Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Insights From Day 1 of INBOUND 23: An AI Drinking Game and How Technology Let Me Down

As I mentioned in my email last week to Resume Writers’ Digest subscribers, Jon and I decided not to attend HubSpot’s marketing conference, INBOUND 2023, this year. It’s an awesome conference, and we will miss being in Boston in September for the third time!

But we aren’t completely missing out, because HubSpot is live-streaming some of the daily sessions. Today was Day 1, and I wanted to share some key insights from the keynote session, and my thoughts.

There are approximately 12,000 in-person attendees in Boston, and Jon and I were among the estimated 100,000 people watching online.

First of all, looking at the livestream session descriptions, you’ll see it’s heavy on artificial intelligence (AI)-related topics. That was initially a little off-putting to me — but I was pleasantly surprised by the actual sessions themselves. I joked on a group text with our friend Jason (who is attending INBOUND in person) that we could make an AI “drinking game” where you have to take a drink every time they say, "AI."

His response was: “I’m not sure even I can survive that drinking game. Just reading the agenda for today is 14 shots.”

Since I drink Cherry Cokes, I’d survive … but to say that AI is THE topic of conversation this year would be an understatement.

And a nod to the “How Technology Let Me Down” part of the headline of this blog post: As I mentioned, the sessions are live-streamed. So I was taking notes as it went along. I’ve mentioned before that I absolutely LOVE Evernote … but today, Evernote failed me. In the opening session, there were three separate speakers. As I started to write the notes for the third speaker, I noticed that half of my notes from the second speaker had disappeared. I pay for the Premium version of Evernote, so I thought maybe I had overwritten part of the note accidentally, so I went back to check my version history to restore the note.

Nope. No luck. That wasn’t the issue. The content had just disappeared. 

Fortunately, it appears that I can go back and re-watch the second speaker of the first session and re-capture my notes. But UGH! After realizing that, I took the remainder of the day’s notes in Microsoft Word. Jon mentioned that there is an update for Evernote, and we’ll be updating it tonight to see if that fixes it. (In pasting in my notes from Microsoft Word after the last session, part of it didn't paste into Evernote either. So yeah, we’ll be doing the update to the app.)

One of my favorite things about attending conferences — whether that’s a resume writing conference or a marketing conference — is the inspiration. The content (especially actionable content) is important, but the ability to just step back from daily activities is such a critical thing for me.

Now, unfortunately for me, I couldn’t completely unplug from daily life. We’re getting new siding put on the house after a June 2022 hailstorm and I had to take my Honda Pilot in for an oil change (it was supposed to be yesterday, but my mechanic had to reschedule).

Ok, onto the highlights from the keynote session.

HubSpot Keynote

The first of the three speakers during the keynote was Yamini Rangan, CEO of HubSpot. 

Change is the theme. Technology is changing. The way customers buy is changing. How we connect with customers needs to change.

Artificial intelligence isn’t new — it’s been around for decades. But predictive AI — which predicts the future based on past data — has the potential to transform knowledge and creative work.

If you put the word “artificial” aside, focus on “intelligence.” That’s the shift happening with AI — going from acquiring information to acting on intelligence. What’s the best way to use this intelligence? Rangan says, “The intelligent way to use intelligence is to drive customer connection.” The power of acting on intelligence is to “connect deeply” with customers. That connection matters, she says, “because it drives growth.” She added that customers who focus on customer connection saw five times more growth than the average company. Companies who consistently connect with customers through every stage of the customer journey saw 19% more growth.

“No matter the segment or industry, the more you engage with your customers, the more you can grow,” Rangan said. “Customer connection drives growth. AI can drive connection at scale. Always start with the customer. Get deeply curious about your customer’s journey.” Getting to know customers on a granular level — understanding the whole person — is the key.

“Customer expectations are changing. We need to put ourselves in the shoes of our customers to understand this change — from how they discover and consider the product to how they buy and use these products,” she added.

The customer journey:

Discover. This is changing from search to social. You use to be able to search and get links from all over the Internet. Now, customers are discovering products before they search — on social media. “Customers don’t want to search — they want to get social.”

Consider. Customers want to learn more. How they learn is changing from “clicks” to “conversations.” Before, when your customer wanted information, they went to your website. They would click, filter, and sort through information. All that clicking is time-consuming and inefficient, especially in the world of ChatGPT. Now, they want to go to your website and chat. They want a one-to-one helpful conversation to find out exactly what they need. “They don’t want to convert on your website; they want to converse on your website.” Their expectations are going from being okay getting personalized information to getting personal insights. 

Buy. Make it easy to buy. Don’t make them give you information they’ve already provided. Customers expect you to give them insights every time they connect with them, regardless of the channel. Personal is tailored. They expect insights that are specific to them.

Use. “This is where the real work begins.” Rangan says that customer expectations have changed from being okay with reactive help to getting proactive help. They submit a ticket or call in or follow up with an email to get the answer they need — but, most of the time, they don’t get the answers they are looking for. She says 98% of customers find service interactions frustrating, but you can use AI to “delight them proactively.”

She ended by saying, “AI can be the most profound change to transform marketing, sales, and service.”

Next up in the keynote was Andy Pitre, Executive Vice President of the Product Team. He also talked about change, and how it can be hard.

“This is the age of intelligence,” he noted. “Work smarter, not harder.” He talked about how the HubSpot CRM centralizes your customer data in a connected ecosystem, giving you the tools to customize the customer experience.

His part of the presentation focused more on the integration of AI into the HubSpot product itself. (And this was the part of my notes that Evernote lost, so I’ll have to go back and rewatch his section.)

The final part of the keynote was Dharmesh Shah, founder of HubSpot and current Chief Technology Officer (CTO). He’s famous for his “dad jokes” in his speeches, and he didn’t disappoint. 

He started the presentation talking about how his son has been using GPT for the past couple of years. His son is now an advanced user, and built a role-play game that uses GPT. Shah said that English will become “the most popular programming language in the world” thanks to GPT. (Users will be able to program using English instead of code.)

He said advances in AI will address the frustrations that his son has experienced. 

Frustration 1: Static language models --> dynamic

Currently, GPT uses historical information. It doesn't know what has happened since September 2021. Shah said we will see learning models being augmented by real-time data.

Frustration 2: Text input --> Multi-Modal inputs

Currently, we use text as an input. In the future, we’ll be able to add images, audio, and code as prompts.

Frustration 3: Passive --> Active

Right now, GPT waits for you to enter a prompt. In the future, it will make suggestions. 

All of this will create to create “the next big wave in generative AI: AgentAI.”

Shah sees a future where AI-powered software will work mostly autonomously to pursue goals by working as an expert (working with large language models and other agents). He sees different “agents” tailored to your needs – search agent, web crawling agent, pricing analysis agent.

Shah asked the audience to consider two questions.

First, “How should I now be thinking about data in the age of AI?”

He said AI models are increasingly common, and data is the common denominator. The first generation of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software was increased more than 30 years ago. Cloud CRM came about 20 years ago. The new thing is “Smart CRM” — CRM with AI included.

Second, “Will AI take my job?”

Shah said that “AI will take your job…”

But then he added “…and give you one that’s better.”

He said it offers the promise of “less grind and more growth.”

He introduced the AIAIO framework:

Awareness – discover what AI can do

Investigation – explore use cases

Adoption – get things done

Integration – weave AI into workflows

Optimization – look for leverage

He then shared a dad joke:
“I want to thank my wife for introducing me to the word ‘plethora’ — it means a lot.”

Okay, I thought that was funny.

He seemed pleased that the crowd laughed and thanked the crowd. He added, "When I try these jokes on Zoom, people don’t laugh. Maybe they’re not remotely funny.” 

He ended on a more philosophical note: “It’s not about believing in AI; it’s about believing in yourself.” 

The keynote started the day — and the conference — out on the right note. Change is inevitable. 


Thursday, August 31, 2023

Career Industry Conference Update: 2023

As the calendar rolls over to September, it’s time to talk about career industry conferences. This is an update to a post from November 2019 (“Have You Ever Been to a Resume Writing Conference?”), which built on a post from August 2011 (“When Is the Omaha Conference?”)

Last year, I found myself in Boston for the 2022 INBOUND conference instead of in New Orleans for the NRWA 2022 Conference. We had first attended INBOUND in 2019 (check out Jon’s series of blog posts about our travels in 2019 and 2022 – warning: there are really good food pictures!) with our friends Jason and Jolene. We actually haven’t been to an in-person resume conference since 2017, when we drove to Chicago for the NRWA conference.

Here’s the breakdown of where the national resume writing organizations have had their conferences in recent years. (I’ve bolded the ones I attended.)

The National Resume Writers' Association (NRWA):
2023 – Colorado Springs, CO
 (scheduled for Sept. 21-23, 2023 at The Antlers Hotel with an online component as well)
2022 - New Orleans, LA 
2021 – NRWA Virtual Conference
2020 – NRWA Virtual Conference
2019 - NRWA Conference at Sea (Cruise to the Bahamas)
2018 - Seattle, Washington
2017 - Chicago, Illinois
2016 - Annapolis, Maryland
2015 - Charlotte, North Carolina
2014 - Denver, Colorado
2013 - Chicago, Illinois
2012 - Charleston, South Carolina
2011 - Portland, Maine
2010 - Fort Worth, Texas
2009 - Annapolis, Maryland
2008 - San Diego, California
2007 - Savannah, Georgia
2006 - Phoenix, Arizona
2005 - Stamford, Connecticut
2004 - Nashville, Tennessee
2003 - Seattle, Washington
2002 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2001 - San Antonio, Texas
2000 - Las Vegas, Nevada
1999 - New Orleans, Louisiana
1998 - Chicago

I’ve been to Colorado Springs for hockey before, but never for a resume writing conference. It’s within driving distance of Omaha too! 

Career Directors International:
2016 - Present: No conference
2015 - Entrepreneurial Success Secrets Live for Career Professionals: Orlando, Florida
2014 - Global Career Empowerment Summit: SOAR — Orlando, Florida
2013 - Global Career Empowerment Summit: Your Big Breakthrough — Orlando, Florida
2012 - Global Career Empowerment Summit: Blaze Your Trail — San Diego, California
2011 - Global Career Empowerment Summit: Jump On Board the Success Express — Savannah, Georgia
2010 - Global Career Empowerment Summit: You Selected & We Delivered: The Most Outrageously Power-Packed Career Conference Yet — San Diego, California
2009 - Global Career Empowerment Summit: Take Your Career to New Heights — Orlando, Florida
2008 - Annual Conference: Get Super with CDI — Seattle, Washington
2007 - Annual Conference: The Future is You! — San Antonio, Texas
2006 - Annual Conference: Live the Dream — Orlando, Florida (PRWRA)
2005 - Annual Conference: Play to Win — Las Vegas, Nevada (PRWRA)
2004 - Indianapolis, Indiana (PRWRA)
2003 - New Orleans (PRWRA)
2002 - Atlanta, Georgia (when the organization was still PRWRA)

(Thank you to Laura DeCarlo for help assembling the conference titles and locations!) I was never able to make a CDI conference (they were often in October and conflicted with my UNO Hockey obsession).

Career Management Alliance (no longer in business as of August 2011):
2011 - Las Vegas, Nevada
2010 - New Orleans, Louisiana
2009 - San Antonio, Texas
2008 - Minneapolis, Minnesota
2007 - Louisville, Kentucky
2006 - ??
2005 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (when it was still Career Masters Institute)
2004 - Atlanta, Georgia (CMI)
2003 - Kansas City, Missouri (CMI)
2002 - San Diego, California (CMI)

Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches
2024 – Orlando (Thrive Orlando 2024)
2023 – Orlando (Thrive Orlando 2023)
2022 – Clearwater, Florida (Thrive 2022)
2021 – Virtual Conference
2020 – No conference due to COVID
2019 - St. Pete Beach, Florida
2005-2018: No conference
2004 - St. Pete Beach, Florida
2003 - Las Vegas, Nevada
2002 - Dallas, Texas
2001 - Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida
2000 - Toronto, Canada
1999 - Colorado Springs, Colorado

PARW/CC held conferences from 1999-2004 but then discontinued conferences in 2004. The conferences returned in 2019 and are held annually in Florida.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Do You Struggle With Pricing Your Resume Services?

In my most recent pricing survey of resume writers, 100% of respondents said YES, they have struggled with pricing their career services.

Eighty-five percent said they would like to learn more about pricing their services.

Accurate (and adequate) pricing is one of the biggest predictors of success in your resume writing business. 

Why Resume Writers Don’t Stay In Business

I recently read an article about the top 11 reasons small businesses fail. 

Number three was: Failure to price your product or service correctly. 

Number one was inadequate cash reserves, and number four was the failure to adequately anticipate cash flow. Both of those also relate to pricing, in a way. The author went on to say, “You can be the cheapest, or you can be the best, but if you try to do both, you’ll fail.”  

Pricing is one of the biggest challenges in succeeding as a freelance resume writer. Charge too much, and you may have trouble attracting clients. 


Charge too little, and you’ll have a hard time succeeding. At a minimum, you’ll work harder than you need to, or you won’t be able to give clients enough of your time or energy to truly help them. The worst case scenario is that you can’t afford to stay in business if you don’t charge enough. So pricing is a critical component for your success.


Let me start by saying that pricing your services is a very individual, personal decision.

Before you set your pricing, think about two things: 1) Who are you serving? Who is your target client? 2) What problem are you solving for them? What benefit or benefits do they get from working with you?


No matter what you end up charging, if you are crystal clear about who you serve and what you can do for them, it will help you attract great clients, and it makes your pricing less of a factor in choosing you.


Once you know who you want to target, you can start figuring out your pricing. 

Pricing Models

Let’s talk about pricing models for services.

  The first is a straight hourly rate, based on the time the project requires (clients don’t like this model because of the uncertainty for them, so it can be harder to get them to commit. If they don’t know up front if their resume project will be $500 or $5000, they’re not likely to work with oyu.)


  Flat fee, based on the number of hours it’s estimated the project will take. Clients like this because they know what they’ll pay, but the risk is that you have to estimate the time required accurately. You can either provide set “packages” for your services, or quote projects individually, once you’ve determined what your client needs.


  Value-based. This is not a common pricing strategy for resume writers, but it ties your pricing to the outcome the client will get. For example, if your client gets the job, you get a percentage of their first-year salary. (This is more common for recruiters.) 

But how do you come up with the hourly rate, or the rate that you’re basing your flat fee packages on? That’s where the formula for pricing your services comes in. Danielle has a worksheet in your Google Drive that you can use to calculate this.


A Formula for Pricing Your Services

The formula for pricing your services consists of three steps. 


The first is to estimate your expenses and income. Remember, as a resume writer, you’ll now have some expenses that you didn’t as an employee — marketing costs, supplies, equipment, and extra taxes. 

(In my course for resume writers, Pricing Right: Price Your Career Services with Confidence, there is a worksheet with expenses to consider.)


Add those up. Then, determine what you want to be making. Those two numbers, added together, are your income target. For example, let’s say you want to make $80,000 and your annual expenses are $15,000. Your income target would be $95,000.

Step two is to determine your billable hours and schedule. Even if you’re not billing by the hour, you still need to figure out how many hours a week you’re available to work each week — and use that to determine your billable hours. 


You’ll have billable hours and non billable hours each week. 


Billable hours are the hours you’re working on client projects; non billable hours is the time you spend on marketing, client acquisition, and all the fun paperwork that comes with being a freelancer. Let’s say you think you can generate 20 hours of billable time each week. And let’s say you want to include two weeks of vacation each year. For example, if you multiply 20 hours by 50 weeks, you get 1,000 billable hours each year.


The third step is to use the income target and your total annual billable hours to calculate your hourly rate. Divide your income target (step one) by the total number of billable hours per year (step two). For example, $95,000 divided by 1,000 billable hours gives you an hourly rate of $95/hour.

Adjusting Your Rates

But you don’t have to stick exactly to the $95/hour rate. You want to consider some other factors that can influence your pricing. 

• the type of clients you work with and the results you’re able to get for them

  what you were used to making

  your experience/certifications

  level of personalization

  what other resume writers are charging


Once you figure out your pricing, you have to figure out how you’re going to communicate it. Are you going to list your pricing on your website? Will you only discuss pricing on the phone or once you’ve met with a prospective client? 


Also, consider HOW you’re going to get paid. Deposit up front? Payment in full to start? A common tactic in consulting is progress payments — a deposit and then payment at agreed-upon intervals. 

Most resume writers get paid 100% up front because of the custom nature of work. But if you’re hesitant about that to begin with, at least collect a deposit (25% or 50%) up front and the balance when you deliver the draft (or before you deliver the draft).

Want more insight into pricing your resume services? Check out “Pricing Right: Price Your Career Services With Confidence.”


Tuesday, July 18, 2023

6 Steps to Starting a Resume Writing Business as a Side Hustle

I was asked a question today about starting a business as a side hustle (in addition to a 9-to-5 job). I'd estimate about 75% of resume writers get started in business this way. I know I did, more than 20 years ago.

I put together this list of advice for getting started. If you’re thinking of starting a resume writing business as a side hustle and you have questions, leave me a comment below or contact me!

Step One: Avoid Conflicts
First step is checking your current contract (if you have one) to make sure there is nothing that prohibits side work. Most important, if you’re doing work that relates to your 9-to-5 job, you want to make sure that you wouldn’t unintentionally be giving your current employer the rights to your side hustle work (or clients). That can really happen.

You also want to make sure that you’re not using company resources for your side hustle. So you wouldn't want to use your work computer for your business, for example. Or, if you have a company-provided cell phone, get a separate one for your business. (That’s smart anyway, so you can answer calls with your business name. “All About Resumes, This is Jan!” Or have your voicemail reflect your business: “Thank you for calling All About Resumes. If you want more information about how we can help you meet your career goals, visit our website,, or leave us a message and we’ll get back to you.)

Step Two: Identify Yourself
Step two is coming up with a business name. You do NOT need to incorporate as an LLC at this point. It’s not necessary and is a lot of paperwork and expense that isn’t required.

This article explains why:

As a small services business (under $100K in revenue to start), your legal liability risk is low. If you want to shield yourself, an E&O policy (errors and omissions) would be sufficient (and probably overkill). If you do choose to pursue E&O insurance, check out Hiscox or your homeowner’s insurance. (If you’re seeing clients in person at your home or an office, also ask your homeowner’s agent about a business liability policy.)

Get an EIN from the IRS:

Here’s how to get one (it’s free):

Step Three: Establish Your Business
The next step is opening a business checking account. All your income and expenses should be run through this account. It can be as simple as “Your Name dba as ___” (dba = "doing business as"). My first sole proprietorship was “YD Creations” (my maiden name is pronounced “Why Dee” — like the letters Y and D). So my bank account was “Bridget Weide dba YD Creations.”

Start as a sole proprietor. Your income and expenses will be reported on your personal tax forms. 

Register your business with the state. Google “start a business in ___” (your state). 
For example, I live in Nebraska:

You also want to check into whether you will need to collect sales tax on your sales.

Your state’s department of revenue can help you identify the specific services that are taxable.
Again, here’s my state’s guidelines:

This is especially important if you are providing taxable services. In some jurisdictions, resume services are taxable. In others, they aren’t. Sometimes they are taxable if it leads to the creation of a physical product (resume printouts) but not digital files. It’s important to get this right from the beginning, so don’t skip this step.

You may also need to register your business with your local city or municipality. Check to be sure.

Step Four: What Will You Sell?
Next is figuring out what services you are going to offer and your pricing for each. Will you provide resume development only, or also provide interview coaching? How about salary negotiation services? Career coaching?

Will you bill by the hour, by the project, on retainer, by results generated, or other?

Step Five: Getting Paid
The next step is figuring out how you will accept payment. You may want to set up a Square account (or similar third party service). Your bank may use Zelle but your customers would need to also. You probably don’t need a credit card (merchant account) at this point. Keep your expenses low to start.

Step Six: Now It’s Time to Make Yourself Known
The final step is all about marketing. Register your business domain ( Set up an email (and website, probably). Register your social channels if you’re going to use them. Put the word out to your network and contacts that you’re “open for business.” Reach out to anyone who had inquired about you doing work for them in the past.

Starting a business can be daunting, but starting as a side hustle can give you the security of your regular paycheck with the ability to start growing your business on the side. These six steps will help ensure you get off on the right foot.

And someday, when you’re ready, you can make the leap to being a full-time career services professional (if you choose to!).