1. What led you to writing resumes? Do you have a background that made you an ideal fit for the industry?
Initially, I “fell into” writing resumes. I was hired as an Administrative Assistant supporting a staff of 20+ recruiters, and part of the job was creating / formatting version resumes for our customers, who were mostly high school and college grads seeking entry-level positions. I often had to develop many resumes within one eight-hour shift, so it was a real “trial-by-fire.” This was just a few years after I graduated from Suffolk University with a B.A. in English. I also had experience as a journalist. In addition, my first job out of school involved formatting, editing, and proofreading documents for a consumer survey organization.
2. How long have you been in the industry? Would you recommend it to others? Why?
I’ve been a full-time Resume Writer for a total of 10 years, with plenty of ad-hoc jobs thrown in while I held other non-related positions. I received my CPRW license in 2006. I would recommend the industry to some people, but not to just anyone. It takes discipline, tenacity, and a willingness to maintain a working understanding of current market conditions and business operations / practices to succeed in this very competitive arena.
3. What is the single best tool you recommend for building client relations? Building your business? Improve efficiency?
To build strong client relations, you must be willing to engage clients their terms and produce resumes with the messaging they want; you have to customize it to suit their needs while also appealing to the job target. This can occasionally be a tricky tightrope. In many cases, the customer isn’t always right, and occasionally, you have to gently explain that, for example, someone with 20 years of experience as a cashier in Mom and Dad’s coffee shop isn’t qualified to be a VP of Financial Management at Raytheon. To increase efficiency, keep solid records of each and every client contact, and retain all previous drafts of customer collateral. Follow-thought with “stragglers” on a weekly basis.
4. If you could share one learning experience/great lesson, what would it be?
Get your customer payments up front. I’ve lost significant revenues on more than one occasion by customers who received completed or almost-completed resumes and just vanished. Also, be willing to go the extra mile for your customers. They’ll love you for it, and word-of-mouth goes a long way in this industry. You’ll find that if you are good at what you do, and you truly want to help your clients, you’ll have a lot more business coming your way.
5. Looking back, what would you have done differently?
I probably would have established my own business once I knew I was qualified to handle pretty much any type of resume project; I would have formulated a partnership with someone who could develop a business plan, get seed / operating capital, and manage marketing & sales while I handled client communications on the back-end of the business and created the resumes and other collateral.
6. What advice would you give someone just entering the resume-writing industry?
One: make sure that you have exceptionally strong writing skills. Two: learn how to quickly create and format multiple styles of resumes; one type of template does not suit all clients. Three: Familiarize yourself with the resumes featured in the most highly-recommended resume books on Amazon. Four: get your CPRW. There are a lot of pretenders out there, and a license separates the wheat from the chaff pretty quickly.
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?
Increasingly, updating or totally overhauling Linked-In accounts is going to become a huge part of the industry. Also, if you don’t know how to create a good ASCII, you’d better learn quickly, because these are often more crucial than a “presentation”-style MS Word or PDF doc. Also, I think that a large percentage of clients are going to require more than just resume services. They will need reference sheets, corporate biographies, follow-up / thank-you letters, and career counseling, and they will direct their business to the one-stop-shop that can quickly fulfill all these needs.