Thursday, April 6, 2023

10 Questions With Kara Varner

Get to know other resume writers in our community with our “10 Questions” series! 

Today’s profile is Kara Varner, MAOM, CARW, CPRW, CRS-MTC, CEIC, of A Platinum Resume LLC. Kara has been a resume writer for 10 years and is based in Colorado. She has a 20-year career background in federal government, civilian, and corporate positions. 

Kara has a diversified background that assists her clients with navigating the application processes for civilian, corporate, contract, and federal government employment. 

1. Why did you decide to become a professional resume writer?
At first, I became a professional resume writer to focus on helping transitioning military service members, federal employees, and military spouses. 

2. How did you get into the career industry? What did you do before?
I became interested in the profession when a neighbor asked me to review his resume. Prior to becoming a resume writer, I was an Employee Assistance Program Manager in the Federal Government. 

3. What do you typically wear when you’re working? 

4. What is your best habit, and what is your worst? 
Best Habit: Replying to emails, writing out my to-do list every night. 
Worst Habit: Procrastination. 

5. What is your favorite object in your office? Why? 
Artwork by my daughters, gifts from friends, and two signs that say: You Got This and Do What Makes You Happy. 

6. What is your “go to” technique or secret when you get stuck when you are writing a resume? How do you get unstuck? 
I write out any thoughts I have and step away. I try to focus on something else (project, TV show, kids) and my brain thinks it through in my subconscious. Then I am able to come back “fresh.”

7. What is the best career advice you ever got? 
Be yourself. Be authentic. 

8. How do you unplug? 
I enjoy family time or time with my daughters doing something girlie. I watch “Real Housewives,” “Jack Ryan,” “Reign,” “The Home Edit,” and “The Young and the Restless.” 

9. What ONE thing would you change about your business or the career industry if you could? 
The Career Industry: Educate and improve the perception of the industry and the true value of the services. I continually work to help clients and friends understand the value of a professional resume and the amount of work that goes into crafting resumes. 

10. What are your favorite social medial accounts to follow? 

Connect with Kara on LinkedIn: 

Find her company on Facebook: 

Follow Kara on Twitter: 

Visit the website for A Platinum Resume:

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

The Riches are in the Niches: Finding the Perfect Niche Using Keywords

While many resume writers are generalists, some of the most successful career industry professionals specialize in working with a specific niche of jobseekers: Women returning to the workplace, for example. Executives. IT professionals. New college graduates. Mid-level sales managers.

Not sure what you want to specialize in?

One way to find the right business niche is to conduct keyword research. Keywords are terms people enter into search engines to find information they need — which helps them solve their problems. Search engines like Google track this information and make it public. You can use this data to refund your niche ideas and discover which niches people are actively searching for.

Start With Your Passions and Interests
Start by brainstorming. What kinds of jobseekers do you like working with? What areas do you have experience in? (Some resume writers specialize in the field they came from — for example, Wendi Weiner works with attorneys.)

Once you have some ideas, you can use keyword research to narrow down and refine your niche.

Keep in mind — even if you specialize in a niche, you can still work with jobseekers from all backgrounds and levels of experience. (But having a niche will make it easier for you to be found by prospective clients.)

How to Find Keywords
There are many premium SEO software programs available, but most people find that Google’s free Keyword Planner tool is enough. The purpose of this tool is to help you assess keywords for Google ads, but we can use it for basic keyword research. There are also free alternatives available, like SEO Book and WordStream.

Enter into the tool some keywords related to what you do. You could use a simple phrase like “resumes for executives” or “IT resumes” and you’ll get a list of similar keywords that are related. Skim this list and look for other areas that might be interesting. For example, under “IT resumes,” you might niche even further to “IT project manager resumes.”

How to Assess Keywords
Look for a high volume of monthly searches. A good guideline is over 1,000 searches. This tells you that people are actively looking for this information.

The next step is to check out the competition. You’re looking for keywords that have high search volume and low competition. To assess competition, go off the tool and perform a simple Google search. Put the keyword in quotation marks so you can get the exact phrases. You’ll then see how many sites are targeting the same keyword.

Since you’re not doing actual SEO planning, you don’t need an exact assessment of these keywords. Lookout the sites that come up on the first few pages of the search results, and you can see whether other businesses are covering these niches.

Your niche doesn’t need to be completely uncharted territory – there are only about 4,000-5,000 professional resume writers worldwide, so if there are 15 resume writers who specialize in teacher resumes, there is PLENTY of work for everyone! But by looking at the competition, you may get ideas on how to set yourself apart.

When choosing the right niche for your career services business, you should consider objective data as much as possible to assess whether your niche is popular and profitable. Keyword research is one effective way to do this.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

10 Questions with Andrea Adamski

Get to know other resume writers in our community with the latest entry in our “10 Questions” series!

Today’s profile is Andrea Adamski, CPRW. Andrea has been writing resumes for more than a decade. She owns her own business, Write For You Resumes, based in Kansas City, Missouri, and also does contract work as Director of Writing Services, training writers and serving as quality control for Your Next Jump, a career services company based out of Washington, D.C.

Andrea is a member of the National Resume Writers’ Association (NRWA), Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches, and She is currently pursuing the Nationally Certified Resume Writer (NCRW) credential.

Her work has been selected for publication in Expert Resumes & LinkedIn Profiles for Managers and Executives (fourth edition), Modernize Your Job Search Letters: Get Noticed…Get Hired, Resume & LinkedIn Strategies for New College Graduates: What Works to Launch a Gen-Z Career, and she is a contributor to the NRWA “Ask the Experts” series.

1. Why did you decide to become a professional resume writer?
I worked in marketing copywriting in the corporate world for nearly a decade. My coworkers familiar with my writing abilities would ask me to help them with their resumes on the side. They would then refer me to their friends and it snowballed.

2. How did you get into the career industry? What did you do before?
I worked in marketing copywriting, mostly in the healthcare and financial industry.

3. What do you typically wear when you’re working? 
Jeans or leggings and one of my Dolly Parton or Prince t-shirts, unless I am meeting a client — then I dress accordingly (no Dolly t-shirt). 

4. What is your best habit, and what is your worst? 
My best and worst habit is probably one and the same — I am detail-oriented. I pay attention to the details. However, you can get too mired in that and border on OCD, so I have to watch myself.

5. What is your favorite object in your office? Why? 
A picture of my kids. 

6. What is your “go to” technique or secret when you get stuck when you are writing a resume? How do you get unstuck? 
I take a break if possible, cook dinner, help my kids with something. My kids and I play a lot of Uno.

7. What is the best career advice you ever got? 
I don’t know if this is specific just to careers, but if you are going to complain about something, first have a solution in mind. I try to think through possible solutions before I voice complaints.

8. How do you unplug? 
I spend time with my family and kids, I love crafts, especially crochet. Sometimes I sew to unwind. I also love to read and watch true crime. If I wasn’t a resume writer, I think I might have liked to be a detective.

9. What ONE thing would you change about your business or the career industry if you could? 
The ageism and bias in resumes and the interview process. I am very cognizant of trying to help my clients with this as there aren’t many protections at the resume stage like there are once you walk in for an interview.

10. What are your favorite social medial accounts to follow? 

DollyParton on Facebook (Dolly Parton)

KansasCityChiefs on Facebook (Kansas City Chiefs)

Connect with Andrea on LinkedIn:

Find her company on Facebook: 

Follow Andrea on Twitter:

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Naming Your Career School (including School Name Idea Generator)

I am a HUGE proponent of career industry professionals creating courses for jobseekers (and/or career industry colleagues)! Courses are a lead generator for 1:1 services, a path to creating passive income and recurring revenue, and a way for jobseekers to access your career knowledge and expertise. Teaching a course can help you become an expert authority for prospective clients — to help prospective clients to get to know/like/trust you. 

One obstacle to getting started for some career colleagues is coming up with a name for their school. 

Just like with a brick-and-mortar school, your courses “live” inside your online school. That includes mini courses, free and paid courses, your standard courses, and any premium or signature courses you offer. All of them live inside your school.

So you want to create a school for your career courses, and you only want to put career-oriented courses in your school. (If you want to do courses on non-related topics, put them in their own school.)

One of the biggest mistakes I see when coming up with a school name is that the school owner doesn't think through what the bigger picture of what they want this online course environment to look like. This may seem obvious, but sometimes first-time course creators get tunnel vision about the first course, and they don't take time to dream about the bigger picture. 

I want you to create more than one course — I want you to create a school that allows you to meet your goals. So think big! Brainstorm a list of courses you want to create. 

Then you can come up with an appropriate school name.

Most school names:
  • Relate to your business name somehow (or your brand)
  • Relate to your own name
  • Relate to a specific benefit to your audience or relate to the topic you’re going to be offering.

You can use the Career Professional School Name Idea Generator to brainstorm school names.

You can mix-and-match job synonyms, nouns, and verbs (image 1) with adjectives (image 2) and synonyms for the word “school” (image 3) to come up with a list of school name possibilities.

Note: If your dreams for your school are for it to be bigger than you — especially if you want to use other instructors — don’t name your school the “(Your Name) Career Academy” because then the instruction is limited to you. You want to establish your school branding up front so you don’t have to change it later, if you don’t have to.

Best Practices for Naming Your Career School
Here are some best practices for coming up with your school name:
  • Make it memorable. How can you help your school stand out from others?
  • Incorporate keywords. Are there certain words that people will search for on Google when looking for you, or when looking for courses like the ones you’re going to offer? If you can, use SEO tactics in your school name to help your school be found on Google when someone is looking for help in your area of expertise.
  • Keep it short. Less than five words, ideally. And say the school name out loud. Make sure it sounds good when you say it, and when you see it.

Validate Your School Name
Finally, once you’ve come up with some viable school name possibilities — or that one special school name you want — here’s how to validate it.

The first thing is to Google it and make sure that same name is not already being used. If there is already a training program or another career professional’s service that has the same name, I suggest you choose something else or find a different way to express it.

Second, see if you can register the domain name for that school name so that it’s easy for you to register the domain name and point it to your school. (That’s whether or not you like to your school directly from your website). That way, it’s easy to send prospective students directly to your school.

Finally, the last way to validate your school name is to make sure the name is available in your course platform. For example, on Teachable (which I use), you want to make sure the school name is available as a subdomain.

In Teachable, log into your account and click on SITE on the dashboard and to go DOMAINS on the menu. Click on that and it will take you to your DOMAIN NAME. Put the name you were thinking of using and see if it’s available. You’ll type it as:
(Without the parentheses, of course!)

If the name is already being used by another course creator, it will say “This URL is already in use. Please update.”

After you’ve claimed your subdomain, you can update your school name in Teachable. Click on “SETTINGS” in your dashboard. That will take you to a GLOBAL SETTINGS page, where you’ll want to make sure you’re on the WEBSITE settings page.

You’ll see SCHOOL NAME — it will have a default name. Click EDIT and type in the name of your school.

While you can change your school name, coming up with a school name early in the course creation process can also be helpful when it comes time to name your career course!

Good luck with naming your school!

Thursday, March 23, 2023

My Top Takeaways from the Teachable “Create The Future” Summit (March 21-22)

Ever since I’ve been a Teachable customer, I’ve attended the twice-a-year online Teachable trainings. (I made my first Teachable sale, for $18.50, in November 2019.)

This past Tuesday and Wednesday, I caught about 75% of the “Create the Future” Summit sessions. (And, as a Pro account member, I can go back and watch the rest of the sessions here.) 

Here were some of my top takeaways:

  • There are over 50 million people who identify as a “creator.” You’re a professional creator if you’re getting paid to create (including writing), but imposter syndrome is real. (“It’s a belief that you’re not good enough, even though you know that you are.”)
  • Prioritize your time when it comes to social media posting. Pick 1-2 platforms that you spend most of your time/energy on — on the rest of them are repurposed content from your main platforms. Figure out where your audience is hanging out and focus there.
  • Teachable shared one of the sessions on YouTube (not sure how long the replay will be up) – How to Use Short-Form Video for Quick Wins. (The presenter had some typos on his slides, but the information was interesting.) "External circumstances were never more in your favor.” That leaves us with internal circumstances keeping us from doing video — “the hating culture,” (especially on Tik Tok), self-doubt, being too shy to be on camera, believing you don’t have enough equipment or money to do videos, the belief you don’t have time, believing you’re “too old” (you never are!), or feeling that the competition is too immense. “Love video even if it won’t love you back as fast as you wanted.”
  • Growth is not always linear — it goes up and down. And “experts get paid more than generalists.”
  • “No one cares what you’re worth. You have to price based on the results you can get for them. This isn’t about you; it’s about them.”
  • On your sales page, you want the reader to feel like — when they get to how much it will cost — that it’s going to be more than what you’re actually charging. You want them to get to the end with a feeling that they got a great deal. (“I thought it was going to cost $1200 … I got a steal at $999.”)
  • The better you design the content (bold, italic, underline, color, font size), the better it will be able to be consumed and understood.
  • Figure out what your customers want/need through market research — surveys, interviews, monitoring social media and online forums). What are people raving about? What are people complaining about?

I love attending these kinds of trainings — it reignites my creativity. 

As a reminder, Teachable offers these learning opportunities a couple of times a year, so sign up for a free Teachable account so you’ll get the invitations. 

For a limited time, you can also get 25% off any paid Teachable account if you use my affiliate link:

(And, if you sign up for a NEW paid Teachable account using my affiliate link by March 31, email me at bb(at) and I’ll schedule a complimentary 30-minute Zoom call with you to talk you through your first course idea and answer any questions you have!)

Check out my courses for career industry professionals here:

Resume Writer’s University 

Affiliate disclosure: Links in this post may be affiliate links, meaning I may receive an affiliate commission if you take action based on my recommendation. Don’t worry, though, I *only* recommend resources that I either personally use or would unequivocally recommend. As mentioned above, I’ve been a Teachable customer since 2019.

Monday, January 16, 2023

A Resume Writer’s Guide to Printables


What are printables? And how can they benefit YOU and YOUR JOBSEEKING CLIENTS?

Printables are things designed for the purpose of downloading and printing, such as: worksheets, checklists, to-do lists, trackers, planners, journals, guides, and calendars. Outside of the career industry, printables can also include color pages, art projects, patterns or designs.

Printables come in all shapes and sizes and have a wide variety of uses. For jobseekers, they can help them organize their job search, track their job search activities and make quick work of completing tasks, and collect and synthesize information. For resume writers, they can be used to grow your email list, turn prospects into paying customers, help your clients prepare for and execute their job search, and provide passive income revenue.

Printables can be a single page document or contain several pages (like with workbooks and accomplishment trackers). They are detailed and to the point, generally having a very specific purpose. Printables can be anything from a checklist to an instructional guide. They are a great way to help your clients AND you, without a lot of extra effort.

As mentioned, printables can benefit you as a resume writer by:

  • Increasing Subscriber Sign-ups. Creating printables to serve as a lead magnet to increase interest and boost subscriber sign-ups.
  • Boost Perceived Value. Adding printables to your existing 1:1 career services, courses, and coaching programs can instantly boost the perceived value of the product. People want answers to their questions, but they also want to reach their desired result quickly and easily. If printables help them achieve that goal, they will consider them to be highly valuable, allowing the resume writer to charge more for their services, product, program, or course.
  • Gain More Social Proof. When high-quality information is provided, along with the tools to help readers implement what they've learned, it creates loyal customers. These loyal customers share their results with others. They provide high-value testimonials and fodder for future case studies … which, in turn, brings in more new clients.

For list-building, a person looking for interview preparation questions may find a guide with a list of interview question prompts. However, if the seller includes a printable journal to write out key points for answering the question prompts, it adds to the value of the product and provides a bigger benefit for the buyer.

Printable Objectives

Each printable you crease should have an objective. Some common objectives are to:

  • Help a person take action on what they are learning.
  • Challenge oneself — for example, when setting goals for the job search.
  • Track data or calculate math. Think interview tracking worksheets or salary negotiation spreadsheets.
  • Develop a strategy for accomplishing a goal.
  • Brainstorm an idea and bring it into existence.
  • Plan out something (like a job search or recruiter connection strategy) in more detail.
  • Plan quarterly or annually with things like planners and calendars.
  • Organize information (such as job applications).
  • Organize thoughts and ideas (such as rough drafting interview questions, as mentioned above).
  • Compare and evaluate two or more things (like job offers).
  • Walk a user through the process of solving a problem. (“Is it time to quit your job?”)
  • Repurpose or reuse something, such as content, graphics, audio, and video. (For example, a guide to accompany your LinkedIn training course.)
  • Manage processes or projects.
  • To document your day, week, or month through journaling (i.e., an accomplishments tracker)
  • Do something relaxing to take your mind off something (like a coloring sheet to relieve the stress of a job search)

Creating Printables

You can certainly create your own printables. One of the best ways to get started is to look at the existing Pass-Along Materials you have access to. But there’s a NEW way to get started with printables — Tools For Resume Writers.

A new addition to the existing Bronze member benefits of BeAResumeWriter, Tools For Resume Writers gives you access to customizable Canva templates that you can brand with your own fonts, colors, logo, etc. 

There are currently three printables available to customize:

  • S.T.A.R. Worksheet (How to Create Compelling Career Stories)
  • Invest In Your Career
  • LinkedIn Industry List

The Tools For Resume Writers customizable Canva templates are included with Bronze membership in

How to Deliver Printables

Printables can be delivered in one of two formats — digital downloads and print documents. For digital downloads, use PDFs whenever possible to make delivery easy. You can sell your downloads on your own website using a digital download service (like or SendOwl). These services will allow you to create seller links you can post on your website and use to deliver the download after the sale. You can also use third-party marketplaces, like Etsy or Amazon to sell your print products.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Resume Templates — Yes or No?


I’ve been a resume writer long enough to have seen many generations of resume templates over the years. In the 1990s, there were the “resume-in-a-box" software programs. In the 2000s, you had Microsoft Word resume templates — which were either super boring or overly designed (with multiple columns). More recently, you've been able to purchase resume templates on Etsy or use the resume designs in Canva.

The problem is, many of these documents LOOK good, but aren’t GOOD to use in an actual job search because, especially in recent years, they have not been compatible with applicant tracking system (ATS) software, putting applicants at a disadvantage with their online resume submissions. 

But the world of resume templates changed when career industry pioneer Michelle Dumas introduced “Distinctive Resume Templates.” As a longtime professional resume writer herself, Michelle recognized the need for modern, ATS-friendly professional resume templates that could be used by career industry professionals to enhance their interview-winning content with visually attractive designs.

Michelle and I started in the resume writing industry in the same year (1996) and we’ve both seen lots of changes through the years. But one thing hasn’t changed: The need to create compelling, attractive, and interview-winning career documents.

In 2020, she created a series of resume templates to use with her company’s own clients. They were designed to be easily customized, right down to the color schemes. Her first goal was to streamline the resume development process, creating templates that were useful but also easy to customize. In using the templates with clients, she realized how useful they would be to career industry colleagues. So she started selling them to other resume writers.

“Our work is tremendously time-consuming and we trade our precious time for money. Writing a great resume for a client is a very time-consuming process,” Dumas says. “Our income is limited by how much we are able to produce, which makes it hard to grow/scale a business.”

By introducing resume templates into your resume writing business, you can focus more on the content creation and let the design enhance the content, instead of having to struggle with formatting the resume and associated career documents.

“Writing and graphic design are two different skill sets,” Dumas says. “We are professional resume writers, not graphic designers. While both of these — the writing skill and the design skill — require talent, they are completely different skill sets. Graphically-enhanced resumes that incorporate color and shapes became the norm and the expectation.”

Simple Microsoft Word design enhancements can make a big difference. 

For example, take this Key Qualifications section:

In the Amplify template, it becomes this:

Because the templates are provided in Microsoft Word format, you can change the color of the themes. The change from blue to green was done with ONE CLICK.


The templates are Microsoft Word templates (.dotx extension), and MS Word is required to use and customize them. Template collections are sorted into categories — professional and executive, student and entry-level, industry and trade-specific, career change, etc. When I choose a design, I start with the client and pick the template to fit the content. Sometimes I write the content first and then copy-and-paste the text into the template. Other times, I write “to the template,” writing directly in the template. Or, you could do a combination of both. Fill in the “easy stuff” — education, certifications, affiliations — in the template, and then write out (long hand or in a blank Word document) the other content and then paste it into the template.

Dumas suggests that resume writers can save approximately one hour per project by using one of the templates. My personal experience reveals similar time savings — more for complex projects. For an average $1167 project (the average price for a resume and cover letter project, according to the 2022 Profile of Professional Resume Writers), the investment of $21 in a Distinctive Resume Template provides a strong return on investment (representing only 2% of the project cost but saving one hour of the average nine hours resume writers estimate spending on an average resume project).

Instructions for making the color changes are included in each document, including links to videos to illustrate the process. Successive page headers are automatically set up, including page numbers.

There are dozens of templates to choose from. 

I’ve been using Distinctive Resume Templates with my clients since March 2022. My favorite designs that I’ve used so far with clients are:
    Amplify (the design showcased in the samples above)
    Alluring Luxury
    Ascendant Modern
    Blue Collar
    Career Launcher First-Job Resume Template

The resume templates are $12 per design. You can also purchase coordinating templates (cover letter template, biography template) for $8 each (or save 10% when you purchase the resume and coordinating templates in the same transaction). For less than $21, I save hours of design time while providing my clients with attractive, ATS-compliant documents.*

* The templates are marketed as “ATS-friendly” but I have found them to be ATS-compliant for all the clients I’ve used them with. The official documentation says:

Disclaimer: While all efforts have been made to ensure resumes created with these templates will be ATS-friendly, it is impossible to guarantee ATS compatibility. The purchaser takes full responsibility for ensuring ATS compatibility, if this is important to them. Distinctive Career Services, LLC is not responsible for the content or effectiveness of any resume created with one of our templates.

But like I said, I’ve found all the ones I’ve used to be ATS compatible.

(I test graphic resumes for ATS-friendliness by saving them as text and reviewing the content to make sure it remains intact.)

The license for the template allows resume writers to use the templates to create resumes for clients. (You may use the templates with your clients on an individual basis. However, only one writer per firm may use the template, so if you are a contracting writer, you must purchase one license per writer – but discounts are available for large agencies.)

Want to try them? Get 50% off your first purchase using this promo code:

(Fifty percent discount is valid on first purchase of any amount. Visit to redeem. Expires 1/1/2024.)


Note: This post contains affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you click on the links, but there is no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I would use myself, and all opinions stated in this blog post are my own. As stated in the blog post, I personally use Distinctive Resume Templates with my own clients. Thank you!

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Profile of Professional Resume Writers 2022

As a resume writer, do you ever wonder how you compare to other career industry professionals? The Resume Writers’ Digest Industry Survey is the tool I use to provide this kind of information to the industry. The results are published in the “Profile of Professional Resume Writers: Who We Are, What We Charge, How We Work.”

The survey was conducted in February 2022, asking respondents to reflect back on 2021. The results were compiled in March 2022 and analyzed and turned into a report written by Kristin S. Johnson in April 2022.

If you are a career industry professional, you can receive the report here.

Here are some of the key findings from the 2022 report:

Profile of the “Average” Resume Writer
While no resume writer is “average,” this graphic illustrates the characteristics of the profile of the typical survey respondent.

See how this compares to the 2016 profile:

Interested in the full 2022 report? Get it here. 

Note: The Resume Writers’ Digest Industry Survey is not statistically valid due to a small sample size; however, the results are an interesting insight into the career services industry.