. So they "embellish" it.

I think we need to do a better job as an industry of educating the public about how to transform their life experience (including volunteer work, internships, and educational credentials) into useful material on the resume.

As a personal example, I am working on a resume for a woman who is seeking a nonprofit position after being out of the workforce for several years. I was able to secure information from her on her early work history (not relevant, except for one internship at the Red Cross), and educational background (including a Masters Degree in Public Administration). But it wasn't until I was almost finished putting together her resume that I found out that she manages her husband's non-profit foundation (and that he's a professional athlete).

Maybe we need to get better at asking questions too! *smile*

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Ketchup Strategy

All right, to be perfectly fair, today's post is really about the "Catch-Up Strategy," but I so rarely get to put pictures with my blog posts that I took a little liberty with the name of it.

Do you ever find yourself so swamped with current projects that you get behind in closing out some of the older ones? Every so often, that's the case for me. And with my "mild ADD" personality, I get more excited about new projects than I do about burning CDs and creating ASCII text files and so, inevitably, every once in a while, I have to implement the Catch-Up Strategy.

That's when I go through the file folder on my desk labeled "Awaiting Finalization," and I sort through the pile of paper on my desk to find the projects that made it out of the "Awaiting Finalization" folder but never got finalized, and I double-check that with my daily planner, where action items like "Finish Jones Project!!!!!!" languish unchecked off.

And I clear my calendar, ignore the ringing phone and the pinging e-mail ... and just focus on sending off those digital files, burning the CDs and printing the laserprints (for those clients who choose to get paper packets -- which is still surprisingly a large number).

And so, today, I finished three of those long-awaited finalizations. But tomorrow, alas, more tomatoes will be harmed as I put the "Catch-Up Strategy" in motion for a few more stragglers.

Maybe you can do the same. (And have a hamburger with fries for lunch ....)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ugh! Tax Day 2008

It's no secret that April 15 isn't my favorite day of the year. Not far behind it are Jan. 15, June 15, and Sept. 15 -- the dates that estimated taxes are due.

In talking with lots of other self-employed resume writers, they feel the same. There's just something about writing a hefty check to the IRS (and likely, your state department of revenue) four times a year (quarterly estimated tax payments) that's depressing.

At the gas station today, the clerk's sister came in bearing the clerk's finished tax return. She was getting a $700 refund. I think the last time I got a refund (at least one that I didn't have to apply to next year's taxes) was 1995 (the year before I started my business). A friend of mine is used to getting a $5,000 annual refund (he and his wife have a bunch of kids, which = tax deductions). Last year, he became self-employed for the first time. This year, he had to write a small check to the IRS. That's painful ...

Every year, probably like you, on April 15, I vow to:
1) Make more money next year (yes, I make this resolution on New Year's too)
2) Pay less in taxes by being smart with my deductions and contributions (for example, to my retirement account).

We'll see how it goes this year. But I got a head start by taking a look at this article about 2008 tax issues. I'll let you know if I come across any other good information throughout the year -- or feel free to post a comment on this thread with your suggestions.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Guest Article: Six Interview Tips

By Michael R. Neece, CEO of Interview Mastery

1. Interrogation versus Interview:
Most candidates expect they will be interrogated. An interrogation is when one person asks all the questions and the other gives the answers. An interview is a business conversation where both people ask and respond to questions. Too many job seekers believe an interview is an interrogation. With this attitude, candidates do not ask questions and hence do not make their best impression. You need to ask questions throughout the interview. If you don't, you force the interview to be an interrogation.

2. Making a Positive out of a Weakness:
Unskilled interviewers frequently ask candidates "What are your weaknesses?" Conventional interview advice recommends you highlight a weakness like "I'm a perfectionist" and turn it into a positive. Interviewers are not fooled. If you are asked this question a highlight skill that you wish to improve upon and (most importantly) describe what you are proactively doing to enhance your skill in this area. Interviewers don't care what your weaknesses are. They want to see how you handle the question and what your answer indicates about you.

3. No Questions:
Every interview concludes with the interviewer asking if you have any questions. The worst thing to say is you have no questions. Having no questions prepared indicates you are not interested and not prepared. Interviewers are more impressed by the questions you ask than the selling points you try to make. Before each interview make a list of 5 questions you will ask.

4. Only Researching the Company, What about You?
Candidates intellectually prepare by researching the company. Most job seekers do not research themselves by taking inventory of their experience, knowledge and skills. Formulating a talent inventory prepares you to immediately respond to any question about your experience. You must be prepared to discuss any part of your background. Creating a your talent inventory refreshes your memory and helps you immediately remember experiences you would otherwise have forgotten during the interview. Interview Mastery gives you a talent inventory template and many other job search downloads.

5. Leaving Cell Phone On:
We may live in a wired, always available society, but a ringing cell phone is not appropriate for an interview. Turn it off before you enter the company.

6. Waiting for a Call:
Time is your enemy after the interview. After you send a thank you email and note to every interviewer, follow-up a couple days later with either a question or additional information. Contact the person who can hire you, not HR (Human Resources). HR is famous for not returning calls. Additional information can be details about your talents, a recent competitor's press release or industry trends. Your intention is to keep their memory of your fresh.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Another Perspective - Resume Samples

Recently, on the PARW E-List, Frank Fox expressed his opinion that resume writers should not post resume samples on their website. He wrote, "Samples simply invite every visitor to be a critic!" He compared this to CPAs posting client tax returns on their website to demonstrate the tax refunds they were able to get for their clients. He asked, "Do those samples in any way provide assurance that you will have lots of deductions no other CPA would have uncovered...and that you, too, will get a really big refund?"

The problem with this analogy is that the federal government uses a standardized tax form, while resumes are highly customized. And, believe it or not, at least here in Nebraska, accountants *do* talk about how they are able to obtain bigger refunds for their clients. They might not show the actual tax form, but I've seen several of them provide a list of "actual" deductions they've been able to identify for their clients, compared to their competitors.

In fact, H&R Block is running a national campaign for their "Second Look" service:

A tax review service from H&R Block, is helping taxpayers maximize their refunds. With a Second Look review, H&R Block’s tax professionals check returns that were self-prepared or prepared by other tax professionals for missed tax benefits. Last year, H&R Block found bigger refunds for more than half of clients who received a Second Look review. The average additional refund was more than $1,300 for those who re-filed with H&R Block.

Regardless of who prepared their returns, taxpayers can bring in their current and previous three years’ returns for review by an H&R Block tax professional, who confirms the accuracy and ensures that all eligible credits and deductions have been claimed. In addition, the return is covered by the unique H&R Block Guarantee, which provides audit assistance and pays for any penalties and interest owed to the IRS due to an H&R Block error on a return. Last year, H&R Block tax professionals found errors in more than 80 percent of returns it reviewed as part of its Second Look service.

Is "showing rather than telling" more effective? In many cases, yes.

I'm still a huge proponent of including resume samples on your site -- just as I am in favor of resume writers publishing their work in books. Both of these techniques are proven business-builders.

Should clients just believe that we're as good as we claim? Well, it would be nice, but it's not realistic. As I've said before, if you don't post your resume samples because you think someone will just come to your website and steal them, it's true -- that MIGHT happen. But MORE likely is that they're seeking out your site -- and your services -- because they want your help. If your samples reflect the diversity of clients you work with -- and a unique look and content for each -- they will see what you mean by "custom" job search assistance.

There will always be people who want something for nothing. They're going to get it -- whether it's from your site or just Googling "free resume."

But there is a large group of people out there who are legitimately interested in hiring a resume writer -- and they don't know the difference between their lackluster, ineffective resume and your shining examples until they see if for themselves. (Of course, if your work sucks, don't put up samples!)

Frank writes, "Anyone coming to your site should assume that you can write a resume without showing a few samples to prove that you can. The only thing that really matters is the resume you will write for them!"

In response, I would say what I say to all my clients: "The best predictor of future performance is your past performance." If prospective clients see what you've done with your past clients (I love before-and-after examples with accompanying case histories for best showcasing your samples), they will believe you can do the same for them. I'd love to hear what you think about this issue -- e-mail me at or post a comment on this thread.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Asking an Employer the Right Questions

When I tell my clients that they should be prepared to ask the interviewer questions, they inevitably ask, "Well, what should I ask them"?

In the January 2008 issue of Office Solutions magazine, I came across this article on "Interviewing Your Interviewer," which quotes the online Career News newsletter.

Here are the questions they recommend a job seeker ask:
  • Why is this position available right now?
  • How many times has this position been filled in the past five years?
  • What should the new person do differently from the last person?
  • What would you most like to see done in the next six months?
  • What are the most difficult problems that this job entails?
  • How much freedom would I have in the decision-making process?
  • What would be my options for advancement?
  • How has this company succeeded in the past?
  • What changes do you envision in the near future for this company?
  • What do you think constitutes success in this job?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Maintaining Your Productivity

Here are some tips from Accountemps for maintaining a high level of productivity:
  • Make a plan. Spend 10-15 minutes at the beginning of the day mapping out your desired accomplishments. Prioritize the taks that are most important to your business.
  • Sharpen your focus. People are more productive when working for an extended period in the same mental mode, as opposed to changing gears frequently. Try to cluster tasks that require similar effort or resources at the same time.
  • Limit distractions. It can be tempting to review e-mail each time a message arrives. However, unless your job requires an immediate response, it's often best to check your inbox periodically throughout the day.
  • Don't delay. Even peak performers occasionally put off working on unpleasant or overwhelming assignments. One effective way to overcome procrastination is to break a project into smaller, more manageable tasks.
  • Recharge. Taking short breaks throughout the day can help you replenish your energy and fight fatigue.
Now if only I could get myself to follow this advice every day! I tend to jump from task to task during the day -- depending on how urgent the request is. But on the days when I do plan my day, and prioritize the top 2-3 tasks, I find I tend to get them done.

How about you?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Career Management Alliance Conference Preview

If I'd read my AOL e-mail earlier, I would have been able to tell you about this yesterday ... but better late than never!

The Career Management Alliance is giving careers professionals a free sneak peak at the lineup for their annual conference in Minneapolis later this month, through a free webinar.

DATE: Wednesday, April 9th, 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM Eastern

COST: Free

PROGRAM: 2008 Alliance Conference Preview


--Rob Schultz of Audacious Audio on "Quick-Start Secrets to Passive Revenue

--Joseph Daniel McCool on "Looking to the Future: Employment, Hiring & Talent
Management Trends"

--Susan Britton Whitcomb of Career Coach Academy on "Tomorrow's Success
Strategies: Moving Into the Future"

--Ford Myers of Career Potential on "The Coaching System is the Solution!"

--Makini Theresa Harvey and Murray Mann on "A Career Mosaic: Successfully
Managing Your Multicultural Client Base"

--John Suarez of Success Stories INK on "Top 10 Secrets to Becoming An Expert
Resume Writer"

--Jim Dalbey of Ernst & Young on "Corporate Talent Acquisition and Career
Management From The Experts"

--Paul Forster of on "Building Your Business Worth: Powering Yourself
& Your Organization to Success"

Each presenter will explain his or her main takeaways, and we'll take questions
at the end.

To register for the webinar visit:

To register for the conference, visit:

If you haven't yet downloaded my "sneak peak" at the great information in the new "Best of the Conferences" special report, you can do so here:

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Subcontracting Survey Now Closed

I've closed the Subcontracting Survey and will be reporting the results on the blog and in the March/April issue of Resume Writers' Digest. Thanks to everyone who participated!!