Friday, July 31, 2009

10 Years of Resume Writers Digest (1999-2009)

I didn't want this month to pass without acknowledging the 10th anniversary of Resume Writers' Digest. Our first issue was published in July/August 1999.

Here's what I wrote in my inaugural "From the Editor" column in that issue:

I'm sure the first question that crossed your mind when you opened your mail today was, "What's this?"

"This" is Resume Writer's Digest -- a new bimonthly newsletter for resume writers.

Another newsletter?
No, it's not just another newsletter. It's a resource for you, the professional resume writer. Whether you are a part-time resume writer or you've made it your career, this publication is for you.

We provide news and information about employment-related issues. But we're also about the "people" of the resume writing profession. Most of the articles in other resume writing newsletters are written "editorial style," by experts. We want to be the "Living Section" of resume writers. In future issues, you'll see pictures of people -- ordinary and extraordinary -- serving resume clients in the U.S. and abroad.

In the September/October issue, we'll explore what it's like to be a resume writer in exotic and isolated places ... as well as in large and small towns across the country. You'll meet some of the most well-known resume writers ... and some you've never heard from before.

Add Us To What You're Already Doing
We're not a substitute for continuing education or association memberships (in fact, you'll find information about joining the Professional Association of Resume Writers, the National Resume Writers' Association, or the Association of Business Support Services International) on page 8.

Coming Soon...
Later this summer, we'll be launching our website, providing you with online links, archives of articles and interviews, and more information than we can cover in an eight-page, bimonthly newsletter.

Give Us a Try
If you like what you have to offer, subscribe.

Some things have changed over time, but we remain committed to our mission statement:
"Resume Writers' Digest ... (helps) resume writers keep on top of changes in the human resources field, new developments in technology, and trends in the resume writing field. Each issue provides information about what successful resume writers across the nation and around the world are doing, along with concise, timely information culled from a review of select periodicals."

Here's to the NEXT 10 years of Resume Writers' Digest!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Helping Clients -- It's Not Always the Cover Letter's Fault

In a recent blog post on CareerBuilder's Work Buzz Blog, a job seeker named "Jim" asked "How Do I Land an Interview?"

Blogger Kate Lorenz from CareerBuilder answered his questions, and provided some great information. I added my thoughts in a comment, reprinted for you here:

Great tips, Kate! Also, it might not be Jim's cover letter that is the real issue here -- it might also be the resume -- combined with a lack of focus on what kind of job he really wants (he mentions aerospace but then also an interest in a career change). As you advised, cover letters need to be specifically targeted to the position/company being pursued. It's fine to develop a general "template," but then that must be finely tuned to meet the specific responsibilities and challenges of the position being targeted. If it's a position in Sales Management in Aerospace, then that should be highlighted specifically -- no mention of a career change. To go a bit further than your comment about finding a "hook" in the cover letter, both the resume and cover letter need to quantify specific accomplishments that Jim has produced in his 20 years of experience (and most definitely in his most recent position) ... identifying how he specifically helped his last employer make money, save money, solve a specific problem, keep a customer, get new customers, etc. In addition, remember that cover letters are "employer-centric," not "you-centric." There's an awful lot of "I" statements in Jim's cover letter -- and it's nice that he wants to "simplify" his career, but the employer could probably care less about that. Instead, quantify the value that you have to offer to the EMPLOYER, not what YOU hope to get out of the job. In addition, you've got to get the resume and cover letter to the right person at the company. Go beyond applying online and research the company (look at their website, Google them, check out their recent press releases). Find specific individuals at targeted companies to contact. Use LInkedIn to identify executives at the company ... and then use those contacts to help identify what their specific needs are -- for both positions they're advertising, and the jobs that they're going to need to develop and fill, to meet future growth. (That is especially important since Jim has a background in product support.) When you're not getting interviews, it might not be your age or "overabundance" of experience. It might be that you need a professional to help you with taking an objective look at your resume and cover letter ... and learning how to network your way to your next job. You can find professional resume writers who would be willing to provide a free review of your resume through the various professional associations: Career Directors International ( National Resume Writers Association ( Professional Association of Resume Writers ( Career Management Alliance ( Bridget (Weide) Brooks, CPRW Editor, Resume Writers' Digest

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Six Steps to Find Your Voice

In the first part of the four-part series on "Writing Well," I talked about "Finding Your Writing Voice as a Resume Writer." Then I talked about "Strengthening Your Voice." The third installment is on "Technology and Its Impact on Voice." The final piece is "Six Steps to Find Your Voice."

"Writing may be magical, but it's not magic," says nationally-known writing consultant Chip Scanlan.

He outlines a series of steps all writers take:
  • The Idea: Who is this client? What is their job objective?
  • Collect: This is the "reporting" function of the resume writer's job. Read, observe, question, research -- amass information, without judgment.
  • Focus: Make sense of the material. Is anything missing?
  • Order: Organize and prioritize the information you have to make, to make sense of it in relation to the client's job objective, skills, and qualifications.
  • Drafts: Begin to write. Search out examples (accomplishments, case studies, supporting facts).
  • Revisions: Review the writing to ensure everything is relevant to the "the idea."
It may seem like an oxymoron, but "writers need to be more creative and more disciplined at the same time," Scanlan notes. "Writers are looking for permission."

They're often looking for permission to leave out information. That's often the right approach.

"You think you're overcollecting (information), but you're really underthinking," Scanlan says.

"Your job as a writer is to make the reader see," Scanlan says.

Getting better at resume writing is really about three things: practicing, sucking it up, and just asking people to share their lives.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Technology and Its Impact on Voice

In the first part of this series on "Writing Well," I talked about "Finding Your Writing Voice as a Resume Writer." Then I talked about "Strengthening Your Voice." Next up is "Technology and Its Impact on Voice."

The newest challenge to finding personality in resumes is the role of technology. Requests for ASCII resumes -- and the problems retaining fonts and formatting in Word documents places a greater emphasis on content. The story must be compelling, regardless of the visual package.

This is also the area of emphasis which benefits the resume writer in the face of resume templates and resume software. Most resumes submitted for critique feel sterile -- devoid of voice and personality of the job seeker.

Job seekers have been cautioned to reveal enough to get an interview, but not too much.

Every resume writer understands this challenge -- and it's a delicate balancing act.

In the next article: Six Steps to Find Your Voice

Monday, July 27, 2009

Strengthening Your Voice as a Resume Writer

In the first part of this series on "Writing Well," I talked about "Finding Your Writing Voice as a Resume Writer." Next up is Strengthening Your Voice.

When writing resumes, remember that you're writing, "one writer to one reader." What do you want that reader to feel when he or she is finished reviewing the cover letter and resume?

Your writing must be compelling and distinctive to evoke a feeling in the reader. There are certain verbs that can evoke a voice and tell a story.

Is there any room for feeling in resumes? Of course. In traditional journalism, "the embrace of objectivity was to counter the inflamed political rhetoric of the news media and replace it with the informed reason of the scientist," says nationally-recognized writing consultant Chip Scanlan. "It was not meant to produce a totally sterile, objective piece."

In resume writing, sterility was introduced in response to complaints of discrimination in the hiring process. Many issues related to this were unfairly attached to the resume's role in the screening process.

Next up: Technology and Its Impact on Voice

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Finding Your Writing Voice as a Resume Writer

"Creative work, critical thinking, and courage is the 'Magic Formula for Writing,'" according to nationally-recognized writing consultant Chip Scanlan of the Poynter Institute.

All writers have to have a philosophy to guide their writing -- a "way of looking at your work and way of doing your work," he says.

The perspective that a writer has on a subject is the writer's "voice." Voice is made up of perspective and tone. It's a personal and honest expression that reveals the writer's background and personality.

Where does the resume writer's voice fit in when writing a client's resume?

Without voice, a resume is incomplete.

"Voice illuminates fact," Scanlan says. "It attracts and holds readers. It is tuned to the purpose of its message and the ear of the reader."

A resume without voice is a fact sheet. Voice brings a storytelling quality, incorporating what you bring to the story without getting in the way.

"Voice is the music to your words that is distinctly your own. (It's) the rhythm the world hears when they read it," Scanlan adds.

This is the first in a four-part series. Next post: Strengthening Your Voice.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Summer Issue of Resume Writers' Digest

The Summer 2009 issue of Resume Writers' Digest is now out!

The 12-page issue offers a cover story on coming up with better questions to ask your clients to yield better resumes. (Based on the results of the "10 Questions" survey, it will be added to the "Write Great Resumes Faster" special report as well.)

Inside: Wendy Enelow reacts to the results of the 2008 Resume Writers' Digest Industry Survey and shares her comments and thoughts.

Also in this issue: Producing Error-Free Resumes for Clients (results of an Accountemps survey), and Jane Roqueplot wrote a nice piece on "Enhance Your Writing With Style Analysis."

Also, check out columnist Robert Middleton's Action Plan Marketing column in this issue on "Getting the Most Out of a Professional Conference." There are still two major conferences left this year (NRWA and CDI), so if you're planning on attending either (or both!), this is a must-read.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Reach Telecall: "Test-Drive Your Dream Job"

I'm always glad when I take an hour to participate in the Reach Branding Club's Interview Series. William Arruda and Susan Guarneri consistently line up some of the best and brightest minds in the world to share their thoughts about career topics. And, best of all, it's free! Be sure to get on their e-mail list.

Today's call was with Brian Kurth, author of "Test-Drive Your Dream Job -- A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding and Creating the Work You Love." He's also the founder of Vocation Vacations, which allows job seekers to pay to "job shadow" folks in the career field of their choice for a few days, and see whether they'd like it.

The interview was fabulous. Kurth outlined an eight-step process for facilitating a successful career transition -- built heavily on the use of mentors and participatory research to find the right next job. It reminded me of a program in high school that I participated in -- "job shadowing" -- where the high school students would be paired with a businessperson in their desired career field that they could follow around for a day or two.

Kurth has extended this idea to make it part of your "vacation" -- you follow someone in another city or state and they allow you to see what that career path is all about.

A couple of key points:
* Discover/rediscover your strengths
* Create a vision board (a collage of your interests -- buy magazines, newspapers, and print stuff out online -- quotes, pictures -- "Who you are and who you want to become.")
* Confront your fears ("Fear never goes away -- it's how you handle it.")
* Create an action plan (and constantly tweak it)
* Find your mentor(s) -- 1-5 folks -- they should be in the field you want to go into.
* Branding is about EMOTIONS and creating emotional connections
* Establish your thresholds (boundaries or your comfort zone areas you won't cross)

All in all, well worth the hour! I'll let you know when I find out when the next Reach Branding Club Interview Series is.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Aleisa Benedict on Cake Boss

You never know where a resume writer is going to show up! Colleague Aleisa Benedict showed up on Monday's episode of "Cake Boss" on TLC. The cake looked fabulous!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Advice to Those Seeking A Job In HR: Interesting Insight

Thanks to Jason Alba of JibberJobber for the link to this blog post from Punk Rock HR. It's HR professionals responding to a question of a blog reader who is wondering if she should get into a career in HR.