Monday, August 31, 2009

Resume Writers Recession Survey Results

Last month, I was invited by the Career Management Alliance and National Resume Writers' Association to participate in a joint effort to survey resume writers about how their businesses were faring in the current recession. (Thanks to Don Goodman, of About Jobs, for suggesting the survey idea and initial questions.)

We finalized the questions and put the survey out there. We received 191 responses between Aug. 3-16. Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., Research Master for the Career Management Alliance, compiled the results and prepared a report, which was released today. (If you have signed up for a free subscription to Resume Writers' Digest and confirmed your subscription to the double-opt-in list, you received an e-mail from me this morning with the 8-page report.)

Here are some highlights:
  • Compared to a year ago, more respondents (48.4 percent) are doing better now than are faring worse (39 percent).
  • Twelve percent of respondents say they are doing the same as last year.
  • Six percent of those surveyed said their revenues were up 61 percent or more over last year; 3.2 percent said their revenues were down 60 percent or more. Twenty-eight percent said their revenues were up 1-20%. Twenty percent said their revenues were down up to 20 percent.
  • The top source of business is referrals (47.5 percent), followed by their personal website (25.6 percent), Yellow Pages ads (14.9 percent), and subcontracting (14.4 percent).
Speaking of subcontracting, it can be an excellent source of business (especially during slow times). Resume Writers' Digest offers a special report for resume writers looking to affiliate with firms that hire subcontract writers.

If you would like to receive a copy of the results, sign up for your free subscription to Resume Writers' Digest and then e-mail me at editor(at) with the subject line "Recession Survey Results" and I'll send it to you.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What the "Sharks" Can Teach You About Business

My husband Jon and I have been enjoying watching the new television show, "Shark Tank." (It's on Sunday nights on ABC). The show offers some lessons for entrepreneurs who are looking for investors for their businesses. Now I realize that there are only a handful of resume writers who would need a large capital infusion to start-up (or expand) their business, as this industry is fairly light on cash requirements, but the show makes some interesting points nonetheless from the case studies of folks pitching their business ideas to the five investors, Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John, Kevin Harrington, Robert Herjavec, and Kevin O'Leary. (Many of these principles are also applicable to our job seeking clients.)
  • Stand for something. Even the investors who don't have a fleshed-out working prototype can win over "The Sharks" with enthusiasm, a personality, and a "brand" concept. In fact, several of "The Sharks" have invested in unproven concepts because they liked the person pitching the products, and they believed in THEM. Resume writers need to have a "niche" or a "hook" so people can remember them. (Deb Dib, the CEO Coach; Cindy Kraft, the CFO Coach). We've also all known job seekers that talked their way into a job, even though they didn't have the qualifications the employer said they were seeking. Attitude goes a long way!
  • Don't overvalue what you have to offer. Having unrealistic expectations for what their business is worth is a dream-killer for many of the folks pitching their products. Many pitchmen come in front of "The Sharks" with small revenue and profit realizations -- yet they want to value their companies in the tens of millions of dollars because of the "potential." Your worth is based on what you have to offer today -- not five years from now. I've worked with a number of young college graduates. Some of them are worth every dollar they are asking for in a first salary; most are not. You have to prove yourself before you'll get the big investment.
  • Be willing to say, "I'm out." The catchphrase for the show is when each of "The Sharks" decides to invest ... or not. If they decide not to invest in the pitch, they say, "I'm out." Know when to walk away from things. For example, I've recently been talking with resume writers who are trying to work out strategic alliances with recruiting firms (the subject of a new Special Report I'm working on). Some of them are so thrilled to be approached -- and star-struck by the offerings of dozens of new clients per week that the recruiters think they'll be sending their way -- that they don't realize that the deal doesn't favor them. Remember, "It's not personal, it's business." Be willing to walk away.
It's a good show. You should watch it!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cost of Unemployment

Lately, in the promotion of my Get Hired Now! program, I've been sharing the "cost of unemployment" with prospective clients in an effort to educate them about the real "price" of not investing in their job search, if doing things on their own hasn't worked.

The Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches had an article in their July 2009 issue that also quantified this. Worth a read!

(Thanks to Jacqui Poindexter for the excerpt and Dawn Bugni for the original tweet that drew my attention!)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Alternative Payment Options

I've been thinking about this topic for quite some time -- and I'm going to have to do some research into the subject.

I wonder if any resume writers charge like the recruiters do -- a percentage of their client's future income. Only, instead of the recruiting firm receiving payment from the employer (usually 30-35% of the candidate's first year salary), the resume writer would be paid by the client.

Debra Feldman wrote about Executive Job Agents in Resume Writers' Digest, so I know there are some innovative resume writers out there ... I'm just wondering if any writers would be willing to share their insight into this strategy.

I was thinking maybe 1-5% of a client's salary, paid over the course of several months (or maybe even a year). It wouldn't have to be limited to executive clients -- I've thought of offering out-of-work professionals this kind of arrangement ... no money up front; pay only upon getting the new job. Maybe a sliding scale depending on the work found -- 2.5% of first year salary if they're making the same or less as before; 5% if they're making more (even if it's $100 more).

Thoughts, ideas? E-mail me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Affiliate Relationships with Recruiters - Compensation

As I am researching my new Special Report for resume writers on developing strategic alliances with recruiters and headhunters, I'm learning there is a wide variety of compensation strategies --- from NONE (the most frequently asked question I hear from resume writers: "So why would they refer someone to me, if they're not getting a referral fee or commission?") to 15%, on average.

I hope to have the Special Report done by the end of the month!! More details to follow...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Professional Resume Writers Strike Back!

In response to some rather visible attacks on the value of professional resume writers, some of our esteemed colleagues are striking back!

They hit on all the key points: The need to identify the job seekers personal brand; the difficulty of paring down dozens of pages of information, notes, research, and job postings into a succinct document; and the return-on-investment offered by engaging the services of a professional resume writer (a couple of hundred dollars for the service vs. thousands of dollars in lost income from being out of work for weeks ... or months ... on end.)

Professional resume writers need to write more of these types of articles!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ask Better Questions, Write Better Resumes

My goal, when I wrote the first edition of "Write Great Resumes Faster," was to compile in one place the great tips and resources I had assembled to help me write better resumes -- and to use them to write resumes faster, since I'm self-employed, and time equals money!

Over time, I expanded the book (leading to a second edition), and finally, this year, I turned it into a Resume Writers' Digest Special Report -- delivering it in electronic form as a PDF for immediate download so that I could continue to incorporate new information and ideas, without having to mess so much with the design (adding pages to an 8-1/2 by 11 special report is a LOT easier than paginating an 8-1/2 by 5-1/2 book).

I'm continuing to add new material to the special report. Consequently, a few months ago, I put together a survey to ask resume writers the best questions to ask their clients to get great information for the resumes they write. The results were fabulous, and are being incorporated into the Special Report. But the answers also sparked the cover story of the Summer 2009 issue, "10 Questions: Better Questions Yield Better Resumes."

The response to the article itself has been fabulous -- I've sold dozens of copies of the Special Report and was just asked by a prominent colleague to turn the article into a client-oriented piece for inclusion on her popular blog for job-seekers! (I'll provide the link when it's published.)

But in the meantime, feel free to incorporate these questions -- compiled from some of the best resume writers in the world!! -- into your data collection process. I've already done so, and am finding that these questions really DO yield better resumes. See if they work as well for you ... and be sure to let me know!

Also, if you don't currently subscribe to the Resume Writers' Digest newsletter -- you should! It's free (supported by the sale of our Special Reports and advertising).

Friday, August 7, 2009

Start Planning Now for International Update Your Resume Month

The ninth annual International Update Your Resume Month is this September. Career Directors International is posting 75 days of resume writing tips on the CDI Twitter page.

Resume writers (you do not have to be a member of CDI to participate) can download banners here to promote the idea that job seekers should keep their resume updated. You can use the banners to link to your own websites. (CDI members have access to promotional campaign materials.)

Now is a great time to send out your news releases on this topic to your local media.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Woman Sues Alma Mater for Not Finding Her a Job

Thanks to Barbara Safani for the heads-up about Trina Thompson, the recent college graduate who is suing her alma mater because they haven't "done enough to find her a job."

The story also lends a cautionary tale to professional resume writers: Manage your client's expectations as part of the career development process.

Ms. Thompson thought that paying $70,000 to Monroe College would guarantee her a job … and job seekers who pay anywhere from $49 to $4900+ for career services from you might think the same ... and, in fact, might expect you to do most of the the work for them. ("After all, that's what I'm paying for, right?")

I was reminded of this myself last week, when I received an e-mail from a client who wanted a customized cover letter for a position opening he had identified online. Following the link provided, I couldn't find the position listed online anymore. I e-mailed the client back, requesting that he contact the company and find out if the opening was still available.

The response I received back: "Can't you call them and find out?"


So be careful when you describe the services that you provide ... make sure that clients know that they are still ultimately responsible for the job search ... just as they're responsible for doing the job once they get it!

And be sure to read Barbara's commentary about the client's online brand profile ("digital dissing.") I just finished reading William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson's book, "Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand" (highly recommend it, by the way),

and I have to agree -- it's doubtful that Ms. Thompson is going to win her lawsuit ... and in the meantime, she's created an online brand profile that is whiny and negative ... not exactly traits that companies are looking for in employees today.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

One Recruiter's (Warped) Take on Resume Screening

I can't tell if this recruiter is serious ... bitter ... or just unhappy because he's now unemployed, but I'm a bit disturbed by his take on the resume screening process. Not to mention that he's disparaging the entire resume writing industry.

As an example of his "take" --
Perhaps the most common service offered is professional resume writing. These services promise that, for anywhere between 400 and 800 dollars, a professional resume writer will not only critique your resume, but also work with you to create a resume guaranteed to “break through the clutter” by using better verbs to craft the “story of your career.” Corporate recruiters, apparently, have very strict guidelines for formatting on a resume, and a secret code known only to them and somehow cracked by the Professional Resume Writer’s Association. I must have missed that workshop at ERE, but I suppose so too did a lot of my colleagues, who I have seen commit such violations to code as cut and pasting resumes off of Monster into Word or forwarding horrifically misformatted LinkedIn profiles to hiring managers.

Recruiters who have this attitude -- which is somewhere between being bitter that resume writers get involved with their clients at all (?) and just downright cynical that a professional resume writer might be able to "add value" to a candidate's positioning -- aren't likely to be as successful as those who partner with resume writers to identify top-performing candidates.

Perhaps it's no surprise that Mr. Charney is currently unemployed? I can suggest a professional resume writer to help him...

Monday, August 3, 2009

Typepad Free Webinar Series

I first learned about the Typepad free webinar series when Kirsten Dixson Tweeted a reminder about it. I missed getting in on it by an hour, but found out that they are recorded. Listening to her session is on my to-do list for this weekend... and it should be on yours as well.

The series also has a number of other interesting topics for resume writers (small business owners). You can sign up in advance for upcoming topics (free) or listen to the archived webinars (also free).

I'm reading Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand at the moment and LOVING IT. I had purchased it a few years back at a resume writing conference and started it, but had set it aside and just picked it up again. Kirsten and her co-author, William Arruda offer fabulous advice for resume writers ... and their clients.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Timeless Advice for Handling Price Shoppers

I'm compiling an index of the first 10 years of Resume Writers' Digest and came across this timeless tip in the March/April 2000 issue. Reprinted with permission of Jan Melnik, CPRW, from her book, "How to Operate a Home-Based Resume Service" (now out of print):

"Over the recent years, I've used a variation of the phrase, "I didn't realize price was your only concern," when speaking with prospective clients who focus solely on price.

If the caller seems totally uninterested in any value-added service and is even grumbling about the price of a basic retype, you can add to the above comment, "In that case, you might try the quick-stop copy shop. They'll add no value to your resume, but they'll do it for a very low price, if that's your primary concern."

Nowadays, I get very few requests for resume retypes (most need at least an update or a rewrite), but the advice would be similar... "Well, if price is your only concern, you can find some resume mills online that will update your resume for as little as $29, but I can't guarantee their quality, of course."