1. What led you to writing resumes? Do you have a background that made you an ideal fit for the industry?
I earned a degree in Communications and worked for a newspaper as a Recruitment Classified Advertising Sales Representative. I worked with HR and Recruitment managers to help them with their classified and display employment ads. I also assisted with coordinating job fairs. Eventually I left the position to stay home with my small children and worked from home as a freelance SEO copywriter. A writer friend told me about a resume writing firm she worked with as a contract writer and suggested I contact the owner. I wasn’t so sure about it at first, but soon realized I enjoyed it. I liked working one-on-one with clients learning about their career goals and creating a strategy to best present their experience , qualifications and skills to potential employers. My knowledge of SEO and previous web writing experience really came in handy when helping clients with LinkedIn profile development. I eventually earned certification from CPRW/CC, and am currently pursuing certification with the The Resume Writing Academy.
2. How long have you been in the industry? Would you recommend it to others? Why?
I’ve been writing resumes professionally since 2009. This challenging job market has certainly helped me see the need for qualified, professional resume writers. Many people have a hard time stepping back and viewing their education, work experience and qualifications with an objective, critical eye. It makes writing one’s own resume really tough. A person may not understand how to strategically present his/her information in a way that really catches a prospective employer’s eye. Plus there’s nothing like knowing you helped someone get their dream job!
3. What is the single best tool you recommend for building client relations? Building your business? Improve efficiency?
There are a lot of resume writers out there, so finding a way to stand out from the crowd is key. You need a marketing plan and marketing needs to be consistent. There are many ways to promote your services for free if money is an issue: a website with a portfolio of your best work, establishing a blog (especially if you serve a specific niche of resume writing like IT, healthcare, military, C-Level Executives), guest blogging on relevant websites, reaching out and offering your writing services to resume writing firms (if you want to work on a contract basis) and participating in relevant forums just to name a few.
Public speaking opportunities are another excellent way to promote your services and drum up business locally. Word of mouth and referral marketing works well too. Always ask your clients to spread the word about your services!
4. If you could share one learning experience/great lesson, what would it be?
Really effective resume writing involves very specific skills: the ability to write tightly and clearly; the ability to “sell with words” – thinking of a document as a sales piece and strategically using headlines, sub-headlines, bold print, bullet points and white space along with the content to draw the reader in, make the resume scannable and highlight the most important/impressive information. I also agree with another interviewee, William Mitchell, who mentioned the importance of learning Microsoft Word inside out. It allows you to add creative “extras” like shading, tables and charts.
5. Looking back, what would you have done differently? Done the same?
I wish I’s been able to take advantage of the Resume Writing Academy’s course when I first started out. I didn’t have as much confidence in what I was doing starting out, and that program helped me tremendously. It helped me improve my writing, taught me helpful techniques and strategies to incorporate in my documents and I learned a lot more about how to effective utilize Microsoft Word (I needed that!). I’ve almost completed the course and am much more confident about my rates and the services I provide my clients.
6. What advice would you give someone just entering the resume-writing industry?
Learn as much as you can – not just about resume writing, but the job market and emerging trends in job search as well. Also it’s important to understand that you may occasionally come across a client that cannot be helped. Nothing you do will be good enough. Learn to recognize this type of situation early on to avoid it and the headache that comes with it.
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?
I definitely see online profiles and social media playing a larger role in the job search process. Job searchers are interested in understanding how to use these networking platforms strategically. I believe personal branding will become more important – especially in regard to building a strong online presence. Professional blogs, websites and online portfolios will help job seekers brand themselves in a particular profession/industry.
Interview conducted with … Kimberly Ben, CPRW, has provided professional Executive resume writing and LinkedIn profile development services for several top-tier firms, including TheLadders.com. She currently provides career document development and personal career branding services at Top Resume Writing.