Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Put Innovation On Your Calendar for 2014

In December's special report, "Make Your Resume Business Better," I talk about how to reignite your passion for your resume writing business. One of the ways to do that is to think about how you can introduce innovation and creativity into your daily -- or weekly -- routine.

Smart business owners devote at least a small portion of their working time to innovation and creativity. At big companies like Facebook and Google, employees are allowed to spend a percentage of their time on their own projects. This helps keep their creative fires burning, and some of these projects turn into major successes for their employers.  

You can do the same in your resume writing business. It is important to devote some time to coming up with new products and/or services or even delving into something outside of your comfort zone to take your business to a whole new level.

Here are some ideas to help you put this idea into action.
  • Dedicate time for innovation and creation. Just like you mark on your calendar the things you will do today, schedule a block of time devoted to "creation and innovation." You can do an hour a day, or 1/2 a day a week, or some other timeframe that works for you. But it’s important that it’s an actual calendar item and that you know how you’re going to devote that time to creative pursuits. This item on your calendar should be just as important as any other to-do item on your calendar. 
  • Bring in a creative partner. Sometimes a fresh perspective can open up doors you never before thought were possible to get through. You don’t have to bring in a permanent partner -- you can work on joint ventures with different people on just one project at a time. Start with something small and work your way up to larger ventures. Bringing in a partner will not only spark your creative side, but it will also make you feel challenged -- and maybe a little obligated -- to be a good partner. 
  • Change your location. One way to open the creative floodgates is to get out of your office. Go to the coffeehouse down the street; go to the park. In the summer, I like to work outdoors on my front porch. (And someday, I'm going to live in Arizona, so I can do that in December too.) Get unplugged and use a paper and pen instead of technology. Turn off the music, turn off the TV, turn off the noise, and get out of your comfort zone. Even a nice walk in the park with a way to record your thoughts can go far in helping you unleash your innovative and creative side. 
  • Let go of your fears. You might think you’re the only person with fears, but you’re not. Every business owner has expressed fear or felt fear. Even very famous people have had fear about doing something new or different. The only difference between them and you is they felt the fear and did it anyway. You can be just like them by just changing that one thing and just going for it. Just do it. Work through the fear. Channel that fear into motivation to succeed. 
  • Read industry news. You can use Google Alerts to search for keywords and you'll get an email alert when a story is published. Also join at least one industry association and read the daily e-mail list. Being up to date on what's going on in the resume writing industry can keep you from falling behind. While the resume isn't dead (yet!), that doesn't mean you can bury your head in the sand and pretend you know it all.
  • Study your competition. A really good way to get the creative juices flowing is to study what other resume writers are doing. I love looking at resume books — especially the Expert Resume series by Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark. You don't want to steal from other resume writers (no plagiarism, please -- even in designs), but it's possible something you see in one of these books will spark your creative energy in a new way outside of anything you’ve ever considered previously. 

By taking out time from your busy work schedule to be innovative and creative, you will create a long-term business that will fill your life with passion and profits while never becoming mundane and boring.

Monday, December 23, 2013

You Know What You Do ... But Can You Explain It?

© Studio-54
Do you know what you do?
That may sound strange to say. Of course you know what you do. Well, do you? If someone asks you what you do, are you ready with a 2-minute explanation of what you do? 

I find if I say, "I write resumes," people say, "For other people? You actually do that?"

On the other hand, if I say, "I help people find jobs," that prompts questions — which is a good thing. Usually the response is, "How?" or "Are you a recruiter?"

You should be able to answer the question, "So, what do you do?" With a list of problems that you solve -- the most direct one being the "I help people get the job of their dreams" or a similar response.

Define what you do in terms of the problems you solve and the benefits it gives your target audience and you’ll be ahead of the game. You’ll automatically release the passion of what it is that you do and why you do it. 

You can use this fill-in-the-blank formula to help you:
I __________ for/with ______________ so (my target audience) can ____________.

For example, a resume writer might say:
I write compelling resumes and LinkedIn profiles for jobseekers so they can get an interview for their dream job!

A career coach might say:
I work with people who are lost or stuck in their current job so they can figure out how to be more happy and fulfilled in their careers.

Remember — it’s all about them and what you do to make their lives easier and solve their problems. When you take the focus off the features of your service and place it on the client and the benefits you offer, it will actually make your resume writing business more enjoyable. It will become better because you’ll have a much better definition of what you’re doing and a better way to focus your marketing.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

No More Feast or Famine in Your Resume Writing Business

On yesterday's call for "Make 2014 Your Best Year Yet," I got a question from Laura in New Jersey about how to handle the "feast or famine" aspects of running your own resume writing business.

Laura: I’m a new résumé writer. I’m going into my third year. And many of my clients are getting jobs and getting hired and I’m so excited. But my biggest goal is just getting more business. That’s the key for me. I can do the work. It’s just getting the business and that’s, I guess, my biggest dilemma, my biggest goal.

Me: I talked earlier in the presentation today about CJ Hayden’s program, “Get Clients Now.” 

She has a book that you can work your way through, or I’ve actually been through her coaching program for it that’s a four-week class. And you put together a 28-day action plan that’s oriented around marketing activities like speaking and writing and referrals and those sorts of things. And like I said, her emphasis is on taking specific actions and doing them repeatedly because they’ll lead you to results. And that’s probably one of the biggest challenges we have as resume writers is that it’s kind of “feast and famine.”

So you’re like “Okay, right now it’s December and I need clients. I’m going to start working on these marketing things.” And then all of a sudden, we’ll get calls on Thursday, January 2nd, and your phone is going to ring off the hook for about 35 days with people who have New Year's Resolutions to get a new job, and you’re just going to be writing and consulting with clients and doing drafts and all this stuff. And then you’re going to get to the middle of February and there is a drought. And then you’re like “Okay, I’m going to get back on track with my marketing here” and then all of a sudden all the new grads come in April, wanting their resume. So C.J. talks about really creating the systems in place so that you’re just doing even 10 minutes of marketing a day to help even out that feast and famine cycle.

Laura: In other words, instead of waiting for the drought, market as you go.

Me: Exactly. She talks about creating a pipeline of prospects. And one of the big programs that I want to put together for 2014 from my side of things is list building because I’ve talked about this on a couple of previous calls and it’s one of my staples that I really emphasize to resume writers — building an email list of your clients and prospects so that you can turn on that pipeline when you need more business and then you can kind of turn down the volume of the flow. You always want to keep your pipeline flowing so that you constantly have existing clients coming back for updates and making referrals of new clients, but you want to have a steady flow of leads and prospects that are coming your way, and one of the easiest ways to manage that is to get them into your email system and provide them with information.

Obviously one of the biggest benefits of the BeAResumeWriter.com Bronze membership is the content that I give you that you can use with these clients. And I have a lot of the Bronze subscribers who don’t put this stuff out publicly to the world. They’re not putting the content on their blog or their website. What they’re doing is packaging it and sending it to their existing email list. It might be excerpting it or it might just be putting a cover on it and sending it out as an e-book, but using that content to keep in contact with your prospects and your existing clients and the people that they have referred.

And again, C.J. talks about this a lot. You’re more likely to get business from people who know, like and trust you. And one of the biggest ways to do that is through content marketing because it establishes your expertise and it gives you a reason to be contacting you via email. I know that it’s hard to think, when you’re looking at your email box, “Oh my gosh. There is so much stuff in here.” But aren’t there some people that you really look forward to seeing what they have to say? And so, being that kind of person is going to help solidify that pipeline so that you’re keeping in contact with the existing clients and the past clients, you’re encouraging them to make referrals, and if somebody contacts you but they’re not ready to start working with you right away or maybe price is a barrier initially, putting them on that email contact list helps you develop that reputation as a credible expert and a trusted authority so that when it’s time for them to pull the trigger and actually have somebody work with them on their resume and LinkedIn profile and all that…

Laura: They’ll remember you.

Me: They remember you — "top of mind marketing." So I think you really might benefit from CJ’s book. And like I said, if you need a little bit more hands-on instruction, then you go through the course with a trained facilitator and a group of accountability buddies. I didn’t really talk a lot about accountability buddies today, but that’s a big part of it too is just having somebody on your team who is going to keep you accountable. That might be a colleague or it might be a friend or a family member — somebody who you can put this stuff out there to and have them make sure that you’re on track for your goals.

Laura: Thank you very much. And I do use the Pass-Along Materials. I put them in a binder when I send [the finished] resume out to them, but I’m thinking now maybe that should be an email marketing project.

Bridget: I would say digital use of it is probably more cost-effective. I love the value that you get when you send it out hard copy because it really has a high perceived value, but just from the standpoint of making them accessible to more people since you’re only sending them out to folks who are getting the finished documents, you might consider putting them in digital format too so that you can just either give them access to a special page on your website where they can look at [them] or excerpting them in the emails or just having a special folder on your computer where you’re like “Okay, I’m going to send people a link to this Pass-Along Material this month.”

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Six Questions Every Resume Needs to Answer

After listening to Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark on last week's "6-Step Process for Writing Extraordinary Resumes" E-Summit, I've identified six questions that every resume you write needs to answer.

These are six questions you must be able to answer before you write the resume, or ask yourself the questions after you've written the resume to make sure it will be effective.

The resume must answer these six questions:

1. Who are you?
2. Where have you been?
3. What have you done?
4. What can you do for me?
5. What sets you apart from everyone else?
6. What kind of job are you seeking?

The resume needs to answer these questions clearly and directly. The answers must be apparent in a six-second scan of the document, and also provide greater depth and detail upon closer review.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Certification or No Certification?


This is one of the most common questions I get asked by resume writers: Should I get certified? And, if so, which certification should I go for?

In the resume writing industry, there is no requirement that you get certified, but there advantages to investing in certification. However, I know some outstanding resume writers who have never pursued certification. And, unfortunately, there are some certified writers who aren't that great. And because some certifications don't require ongoing continuing education, someone who was certified in 2004 might not have the skills of someone who was certified in 2012. 

Certification itself does not necessarily indicate quality or proficiency (although you would think that would be exactly what certification would promise!). Ultimately the decision whether to get certified or not depends entirely on your own goals and needs.

There are a lot of experienced resume writers who do not believe that it's important to get certification. After all, they have demonstrated their competency through years and years of satisfied clients. A few of the existing resume writing certifications, however, are not "teaching" oriented programs — they only measure competency; they don't teach it. Instead of pursuing certification, you might instead take resume writing courses. Don't discount what you can learn by taking a really good course when it comes to resume writing. You might learn something that turns your entire business around.

As an unregulated profession, getting certification will make you look legitimate and may help you continue resume writing if ever certification becomes a requirement. You'll be ahead of the game. (I don't see the industry ever being that regulated, however, that a certification will be required.)

While it's true that some clients will be impressed by a resume writer who took the time and invested the money to become certified, it's also true that many won't even ask. And, because of the large number of certifying bodies and credentials offered, probably 99% of clients don't know the difference between a CPRW and an ACRW. But showcasing your certification (and educating prospective clients about the process involved in certification — especially the benefit to them from working with a certified writer who is committed to continuing education and knowledge development) can be something that sets you apart from other resume writers.

Ultimately, to be successful in resume writing, you don't need a certification. What you do need is:
  • An understanding of different types of career document writing (resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, bio, etc.)
  • Strong listening skills and the ability to gather information from clients effectively (whether through questionnaires, review of previous client documents, client interviews, or a combination of these).
  • Solid insight into the hiring process and how employers review resumes and assess candidates.
  • Knowledge of best pricing and billing practices (you won't stay in business long if you can't figure out how much to charge, and how to collect from clients!)
  • Understanding of tax and legal obligations, including structuring an effective contract
  • Proficiency in technology — with a focus on Microsoft Word
  • The ability to plan and implement marketing techniques to attract clients
  • A commitment to continuing education (this industry is always changing!)
What do you think about certification?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Starting a Side Business as a Resume Writer

Many resume writers get started in self-employment by launching a part-time resume writing business in addition to their full-time "regular job."

If you've been thinking about starting a resume writing business on the side, here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Capitalize on your skill set. 

When you start a resume writing business as a part-time venture, you may not want to be a "full-service" shop. So look at the small components of the business, and figure out how you want to work. How can you get a resume writing business started using your natural abilities and as little financial capital as possible?

For example, the component pieces might include:

  • Actually writing resumes (the full experience, including client interviewing/questionnaires)
  • Reviewing resumes and editing/revamping them (not rewriting).
  • Serving as an editor/proofreader for other resume writers
  • Writing resumes as a subcontractor for other resume writers
  • Get clients and subcontract out the actual resume writing
  • Focusing on LinkedIn profile writing for folks with existing resumes
  • Providing LinkedIn profile overhauls (new headline & summary only)
  • Conducting interview training and/or salary negotiation training for jobseekers
  • Connecting jobseekers with resume writers

  • Assess your specific situation.

These factors might influence what services you decide to provide:

  • How much time do you have to devote to your part-time business? If you only have 1-2 hours a day, providing a simple service might be best.
  • What is your specialty? Do you like to write? Coordinate? Edit? Proofread? Manage clients?
  • How much money do you want to make from your part-time business?

The easiest way to determine a direction is to do a little market research. Think about your prospective client and his or her needs. How can you best fulfill them? Have quick one-on-one chats with people — friends, family, co-workers. Ask them what they need and develop your services around that. Watch trends in the news or on social media to see popular topics. Try to figure out how you can get in on earning opportunities by helping to address any of those trending issues.

To find clients, advertise via social media. Use popular social media sites to advertise your services (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, even Craigslist).

Starting a part-time resume writing business is the easiest way to test the concept before you quit your "day job." But it's up to you to create a business that works for you and the clients you attract.