The following interview with Wendy Gelberg is only one of many interviews I’ve conducted with fellow resume business owners just like you. Do you own a resume writing business? Interested in being interviewed as part of this series? If so, contact me. Interested in reading the spotlights that have been published thus far? If so, simply visit the colleague spotlight category.
Here is my Q&A with Wendy Gelberg with Gentle Job Search/Advantage Resumes:
1. What led you to writing resumes? Do you have a background that made you an ideal fit for the industry?
Prior to becoming a resume writer, my career had included jobs as a high school history teacher, educational research & measurement professional, and secretary (including owner of a home-based secretarial service, which morphed into the resume writing business I now run). On the surface that doesn’t appear to be a conventional path into this industry. I had no background in anything career-related, and little experience in the world of business, so I wasn’t even particularly familiar with many of the jobs that my clients held. However, my interest in history is actually on the personal level, what actions/decisions that individuals make that are noteworthy – and, when you think about it, as resume writers, that’s what we explore with our customers. And, of course, working closely with people is key in both teaching and resume writing. I’d even say there’s a teaching aspect to the resume business, because we frequently have to inform/instruct our clients about the process of resume writing, the characteristics of an effective resume, and how to work with the resume once they have it. In addition, I’ve also always had a fascination with language and, oddly, a love of grammar (go figure!), which always contributed to my success as a secretary and are also an important part of being a successful resume writer. As for the research & measurement part of my background – I can’t connect that at all with what my current work.
“I’d even say there’s a teaching aspect to the resume business, because we frequently have to inform/instruct our clients about the process of resume writing, the characteristics of an effective resume, and how to work with the resume once they have it.”
2. Now that you’ve been in the industry for a while, would you recommend it to others? Why?
I would recommend it, but I don’t think it’s a fit for everyone. It’s hard to manage the flow of business, and for some people this work can be isolating.
3. What is the single best tool you recommend for building client relations? Building your business? Improve efficiency?
To build client relations, I recommend (but, in truth, I don’t consistently practice!) maintaining regular communication with clients, even when you complete a project. Periodic newsletters or an annual thank you note or New Year’s greeting are effective ways to do that. It keeps you on people’s radar screen. Some may have forgotten/misplaced your contact information, and others may simply think of you more readily when they have another project or when someone else in their network needs your services. The same strategy is effective in building business – I believe a lot of business comes through word of mouth. But in addition, it can be helpful to generate writing and/or speaking opportunities to get yourself in the public eye. There are lots of job seeker networking groups, Chambers of Commerce types of groups, and other organizations that are always looking for speakers. People are more likely to use your services if they’ve met you and you’ve won their trust. Also, in some parts of the country, you can develop an affiliation with a local One-Stop career center. As for improving efficiency, I’m still working on that one!
“People are more likely to use your services if they’ve met you and you’ve won their trust.”
4. If you could share one learning experience/great lesson, what would it be?
For me, an important learning experience involved setting boundaries. With a home-based business, and with a desire to build my clientele, I was too willing to accept almost any project that came my way, even if it inconvenienced me in some fashion. I’m much more clear (now) about the hours I want to work, the prices I want to charge, and the timeframe within which I can do a project, and so on. It has prevented the business from running my life, as it did in the early stages.
5. Looking back, what would you have done differently? Done the same?
Done differently – see above. Done the same – join at least one professional association in the industry and attend conferences whenever possible.
6. What advice would you give someone just entering the resume-writing industry?
I strongly recommend joining one of the resume-writing associations and attending at least one conference per year if at all possible. Develop colleagues within the industry that you can turn to for advice and information, for overflow work and referral partners, for commiseration. It’s amazing how much you can learn from others and you can see tangible results/improvements in your practice as a result of these associations. In addition, obtaining a resume certification can be good for your credibility and your confidence and can open up possibilities for publishing resume samples, which can be a source of new business. I also recommend becoming well acquainted with sites such as O*NET to help you learn about occupations you’re not familiar with and to help you adequately interview people as you’re gathering information about their background. It’s also a great site for those clients who don’t know what they want to do next.
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’m hearing rumblings about LinkedIn becoming more important than resumes – be prepared to help people with their LI profiles and to create other documents that may become part of the hiring process. Generate multiple funding streams.