Thursday, September 24, 2009

Live Twittering From NRWA Conference 2009

If you're like me and couldn't make it to the NRWA Conference, you can still find out what's going on through live Twitter updates from conference participants. Search for "#NRWAconf2009" or "#NRWA09" ...

Check out these folks:
@CEOCoach (Deb Dib)
@CIO_Coach (Kim Batson)
@wendyterwelp (Wendy Terwelp)
@dawnrasmussen (Dawn Rasmussen)
@susanwhitcomb (Susan Britton Whitcomb)
@tessaweeks (Tessa Weeks)
@RobynFeldberg (Robyn Feldberg)
@BonnieKurka (Bonnie Kurka)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

More Results: Resume Writers' Digest 2008 Subcontracting Survey

This is the third in a series of posts outlining the results of the Resume Writers' Digest 2008 Subcontracting Survey. You can read Part I of the survey results here and Part II of the survey results here.

While most subcontractors profess to enjoy their work, one of the biggest issues is compensation. When asked "what one thing you would change about your subcontracting relationship if you could," the subject of money surfaced again and again, as did the desire for more subcontracting work.

"I think most of the larger firms do not pay their writers adequately," says one resume writer. "If I had to subcontract to stay in business, I would quit writing resumes altogether, I think."

One writer lamented, "They were paying $75 for me to sift through up to 45 pages of information to do a cover letter and resume. It wasn't worth the time."

Several resume writers responded that they would like additional compensation for special services -- "higher pay rates for weekend work" or "additional compensation for weekend and holiday assignments."

Other responses:

  • "More appreciation for my work."
  • "More time to complete projects."
  • "No rigid template -- each resume is unique and deserves to be written from scratch."
  • "Higher quality of clientele"
  • "More complete information at the beginning of the process."
  • "More standard responses for answering typical client questions."
  • "More flexibility in formatting."
Why They Don't Subcontract Anymore
Those who no longer subcontract most often cite compensation and the desire to build their own businesses as reasons why they stopped subcontract writing.

"I have not subcontracted for many years. I have moved on in pricing and other issues that does not make it worth my while any more," writes one individual. "The other reason is that so many want you to write just like them; as if they wrote it themselves -- and that is very difficult to do after writing for so many years in my own style."

Another writes, "The only bad thing (about subcontracting) is the (lack of) money. When you get clients to your site who pay you the full price, and then you get your subcontract work and only get 35 percent, it's disappointing."

Advice From Other Subcontractors
Some respondents offered advice for their peers considering subcontracting:

"Advise people to be careful of the agreements they sign with some of the firms that offer subcontracting. There is at least one (company) out there that has a non-compete agreement which can make it difficult to have your own clients or set up your own business if the relationship does not work in the long term."

Another advises resume writers to evaluate the opportunity for work before signing on:

"Check on the level of jobs available from firms offering subcontracting. Some firms have a lot of work -- others do not. Make sure you will have enough work."

Another suggests asking other subcontractors for recommendations: "Some firms don't treat their writers well or support them in cases of difficult clients."

While some writers raved about the working relationships they have fostered, subcontracting isn't for everyone.

One wrote, "I strongly believe that subcontracting in the field of resume writing is the equivalent of sweatshop labor in third world countries."

If you find an individual or firm that is a good fit for you, one survey respondent pointed out the bottom line: "If you are very good and efficient, there is a lot of money to be made."

Another added: "If you work for an excellent firm with lots of clients, excellent contractor pay, and information sharing/training, then subcontracting is the way to go!"


Interested in learning more about subcontracting as a resume writer? Purchase the Resume Writers' Digest Special Report, "Making Money as a Resume Subcontractor."

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Results Part II: 2008 Resume Writers' Digest Subcontracting Survey

The first part of the survey results can be found here.

Why Writers Subcontract
While income is one of the primary reasons cited by survey respondents, it's certainly not the only reason. Reasons given in the 2008 subcontracting survey include:
  • Flexibility/Convenience. One writer likes the flexibility of working "off hours." Another says, "Local clients for my own business want to meet, which is difficult for me with two small kids." Subcontracting "allows me to work from home." "I can control the work flow -- and take breaks from work easily." Another says, "I like being able to accept/reject projects at my discretion."
  • The Opportunity to Focus on Writing, Not Sales. "I'm not a great salesperson, so I like having that part already done," says one respondent. Subcontracting offers "less client contact, less stress, and a steady pipeline of work," volunteers another. "I can focus on the work instead of seeking it out -- I can better concentrate my efforts." "To avoid or eliminate it altogether: client contact/management, billing issues, and sales and marketing." One writes, "I hate dealing with clients directly." Another says, "I don't like marketing myself."
  • To Get Additional Experience. "I subcontracted to learn resume writing and to do sales before I set out on my own. Now I subcontract just to fill in lulls in my business." Writes another: "I did it to get started and hone my skills in a part-time writing business in retirement."
  • To Experience Diversity of Projects. "I do all kinds of business writing, and the bulk of my work right now is either technical writing or marketing communications. This is a good way to stay involved with resume writing without having to do any marketing," says one writer. "I enjoy the variety of projects."
  • The Volume of Work Available. I subcontract "to supplement my workload," writes one. "Because it provides steady work," says another. "It keeps me busy." "Steady work is nice, because I live in the middle of nowhere."
Subcontracting can be a good alternative to a local market area that doesn't supply a viable source of clients. One writer noted, "I cannot charge as much as I could like to locally. I live in a very depressed area -- I make much more subcontracting than I could from local clients."

It can also be a bridge for resume writers starting their businesses (although many firms prefer writers with some experience).

"I'm new to the field, need to work from home, and subcontracting is a feasible solution," says one writer. Another writes, "My website sucks and my SEO (search engine optimization) skills suck and I need to work."

The economies of scale large companies have to offer helps them attract clients, one resume writer pointed out.

"A large, national company can afford huge marketing and promotional campaigns, bringing in thousands of clients per year, [while] a small individual operation ... can only afford a telephone book ad and some Google 'pay per click' marketing," she writes. "I wouldn't bring in enough customers on my own to make the money I want to make. Subcontracting is two-thirds of my salary."

You can read more of the results here.

Interested in subcontract resume writing? Purchase the "Making Money as a Resume Subcontractor" special report from Resume Writers' Digest.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Results: 2008 Resume Writers' Digest Subcontracting Survey

For many resume writers, subcontracting is a way to smooth out the peaks and valleys of self-employment, at least according to the responses in the Resume Writers' Digest 2008 Subcontracting Survey.

Thirty-three resume writers completed the survey. Of those, 90 percent are currently subcontract writers, either for an individual or a firm. The rest used to write resumes as a contractor, but are not currently doing so.

The opportunity to earn extra income is often the driving force behind the decision to subcontract. The average pay for more than half of all writers surveyed was between $101-$200 per project. Most resume writers are paid a flat fee per completed project (82 percent of those responding), versus a percentage of the client fee. None of the writers who responded are paid by the hour, although these arrangements do exist. For those who are paid a percentage of the project fee, the usual portion for the resume writer is 21-35% of the project fee.

Almost always, these projects include a resume and cover letter, although some subcontract resume writers reported resume-only projects are most typical for them (9 percent). Other services include bios, thank you/follow-up notes, interview preparation training, KSAs, and ASCII text conversions.

Project Management
Most subcontracting projects are assigned via e-mail (75 percent), followed by assignments made through a dedicated web portal.

Turnaround time can influence a contracting writer's satisfaction with the working relationship. While rush fees may be available for extremely short turnaround deadlines, in many cases, contracting writers must produce projects in shorter timeframes than they would when working with their own clients.

Reported turnaround times include:
Less than 24 hours -- 10%
24-48 hours (1-2 days) -- 10%
48-72 hours (2-3 days) -- 24%
3-5 days -- 52%
More than 5 days -- 4%

Working style is a big factor for subcontract writers when choosing an individual or firm to affiliate with. How you work with clients is a matter of personal preference, but choosing a firm that allows you to use your preferred style can make a big difference in your satisfaction with the working relationship. Writers reported a wide range of information-gathering styles (which is often mandated by the contracting firm):
Via e-mail contact only -- 39%
Mostly via e-mail, but up to 20% of contact on the phone -- 42%
Both phone and e-mail -- 15%
Entirely through the phone -- 4%

The majority of subcontracting firms require writers to handle a large portion of the content development process, from initial draft through project finalization, working directly with the client (58 percent). Other firms have writers handle the draft through project finalization, but working with the contractor, not directly with the client (21 percent). Some firms have the writer complete a draft version only, including formatting (21 percent).

As in the previous survey, writers reports that growth in subcontracting opportunities exists for resume writers who specialize in federal resumes, as only three percent of the survey respondents reported they specialize in this area, and demand from firms seeking subcontractors who have expertise in writing federal resumes continues to grow.

You can read the rest of the survey results here.

And if you're interested in subcontracting, purchase the Resume Writers' Digest Special Report, "Making Money as a Resume Subcontractor."