Tuesday, December 22, 2020

My Favorite Tools for Resume Writers

I was talking about one of my favorite tools for with some of my resume writing colleagues, 
and I thought I’d share them in a blog post.

Focus/Productivity: NOISLI

I don’t know about you, but I’m having a harder time focusing these days. My attention span isn’t what it once was, and there are so many distractions!

When I need to write — whether that’s a client resume, Pass-Along Materials for BeAResumeWriter.com, or even this blog post, I pull up Noisli on my computer. (They also have an app.) There is a free level of the service that gets you 90 minutes of free listening a day. I’m seriously considering upgrading to the paid service (unlimited) for $10/month (billed annually).

You can customize your sounds — whether for productivity (like I use it) or for relaxation. You can select the sounds you want to include, mixing and matching them according to your personal taste. I usually start with the default “Productivity” mix and then add in some thunder (because I *love* the sound of thunder). Today, I added in some “campfire” to get a little crackling in there too.

Cost: Free for up to 90 minutes a day; $10/month (billed annually)

Learn more here.

Client Management/Document Management: Evernote

I’ve talked before about how I use Evernote with my client files. When I talk with a prospect by phone or by email or LinkedIn message, I start a note with their name. That way, I'm able to keep all of my notes about them together in one place. As I start to collect their documents (old resumes, questionnaires, exercises), I attach them to the note. That way, everything is accessible to me, no matter where I am. (These days, that’s usually at home, but you never know!) And, once I create their new documents, I attach the files to the note. I also include a copy of their invoice, so I can see what work I’ve done for them, and what I charged them. The next time they come back for service, I can pull up the note and see exactly what I’ve done and when. You can also set reminders in Evernote for a specific date/time. This allows me to do follow-up with clients a month down the road and then a year later too (for updates). 

If you’re on a paid plan for Evernote, you can also scan in notes or upload copies of handwritten notes and the text will be searchable. I still like to take handwritten notes when attending webinars and this keeps me from having to re-type my notes. (Although sometimes I do that just to help me remember stuff!)

With the Premium plan, you can even search inside Microsoft Word docs. This has saved me a number of times when I can't remember a client's name, but I remember their job title or company name. It pulls up the matching options and that’s enough to help me find what I’m looking for.

The Evernote app icon is an elephant — because “an elephant never forgets” — and that’s exactly what Evernote does for me. I use it for my daily to-do list, ongoing projects, I have a note with my affiliate links (so I can just copy-and-paste), my shopping list, and even the list of TV shows Jon and I are currently watching (including what season/episode we’re on) and shows and movies we want to watch next.

You can get a free month of Evernote premium using my affiliate link: http://bit.ly/RWDLovesEvernote

Cost: Free level provides basic functionality, but the Premium level ($7.99/month) allows you to sync across multiple devices (I have it on my iPhone, iPad, and laptop), upload all the types of client information I mentioned earlier, and search within notes.

Learn more here.

Accounting/Finances — QuickBooks Online

Okay, just to be upfront about it — I *hate* accounting, bookkeeping, and taxes. It’s ironic, I know, since my parents met when they both worked for the Internal Revenue Service, and because I was runner-up Ms. Future Business Leader for the state of Nebraska my senior year in high school. 

One of the things I hate(d* - past tense!) most about tax time was putting together my files for my accountant. We had been using QuickBooks (the Mac desktop version) since we started the business in 1996, but I always had to manually bring in my PayPal data at the end of the year, and spend days tagging and reconciling the transactions.

So when my accountant said I had to switch to QuickBooks online this year, I was more than reluctant. 

But you know what? I actually *enjoy* doing my bookkeeping now — and, more important, I’ve actually kept up with it. So 2021 might be the first year I get my accountant our data in January. (And actually, I don’t have to send him anything related to the business — he has access to my QuickBooks information from an accountant portal built into my subscription.) 

Here’s my favorite part: It brings in my business checking account data and PayPal data automatically once a day. Then, I go in and categorize the transactions. It has built-in “rules,” so some transactions it automatically categorizes (and I just click “Add” to approve it). That’s great for my recurring monthly payments (like Evernote, above). Honestly, it’s like a little game every time I log into categorize them (which I do 3-4 times a week). It takes me like 5 minutes. It’s almost fun!

I also do all my client invoicing through it (although I don’t have it set up with the built-in merchant account, since I use Affinipay for processing credit/debit cards). But you could do that if you wanted. I can email invoices through QuickBooks, and the reports it creates are interesting. But honestly, I just use the “Dashboard” feature more than anything. That shows me a quick P&L (profit & loss) graphic for the past 12 months, a widget with my expenses over the last 30 days, my annual sales for the last 12 months, and a daily accounting of my bank balances for all linked accounts. I may be more aware of the financial health of my business than I have ever been in the last 24 years we’ve been in business!

I‘m not sure if we’re on the Essentials or Plus plan, because I pay my accounting firm directly ($30/month – so it’s either the Essentials plan with some built-in support from the accounting firm, or I’m getting a discount on the Plus plan). Who knows. It’s totally worth it.

Email List Management — Constant Contact

This one is a little tougher, because there are SO many email management programs out there, and the one I’m recommending isn’t the cheapest, nor does it have the most features. But it’s the easiest one to get started using, and therefore, it’s the one that I recommend for career industry colleagues to start with.

Constant Contact offers more than just email though. You can actually create a website through them, and even host an online store that you can sell digital downloads through. You can also use Constant Contact to offer coupons and promotions, run surveys, and even host and promote events. (All of these are additional, add-on services.)

But for basic email functionality, Constant Contact is perfect for the solopreneur. You can offer an email signup form on your website, using a QR code, “text to join,” and more. Once you get people in, you can segment them to different email lists, and even set up an onboarding campaign of welcome emails. They offer tons of cute templates you can customize, including a built-in library of free (and, optionally, paid) graphics to include.

Cost: $20/month+ (cost depends on list size).

You can get a free trial using this link.

Online Courses/Coaching Platform — Teachable

Online learning is exploding. And jobseekers sometimes want to learn about the job search but not pay your $100-$150/hour one-to-one fees. The solution: Online courses. You can provide transformative content that educates and informs your clients on their own time. Or offer live training on specific topics at specific times. Or offer coaching services using their integrated platform.

The basic plan, at $29/month, includes unlimited students for courses and coaching (but paid courses and coaching will have a small transaction fee for each purchase). You can set up live courses, courses that clients get access to all at once, or even drip courses (where content is released on a pre-determined schedule – or “dripped” to users). 

The possibilities are endless: LinkedIn training for the job search, job search strategies, how to use your resume, how to create your personal brand, and more. I’m looking at offering my jobseeker challenges on Teachable too.

Cost: $29/month for the Basic Plan (annual billing) or $99/month for the Pro plan (this is the plan I use)

Learn more here.

Membership Platform — Wild Apricot

I am a HUGE proponent of membership systems for creating recurring revenue from your clients. And I’ve said that the resume writer who comes up with a system for turning their one-off clients into members will transform the industry. But it hasn’t happened yet.

What has happened is resume writers creating private libraries of content for their clients to access and using membership systems to do that. And resume writers using Wild Apricot to create private client portals where clients can access their files indefinitely. And resume writers offering fixed-term membership programs to provide client training. (Although since I’ve started using Teachable, I’d recommend going that route for a FTM instead of a landing-page-plus-autoresponder membership program). 

If I were starting my resume business today, I’d use Wild Apricot as my website and client platform. You can create a responsive, mobile-friendly website (using WYSIWYG website building tools – What You See Is What You Get). There’s an online “store” that you can use to promote package bundles (resume+cover letter, resume+cover letter+LinkedIn, resume+LinkedIn, resume+coaching, etc.). You can create membership levels, so you could create membership levels where clients could get access to a library of content (using Pass-Along Materials to create custom, branded job search information and tools) and maybe even an annual resume update (at a higher membership fee, obviously). 

And, as previously mentioned, you can create individual client portals with password-protected download pages for client documents. And, because it includes a built-in email management system, you can use it to deliver a monthly client newsletter. And, you can get set up with Affinipay as your merchant service processor, which allows you to bill clients for a monthly or annual membership.

Cost: $40/month for up to 100 contacts; $50/month for up to 250 contacts. 

Learn more here.

The tools included are just a few of my favorites. I’d love to hear what you’re using (and loving). Post your favorites in the comments below.

Friday, December 4, 2020

10 Questions With Laura Slawson

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

Today’s profile is Laura Slawson, MRW, CCM, CPRW of The Creative Advantage, LLC.

Laura has been writing resumes since 2009. She has been featured on CNBC, Stewart, Cooper & Coon, and WTBQ radio. She is a Credentialed Career Manager (CCM) and Master Resume Writer (MRW) with Career Thought Leaders, a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) with the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches, and an “Ask the Experts” contributor with the National Resume Writer’s Association (NRWA).

1. Why did you decide to become a professional resume writer?
I love to write and always had a knack for it. I worked in corporate America for more than 20 years, and did technical writing, corporate policy and procedure writing, and composed documents for the c-suite. I started my career as a working Word Processing Supervisor and learned about word processing when no one even knew what it was! When friends and family asked me to do their resumes and I saw they were successful using the documents I created, I knew I could do this as a business.

I had a very successful virtual administrative services business when my children were young, and I had always dreamed of starting another business. My nature is to help others, and I knew I could do this through my writing.

2. How did you get into the career industry? What did you do before?
I was a Corporate Executive Assistant for several Fortune 100 companies and supported c-suite executives my entire career.

3. What do you typically wear when you’re working?
Sneakers, leggings, a comfortable top and make-up. I’m always ready to meet clients virtually.

4. What is your best habit, and what is your worst?
My best habit is that I am extremely organized.

My worst habit is that I tend to spend too much time on the nitty-gritty!

5. What’s your favorite object in your office? Why?
My favorite object is a beautiful painting my Grandmother painted of a waterfall and trees. It’s turquoise, white, and lavender and is so serene. My Grandmother lived to be 103. She had her own business in NY when when women didn’t even work! I also have her picture on my desk to inspire me. Her name is Laura and I was born on her birthday!

6. What is your “go to” technique or secret when you get stuck when you’re writing a resume? How do you get unstuck?
I sit on my deck in the sun with a cup of tea. My yard has so many trees, I love to just sit and listen to the birds.

7. What’s the best career advice you ever got?
When I was in my 20s, I worked for Panasonic and my boss told me, “Never come into my office with a problem unless you have a solution!” This stuck with me all these years.

8. How do you unplug?
I call my 90-year-old mother and my daughter every day. They are both strong, capable women who inspire me and give me great advice!
I also like to sit on the deck and chat with my husband. I read and love to walk.

9. What ONE thing would you change about your business or the career industry, if you could?
I truly love what I do. 
I don’t think I’d change anything. I love helping others, working at my own pace, setting my own schedule and I’m never bored.

10. What are your favorite social media accounts to follow?
LinkedIn, PARW, NRWA, and CTL forums.

Connect with Laura on Linkedin here: 

Did you miss our last 10 Questions profile, featuring Evelyn Salvador? 

Saturday, November 14, 2020

How to Find a Job on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and MySpace (Advice from 2014?)

 I came across some notes in a notebook today. Even though the advice is probably 6-7 years old (it references MySpace, for goodness sake), I thought it was still pretty relevant. What do you think?

  • Update your status often
  • Keep your information fresh and current
  • Connect to others
  • Comment on what you see
  • Use the medium – post photos, videos, music — whatever is appropriate to the site/your situation
  • Be respectful of others’ time
  • Be prepared to offer more than you ask for
Ask yourself: “What do I want to achieve?”

Google yourself.

Make sure your profile is 100% complete.

Photo – bright, well lit, positive

Write unsolicited recommendations for former co-workers and colleagues.

Also on the page — “10 Best Jobs To Get Through Social Media Sites”
  1. PR Manager
  2. Social Media Strategist
  3. Musician
  4. Blogger
  5. Copywriter
  6. Consultant/Freelancer
  7. IT Worker
  8. Comedian
  9. Web Designer
  10. Marketing Manager

It’s kind of interesting to see old advice like this — because honestly, I think those seven bullet points are still pretty relevant in 2020!

Friday, November 6, 2020

10 Questions With Evelyn Salvador

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

Today’s profile is Evelyn Salvador of Creative Image Builders.

Evelyn is a certified resume writer and career coach, a personal branding pioneer, and author. She has been a professional resume writer for 28 years. She describes herself as the “World’s leading resume product innovator,” and looking at her portfolio of products for resume writers, it’s hard to argue with that description.

1. Why did you decide to become a professional resume writer?
Ad agency bred, when I first started my business in 1990, I developed branding materials for businesses (such as logos, brochures, fliers, content writing, websites, and the like). In 1992, when asked by my friends to do their resume, I figured I’d give it a shot. When they got interview calls immediately, I thought it was luck or they were in the right place at the right time.

But when that happened time and again, I realized I was onto something … Most resumes were written like job descriptions, but because I was accustomed to branding my business clients, I automatically capitalized on my personal clients’ brands, benefits, competitive edge, value proposition, and return on investment, along with their matching achievements — both visually and verbally — in their resumes. Not knowing it then, I became a Personal Branding Pioneer (the phrase wasn’t coined until 1998); and this became the start of my resume writing practice.

2. How did you get into the career industry? What did you do before?
Previously, I was an Operations Analyst for two banks, and was promoted to Assistant Vice President of Policies and Procedures where I was in charge of documenting the procedures for three merged banks.

After that (in 1990), I decided to engage in my passion of graphic design and worked first for a printing firm and then for an advertising agency, both as a Graphic Designer. In 1992, while freelancing at the ad agency, I started my own business branding firm, Desktop Publishing Plus, and later changed its name to Creative Image Builders when I was branding for both businesses and individuals.

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

4. What is your best habit, and what is your worst?
Best and worst (LOL): Obsessive compulsive when I am working on any writing, design, or photography project. It’s not done until I feel it is the absolute best I could make it. Sometimes I get a little too carried away and spend way too much time.

5. What’s your favorite object in your office? Why?

6. What is your “go to” technique or secret when you get stuck when you’re writing a resume? How do you get unstuck?
I use some of my own resume writing products, specifically the Career Worksheets and Resume ClipBullets. When I get brain-drain, I come back to and finish it the next day.

7. What’s the best career advice you ever got?
When the founder of NRWA and CDI were astounded by the
 Designer Resumes I created for my clients and requested I share them with other resume writers, this became my first resume product, followed by many others, and I am so grateful for that.

8. How do you unplug?
I take time to myself either taking and viewing photos, reading and posting on Facebook, conducting research, watching my favorite TV shows in the evening, and playing games on my phone.

9. What ONE thing would you change about your business or the career industry, if you could?
I really want to get into my dream profession of art and photography, but first have to finish everything I am in the throes of! I have 10 niche websites (for resume writing, business branding, art, and photography) — all of which are in an old format and not locatable on Google. I just did launch my ResumeProducts.com site and am in the midst of consolidating all of my other sites into my new business site. (It is not done yet, but the staging link is https://creativeimagebuilders-staging.b12sites.com/index).

Then I have to go into the next stage of making everything downloadable. I also have to finish writing and publishing my 26 resume and career books (7 are published, 7 more are with the publisher, and the remainder are all in process). I so wish everything was done because I’m not getting any younger!

10. What are your favorite social media accounts to follow?
Art and Photography and Resume Writer group forums.

You can follow Creative Image Builders on Facebook here: Facebook.com/CreativeImageBuilders
. Connect with Evelyn on Linkedin here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/evelynsalvador

Her resume products are available here: ResumeProducts.com

Did you miss our last 10 Questions profile, featuring Annette Richmond?