Friday, August 31, 2012

How to Make Your Resume Writing Business More Credible

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With so many resume writing businesses marketing and promoting themselves online nowadays, you may be wondering: "How do I set myself apart?"

One answer is through credibility. Credibility helps separate you from your competition (or colleagues, if you prefer the more collegial definition of "other resume writers.) It also helps your resume writing business appear larger to your prospects and customers. Credulity gives your customers confidence in you. This confidence and trust results in purchases and profits.

So how do you create this credibility? How do you demonstrate to prospective resume clients that you can be trusted?

Professional Policies and Procedures
One of the best ways to establish trust and credibility with your prospects instantly is to make sure you represent your company online in a professional and credible manner. The simplest way to accomplish this is to publish your policies and procedures on your website. Make sure the policies page is easy to find and that it covers all the information someone would want to know. For example, what is your privacy policy? What is your payment policy? (Payment in full up front? Half due now, and the rest when the resume draft is delivered?) What about refunds? Do you have a guarantee?

Transparency is a key credibility builder. Consider also including a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on your site. It may cover much of the same material that your policies and procedures page covers, but that's okay.

Large Networking Presence
More than 800 million people are on Facebook right now. It's important to have a presence on mainstream social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You may even want to have a Pinterest account. It's also important to integrate your activity and social networking presence on your resume writing business website. For example, include links to your social networking profile on your site. Allow people to connect with you on the platforms they use.

Social networking is a credibility builder because it's a personal way to connect with your company. Again, it goes back to transparency and availability. If you're open and easy to connect with online, it builds trust. Most resume writing businesses are solo operations -- so when a client is choosing to work with your company, they are really choosing you.

Additionally, if you're connecting with other notable experts (especially thought leaders in the careers industry -- other resume writers, career coaches, recruiters, HR professionals, etc.) on social networking sites, your prospects will notice that. You will earn credibility by association.

Great Content
Finally, great content is essential to building credibility. You want to make sure your content positions you as a knowledgeable expert in your industry. You can publish content on your website or blog. You can also publish content on your social networking profiles.

Each article, blog post, or web page will ideally offer value to your reader. When you offer value, you help build a foundation of trust with your readers. They begin to learn from you and about you. This helps them feel like youĂ­re a company they can count on to continue to solve their problems.

In addition to publishing great content, it's also helpful to publish content frequently -- and on other websites. For example, if you are able to publish content on your site and contribute to other relevant blogs as a guest blogger, it helps establish your credibility. Publish articles on article directories or on sites like Squidoo. If other business owners are turning to you for great content, then you must be an expert!

Building credibility isn't difficult, but it does take a plan. Represent your resume writing business online in a professional manner. Make sure to be completely transparent and to publish content that offers value.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Career Directors International Announces 2012 TORI Award Nominees

Each year, CDI hosts a resume writing competition for the Toast of the Resume Industry (TORI) award.

Winner announcements will take place at CDI's award ceremony at the 2012 Career Empowerment Summit in October in San Diego.

Here are the 2012 TORI Nominees, in no particular order:

Best International Resume
Barbara Safani, Career Solvers
Victoria McLean, City CV Ltd.
Amanda Andrews, Professional Resume Services

Best New Graduate Resume
Adrienne Tom, Career Impressions
Brenda Bernstein, The Essay Expert LLC
Kornelia Telesz, Surcorp Group/Resume Solutions
Victoria McLean, City CV Ltd.
Jennifer Rushton, Keraijen

Best Creative Resume
Tina Nicolai, Resume Writers' Ink, LLC®
Cheryl Simpson, Executive Resume Rescue
Kristin Johnson, Profession Direction
Patricia Duckers, Prism Writing Services, LLC/CareerPro Global, Inc.
Barbara Safani, Career Solvers

Best Re-Entry Resume
Brenda Bernstein, The Essay Expert LLC
Amanda Andrews, Professional Resume Services

Best Technical Resume
Richard Coombes, Itouch Professional Resume Writing
Sandra Ingemansen, Emprove Performance Group, LLC
Alexander Kofman, Resume Pros 4 Less
Surranna Sandy, Surcorp Group/Resume Solutions
Barbara Safani, Career Solvers

Best Executive Resume
Amy L. Adler, Five Strengths Career Transition Experts
Sandra Ingemansen, Emprove Performance Group, LLC
Jennifer Rushton, Keraijen
Donald Burns,

Best Sales and Marketing Resume
Laurie Berenson, Sterling Career Concepts, LLC
Kimberly Mohiuddin, Movin' On Up Resumes
Jennifer Rushton, Keraijen
Sharon Williams, JobRockit
Barbara Safani, Career Solvers
Donald Burns,

Best Military Conversion Resume
Amanda Andrews, Professional Resume Services
Alexander Kofman, Resume Pros 4 Less
Sandra Ingemansen, Resume Strategies
Diana Dryden Smith, Federal Resume Resources

Best Cover Letter
Kimberly Mohiuddin, Movin' On Up Resumes
Gayle Howard, Top Margin Career Marketing
Kevin R. Morris, CareerMobile
Donald Burns,
Sandra Ingemansen, Emprove Performance Group, LLC

Robin Schlinger, of Robin's Resumes, coordinated the TORI awards this year.

Judges included:
Barb Poole, Hire Imaging, LLC
Annemarie Cross, Advanced Employment Concepts
Jill Kelly, Career Edge
Susan Guarneri, 
Michael Kranes, Resume Slayer
Audrey Prenzel, Resume Resources

To learn more about the TORI awards, click here.

Read the CDI news release about the TORI award nominees.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How to Grow Your Resume Business Through Crowdsourcing

With the death of my Dad earlier this month, I found myself facing a double-edged sword of having a crushing amount of responsibilities related to planning his funeral ... and a concurrent case of writer's block. It wasn't resumes that I was having trouble writing -- I had backed off of those in July when it was apparent his health was declining -- it was the August Pass-Along Materials package for

I had already decided in July what the topic for the content would be, and had outlined and written several sections of the report by the time he died. But every time I sat down to finish it, I was just stuck. I sent out an email to Bronze members to let them know what was going on -- and received wonderful, thoughtful, amazing responses from so many colleagues. The message was pretty consistent: Don't worry about the work. But I got my work ethic from my Dad ... so not worrying about finishing it was eating at me. The second consistent theme of the emails was: Let me know if I can do anything.

And that's what sparked an idea ... what if I crowdsourced ideas for the report content? Instead of relying on my own initiative and strengths -- which were sorely lacking at that point -- I would ask for help, in the form of crowdsourcing content for the report, which became the "Jobseeker's Guide to Leaving Your Job."
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What Is Crowdsourcing?
As defined by Wired Magazine, "Crowdsourcing is the act of sourcing tasks traditionally performed by specific individuals to an undefined large group of people or community through an open call." In this case, I sent out a follow-up email with a link to a QuestionPro survey. Immediately after sending it out, I began to receive survey responses (and emails from folks letting me know they had taken the survey).

You'll also see this principle at work with resume writers. I wrote a blog post this month about whether you should "Like" another resume writer's Facebook business page. Asking colleagues to "Like" your page is an example of crowdsourcing. You'll often get people who immediately comply with your request. You're asking the masses to help you grow your resume writing business.

So How Do You Grow Your Resume Writing Business with Crowdsourcing?
First, think about the various ways you can grow your business. These include:

  • Marketing
  • Content
  • Product development
  • Website traffic
  • Branding

Second, you'll want to think about your crowdsourcing resources. As you can see from the earlier examples, social networking and list-building are often the keys to success. The key part of "crowdsourcing" is crowd -- the more people you can reach, the easier it will be to pick up momentum quickly for your initiative. (You've seen on Facebook how word can spread across the country in a matter of minutes.)

Do you have a large network of friends and followers? Are you currently active on social networking sites? It doesn;t have to be Facebook. Social sites like Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube are very powerful too.

Third, consider your goals. What do you want to accomplish first? For example, do you need a lot of content for your website? Ask for submissions or guest blog posts from your friends and followers. Make it a contest and ask readers to vote on the best blog posts.

If you want to use the power of the crowd to develop your first information product, ask for input. Ask your jobseeking clients for their top 3 challenges in finding a great job.

The power of the crowd is immense. You can use it to grow your resume writing business in a number of ways. Instead of paying a product development team or hiring a focus group, you can now go directly to the source and ask your prospects to contribute. And it doesn't cost a thing. Consider your goals and your resources, then take action.

For me, I am immensely grateful to my colleagues who contributed their ideas and inspiration to complete the "Jobseeker's Guide to Leaving Your Job" Pass-Along Materials content.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How to Get New Resume Clients from Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Ask any resume writer who has been in business for any length of time how they get many of their clients, and the answer is often "through referrals." But do you have to wait until you've been in business for a couple years before you generate significant business from referrals? Is word-of-mouth marketing something that happens by accident? Years and years of marketing research has shown that it's not. In fact, word-of-mouth marketing can be consciously created — if you understand what drives it.

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Here are some of the most important factors that drive word-of-mouth advertising.

Something That Is Really, Really Different
If something is really, truly different, people are going to talk about it. Things that have never been done before are hot topics of conversation. You may be thinking to yourself, "There's nothing 'new and unconventional' about resume writing." But that's not true!

More and more clients are finding new ways to network their way into a job through social media -- LinkedIn, Branchout, Twitter, Facebook -- and you helping to position them for those opportunities is something worth talking about!

What if your product isn't 100% original? You can still do something unique. For example, a cake company isn't anything new, but one cake company generated a lot of buzz by baking the largest cake in the world.

Extraordinary Customer Service Interactions
Another thing that tends to drive word-of-mouth marketing is customer service. And not just "regular" customer service — but going above and beyond for your resume clients.

You can find examples of extraordinary customer service across all industries — Like when someone spilled coffee on an executive's suit on a Southwest Airlines flight and a flight attendant offered his own suit so the man could go to his meeting well dressed, the story spread like wildfire throughout the internet.

Another example is a restaurant whose waiters constantly insult customers. It's their brand. It's actually funny and customers go to this restaurant just for the unique experience. (Think "The Soup Nazi" from Seinfeld.)

The examples go on and on. But how can you extend this to your resume business? If you can't think of "extraordinary," try for "out of the ordinary"! What can set you apart? Like, returning calls from prospects and clients within two hours. Or delivering a first draft (with no rush fee) in 72 hours. Offering free updates and changes for the first 90 days (yes, you can charge a premium for your services to offset the no rush fee and free update services). Or using Pass-Along Materials to provide job search support beyond the resume itself.

This kind of service will help you stand out -- and inspire your customers to spread the word!

"I Think Person XYZ Could Really Use This"
Another core thing that drives word-of-mouth is the "I really think Susie needs this" mentality. Friends are always on the lookout for friends. This is particularly useful in the marketing of your resume services. If you share content that is timely, relevant, and useful, it's likely to be passed along. The individual reading it is likely to think of an unemployed or underemployed friend and share the article, blog post, or special report with them. And that builds your "know, like, and trust" credibility with prospective clients. You're getting an endorsement, really, from someone they trust.

Try to create content that will appeal to different kinds of people that still have a common thread. For example, your articles and blog posts can be targeted to jobseekers that are entering (or re-entering) the job market, looking for a better position, changing careers, or have been downsized. All of these are resources that help those who might need a resume writer -- but they are targeting very different people.

Different Formats
Different people like to share different kinds of things. You've probably noticed this on Facebook.
Many people like to share and talk about videos. Still others love funny graphics or cartoons, while others will only share strictly educational material they think friends will love. (Infographics are especially popular, for this reason.)

Don't just appeal to one kind of person. Create your word-of-mouth marketing so that it will appeal to a wide range of people.

These are some of the main factors that drive word-of-mouth advertising. Word-of-mouth can absolutely be planned. You don't have to hit all of the hot buttons discussed above, but to succeed you should aim to address at least one or two of them.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New Scam Targeting Resume Writers

There is a scam targeting resume writers that began circulating last week. Colleague Laina Krisik alerted me to the scam -- here is her correspondence with me -- and my response.

Hi Bridget,

I received an e-mail the other day that's just not sitting right with me. The subject line read, "YOUR SERVICES!!!!!!!!!!" and the e-mail was cryptic-like asking about my services and charges. I replied with a brief e-mail stating that I'd like to see her resume and cover letter to see what kind of work needed to be done. I also asked her how she heard of me. Below was her response:

Am very much happy to read back from you and okay with the charges for the pages in which am sure it will be well prepared,easy and well understood by the reader.

Again,am presently undergoing ear sugery in which will be kind of hard to hear you clearly.we can easily communicate via email and i will answer all your question.

Therefore let me know the charges for the attached resume and Kindly get back to me with information below:

1: Your Full Name to be on the payment
2: Your Address and zip code
3: Your cell phone number

So i can instruct my financial secretary to issue out the full payment as soon as possible for the service.Do note that you will not release it to me not until have the payment with you.

I will need your immediate response via email assuring me that i can trust you to handle this with care

Best Regard

Here is my response to Laina:

My gut instinct is similar to the uneasy feeling you got: RUN!

There is no way you should need to give a prospective client this information before you've even decided on a quote.

It reminds me of similar "phishing" (scam) emails that restaurants in this area have received. "We want to order $1000 worth of food for a party. Please send us information on where to send payment." Then, they send more than the amount owed, with instructions (because the payment is coming from a third party) to "send a check for the overage amount to 'x.") When you deposit the check, the funds won't clear, and if you've sent a check for the "overage," they'll have stolen that amount, and you'll also be out the insufficient funds fee from your bank for their original payment not clearing.

That's the reason to communicate via email too and not by phone. Many of these scammers are based in Africa.

I would just NOT REPLY again. Move on to more fruitful waters!! 

After seeing reference to this same "client" on several profession E-Lists, my suspicions are confirmed. This is a variation on the classic "mystery shopper" and "employment" scams, where you are "paid" but then asked to send money to the individual (or their agent). Many jobseekers have been caught up in these types of scams -- resume writers need to beware, so you aren't caught up in one too!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My First Resume Client

Me and my Dad (7/15/12).
My first — and most important — resume I wrote was when I was 12. That resume was for my Dad, Keith Weide. I was the middle of five children, and suddenly, my Dad was unemployed. This was 25 years ago, so I don't remember all the details (and the original resume is long gone), but the end result was that my Dad secured an interview — and a job — with U.S. Army Audit, where he worked all through my junior high and high school years.

The job required extensive travel, and my Dad often left home at mid-day on Sunday and would drive to far-off places like St. Louis, the Quad Cities, and someplace in Kentucky. He'd work a compressed work-week (five extended days one week and four extended days the next week, leaving early every other Friday). He'd return home — usually around midnight on Friday night, and I would greet him at the door.

The distance was difficult for us — my Mom, and all of us kids. This was in the days before cell phones. Often, my Mom wouldn't talk to him at all when he was on the road. But always, he returned home.

This past Tuesday, I saw my Dad off for the last time. You can read more about that here.

Thanks, Dad ... for being my first, and most important, resume client.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Should You Like A Facebook Page of Another Resume Writing Business?

    • Quick question ... I do believe in networking with colleagues but I'm not sure about "liking" other Facebook pages. How is this helpful? Thanks for any insight you can share.
  • 39 minutes ago
    Bridget Weide Brooks
    • Hi, Tammy!

      There are two reasons to like your colleagues' Facebook pages. The first is the "give to get" principle -- if you like their pages, they are likely to like yours too!

      The second is to get ideas/information on things you can share with your clients. You might find articles and resources that your clients will benefit from when you see them posted on your colleagues' pages.

Tammy Shoup, of Breakthrough Resume Writing Service, asked me this question yesterday on Facebook. Her question is a common one. As resume writers, should we worry about "liking" the work of others, or sharing articles written by our peers -- should we be worried that it might encourage our prospective clients to seek our our colleague's resumes writing services instead of our own?

I reminded Tammy that clients always have choices -- but by sharing information from other resources -- including other resume writers -- we show prospective clients that we are committed to staying current in our field -- and sharing the best information -- even if it's not something we did ourselves.

By "liking" another resume writing business Facebook page (or following them on Twitter or Pinterest), we increase our connections to our careers industry community. We also have the opportunity to see articles and information that we can share with our clients. There is so much information out there, it's nice to have other resume writers help "curate" it.

But if you're worried about "standing out" among the many resume writing firms out there, here are some ideas that can help.

There isn't one set formula that every resume writing business should use to stand out. (After all, if everyone did that technique, no one would stand out!) What follows are a series of attributes that stand-out companies tend to share. Implement these in your own resume writing business and add your own twist to them to make your services stand head and shoulders out of the crowd.

Be Genuine
Most sole proprietor resume writing firms try to be bigger or more official than they really are. Businesses that are able to let that drop and actually share what's genuinely going on are often able to garner a lot of trust and loyalty. After all, when it comes to their career, clients want individual, personalized service. If you're a one-person shop, they will actually be working with you -- and that's an advantage in setting yourself apart from larger firms!

Be real about who you are and where your company is at.

Cultivate Win/Win
A lot of businesses -- not necessarily career service businesses -- treat their value propositions as win-lose. They make money, the customer loses money. I sometimes see this principle reflected in payment policies for resume writing firms. After being burned by one or two clients (out of one hundred -- or hundreds!!), the resume writer puts policies into place that "punish" future clients for the transgressions of a few.

Great companies, on the other hand, view their relationship as a co-creative one with their customers. Their customers want solutions and you're there to help provide that to them. You trust your customers to pay you (sure, you can still have policies, but you can be somewhat flexible when the circumstances warrant it).

View your customers as your partner in their career success and look to cultivate more win-win relationships with them. Involve customers in the design of a specific service program to fit their career goals, and you'll ensure you're really solving their problems.

Do Unusual Promotions
Did you know that Otis, the man who invented the elevator safety mechanism, got his company launched by placing himself inside a giant elevator in public and hacking off two elevator cables with a hatchet?

Unusual promotions garner a lot of attention. Try to come up with shocking or unusual ways of promoting your business. An "ugliest resume" contest might be one way to do this.

Write with Personality
Groupon launched its service with a successful business model — but they also had something else. They had fantastic writers that had real personality. People love reading personality-filled bits of content online. If you can get people to write witty, funny or edgy content, there's a very good chance you'll stand out.

Pick a Niche and Be World-Class At It
Don't try to be good at everything. Instead, try to be fantastic at just one or two things. Pick a niche and become the best in that niche. Stand out in that niche, rather than in the broader market. (I'm writing a cover story on this topic for the next issue of Resume Writers' Digest.) If you want to be known for something, don't just serve anyone.

Choose a Company Culture
A company culture permeates your website, your writing, and everything else about your resume writing service. If you're a solo resume writer, you may not think you have a "company" culture, but that's just a phrase. For example, the fact that your dog is your company's mascot speaks to your company culture. Is your resume writing business entrepreneurial and fun, or more corporate in nature? You can consciously shape your company culture.

These are some of the many ways you can stand out. Pick the ones that resonate with you and implement them in your resume writing business.