Thursday, November 10, 2022

20 Years Later: Freelancer or Entrepreneur?

In my “From the Editor” column from the January/February 2002 issue of Resume Writers’ Digest newsletter, I talked about the difference between being a freelancer and an entrepreneur.

Twenty years later, it’s still a great topic. 

As a resume writer, do you want to be a freelancer or an entrepreneur? (There is a difference.)

Here’s the original column:

Many self-employed professional resume writers consider themselves to be entrepreneurs when, in fact, they are more likely freelancers. Does it matter? Changing how you define yourself might create more opportunities, lower your stress level — or both.

Without resorting to the dictionary definitions of each term, let me try to explain the difference. Entrepreneurs are trying to build and sustain a growth-oriented enterprise. It is their goal to grow. These are the resume writers who hire subcontractors, affiliate with major career sites, and aim to make more than $150,000 from resume writing. 

Then there is a freelancer. The freelancer wants to derive a living from resume writing — but not necessarily be the biggest or the best. The truth is, most resume writers are freelancers. They contract directly with clients and/or write for others as a subcontractor. They can be home-based, office-based, or both.

The key difference is that they don’t take on more work than they can handle themselves. If they start to get busy, they raise their rates, or refer prospective clients to a colleague. They don’t start looking for subcontractors, or more office space.

Acting like an entrepreneur when you’re really a freelancer can cause you many sleepless nights. You read about some of the biggest names in the business and dream up strategies to conquer the town — or your chosen niche. But if you realized that goal and suddenly had dozens of new clients each day, would you be happy working with them? You wouldn’t necessarily have to become a resume mill, but if you enjoy total immersion with a select few clients each week, you’ll have to adapt your style to emphasize volume.

How you view yourself — freelancer, entrepreneur, or entrepreneur-in-training — will determine how you manage your time, market your services, and run your business.

Take a look in the mirror and answer this question: Which are you — freelancer or entrepreneur?

A note from 20 years later:
The results of the Resume Writers’ Digest Industry Survey suggest most resume writers are freelancers, working with 2-3 new projects per week. But the good news is, if you want to be an entrepreneur and expand your work with subcontract resume writers, it’s easier than ever. You can work with writers around the country — or around the world — from your home. No need to “look for more office space.”

Looking to work with subcontract resume writers? Contracting writers can get a free listing in the Directory of Subcontract Opportunities, one of the “Making Money as a Resume Subcontractor,” resources available to Bronze members of Submit your information here

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

10 Questions with Linda Whited

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

Today’s profile is Linda Whited, NCC, CCC, of Time to be Career Savvy. Linda has been a resume writer for six years. She is a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC), Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and member of the National Career Development Association (NCDA).

1. Why did you decide to become a professional resume writer?
My calling is to help more people make confident career decisions. I believe that the hours we work should matter and not just be a means to an end or paycheck. So helping others with their resume – and their career story – equips them to move toward meaningful work.

2. How did you get into the career industry? What did you do before?
I have always been intrigued by a job if the person describing it is fired up about what they do. I could be a trash collector if I met someone who felt called to do this work. :)

So I figured, instead of job hopping all the time, I might be better suited to support others to find that passion and enthusiasm for work. I am driven to help others to find meaningful work because I believe it can change the world, one person at a time.

3. What do you typically wear when you’re working?
T-shirt and yoga pants. I work from home.

4. What is your best habit, and what is your worst?
My best habit is my optimism. I find the positive in almost everything and this helps me problem solve and makes me a better friend to everyone.

My worst habit is probably having social media on my phone. I tend to scroll as a time waster and usually regret it.

5. What is your favorite object in your office? Why?
Probably the coffee mug with the hot coffee in it. It changes daily, but each mug has some fun memory or association with it, and coffee fuels my day.

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 get up and walk around or go outside for some fresh air. Moving my body changes my perspective.

7. What is the best career advice you ever got?
To think of a career as less of a ladder and more of a smart phone — the iOS is always there, but the apps come and go based on my needs at the time. We don’t need to always be progressing upward as our needs change over time. Changing that metaphor has been freeing for me and my clients.

8. How do you unplug?
I love movies, especially Marvel movies, so I watch them with my husband and then share the stories with my kids. We act out scenes with action figures. Captain Marvel is my favorite. #girlpower

9. What ONE thing would you change about your business or the career industry if you could?
I would make applicant tracking systems consistent so the rules we follow to optimize resumes would work 10/10 times. I’d also make sure everyone had a career mentor and became a mentor themselves because networking matters and is a barrier for so many.

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

@CareerLeaders on Instagram (Career Thought Leaders)

@TheArtofCharm on Instagram (and Podcast)

@ckyourprivilege on Instagram

@brenebrown on Instagram

@sarahdjohnston on LinkedIn (Sarah [Dougherty] Johnston)

Connect with Linda on LinkedIn:

Find her company on Facebook:

Follow Linda on Twitter:

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

10 Questions with Madelyn Mackie

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

Our newest profile is Madelyn Mackie of Madelyn Mackie & Associates | Activate Your Career Dreams.  

Madelyn is the “career activator”! As a Certified Career Management Coach, member of the National Resume Writers’ Association, and former board member of the National Speakers Association, Madelyn offers conference keynotes, professional development trainings, and career coaching to help her clients design unique, job-getting documents, build successful career plans, and create lifelong success. She has been a professional resume writer for nine years. 

Madelyn draws on her experience of navigating four high-profile careers — the lab (as a published biochemistry researcher), the stage (as a stage and production administrator at four Tony Award-winning theaters), the C-suite (as an officer with the American Red Cross), and the owner’s box (CEO of Madelyn Mackie & Associates, a career management and professional development firm) — to help individuals activate their career dreams.

1. Why did you decide to become a professional resume writer?
I never set out to be a resume writer. My goal was to be a professional speaker. I speak on career transition and tell the story of how I went from the lab, to the stage, to the C-suite, and often, I would be approached by members of my audience asking me if I could help them do the same thing — which translated into career coaching and resume writing.

2. How did you get into the career industry? What did you do before?
In my first career, I was a public bio-chemistry researcher. After I wrote and published my first paper, I quickly realized I had no intention of doing that for the next 40 years. For my next career, I worked in professional theatre for 15 years on the production side — and I loved it! Eventually, I got burned out and turned my volunteer work at the American Red Cross into a full-time role as a Program Manager and External Relations Officer.

3. What do you typically wear when you’re working? 
Since the pandemic, it’s fuzzy slippers, leggings, a business top, and relentless red lipstick. Gotta look good on Zoom!

4. What is your best habit, and what is your worst? 
I try to always treat everyone the way I would want to be treated. I firmly believe you put good things out in the world, good things will come back to you.

My worst habit is the snooze button.

5. What is your favorite object in your office? Why? 
My business license from 2011. It reminds me to “take pride in how far I have come and faith in how far I can go.” When I applied for that license, I didn’t have a single client or speaking gig or even a business bank account. Now, 11 years later, I have all those things and so much more.

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 immediately go work on another part of the resume that is easier — like education or older experience and work my way backwards on the resume. By the time I get to the value statement at the top, I have some motivation and inspiration to write it.

7. What is the best career advice you ever got? 
The best business advice I ever received is “Listen to your audience.”

8. How do you unplug? 
I love sitting on my balcony with some cheese and crackers, an apple cider, and a romance novel. It’s nice to get away into the land of “happily ever after” for a little while.

9. What ONE thing would you change about your business or the career industry if you could? 
Not a single thing. What I love best about our industry is that it is constantly changing and evolving. There is always something new to learn and my fellow resume writers never hesitate to share their knowledge and expertise.

Connect with Madelyn on LinkedIn: 

Find her company on Facebook: 

Friday, July 29, 2022

Two Words That Can Help You Write Interview-Winning Resumes

In 26 years of writing resumes, two words help me when I’m collecting information for client resumes:

It’s a great strategy when you’re working with a client who is having a hard time articulating their accomplishments.Here’s how it works:Let’s say you’re writing a résumé for a preschool photographer. I chose that one by going to and looking for the first non-sales job I found in Omaha, Nebraska, where I live. It’s much easier to get accomplishments from sales people than from folks in the “helping professions.” I’m not sure if “preschool photographer” is a helping profession or not, but it’s one where you might have a hard time getting accomplishments out of the person, but one where asking the right questions can yield some good stuff. So I’m asking my preschool photographer about their work, and they say that they take photos of all the kids in a preschool class. I’ll ask about how many kids are in the average class, and how long it usually takes to shoot a class. Then I might ask directly about an accomplishment — for example, “Tell me about what makes you good at your job.” My future famous photographer client might say something like, “Well, sometimes the kids don’t want their picture taken. They might be shy, or just not like photographers. I’m good at getting them to smile.”  I’d say, “Okay, so let’s say little Timmy is clinging to his teacher and doesn’t want his picture taken. Then what?” He might respond, “Well, first I’d put him at ease. I keep a little box of puppets in my photography bag for that very reason. He might not want to hear from me, but he’ll listen to Mr. Monkey.” “Okay, so you bring out Mr. Monkey. Then what?” He says, “Well, I put the camera down and put on Mr. Monkey — he’s a hand puppet — and I have Mr. Monkey explain — in a funny voice, of course (my client is now doing the voice) — that he wants to be able to remember what Timmy looks like, and could he get a picture of him? Sometimes that works directly, but sometimes I have to give Mr. Monkey to the child and have Mr. Monkey agree to get his picture taken with Timmy first.”  “Great,” I say. “So then what?” “Well,” my client says, “At that point, they’re usually smiling … or sometimes laughing … because I’m still using my Mr. Monkey voice, and I can get a couple of shots off. And because we shoot all digital, I can see right away if I’ve got the picture.  In three years of doing this, Mr. Monkey has never failed in getting me the shot I need. Sometimes it takes a couple extra minutes, but I always get the photo.”From there, I’m able to write strong, employer-oriented accomplishment bullets.This is just ONE of the strategies I share for writing better resumes by asking better questions.It’s part of this course:Ask Better Questions, Write Better ResumesYou can get the course for 60% off with our one-week sale (through Aug. 4, 2022). Get lifetime access for just $59.60 (regularly $149). Use promo code FLASH or click here to get the discount.Get immediate access to the course, including the video, handouts (for you and homework for your clients), and more.And, of course, it comes with our 30-day moneyback guarantee. If you’re not satisfied, I’m not satisfied, and I’ll happily refund your purchase.You’re welcome to use the THEN WHAT strategy with your own clients to help you create better accomplishments in the resumes you write!P.S. – Bronze members save even more – get 85% off the course by getting your discount code here. (Just $25 instead of $149.)