The following is a Q&A conducted with Sandra Ingemansen from Resume Strategies. Weekly, a new colleague spotlight will be published. To read all colleague spotlights that have been published thus far, simply visit the colleague spotlight category.
1. What led you to writing resumes? Do you have a background that made you an ideal fit for the industry?
Resume writing was a natural fit for me; I’ve always had a natural talent for listening to people and giving advice, so I turned this enjoyment into helping people look for work. I began my track in the careers sector supporting university graduates in the art of chasing and landing that first job out of college. Not an easy task, but important because I was setting the groundwork for how these job candidates would approach not only this but all other job search campaigns in their future.
Now, with a CPRW certification (working on the NCRW certification) and 11 years’ career advising/employment coaching under my belt, I have had the pleasure of working with a diverse group of clients at all professional levels from around the globe—from recent graduates, trade professionals and career changers to career professionals and C-suite/board level clients. Even the industries have been widespread—spanning Advertising/Sales/Marketing, Arts, Legal, Banking/Financial Services, High Tech/IT, Public Sector, Education, Science, Not-For-Profit, Healthcare, HR, Leisure/Hospitality, Human Services, Telecoms, Real Estate, Engineering, Manufacturing, Transportation, Purchasing/Logistics and International Business Development.
2. Now that you’ve been in the industry for a while, would you recommend it to others? Why?
I would absolutely recommend this business to other writers who enjoy their craft, have the ability to work with a wide range of personalities and are able to keep themselves on track, especially to deadlines. It’s a joy knowing that what we do and the effort we put into resume writing and career coaching is going to positively affect a client’s life—if the tools are implemented properly by the client. Clients come to career management professionals for our expertise; this is why it’s so important to have a finger on the pulse of this industry at all times and educate clients on best practices
3. What is the single best tool you recommend for building client relations? Building your business? Improve efficiency?
Clients: Building trust and confidence with the client—through honesty, fairness, diplomacy and constant communication—is the key here! Don’t promise something you can’t deliver on. One of my clients, who was a senior sales professional said to me, “Always underpromise and overdeliver.” Another said, “Make yourself referable.” Those 2 mantras have stayed with me and so far have worked to build customer loyalty and further work for me.
Building Business: Connect with at least one new person per day, whether face-to-face at your local business networking breakfast, on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or any other professional networking outlet. Those connections really DO bring in BUSINESS. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but the business WILL come, trust me!
Improving Efficiency: PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. Start each morning with a clear schedule of your priorities for the day, especially if working from a home-based environment. This helps in remaining focused, steering clear of any unnecessary distractions and non-priority activities. It’s easy lose focus if you don’t have a plan, I learned that the hard way.
4. If you could share one learning experience/great lesson, what would it be?
No matter how good a writer you are, there’s ALWAYS plenty more to learn. Take a look at what the industry leaders are doing, see what award-winning resume writing professionals are up to. Get into contact and stay in touch with them. Be better. Always strive to improve your caliber of work. Identify how to set yourself and your services apart from the others. The same way you work with clients to do that in their job search campaigns, you must do that for yourself and for your own business!
5. Looking back, what would you have done differently? Done the same?
Looking back, I think I would have found myself a mentor MUCH earlier in the game and charged what my services are REALLY worth. Credentials make you credible; build on those. Take workshops, webinars/teleseminars, go to conferences, etc. but keep learning. That’s the key to positioning yourself as a trustworthy industry expert. I’m earning my NCRW now and later will be earning my CEIC certification. My aim is to become a Master Resume Writer; there are only 28 worldwide at the moment. So, why not strive to be one of the best?
6. What advice would you give someone just entering the resume-writing industry?
Network, network, network! Find a professional organization, become a member and contribute in any way you can. There’s CDI, NRWA, PARW/CC, for example, but I have also found wonderful industry-related online groups to join and find all the information empowering for a person who needs help getting started. This is one industry where colleagues are so very helpful to other professionals in the business. I’ve learned so much from various forums. As I said before, find yourself a mentor, someone who can guide you through some of the pitfalls of starting a business and dealing with client issues.
It’s a hard process and I find I’m working HARDER now than I did in full-time employment. Don’t get me wrong, it’s so rewarding to be able to reap the benefits of your own work, especially seeing how those daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals actually come to fruition. To be able to say, “I DID THAT!” is so energizing.
Read at least one industry article, blog, etc. per day to keep your skills and your industry know-how updated. Keep yourself tapped in to industry trends, then share with others. Get their feedback, discuss! This is also great for networking.
Establish your industry footprint. One must have an online presence in this industry, so I’m working on this aspect for myself right now. Get your own LI profile up, Twitter, Facebook, etc. to get your name out there. Another way to build credibility is to submit your work to resume writing book authors; get in touch with publishers to see who is looking for submissions.
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?
The industry is changing with each year. Now, more than ever with unemployment rates rising, it is vital to differentiate job candidates from the rest of the group. With that, personal branding statements play an important role on es nowadays as it is important to market individuals based on their personal strengths, highlighting both hard and soft skills. Back to the online presence, I’m finding more and more that I’m developing and advising on business networking profiles such as LinkedIn. This trend is established and is only growing, along with online career portfolios. Artists have had these for years, but I’m seeing more and more of this for business professionals as well.
Another emerging technology I see is the use of infographics (i.e. charts, graphs and other pictorial visuals) to set a resume apart from that of other candidates. I only see this trend as growing in the coming years.
Sandra Ingemansen, CPRW, Resume Strategies, (312) 212-3761, [email protected], www.resume-strategies.com; Sandra offers strategic interview guidance on job/career search campaigns and has compiled literally thousands of personally branded resumes/CVs, cover/thank-you letters, executive and LinkedIn profiles for US-based and international clients. Some recent samples of her work have been featured in Gallery of Best Resumes, Resumes that Pop and Cracking the Code to Pharmaceutical Sales.