Laurie J. James, MCD, CCELW, CDCC – Owner of LaurieJJames.com, LLC.
Some of Laurie’s industry highlights include:
- Becoming Louisiana’s FIRST Master Career Director, Certified Career Enlightenment LinkedIn Writer, and Certified DISC™styles Communications Consultant.
- Co-Founding & serving as the 1st President of the Professional Resume Writing & Research Association (PRWRA), which was rebranded in 2005 to Career Directors International (CDI).
- Co-creating Toast of the Resume Industry (TORI) Awards for industry-practitioner recognition.
- Spearheaded global career efforts to create VolunteersForCareers.com after 9/11.
- 9-Time National Award-Winning Mary Kay Independent Sales Director and Beauty Consultant.
1. What led you to write resumes? Do you have a background that made you an ideal fit for the industry?
Laurie: In January of 1986, my meager possessions included a typewriter and $200 in savings.
I started the new year off with a part-time typing service to generate cash flow while contemplating my next job.
When the oil bust hit south Louisiana (two weeks later), most of my “displaced” friends needed to relocate for job opportunities.
I found myself writing resumes purely by accident.
They provided a steady income stream that helped me survive the challenging economy.
I settled on a name and logo for my part-time business – “Just Your Type, Inc.”
The only background I had for this occupation consisted of:
1) The ability to type quickly and accurately;
2) The creativity to write engaging content;
3) The patience to listen to what my clients were looking for; and
4) The skill to organize cohesive thoughts on paper.
My passion is and has always been to help others, so it was an ideal fit.
2. How long have you been in the industry? Would you recommend it to others? Why?
Laurie: I’ve been writing resumes since 1986, and I’m still learning ways to help clients in our ever-changing economy – which is peppered with technology and intense competition.
I would only recommend this career to an extremely talented and gifted writer who has a real passion for helping others as a higher priority than earning a buck.
If the only motivation for choosing a career as a resume writer is for a great income, the lack of heart will show in the work, and it will take a long time (if ever) to really get established and develop a great reputation.
Factor in the frustration felt after your work of art is shredded and critiqued over and over again by someone who really has no concept of what’s right and what’s appropriate.
Resume writers are artists … we can imagine the beautiful bonsai tree inside the original shrub.
When we create that perfect resume, however, one cruel or unkind word can hurt like heck!!
It takes a thick skin and years of knowledge to build the confidence needed to be truly great in this field.
Because so much information about resumes is readily available online, this has become an extremely challenging industry.
The skill of resume writing has to be honed with years of seasoning and experience.
There are nuances that the average writer will NEVER understand!
The frustrating part is that everyone considers themselves an expert at writing resumes.
It takes someone with objectivity, an eye for marketing, and a strong stomach to charge for something that’s (somewhat) available online.
3. What is the single best tool you recommend for building client relations? Building your business? Improving efficiency?
Laurie: The DISC™styles Professional Communication Assessment Profile has taken my business to the next level.
And when I’m working with an out-of-town client, it gives me the necessary soft skill information so I can communicate effectively with that client and then write in that client’s voice.
My efficiency has improved considerably, as the information needed to give an edge to a great resume is readily available through the profile.
It’s absolutely revolutionized my business!!
I have taken this resource one step further by becoming a Certified DISC™styles Communications Consultant (CDCC).
This credential gives me unlimited resources and a pool of colleagues to help with challenging client scenarios.
4. If you could share one learning experience/great lesson, what would it be?
Laurie: Resume writers are known for being perfectionists, anal, OCD, and downright stubborn about certain elements of the “perfect” resume.
That was me a dozen years ago.
When I retired in 2004, I completely walked away from this industry to pursue other things, including a beautiful marriage to the love of my life!
When our economy changed, I got called back into resume writing with the understanding that I wouldn’t take myself so seriously and concentrate more on the client.
Today, I am much more relaxed and use a coaching approach when working with clients to teach them how to get through the process.
It takes the pressure off me and the client is much more relaxed and open to new and fresh ideas to help them move forward.
Today, I’m making more and working less.
5. Looking back, what would you have done differently? Done the same?
Laurie: Fortunately, I wouldn’t change a thing!!
I’ve had an incredible career and remain grounded with an attitude of gratitude that I share with all of my clients!!
6. What advice would you give someone just entering the resume-writing industry?
Laurie: Shadow a credentialed and well-respected resume writing professional, if you truly want to make it in this industry.
Yes, resume writing software and a myriad of excellent books and blogs are readily available to anyone.
However, shadowing a highly-credentialed resume writer is the best way to see the day-to-day activities and skills required to be a successful resume writer.
Quality work shows in the finished product.
7. How do you see our industry transforming over the next 12 months? 5 years? What do you think resume writers need to know in order to survive?
Laurie: Current Industry Transformation: Texting was first introduced about 20 years ago.
LinkedIn (the virtual resume) launched in 2003 (and sold to Microsoft for $26 billion in 2016).
In such a short time, we can see the impact that readily available information has in our society.
With Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google (FANG) taking over our lives, most everything we do is virtual (online).
That will continue to be the case.
Software and information will be even more creative, and resume templates will become much more sophisticated and available.
There will always be a place for a great resume writer who is willing to go the extra mile by thinking outside the box, learning new software, engaging in social media outlets, and coaching clients.
I offer the following coaching to help clients turn ON the career switch:
- ON Paper to create a completely professional resume portfolio
- ONline to create a professional LinkedIn profile that will yield positive results
- ON time to improve and solidify time management skills through the process
- One ON One to catapult that positive career change with practical & applicable techniques
- ON the Face to coach through any stress that shows in a 1-1 interview
- ON budget to navigate salary negotiation and financial transition
In 5 years, I am convinced that personal grassroots networking will still be relevant to learn of job openings.
Computers and this technology age have and will continue to be the standard form of communication, so we have to be prepared to learn what’s out there and become user-friendly with all options.
That’s why our clients come to us … because we are the experts!!
Industry Survival Kit: To ensure survival, a resume writer MUST go to every available industry conference to learn the craft and how to maneuver in the marketplace. I’m partial to Career Directors International (CDI), as I was a co-founder and the association’s first president.
My reason for starting CDI (originally PRWRA) was to create a venue for global career professionals to access educational, networking, and personal/professional development opportunities in the careers industry.
There are other associations and conferences available for any career professional to explore.