Brenda Bernstein, The Essay Expert LLC, www.TheEssayExpert.com
Services offered: Executive, Mid-Level and Basic Resumes and Cover Letters. LinkedIn Profiles. College Essays. MBA Admissions Consulting. Professional Bios. Business Writing.
Brenda is the author of How to Write a KILLER LinkedIn Profile, How to Write a WINNING Resume, and How to Write a STELLAR Executive Resume.
She has won two TORI awards, one for Best International Resume and one for Best New Graduate Resume.
1. What led you to write resumes? Do you have a background that made you an ideal fit for the industry?
Brenda: I came to resume writing from a writing and legal background. I was an English major at Yale and then got a law degree from NYU.
After practicing public interest law for ten years, I returned to my first love: writing.
I worked for a year at the University of Wisconsin Law School’s Career Services Office in 2009, and at the same time started The Essay Expert.
My company has become largely an executive resume writing business, though I continue to coach college and law school applicants on their essays as well.
2. How long have you been in the industry? Would you recommend it to others? Why?
Brenda: I started The Essay Expert in March 2009 and have obtained multiple advanced resume certifications since then. I would absolutely recommend the resume writing industry to others with writing and listening skills. It helps to be familiar with the business world as well. Resume writing gives you a lot of flexibility with your time, and if you get really good at it you can make good money too.
My warning would be that you do have to market yourself or work for lower rates for a while for other writers to get trained.
There’s more to resume writing than most people realize, and there’s a big learning curve. I didn’t realize when I started how much I didn’t know!
3. What is the single best tool you recommend for building client relations? Building your business? Improve efficiency?
Brenda: For great client relations, under-promise and over-deliver.
You want your clients to be surprised at your quick turnaround and high quality of work. You want them gushing!
For building your business, write a blog and get the word out that you have something to offer.
Post on LinkedIn and on Facebook.
Writing an e-book is also a great way to gain credibility.
For improved efficiency, first of all, you need two computer monitors. Don’t even think about being a resume writer and using just one monitor!
And I would recommend getting plenty of training so you feel confident and can move forward on a project effectively.
4. If you could share one learning experience/great lesson, what would it be?
Brenda: Never rely on one source of clients.
The market is always changing.
I have made this mistake a couple of times.
For a while, I relied on getting leads from my e-book.
5. Looking back, what would you have done differently? Done the same?
Differently: I would have gotten resume certifications like the CARW and CMRW sooner to give myself more credibility.
I also would have started attending conferences sooner. I have learned so much and connected with wonderful people and resources through organizations and conferences.
Same: Writing an eBook was one of the best things I could have done.
So was hiring a Virtual Assistant to handle tasks I don’t need to handle.
She saves me hours of time every week!
6. What advice would you give someone just entering the resume-writing industry?
Read everything you can about resume writing.
Go to conferences (yes they are worth the investment!)
Network with other resume writers (attending conferences is the best way to do this).
Learn as many tips and tricks for formatting as you possibly can in MS Word (look at the TORI award winners on CDI’s website to see what you might be aiming for, and figure out how to do what they did!)
And get a resume writing certification which will give you and your potential client’s confidence.
7. How do you see our industry transforming over the next 12 months? 5 years? What do think resume writers need to know in order to survive?
Brenda: The industry has already transformed so that a job seeker’s LinkedIn profile is just as important as their resume; so resume writers must be experts in LinkedIn.
I believe video resumes will become more prevalent and soon will be expected in some industries.
To survive, resume writers need to know how ATS (Applicant Tracking Software) systems work so the resumes they produce will be properly parsed by employers.
Otherwise, the most brilliant resume in the world will not make the first cut.
I also believe resume writers need to know what the overused buzzwords and phrases are so they can do something different that wakes up a hiring manager.
Finally, you need to know what people are willing to pay for a resume. It’s probably more than you think.
Charge what you’re worth or you will not survive in the long run!
The clients you want are the ones who truly value your services.