Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Seven Things Jobseekers Say That Drive Me Crazy

As a resume writer for the past 15+ years, I like to think that I've heard it all. Certainly, I've heard certain things over and over again from jobseekers that absolutely drive me crazy... and I've listed seven of them below.

1. I don't care what kind of job I get, I just need a job. In most cases, if you don't care what kind of job you get, the job you get isn't going to be the one you want ... or the one you are best suited for. If you're frustrated with the job search process and decide to look for a different type of job, you are giving up the momentum you've already built. Instead of starting over from scratch, is there one small change you could make that might make all the difference? After all, success is not a straight line.

2. "I had my (mom, sister, neighbor, teacher, best friend, second-cousin-twice-removed) look at the resume and they said..." Opinions are like resumes. Most everyone has one, and some are better than others. Something that works for one person's job search won't necessarily work for yours. You wouldn't ask Aunt Edna's advice on how your accountant did your tax return ... why would you take her advice on your resume? (And yes, that counts even if Cousin Ted is a recruiter. Unless he is the recruiter or hiring manager for the exact position you're applying for, the advice he's giving — while industry-specific — might be off target as well.) Your resume writer gets to know you and your specific circumstances and has created a resume that addresses the specific qualifications and challenges in YOUR job search.

3. If I'm on LinkedIn, everyone will know I'm looking for a new job. One of the primary reasons to be on LinkedIn is to make professional and career connections. But yes, if your profile springs up overnight and you suddenly add 200 connections, yep, it's a solid bet you're either in job search mode now, or shortly will be. Think of your involvement on LinkedIn as a marathon, not a sprint. As author Harvey Mackey says, "Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty."

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't be on LinkedIn. In fact, there's no reason why you shouldn't be on LinkedIn right now, even if you're not looking for a job. Start digging your well now. (Check out my 8-day guide to getting started: "Leveraging LinkedIn For Your Job Search")

4. I know I just lost my job, but I'm going to take a break before I start looking again. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Even if you're getting severance and/or unemployment benefits, you need to start looking for your next job as soon as possible. The longer you are unemployed, the harder it is to find a job. And your network is much more likely to be responsive to requests for help when you're newly unemployed. Not to mention, if your job search takes longer than you think, you might run out of money. A better way to handle it is to find your next job, and then negotiate a starting date to take a short vacation to celebrate before you start the new job!

5. Related to #4: "I can't stand my job anymore. I'm going to quit." My mom's number one rule is: Never quit your job until you have a new one. The biggest reasons for this is: It's easier to get hired if you have a job. Like it or not, if you are not working, an employer has to take a bigger "chance" on you than if you're currently employed. So yeah, if you can't stand your job anymore, use that as motivation to ramp up your job search! Treat your job search as a full-time job (or at least a part-time job) and get cracking! But don't just quit. You're going to need the income to invest in your job search — new interview attire, a resume, maybe some interview or salary negotiation coaching. Which leads me to #6.

6. I can't afford to spend $XXX on my job search. There are certain things that you will need in your job search (like a professional email address, and the minimum qualifications for the job) ... and some things that will help you stand apart from everyone else applying for the position. Professional interview attire, for one thing. A professionally written resume is on that list too. You can spend anywhere from $100 to $10,000 on your resume. The cost varies greatly, although the national average is $508 for a resume and cover letter. It just depends on the writer ... and on the client. Will a professionally written resume get you the job? It's not a guarantee. But it can certainly make you a stronger candidate, and can provide you with the confidence to advance in a competitive search. You may need to cut back on some of your other expenses (cable, eating out, entertainment) in order to shift money to your job search.

7. "Can't you just do it for me?" I've had wives call for their husbands, and parents call for their children. Some resume writers don't mind that. I do. I want to know that the person who I'm working with is going to put in the effort. (Julie Walraven has an excellent blog post on this.) No one should be more motivated to work on your job search than you. Yes, you're hiring a professional resume writer to assist you, but that doesn't mean that it won't involve hard work -- and an investment in your time -- from you. You're the one who needs to think through your accomplishments. The resume writer will take it from there -- but he or she needs something to work from. So if the resume writer asks you to do homework assignments, take them seriously. The end product will be much more impressive if you invest the time in the process.

Help me add to this list. What are some of the other things that jobseekers say that drive you crazy as a resume writer? Post your comment below.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I Published My First Ebook...Now What??

Yesterday, I received an email from Kristin Johnson of Profession Direction announcing the publication of her first ebook, "Target Your Resume to Win Over Applicant Tracking Systems."

She gifted me with a copy of the ebook in appreciation for my support and encouragement of her efforts to get her first ebook published.
Although getting an ebook published seems like it is the "hardest" part of the process, the real work begins once you have the product ready to sell. Now you have to get people to buy it!

I sent Kristin this five-step outline for increasing sales of her first ebook, and wanted to share these tips with you too.

Step 1: Solicit customer reviews to add to your sales page! Select 10-12 people and ask them if they'd be willing to check out your new ebook and write a review! These testimonials (especially excerpts) can really boost sales once people get to your page.

Step 2: Send out a news release -- not targeted to selling the book itself, but highlighting your expertise in understanding the ATS in the job search (from your position as an AUTHOR!) This may lead to interview requests from radio/tv/print, which will lead people to search for (and buy!) your book ... but also get you visibility and credibility with potential new clients!

Step 3: Let your current and past clients know about the book! (If you have an email list of your customers, this is easy to do. If you don't, it's time to start putting one together!) Get the word out to your "influencers" too -- folks who have referred to you in the past. (If they're someone who regularly sends business your way, gift them a complimentary copy of the ebook in appreciation for their referrals.)

Step 4: Spread the word on social media. This should include tweets, Facebook posts (both on your business page and personal page), adding the book to "Publications" in your LinkedIn profile (and writing a status update about it, with a link to the sales page).

Step 5: Repurpose the content! Offer a guest blog post and/or post an article on a major article directory site with a 200- to 500-word article on the topic (can be a direct excerpt or have your weblady take a section and write an article on it). In your resource box, link to your book sales page. (And then follow Step 4 to spread the word about the article.)

And, once you've completed those five steps, here is another blog post with even MORE ideas to increase sales of your ebook:

And here are some additional resources to help you get your first ebook published:
• Special Report: Making Money Writing Ebooks

Monday, April 22, 2013

Is Your Website Too Ugly to Get You Clients?

Ten years ago, I'd estimate that about half of resume writers didn't have a website. They were expensive to set up (most resume writers couldn't set them up themselves), and -- at the time, folks weren't as comfortable buying services online as they are now.

Today, if you don't have a website, you're a rarity among resume writers. But having a website isn't enough -- you must have a GREAT website. Your website is usually the place where prospective clients first learn about you and what you have to offer. The first impression you make is critical.

You probably realize this yourself from thinking about the websites you look at most often. The best websites are attractively designed but more important -- they are well organized. A prospective client can clearly identify what you do, who you serve, and how you can help. And, it succinctly communicates how they can begin working with you.

With today's technology, it's easier than ever to have a website ... but it's also easy to have an ineffective, and sometimes even UGLY website.

Yes, you can set up a website in 5 or 10 minutes, using a platform that gives you everything you need.

But that's not the end of the story. Think about a cupcake. You know what the finished product is supposed to look like — yummy and good smelling. But, just because someone sets out the ingredients doesn't guarantee that you will put them together in the right away to come up with a scrumptious cupcake. It could turn out to be a mess.

It's the same with your website. Just because you throw some parts and pieces together doesn't mean that the end result will be "yummy" for prospective visitors. It takes some thought — and planning — to create a website that will attract clients.

What are some characteristics of ugly websites?

  • Not user-friendly. You've done the hard work of getting a prospective client to your website. Now, help them become a client by making your site easy to navigate, structured logically to address three main issues: who you are, how you can help, and how they can start working with you.
  • Links that don't work. Test all of your buttons before you go live. But once the site is up, make sure the links keep working. There's nothing worse than broken links for driving a site visitor away.
  • Poor color scheme. It is important that your content and images are easy to see and read. White text on a black background is hard to read. The same goes for lettering in yellow on a white background. Choose black on white for your content.
  • Pop-ups. While one pop-up can be effective to offer a free special report to build your mailing list, but one should be your limit. If someone has to keep clicking to exit boxes all the time, the reader will be distracted and annoyed.

Take a look at your website. Are you guilty of any of these? Don't worry. It can be fixed.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Leverage The Power of Groups for Success as a Resume Writer

This is the fourth post in our four-part series on "Four Ways to Improve Your Life and Achieve Greater Success as a Resume Writer." You can read the previous posts on The Power of Effective Goal Setting, How Positive Thinking Can Change Your Life, and If You Want to Keep Earning, You Need to Keep Learning.

Today, I want to talk about leveraging the power of groups for self-improvement. Specifically, the role of accountability partners in helping us be successful. I'm very interested in MasterMind groups.

How to Make MasterMind Groups Work for You
A MasterMind group is a group of like-minded individuals who join together for the purpose of growth: business, personal, and/or professional. While the concept of a mastermind group is an old one — Ben Franklin belonged to a club for mutual improvement and Henry Ford and Thomas Edison established a supportive partnership — the term was coined in 1937 by Napoleon Hill in his book, "Think and Grow Rich."

Part of a mastermind group is setting up rules and procedures that work for the individuals within the group.  The groups generally work by meeting regularly and discussing goals, problems, and solutions.  Typically, groups met face-to-face but with today's busy world and the ease of online communication, many meet over the phone or via video conferencing software.  

There are numerous valuable benefits to joining a mastermind group:
  • They provide the opportunity to be heard by safe and non-judgmental associates.  
  • You are provided with helpful feedback before you take a course of action.  
  • You are motivated by accountability when you establish goals with a group.  
  • You are offered solutions to problems from objective and positive people who want you to succeed.  
  • You are offered the opportunity to develop long lasting and meaningful relationships with like-minded individuals.  

The above is only possible if you are able to build a group of passionate, supportive, like-minded individuals. So how do you ensure that your mastermind group members are the right ones for you?  Often, you meet individuals in networking groups our other associations. If you feel a positive chemistry with these people, ask them about joining a mastermind group with you. Remember a group can be as small as two people. Ask potential members if they have a personal or business mission statement and see if it matches your own goals.  

Many groups find it helpful to have a meeting facilitator. This can be the same person each time, it can be outsourced, or members can rotate the responsibility. In each meeting, it is important that all members have the opportunity to share. It is also valuable if a set topic is established prior to the meeting that members bring information to share with the group relating to the topic, articles, and books, etc. 

For example, if the meeting's topic is goal setting for your resume writing business, then everyone would bring their own goals as well as materials that they found that offered information and solutions to the topic.

Make sure that all members are committed to meeting on a regular basis; if members often miss meetings, then it weakens the group as a whole. Make sure that members have a strong desire to meet or exceed their goals. Members also need to have a desire to share their experiences and support all members of the group. 

Members need to have a commitment to themselves to move forward in their business and personal life.  All members, including you, need to be open to the thoughts, comments, and honest feedback of fellow members. You need to let go of the fear of change and diversity. The strength of the group lies both in their similarities and their differences. Each person brings their own experiences and background to learn from.

Questions to ask if you are considering starting or joining a mastermind group:
  • Do you wonder if you're making the right decisions?
  • Do you want to grow your business or your career but you aren't sure how?
  • Do you have business problems that are too big to solve alone?
  • Do you wonder how other business professionals operate?
  • Do you feel alone in your business and desire a sounding board?
If you answered yes to any of the above answers, then a MasterMind group may be exactly what you need. I am working on putting together a MasterMind group for Bronze members on BeAResumeWriter.com. If you are interested in learning more, contact me.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

If You Want to Keep Earning, You Need to Keep Learning (Self-Improvement Series)

So far in the"Four Ways to Improve Your Life and Achieve Greater Success as a Resume Writer" series, we've talked about "The Power of Goal Setting" and "How Positive Thinking Can Change Your Life."

Today's focus in this four-part self-improvement series is "How to Fit Education Into Your Busy Life."

Attendee map at the 2012 NRWA Conference in Charleston.

One of the biggest challenges we have as resume writers is that our field is constantly changing. Technology has had a significant impact on the resumes we write. I look back to when I started my business 17 years ago, and how much has changed. And it's still changing. Look at how we've had to adapt our resumes to meet Applicant Tracking System requirements. Thinking about the rise and fall of the job board. Or the impact of social media on our clients' job searches.

It's clear that if we want to keep earning, we need to keep learning.

Improving your education broadens your horizons in so many positive ways.  You not only learn new skills and material that you can use with clients, you may also meet new people and make new professional contacts (depending on the educational format you choose). Another benefit to continuing your education is that it shows you are a motivated and goal-oriented person. Your career industry colleagues and resume clients will take notice. In short, it can open up opportunities that you never imagined.

There are many opportunities for resume writers to continue our education. There is formal schooling — for example, pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in human resources, psychology, communications, or a related field.

There are in-person workshops and seminars in your area – for example, training offered through the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and ASTD (dedicated to training and development) and their local chapters. (Both national organizations also offer online training.)

Two of the national resume writing associations offer in-person conferences. The National Resume Writer's Association's 16th annual conference is in September in Chicago. Career Directors International is holding its 2013 Global Career Empowerment Summit in Orlando in October.

There are online learning opportunities through the different career industry associations. In a world where time is money and we're all short on both, online education is in high demand. The benefits of online training are relatively apparent for anyone looking at furthering their education. By learning online, you not only save travel time, you are able to customize your education to fit your needs, time constraints, and financial priorities.

Because many courses are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, online education, trainings, and workshops allow you to learn when it is the most convenient for you. It makes life significantly easier for the busy resume writer.

In 2013, Career Thought Leaders held its first virtual conference, after several years of an in-person conference. You can access the recorded video sessions (each day had a specific "theme").

The National Resume Writer's Association offers affordable monthly teleseminars. They also offer a 10-part online training program about resume writing.

Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark offer quarterly E-Summits in addition to their flagship resume training and certification program, the Resume Writing Academy. You can also purchase recordings of the E-Summits. They also offer a 4-part Entrepreneurial Elegance program.

You can find links to most of these training opportunities -- as well as my own monthly free teleseminars on BeAResumeWriter.com. Bronze members of BeAResumeWriter.com also have access to all the recordings and transcripts of previous training sessions. (Many of these can also be purchased for $5 each.)

Also, check out my blog post about "Associations for Professional Resume Writers" for links to other organizations that might offer training and educational opportunities. You can also check out these Resources for Resume Writers.

There are also online training options that will help you become more proficient in Microsoft Word, for example. (YouTube videos also offer a number of free trainings on this topic, although the quality varies dramatically.)

Note: At some point, I'll have to put together a blog post on recommended books, special reports, and other resources. This blog post is by no means an exhaustive list of the training opportunities available for resume writers. Feel free to add other suggestions in the comments, and I'll work to incorporate them into the main post.

Check out the next post in this series: Leverage the Power of Groups for Success

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How Positive Thinking Can Change Your Life (Self-Improvement Series)

This is the second in a series of four blog posts on self-improvement as part of "Four Ways to Improve Your Life and Achieve Greater Success as a Resume Writer." Check out yesterday's blog post on "The Power of Goal Setting."

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I've heard of a few resume writers struggling with burnout. Part of that can be attributed to overworking themselves, some of it is from PITA clients, but some of it is just the negativity that creeps up as we work to manage our business, keep our clients happy, and create some work/life balance.

How Positive Thinking Can Change Your Life.
With so many books out there highlighting the power of positive thinking, you would think that this doesn't need to be mentioned. But it does, because positive thinking really does change your life.

How does positive thinking change your life?
1. You become grateful and appreciative for what you have.
2. Others want to be around you, including those that have an affect on your personal success.
3. A positive attitude makes it easier to motivate yourself and achieve your goals.

So you know how a positive attitude can change your life — but knowing it, and doing it, are two different things. Sometimes it is just plain difficult to smile, especially when a client is challenging the strategy on their resume, or you're struggling to finish two resumes before you can call it a day.

So how do you stay positive?

Like goal setting, maintaining a positive attitude is a way of life and a learned behavior. You can't just flip a switch and never have another negative thought or emotion. What you can do is teach yourself to be more positive.  

Here are some steps to take to become more positive and optimistic:

  • Every day, list five things that you are grateful for.
  • You can teach yourself find the positive side of every situation by stepping back when you feel yourself getting negative, and finding something positive instead.
  • Teach yourself to recognize negative thoughts and to let go of them and replace them with positive thoughts.
  • When you have setbacks, view them as learning experiences and look to the future.
  • Walk away from negative people, influences, and situations.
  • Express gratitude verbally to those that you are grateful to.

I also recommend Gretchen Rubin's excellent book, "The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun," or read her blog of the same name.

When you take the steps to become a more positive person, it will become a way of life.  Soon you'll notice that negative thoughts and emotions rarely enter your brain. You'll feel better about your life, your business, your clients (most of them, anyway!) and yourself — and it will show. It will be easier, and more fun, to reach your personal and professional goals.

More than 100 books have been published on the subject of positive thinking, and motivational speakers spread the word daily about the importance of this topic. As you become a more positive person, you will draw into your life positive people and opportunities because "like attracts like."

Be sure to check out tomorrow's third post in this week's four-part series on self-improvement: "If You Want to Keep Earning, You Need to Keep Learning!"

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Four Ways to Improve Your Life and Achieve Greater Success as a Resume Writer

I saw a reminder yesterday that we're already one-fourth through 2013. Wow. This year has gone by quickly. So, this week, I'd like to tackle the topic of self-improvement in a four-part series, "Four Ways to Improve Your Life and Achieve Greater Success as a Resume Writer."

The quest for self-improvement can have a profound effect on your personal life, your resume writing business, and your overall success. There are several approaches that you can take to reinvigorate your life and career. (And there's been some mention on career association e-lists recently of burnout, so reinvigoration is an important benefit of self-improvement.)

This week, in a series of blog posts, I'm going to highlight four of the most powerful self-improvement tools available. The first is The Power of Effective Goal Setting.

Why Goal Setting?
Setting, and achieving, goals can give you a significant sense of pride and accomplishment. When you set goals, you are also establishing priorities — for yourself, your family, your clients, and your resume writing business.  Ideally, you will set both short and long term goals and a plan of action to achieve them.

Goal setting is a learned behavior. By this I mean that — like all behavior modifications, i.e. changing your diet, becoming more positive, increasing your income, etc., it is something that you have to practice and adopt into your daily life, not something that happens overnight.

Step One: Define the Goal
To achieve your goal, you must first set an appropriate goal. What is an appropriate goal, you might ask? Well, first your goal must be specific and quantifiable.  For example, "I want to serve more resume clients this month" isn't a quantifiable goal but "I want to work with 15 new clients this month" is. "I want to earn $24,000 this quarter." "I want to launch one new information product this month." If your goals aren't measurable, they are easier to dismiss. This is why so many New Year's resolutions fail.  Goals like "I want to lose weight this year" or "I want to earn more money" aren't strong enough to hold yourself accountable, nor do they give you a clear plan of action.

Step Two: Set Yourself Up for Easy Wins (Initially)
When learning to adopt a goal-setting mindset, you should begin with smaller, achievable goals.  Sounds silly, right? Why set a goal that is easy to achieve? Because you're establishing a pattern of achievement and success. If you set a goal of "$100,000 in sales for 2013" and your sales last year were $27,000, then you will be setting yourself up for failure, and that's the opposite of what you're trying to accomplish. If, on the other hand, you set your sales goals for $42,000 (or, even better, "Bill $900 in client work next week," then that's a more reasonable goal — and one that you're likely to achieve. (That's three $300 projects, or five $200 projects.)

Small goals = a pattern of success = bigger goals = more success.

Step Three: Put a Date On It
Make your goal time frame short. By this I mean, if it takes six months for you to accomplish your goals, the satisfaction will not be as strong. That's one of the reasons so many programs advertise "Lose 30 Pounds in 30 Days." or "Write a Book in a Month."  People desire instant gratification. While you are learning your goal-setting and achieving behavior, make the beginning goals happen quickly.  "I want 2 new clients this week,"or "I will send a 'how are you doing' email to 20 past clients today."

Step Four: Make Your Plan
Once you've set your goal, plan on how you're going to achieve it. Remember that the shortest point between two distances is a straight line. If you want 2 new customers this week, get on the phone and call 20 past clients or send out an email to your client base with a special promotion that must be redeemed ASAP.

Step Five: Reflect On Your Accomplishments
Lastly, once you've accomplished your goal, take a moment to pat yourself on the back. This is important! If you don't take time to relish the accomplishment, then you're missing a crucial motivator to reach your next goal. Once you've taken a moment to feel pride and accomplishment, set another goal.  Don't wait, don't procrastinate, do it while you're still glowing with success.

As you continue this process, you'll establish a pattern of behavior within yourself. You'll see success move into other areas of your life. Goals like, "I want to exercise 3 times this week for 15 minutes," will come naturally to you as your goal-setting behavior gets incorporated into all facets of your life, not just your resume writing business.

Like this topic? Check out our special report on goal-setting for resume writers: "Ready, Set, Goal: Business Planning and Goal Setting For Resume Writers."

SPECIAL OFFER: Purchase the "Ready, Set, Goal" workbook for just $7 from April 2-April 14, 2013. The 50% discount (off the regular price of $14) is automatically applied when you click the "BUY AND DOWNLOAD" button.)

And check out tomorrow's blog post, "How Positive Thinking Can Change Your Life," the second in this series on self-improvement.