Sunday, January 30, 2011

How I Got Started in Resume Writing

I've been writing resumes since I was 12 years old. I wrote my dad's resume when he was looking for a new job, after leaving a family business owned by my uncles. I was in sixth grade. Ironically, it was my first federal resume (they didn't actually have a federal resume format back then, because Kathryn Troutman hadn't created it yet).

In high school, I joined my school's Future Business Leaders of America chapter, and this is where I really developed my resume writing skills. As a senior attending the State Leadership Conference (SLC), we were allowed to compete in a Job Interview contest. You would prepare a resume and cover letter for a fictional company and they would bring in real HR folks and hiring managers from businesses in the community to interview for this job. The top candidates would receive awards, and one lucky contestant would compete at the National Leadership Conference (NLC). I'm sorry to say that I didn't win the Job Interview competition (I think I came in fourth ... due to wearing a black-and-gold interview outfit, instead of a black or blue suit ... oh, what I know now!!), but my scores did qualify me to place very high in the Ms. Future Business Leader competition (I think I was runner-up) ... this was 20 years ago, don't quote me!

But in putting together my resume and cover letter, I learned that I enjoyed writing resumes -- and I was good at it. In fact, I came back every spring for the next 5-6 years and taught each year's class of seniors how to write their resume and cover letter for the competition, and basic interviewing skills. I'm thrilled to say that several of my candidates WON the job interview competition ... and my younger sister was even selected as Ms. Future Business Leader [Nebraska] (and competed at the national competition, coming in fourth in the nation).

As I was getting ready to graduate from college, my then-boyfriend (now-husband) and I were thinking about starting a business. We were getting our degrees in journalism/public relations and we wanted to work with small business owners. (A futile effort I detail in this post.) Anyway, when that market failed to materialize, I decided to write resumes. I joined PARW, read "How to Start a Home-Based Resume Business" (1st edition), and dived in, with a Yellow Pages ad.

I've been writing resumes now (as a paid resume writer) for 15 years. I've written resumes from A to Z (an accountant I'm currently working on a resume update for, to a zookeeper at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo). For a period of time, I subcontract wrote (for an individual writer as well as for CareerPerfect). And, in 1998, I decided to publish a newsletter for other professional resume writers.

That's how I got my start in resume writing!

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