Monday, November 27, 2017

Answering the Pricing Question

Ask any new resume writer what's their biggest question and the answer is likely to be related to pricing their services. The most common question I get is: How much should I charge?

You want to make sure you charge enough to be profitable, but you don't want to charge so much that clients can't afford to work with you.

You’ve got the competition to consider, your own skill set, what you perceive to be your skills (yes, this is different from the former for most of us), what your market will pay, your location (not as big of a factor as it was 10 years ago, but still relevant), and a host of other variables. Working it out can feel like a hurdle you can’t quite get past.

One simple calculation is to determine an hourly rate. 

STEP ONE: Estimating Expenses and Income
The first step is to take a look at your estimated expenses. Remember to include your marketing expenses, supplies, rent, utilities, etc. Add your estimated expenses to what you want to make in income. For example, if you want to earn $100,000 a year in your business and you estimate $20,000 in annual expenses, then your income target will be $120,000.

Annual Expenses (Estimate): _____
(plus) Desired Annual Income: _____
(equals) Income Target: _____

STEP TWO: Your Billable Hours and Schedule
Consider how many billable hours you can work each week. This information will help you determine how many clients you can work with each week, and then you can calculate your annual billable hours. (Don't forget to include vacation time into your estimate. For example, if you normally vacation two weeks of the year, then your billable hours will be multiplied by 50 weeks, not 52 weeks.)

Here's an example:
If you have 25 hours available for billing each week, then multiply that by 50 to give you 1,250 billable hours each year. Also consider how much non-billable time you need to spend on your business. (If you're having a hard time estimating billable vs. non-billable time, keep track for a week and then extrapolate it.) You can make adjustments to your plan as you go along, and you can consider outsourcing some of your non-billable tasks as your profits increase.

Billable Hours Per Week _____
(times) Number of Weeks You're Expecting To Work _____
(equals) Total Number of Billable Hours Per Year _____

STEP THREE: Calculating Your Hourly Rate
Business owners charging for their services use several different methods. You might bill by the hour or by the project (but the quote is often based on the anticipated number of hours the project will take, multiplied by the hourly rate).

Calculating your hourly rate is easy, because you have the information you need. Simply divide your "Income Target" (STEP ONE) by the "Total Number of Billable Hours Per Year" (STEP TWO). For example, $120,000 divided by 1,250 billable hours gives you an hourly rate of $96/hour

Income Target _____
(divided by) Total Annual Billable Hours _____
(equals) Hourly Rate _____

Creating a solid pricing structure requires you to do a little more digging. So with your starting number in line, take a look at:

Your Competition. This might take a little detective work, since a lot of resume writers don’t publish their rates online. But if you pay attention to their websites and social media, ask a few discreet questions, and get on their mailing list, you can figure it out.

Be realistic about who, exactly, your competition is, though. Don’t undervalue or over-sell yourself. In other words, make sure you’re comparing yourself to another provider who shares the same skills, market, and track record, rather than simply looking at who you strive to become. 

You can also take a look at statistics from the resume writing industry as a whole. Career industry professionals -- sign up here to receive the current edition of the "Profile of Professional Resume Writers: Who We Are, What We Charge, How We Work."

Your Skills. In some fields, this is easy. There are certifications and educational programs that allow you — by virtue of having achieved them — to charge a certain rate. If you’ve followed this path, then pricing will be easy for you. If not, take a solid look at what you can legitimately claim as a skill.

Look, too, at your track record. Have you proven yourself by helping former clients (and do you have the testimonials and case studies to show for it)? If you do, consider a higher price range than you might have first thought.

Your Market. In the game of setting rates, it’s your market that has the final say. As any first year economy student can tell you, the price of anything lies where what the buyer is willing to pay meets what the seller is willing to accept.

If your goal is to give new college graduates a helping hand and lead them down the path to success, that unfortunately means you can look forward to low paying gigs (unless their parents are paying for your services!). That’s not a bad thing — everyone needs help in a job search — but it does need to be acknowledged. If, on the other hand, your target market is executives, then a higher fee isn’t just warranted — it’s a must. They will expect a higher price, and will not find value in the lowest-cost provider of anything, whether it’s coffee beans or business coaching.

Finally, don’t forget that pricing is never set in stone. It’s flexible. If you find you’re attracting the wrong market (or no market at all) you can always change your rates. Working too hard for not enough return? Raise your rates.

It’s your business. You get to call the shots. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

How to Embed a Google Calendar in Your Website Using Iframe Code

If you're a careers industry professional who hosts a lot of events or wants to create a resource for jobseekers, a Google calendar can be a good way to organize the information.

But how do you display the information onto your website so other people can access it?

The answer is to embed the Google calendar on your website -- using iframe code.

First, log into your Google account and create your calendar.

Then, go to "Settings" under the gear on the top righthand side of the page.

Click the blue "Calendars" tab.

Click the calendar you want to work on (listed on the left) -- you may have one calendar, or multiple calendars associated with that Google account.

Next to "Calendar Address," click the blue "HTML" button.

Click the blue "Configuration Tool" button in the popup.

On the next screen, under "Calendars to Display" (on the left), check the boxes for all the calendars you want to display. (As I mentioned, you can display a single calendar or multiple calendars all on one page).

Next, on the top of that page, click "Update HTML."

Copy-and-paste that code to embed the calendar.

NOTE: You must make sure the privacy settings on EACH individual calendar are set to PUBLIC if you want it to show up. (If your calendar page is blank, this might be the issue.)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Resume Writers: Overwhelmed? Start Here.

One of the questions I get most often from my resume writing colleagues is how to manage multiple clients/projects simultaneously.

The Resume Writers' Digest Annual Industry Survey reveals that most resume writers take on two new projects each week -- but that doesn't take into account the projects from previous weeks that are in various stages of being finalized, or resume or LinkedIn updates from previous clients -- not to mention the marketing and business development projects you're likely working on. 

The best way to manage anything is to create a system. When you systemize all the processes that need to be completed, you’ll feel yourself up to be even more creative. Some people balk at the idea of systemizing anything creative but the truth is, it’ll make a huge impact on your work if you do.

  • Use a Project Management System. While most resume writers use a simple Excel spreadsheet, you can also consider using a specialized system like or to help you get and keep everything organized. Or use a system like Honor Services. Once you set up a system, you’ll find that you can get far more done in less time. 
  • Put It in Your Calendar. Most project management systems can do this for you, but if you want to, you can use Google Calendar as your project management system. Organize everything you need to do and then make it into a to-do list for each workday.
  • One Thing at a Time. It’s important to set up your schedule so that you’re doing one thing at a time in the right order. For example, if you're working on writing a career services book, you can order a graphic from your graphic designer for your book cover before you’ve finished the book, so that it’s done when you need it.
  • Manage Your Resources. Resources involve human, financial, and technical assets that you have and can use to help you create amazing content for your audience. The better you use what you have at your fingertips, the more successful your creative process will become. 
  • Remember Your Goals. Everything you do starts with a goal. If not, then you need to go back to the beginning and create goals for each thing you want to create. Whether it’s a video or a text blog post, you need to have a goal in mind for it. 
  • Be Prepared. Everything starts with preparation. You can’t be creative if you have distractions. When it’s time to sit down and get work done, turn off distractions. Shut off your TV and social media. If you work from home -- and most resume writers do!! -- talk to your family and tell them how much time you need uninterrupted. 
  • Analyze the Results. Like most things, just doing it doesn’t let you know if you’ve been successful. You need to look at the metrics to find out if you need to make changes or adjust anything within your process to ensure better results. Some things to track: How many new clients you are working with each week (and the revenue from each). How long it takes you to write each resume. How long the "client management" part of the resume process takes.

You can’t sit around and wait for inspiration to hit you. Each day when you get started working, it will help to know what you need to do that day. When you work on things this way, you’ll experience far more success than you would if you had no plan of action to follow. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Disaster Planning for Resume Writers

Good golly, it's been a while since I wrote a blog post.

But having seen the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, reading the Facebook posts of resume writing colleagues evacuating Florida ahead of Hurrican Irma, and having recently faced the untimely death of my "twin" brother, Sean, I am compelled to write a quick blog post about disaster planning.

I've actually written about this topic before. You can read some of my blog posts about disaster planning here:

The current wildfires in the northwest and the hurricanes and resultant flooding may be bringing your attention to the need for disaster planning, but even simple personal situations can trigger a huge problem. It pays to be prepared.

So here are four important things to consider:

  • Review your insurance coverage at least once a year. If you don't have a separate business policy to cover your career services work, consider it. Mine costs about $350/year and includes business interruption coverage. In the event of a major disaster (most likely a tornado or house fire in my area -- hurricanes aren't really a thing in Nebraska), it will replace some of my lost income. Ensure you also have business insurance for your equipment -- your computers, for example. Your personal policy may not cover your business laptop. 
  • To speed up your claim processing in the event of a disaster, make sure you have an inventory (up to date!!) of your home and office. Your insurance agent will need a list of all your possessions -- including purchase dates and serial numbers. Could you provide that at a moment's notice? If not, take the time to AT LEAST take photos of your stuff. When you do create an inventory (even a simple one to start), email it to yourself so you'll have online access to it. (Or email it to a friend.) And then keep it updated!
  • The most LIKELY disaster you'll encounter is a small one -- a loss of power while you're putting the finishing touches on a resume, or someone steals your laptop. Ugh! In both of these situations, you'll be kicking yourself if you don't have a backup. Subscribe to an online service that offers automatic backup capabilities. And do a REGULAR (monthly?) backup to physical media (thumb drive, CD/DVD, hard drive) and keep it OFFSITE. If your basement floods and your home office is down there, it won't do you any good if your thumb drive is in your desk drawer.
  • Have a will. Please, if you don't have one -- get one. Sean died without a will. It took almost two months and a court order to have me designated as his personal representative. We couldn't clean out his apartment until we got that (that was specific to his specific apartment's management policy), but what a mess. Even a basic will in the meantime is better than nothing at all, so consider an online service like LegalZoom or US Legal Forms.

If you're in the path of the wildfires or hurricanes or other natural disaster, stay safe. If you're not, take a few moments to address these four issues so the next time a disaster heads your way, you're ready.