Sunday, August 31, 2008

New Session of Resume Writing Academy Starting Sept. 9

If you're new to the resume writing field, or have been writing for a while but want to position yourself as one of the top resume writers in the nation, consider the Resume Writing Academy, billed as "The Nation's Premier Resume Training Organization."

Founders and trainers Wendy S. Enelow and Louise M. Kursmark will be starting a new group class with live instruction on Sept. 9, 2008. (They also offer an individual, self-paced class with audio instruction that is available "on demand.")

The program features 8 weekly teleseminars and homework assignments, with "detailed feedback to build your skills step-by-step." There are three independent learning programs to develop your capabilities in specific practice areas. The course also qualifies as portfolio preparation for the Master Resume Writer (MRW) credential offered by The Career Management Alliance.

Says Enelow, "The Resume Writing Academy was launched to train and develop top-flight resume-writing professionals who will achieve eminent status in the careers industry based on their unique ability to write and design resumes that get candidates noticed, interviewed, and hired. The first comprehensive, strategically focused resume training program, RWA is guaranteed to improve your resume strategy, writing, and design skills, whether you are a beginner or an experienced writer who wants to strengthen the breadth and depth of your expertise."

For more information, visit the RWA website, or call Louise Kursmark at 781-944-2471 for more information. (Note: Louise will be out of the office until Thursday, Sept. 4, so leave her a message.)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Penelope Trunk Tells Resume Writers To Blog

To go along with my new gig as a guest blog author, I was researching some other blogs. When you type in "blogs for resume writers" in Google, basically you get a listing of resume writers who blog.

One post was by Penelope Trunk, who has established a fairly unique voice in the career blog community. The post was about how to edit your resume with the eye of a professional resume writer -- so naturally, that caught my attention. I scrolled down through the comments (thinking of posting one myself), but was stopped dead in my tracks by this comment by Margaret W on March 18, 2008:

Huh. I hired a professional to rewrite my resume a few years ago; it was a total disaster. It read like a template from CorporateSpeak 101, and was not appropriate for my skillset or for my industry. One can say that this was a cruddy resume writer because he didn't fully understand my goals. Or maybe I didn't communicate them well.

I finally landed a new position after I ditched the plastic resume and handled writing it myself. It also didn't hurt that I got the job through connections. I also got my subsequent (and current) job through connections, where the resume is something they're obliged to hand over to the HR drone for her files.

* * * * * *

Penelope responded:

This is a good time to say that the resume writing industry is sort of like the social worker industry — it's a real crap shoot who you get unless the person comes recommended from someone you trust.

Sidenote to resume professionals: You should blog. It's a way to establish credibility with an audience that is inherently weary of the industry.

So I thought I'd assemble a short list of career professional blogs I've compiled -- as a way of inspiring you to start your own blog.
Are you a professional resume writer who blogs? E-mail me and I'll include your blog too.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Some Jobs Still Hard to Fill, Survey Finds

There are still jobs that are hard to fill, even in a difficult economy. That's the findings of The 2008 Employment Dynamics and Growth Expectations (EDGE) Report produced by Robert Half International and

Other findings:
  • More than half of employers said it is challenging to find skilled professionals; Gen Y workers are the most difficult to recruit.
  • Sixty-three percent of workers are more likely to try to negotiate a better compensation package today than last year (up from 58% last year).
  • Nearly two-thirds of hiring managers said their companies are willing to negotiate higher pay for qualified job applicants.
  • About 8 out of 10 employees are satisfied with their current work situation. Yet, more than 3 out of 10 said they will likely leave their jobs in the next 2 years.
  • More than half of workers surveyed said it is challenging to find a job today.
  • A lack of qualified workers and the higher cost of gas/commuting were among the top factors impacting companies' ability to recruit skilled labor.
  • Many employers are likely to offer reduced work schedules, "bridge" jobs, and consulting arrangements as an alternative to retirement.
  • The time to fill open positions ranges from 4 to 14 weeks, with senor-level roles demanding the most time.
The shortage of qualified workers has grown more acute, according to the survey, with 59% of hiring managers citing it as their primary recruiting challenge. When they do find qualified professionals, firms appear anxious to win them over. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of hiring managers said they are willing to negotiate compensation for top candidates.

The Employment Dynamics and Growth Expectations (EDGE) Report is an annual survey on employment and compensation trends by Robert Half International and The survey includes responses from more than 500 hiring managers and 500 workers, and was conducted from May 7 to June 1, 2008 by International Communications Research in Media, Penn. It was designed to compare the perspectives of hiring managers and workers on the state of the current employment market.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

DISC-Focused Teleclass Announcement

Profiling Pro is sponsoring a teleclass on Thursday, Sept. 4 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. EST featuring Edie Rische, CPBA, NCRW, ACCC, CPBS. The workshop, "Strengthening Your Business Relationships -- Assessment Tools for Better Connecting With Clients" will focus on how to use DISC and PIAV to strengthen your credibility with clients through better customer relations; what customers anticipate and should expect from you (the product/service provider); how to build trust and rapport with a style different than yours; how to accurately observe and identify behavior before administering an assessment; and how to anticipate and prevent client issues before they happen.

Edie Rische is a Certified Professional Behavior Analyst who has been widely published for her resume samples and interview questions. She has presented DISC and resume writing presentations to manufacturing employees, delivered a 10-week telecourse to professional business women, and moderated an online chat for resume writers. She retired as the owner of Write Away Resume in June 2008 before becoming a workshop facilitator for DISC behavior styles.

If you are unable to participate live in the teleclass, you may pre-register and receive the recording afterwards (all registrants will receive the recorded session). The cost is $35 for Profiling Pro Administrators, $26.25 for CPBAs, and $45 for non-associated professionals. Click here to register.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'm A Guest Author!

As you know, from time to time, I feature guest authors on this blog. Now I've been asked to be a guest author on another blog, Teena Rose's "Start, Operate, Profit!" blog for resume writers. I invite you to read my first post, where I select my "TOP 5" favorite posts from Teena's archive.

Teena's blog focuses primarily on start-up issues for new resume writers -- a natural, considering that she's the author of a book on the subject, "Starting a Home- or Office-Based Resume Business."

Teena also has a much stronger grasp of the ins-and-outs of online technology, and I'll be drawing on her expertise in the next few months to help my readers understand more about this, and how they can incorporate in search engine optimization and other techniques to help them generate new customers.

If you're a member of my E-List for new resume writers, you can expect that I will be asking for your help in the next few days to identify topics for future posts on Teena's blog.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Beautiful" But Mostly Ineffective Resume Designs

I found this blog post on the Internet and was intrigued by the concept -- "beautiful" resume designs. Although I should note that the post was titled "Beautiful Resume Ideas That Work."

Not to be catty, but I seriously doubt that these resumes "worked." For one thing, only a handful of them will work with today's resume management systems, which don't handle unconventional graphics well.

Some examples:
Okay, this guy is applying for a graphic marketing position ... so he gets a little more leeway than most candidates. But really ... writing on your resume with a red crayon? That just screams "I have kids!" (even if you don't). And what's with all the CAPITAL LETTERS? Shouting won't get you an interview. And most important, other than a listing of his "program experience" and educational history, I (the reader) have no concept about his ability to excel in either design (certainly not judged by the design of his resume) or marketing skills. No mention of relevant work experience, internships, projects, or volunteer involvement in any of these areas. Ugh.

Next. In the "I don't know what I want to be when I grow up category" is Jessica, who decided that her resume (for a design position? I think?) should be in two columns. She probably could have fit all of the relevant information in just one column. She has experience volunteering in a pharmacy ... and putting out a publication. You don't have to give us all the nitty-gritty details about your volunteer work, dear Jessica. And putting address "on request"? Please. Are you in the Witness Protection Program? Either just leave it off, or put it on there already!
Jessica Edwards resume
While these resumes may represent some cutting-edge designs, as resume writers, we need to remember our audience, first and foremost. Many of them will be receiving the documents via e-mail. They prefer Word over Adobe Acrobat PDF (or even .JPG files, which some of these were).

NO ERRORS! I don't care how great it looks. If you don't spell things correctly, the resume will go in the round file.

Most of these were for entry-level positions, so one page isn't unusual. But you don't have to include ALL of your previous work experience in order to fill the page. Instead, elaborate on the client's relevant information. When working with entry-level clients, a common mistake is to include too much of this irrelevant information.

Design for the photocopier (or the scanner). While many of the resumes were pretty, if they were to be scanned into a resume management system, they'd be a mess. Multiple columns, ornate design elements, lightly colored fonts ... all of these are the enemy of the bureaucracy. If you can be assured that your client is going to hand his/her resume directly to the hiring manager in person, that may work. But in today's diversified world of job searching, you need to design resumes that work WITH technology.

Monday, August 25, 2008

"We Do Not Negotiate With Terrorists"

The customer is always right. Or are they?

There's been some discussion recently among resume writers about how to handle true "PITA" (pain-in-the-ass) clients. I'm not talking about your average client, who may be extremely needy in the short term in making changes or "pushes back" when pressed to provide initial information to develop the resume.

I'm talking about the client that orders the service, receives the resume (maybe even starts using it) and then demands their money back, saying it wasn't what they expected ... or that it's not getting results (when asked what they've done to further their job search, they say they posted the resume on Monster, or blasted their resume to 1,000 companies).

I haven't had a client like that in a long time ... although I've certainly had some of the "annoying" brand of client ... but I've had a couple of clients that have made me cry over the last 12 years of writing resumes through my business.

The PITA client isn't just annoying .... they are a menace. They threaten to report you to the Better Business Bureau ... or worse, they just contact their credit card company and request a chargeback. Even if you win the battle through meticulous recordkeeping and documentation, you're out your time ... and it causes a lot of stress and aggravation. They may even cause you to re-think writing resumes -- and believe me, this industry can't afford to lose any more good writers.

So how can you avoid working with PITA clients? I've come up with a couple of guidelines. If you have other "warning signs," feel free to post a comment ... or e-mail me.
  • They try to barter with you on price. You are always welcome to negotiate your prices with prospects, but at your discretion. PITA clients, in my experience, usually complain about the price, even as they agree to the service.
  • If you ask them about their current or past resumes, and they mention a bad experience with a resume writer, probe deeply. That's not too unusual in my town, as there are two non-certified resume writers who I often hear about (not in a positive way, either). But listen carefully if they describe their experience and have a lot of negative comments about the resume writer that are based on their dissatisfaction with the document itself. It warrants probing deeper before taking them on as a client. Was the problem with the resume writer, the resume itself ... or the client's expectations? Clarify before proceeding.
  • You're not actually working with the client -- you're working through an intermediary. (Or its corollary ... you're being paid by someone other than your client.) When you're not working with the client directly (for example, a wife that calls for her husband) or when the client isn't paying the bill (a parent is paying for a college student, for example), be careful. You must clearly define the relationship for both parties involved. ("Jane, I really need to talk to Bill directly to gather this information.")
  • The client has been unemployed for a significant amount of time (more than 6-9 months). Working with these clients can be a challenge because many of them have lost their self-confidence. You're not only working on the resume; you may have to work on their self-esteem. And they may have been employing poor job search habits over the last 9+ months, meaning the results they will achieve with the resume you write may be the same as the resume they wrote themselves -- if they're using the same tactics. When they "blast" their resume out to a couple hundred contacts and don't get any results, they'll get mad at YOU, not at themselves. So beware.
Remember -- when working with PITA clients, "don't negotiate with the terrorist" -- remain firm and calm. Offer to work with them to obtain reasonable mutual satisfaction, but remind them of your contract guidelines. If continuing to work with them isn't an option, offer a partial refund, if you feel that will get them out of your hair permanently.

Your best protection is to clearly state the services you provide (in writing), what is expected from the client (and from you), and to ensure that you keep a record of all communication with the client throughout the process (preferably via e-mail).

We can't weed out every PITA client, but we can try to minimize the damage they cause on our businesses (and self-esteem) as much as possible.

Friday, August 22, 2008

You're Only as Good as Your Samples

I'm reminded of a comment Louise Kursmark once made at a resume writing conference -- it was something about the shoemaker's kids not having shoes — meaning, resume writers are often the worst when it comes to updating their own resumes ... and, in my case, their samples.

I was thinking about this today as I sent off a quote for a prospective new client and pasted in my usual list of sample resume links from the template quote response e-mail I use (samples of which can be found in my Write Great Resumes Faster book). The client loved them, and committed to the project, but my inner voice reminded me that it's been a while since I updated the samples. Another item for the to-do list.

I've written before about resume samples -- including whether you should or should not include them on your web site ... but the fact of the matter is, you'd better have samples of your work because SOMETIME a client is going to ask for them. You may do all of your work from referrals (hey, those are your samples talking too — only they're not fictionalized!), but not everyone is going to believe that you can transform their dull, ordinary resume into something extraordinary.

That's another of my goals — to create a set of before-and-after resumes. I've got plenty of the “befores” (I request the client’s existing resume as part of the quoting process), but I haven’t taken the time to match them up with the “afters” and update my sample portfolio. Yet another item for the to-do list.

Take a look at the samples you're using. Are they from two years ago? Are they out of date? Now may be the time to work on that. That may have to be the subject of a future post for new resume writers — how to fictionalize samples.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Comparing Resume Distribution Services

I've written and spoken extensively on the subject of resume distribution services in the past ... and I just keep finding out about more and more of them.

Today, I received a phone call from Martin at ResumeTarget, pitching me on a pre-paid partnership program designed for resume writers and career coaches. I'll write more about the specifics of the program at a later date (I want to call a colleague who is using the program to find out more about her experience with it), but I gave it a test run myself to see what it's all about.

The program is similar to ResumeSpider, an affiliate service I already recommend to my clients. Both firms use an "opt-in" method to recruit hiring managers, recruiters, and employers to receive unsolicited resumes. Instead of just blasting your client's resume to 25,000 contacts (who may or may not be interested in receiving it), these services have your clients narrow down their search, usually by industry and/or geography.

The problem with this, as I found in doing my search, is that you can come up with an impossibly small number of contacts. In the case of a search in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, and Kansas for a marketing, public relations, or publishing job, the number of available contacts was ZERO.

The good news is, you can preview the number of contacts (and even the list of contact names/firms) before purchasing. So my client wouldn't be disappointed that her resume did not match up with any of the opt-in recipients.

These services, then, are only as good as the lists they are able to compile.

More on ResumeTarget in a future post...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Easy Computer Backups

It's been a weird weather year around the U.S. -- in addition to the normal hurricanes and tornadoes, there have been huge wildfires, an earthquake in California, and extensive flooding throughout the Midwest. Even if you've personally been unaffected by any of these natural disasters, you may be thinking about what you would do if it happened to you.

Even something as simple as a power outage can be enough to zap your work. So how do you protect yourself? You can use an online service or backup your work using a CD or a flash drive -- but if you're pressed for time (and want a free alternative), e-mail your work to yourself.

Yahoo, Hotmail, and Google all offer free Internet-based e-mail accounts. Sign up for one that you use only for backups. When you're working on a resume, e-mail a copy to your "storage" e-mail account. Then, even if disaster strikes, you can borrow a friend's computer (or go to the library) and access your work.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Affluent Are Networking Online

According to the latest Wealth Survey from the Luxury Institute, 60% of wealthy Americans participate in online social networks, compared to 27% a year ago. These individuals have an average income of $287,000 a year and an average net worth of $2.1 million.

According to the survey, these individuals belong to average of 2.8 social networks, with roughly 110 connections. The most popular of these are LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and ExecuNet.

Source: ExecuNet, April 2008

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Google AdWords

Are you using Google AdWords to promote your business online?

I've been experimenting with them for the past few weeks (since launching a new section on my website focused on my resume writing services) and I'm amazed at the results. (No, not the click-throughs. Those have been a bit slow coming ... about one a day on average.)

No, I'm amazed when I log in to the AdWords site and it tells me that more and more of my search words are inactive because the price has gone up. I'm paying the same ($1.00 per click) for "Omaha Resume Writer" as I am for generic terms like "resume critique."

Now I know there are ways to reduce my costs by increasing the quality of my site, and that's something I'm working on ... and I'm still not to the point where the cost of the lead is prohibitive. After all, I pay about $40 a month for my Yellow Pages ads, and average 3-4 calls a week (and 1-2 clients on average) from that ... so paying $1.00 for a click isn't too bad ... but I'm still working on refining things.

Have some tips for me? Let me know. This is definitely a subject I want to do an article for Resume Writers Digest on.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Describing Language Competency

I had a client ask me today about how to describe her language competency -- how well she speaks a foreign language. She'd had four semesters of Spanish in high school. After doing some research, I came up with the following competency scale. Be sure to put it back in your client's hands to describe where they fit on the scale.

Novice/Familiar (beginner)
Proficient/Competent (read/write)
Conversant (speak)
Native Speaker

Do you find this scale helpful? Do you have any suggestions or comments? Post a comment below.