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The following was an interview we conducted with Christine Brugman from Resumes Right Away:
1. What led you to writing résumés?
My husband received military orders to relocate abroad for a few years, and my career went on hold. While overseas I pursued volunteer opportunities to keep me busy and potentially add some new skills to my résumé. I contacted an virtual nonprofit organization which focused on helping military spouses get career/employment ready. They were super excited to get someone on board with recruiting and management experience and kindly asked me to be their volunteer résumé expert. I was eager to take advantage of this new opportunity and researched everything I could on the art of résumé writing, combining it with my experience as a hiring manager to develop résumé workshops, serve as a HR/recruiting advisor for the team, and provide valuable insight “through the eyes of the hiring manager” to military spouse jobseekers. This initial volunteer effort as a “résumé expert” transformed into a new passion and career path.
Do you have a background that made you an ideal fit for the industry?
While working in the corporate sector for 15+ years, primarily as an operations manager, I created and implemented Career Development programs, recruiting processes, and management training efforts – all helping employees recognize and achieve their occupational goals and career potential. I also had an opportunity to work for a global recruiting firm and truly understand recruiting trends and the art of successful employment placement.
2. How long have you been in the industry? Would you recommend it to others? Why?
I’ve been working as a résumé expert and writer for the last six years. Would I recommend this career to others? While the career is rewarding to me, it’s definitely not for everyone. I enjoy speaking with people, hearing their stories, and working together to document their proudest achievements BUT it’s neither quick nor easy. Asking the right questions of the client can really make or break the résumé writing experience for both parties.
3. What is the single best tool you recommend for building client relations? Building your business? Improve efficiency?
The single, most successful tool that I recommend for both building client relations and building the business is face-to-face networking, period. Face-to-face networking allows people to tell their story in a credible and impassioned way. It puts a face to a name to a story which many times leads to joining job seekers with employers. Word of Mouth builds business as fast as Internet presence and online branding and marketing campaigns. It goes hand in hand with face-to-face networking. When you perform a service or produce a product that is delivered honestly, accurately, and at a good value to the recipient, that recipient will become your newest, biggest advocate to others. Efficiency is increased when you increase connections between professionals in your field and related fields to develop collaborative partnerships. Similarly, increasing the frequency of networking opportunities, and larger group interactions – think classroom/lecture settings – and a valuable web presence dramatically improves reach and efficiency.
4. If you could share one learning experience/great lesson, what would it be?
Focus more on networking and building client relations with your targeted clientele versus spending time (and money) on advertising efforts.
5. Looking back, what would you have done differently? Done the same?
When I initially got started, 80% of my focus centered on the use of broad advertising to promote the business with zero ROI. When I realized my efforts were not paying off, I focused on public relations to get the word out about my business – volunteering to teach free résumé classes on military installations, participating in employment workshops and job fairs, and consulting one-on-one with military spouses seeking employment through the military family centers. These efforts resulted in finding my niche (and passion) – military family job seekers.
6. What advice would you give someone just entering the résumé-writing industry?
Consider your areas of expertise and experience. Explore résumé techniques, volunteer with established professionals. Interact with a diverse client base to see where your experiences and techniques meet the needs of that client base against your comfort zones. Consider whether you are most effective working with professional and entry-level clients or do you have a background and talent for working with executive job seekers? Go with what works for your business and keep it simple by offering a handful of focused products/services. You can always continue to build up and grow the business.
7. How do you see our industry transforming over the next 12 months? 5 years? What do think résumé writers need to know in order to survive?
I see the résumé industry continuing to transform in the next 12 months, increasing the ties toward self-advertisement through social media mechanisms. The days of the two-page resume will decline and job seekers will have to learn how to limit and manage personal and professional information online. Virtual identity will be the critical point of entry for all job seekers and employers for that matter. In 5 years, it’s hard to say, but I fully expect technology and the job market will continue to shape the employer/job seeker dynamic by forcing unparalleled levels of transparency on the one hand and new techniques to conceal employment or organizational shortfalls. Successful résumé writers and career counselors need to understand the mind of the recruiter and hiring managers – “knowing the audience” and what attributes excite employers as well as those features employment seekers should accentuate for best effect in a volatile job market. In addition, a commanding grasp of current hiring trends, familiarity with growth industries and technologies, grammar and public speaking, coupled with frequent, effective communication and ACTIVE listening skills should join to ensure the client can successfully transmit his or her story to potential employers.