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Articles on resume writing

  • 14 Mar 2017 5:29 PM | Anonymous

    Just as resumes have undergone a dramatic revolution over the past 25 years, so have thank-you letters. Twenty-five years ago, a resume was a formality -- a single sheet of paper that briefly listed a candidate’s overall work experience and academic credentials. As the employment market changed, expanded, diversified, and became increasingly competitive, so did resumes. Today, they are powerful marketing tools designed to “sell” a candidate’s skills, qualifications, accomplishments, and career successes to give a job seeker a “competitive distinction” over other candidates.

    The same is true for cover letters. They have evolved from transmittal letters (”Here’s my resume.”) to cover letters (”Here’s my resume, this is why I’m interested in your company, and here are a few highlights of my career.”) to marketing communications (”Here’s my resume, some of my most notable achievements and, most importantly, the value I bring to your organization.”) Powerful cover letters now integrate the same concepts as powerful resumes: they are designed to “sell” a candidate and give that individual “competitive distinction.”

    Now, as professional resume writers, career coaches, counselors, and others in our community, you need to take those same concepts -- sales and competitive distinction -- and integrate them into the thank-you letters you prepare for your clients. Consider thank-you letters to be “second-tier” marketing communications. Your client has already used his “first-tier” marketing communications (resume and cover letter) to get in the door for an interview. He feels confident, he easily established rapport with the interviewer, and is anxiously awaiting an invitation for a second interview or, perhaps, an offer. He’s excited; you’re excited for him. But, you both know there is competition for the position. What can you do for the client to give him a competitive advantage over the other candidates?

    The answer is the thank-you letter -- the letter you write for your client that acknowledges the time and consideration of the hiring manager, thanks him, and further expresses your client’s interest in the position. Unfortunately, most (not all) of the other candidates will be doing exactly the same thing.

    After the interview is no time to stop selling. In fact, it is precisely the right time to continue selling -- your clients’ unique skills, qualifications, accomplishments, credentials and more.

    To ensure the thank-you letters -- and YOUR CLIENTS -- stand out from the competition, use your letters as marketing communications to further sell your clients into a position. This can be easily accomplished by highlighting any of the following that may be appropriate to a particular client and the specific interview situation:

    • If the hiring company shared some of their challenges with your client, relate how the client’s experience is tied directly to their current challenges and current needs. Suppose they’re in the midst of a turnaround and market repositioning initiative. Share your client’s past experiences in change management, reorganization and company revitalization, his achievements in reversing losses and delivering solid profit margins, his successes in productivity and quality improvement, and all the other things your client accomplished to facilitate successful turnarounds and improved financial performance.
    • If the hiring company shared a major problem that they were currently working to resolve, highlight how your client solved that same (or similar) problem before. Imagine that the company is having to compete in a marketplace that they once owned. Two years ago there was no competition. Today, six companies are competing for the same customer base. Write a thank-you letter that shares your client’s past achievements in strengthening market position, expanding customer bases, and outperforming competitors.
    • If the hiring company communicated an objection to hiring your client (a reason why they were concerned about hiring him or her), respond to it in the thank-you letter. For example, let’s say that they were concerned that your client had never worked in Los Angeles, and therefore does not have any professional contacts in the area. Use the thank-you letter to demonstrate that your client previously entered new markets and immediately developed strong networks. That’s one of the reasons your client has been so successful in his previous positions.
    • Suppose there was something really important about your client’s experiences or qualifications that he forgot to mention during the interview. The thank-you letter is precisely the tool to communicate those achievements, experiences, project highlights and qualifications. Give the hiring committee the “ammo” they need to make the right hiring decision - YOUR CLIENT!
    • If there were no challenges, no problems, no objections and nothing that your client forget to mention during the interview, then use the thank-you letter to further highlight that individual’s specific accomplishments as they relate directly to the company and the position for which he is applying. It may be that those items were discussed during the interview. Use the thank-you letter to further expand on them and link them directly to the hiring company’s operations, current needs and future goals.

    Using thank-you letters as a “second-tier” marketing tools often dictates that letters be longer than one page. Fine! There are no rules to writing thank-you letters that dictate that they must be one-page long. The only thing that should dictate their length is the amount of valuable information you want to include. If the company has already extended your client the opportunity for an interview, they’re already interested and will, in most cases, carefully read any and all material the client forwards to them -- including a powerful, well-worded, sales-directed, and competitive thank-you letter.

    Here’s an example:

    120 Port Street
    Lawrence, Iowa 55441

    January 17, 2003

    Steven Donovan
    PYD Technologies
    1209 Robert Trent Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90045

    Dear Steve:

    First of all, thank you. I really enjoyed our conversation yesterday and am completely enamored with the tremendous success you have brought to PYD. There are but a handful of companies like yours that have experienced such aggressive growth and can predict strong and sustained profitability over the years to come.

    I would like to be a part of the PYD team -- in whatever capacity you feel most appropriate and of most value. I realize, of course, that you already have an HR Director who has successfully managed the function throughout the course of the company’s development. It is NOT my intention to compete with Leslie Ralson, but rather to complement her efforts in bringing renewed HR leadership to PYD.

    Let me take a few minutes to highlight what I consider to be my most significant assets:

    I have met the challenges of accelerated recruitment:

    • In 2001, I launched a recruitment initiative to replace 50% of the total workforce in a 900-person organization. This was accomplished within just six months and was the key driver in that company’s successful repositioning.
    • In 1997, when hired as the first-ever HR executive for a growth company, I created the entire recruitment selection and placement function. Over the next two years, I hired more than 50 employees to staff all core operating departments.
    • Between 1994 and 1996, I spearheaded the recruitment and selection of technical, professional and management personnel. This was a massive effort during which I interviewed over 300 prospective candidates throughout the U.S. and Europe.

    I have met the challenges of employee retention:

    • During my employment with Helms Financial, we were staffing at an unprecedented rate. Inherent in this situation is the need to initiate programs to ensure staff retention over long periods of time. The faster an organization grows, the more critical this focus must become. Costs associated with recruitment can be significant and must be controlled. Following implementation of a market-based research study, I was able to reduce Helms’ turnover 35%, saving over $350,000 in annual costs.

    I have met the challenges associated with international HR leadership:

    • Throughout my tenure with Laxton Data, I led the company’s international employment and employee relations functions. This was a tremendous experience that provided me with excellent qualifications in domestic and expatriate recruitment, compensation, benefits and relocation. Further, I demonstrated my proficiency in managing cross-cultural business relationships spanning the globe.

    I have met the challenges of growth and organizational change:

    • Each of the organizations in which I have been employed has faced unique operating and leadership challenges. These situations have been diverse and included high-growth ventures, turnarounds and internal reorganizations. Each has focused on improved performance and accelerated market/profit growth. To meet these challenges, I have created innovative, market-driven organizational structures integrating pioneering methodologies for competency-based recruitment and performance management.
    • Most recently, I orchestrated the workforce integration of two acquisitions into core business operations. This required a comprehensive analysis of staffing requirements, evaluation of the skills and competencies of the acquired employees, and accurate placement throughout the company. The integration was successful, and all personnel are now fully acclimated and at peak performance.

    I hope that the above information demonstrates the value I bring to PYD - today and in the future. You will also find that my abilities to lead and motivate are strong and have always been the foundation for my personal success.

    I look forward to speaking with you and scheduling an appointment to meet with Mr. Baldwin. Again, thank you for your time, your interest and your support.


    Joshua A. Viens

    Remember, you’re the job search expert, and it is your responsibility to share your expertise with your clients! Job search DOES NOT stop with the interview, but rather continues throughout the entire process until such time as your client is sitting at his new desk in his new position. Thank-you letters are a critical part of the process. Use them wisely and to your clients’ advantage!

    Looking for training to improve your writing and client outcomes? Check our E-Summit on writing the modern cover letter ... an e-note!

  • 14 Mar 2017 5:24 PM | Anonymous

    From a number of roles and perspectives, I encounter a lot of questions about resumes. From students of the Resume Writing Academy, I field questions every week of the year. Many of them have to do with so-called “resume rules” that have emerged over time as “the” way to do things. And questions arise when resume writers question whether those “rules” really apply.

    When I respond to these questions – regardless of the rule, the complexity of the situation, the client’s profession or level, or any other factor – the answer is always the same: “It depends. It depends on what the client wants to be and the best way to position him or her to achieve that goal.”

    The client’s current goals – not his or her experience, education, credentials, accomplishments, or any resume “rule” – must be the litmus test for every resume decision. There is never any one right answer or absolutely wrong approach. What works for one person will be entirely the wrong strategy for another person.

    Let’s look at a few examples and I think you’ll see what I mean.

    Resume “Rule”: Go back 10 or 15 years and then stop.

    • Scenario 1: Client has 10 years of relevant professional experience preceded by 5 years of unrelated, short-term, non-professional jobs. She is looking for the next step up in her professional career. Recommendation: Include only the last 10 years.

    • Scenario 2: Client has 25 years of progressive corporate experience leading to his current role as Vice President. He is looking for a President or CEO position. Recommendation: Include all of his experience, although trim the earliest positions to include just the relevant highlights.
    Learn more about writing resumes for executives and for middle managers.

    Resume “Rule”: Write a one-page resume for new graduates.

    • Scenario 1: Client has three highly relevant co-op jobs with measurable achievements in each; she is looking for her first professional job in a competitive technical field. She has held leadership roles in several campus organizations, won numerous service and academic awards, and has been active in professional associations and charitable endeavors. Recommendation: Limiting her to one page will shortchange her and force you to omit information that will establish her as a leader and valuable employee.

    • Scenario 2: Client returned to school to get his degree in elementary education after a 10-year career as a laboratory researcher (which he hated). Recommendation: Eliminate or just briefly list his prior career; by doing so, you can probably keep this resume to one page.

    Resume “Rule”: Write a functional resume for a career-changer.

    • Scenario 1: Client spent 20 years in accounting and finance, now wants to transition to nonprofit management. Recommendation: Use a chronological format to present him as an experienced and accomplished manager. “Mine” his corporate experience to uncover relevant examples that go beyond finance and accounting activities. Enhance the resume with volunteer leadership experience, and lead off with a strong summary that clearly conveys his value.

    • Scenario 2: Client has been a stay-at-home parent for five years and now wants to return to work, but not as a nurse (her former career); she wants to work at an organization that provides after-school and vacation activities for children. Recommendation: Use a functional format for front-and-center presentation of her relevant experiences, accomplishments, and qualifications, culled from her recent activities as well as her prior nursing career.

    Resume “Rule”: Explain gaps in employment.

    • Scenario 1: Client has a strong work history with two gaps of a year or more that occurred more than 5 years (2 jobs) ago due to extended maternity leave. She is looking for a job similar to her current position, just at a higher level and/or with a larger company. Recommendation: Don’t worry about the gaps. Uses years (not months and years) to minimize them as much as possible, but count on her strong experience and accomplishments to earn at least a phone call.

    • Scenario 2: Client has not worked for three years, after taking a buy-out and seizing the opportunity to volunteer, write, and spend time with his family. Now he wants to return to work as a senior executive for a company similar to his prior employers. Recommendation: Include at least a brief mention of a “sabbatical” and concisely explain what he’s been up to, to answer employers’ and recruiter’s first concern: What have you been doing and why haven’t you been working for the past three years?

    The above advice and discussion probably seem elementary to those of you who have been writing resumes for a long time! Yet if you are new to the field or work essentially in isolation, without the opportunity to run ideas by colleagues, you might find yourself going by the “rules” rather than assessing each situation according to your client’s scenario. I want to encourage you to break all the rules… or follow them, if that is most beneficial to your client!

    Looking for best practices for other client scenarios? See the full list of our E-Summit training sessions.

  • 14 Mar 2017 5:10 PM | Anonymous

    Most resume writers agree, one of our most challenging tasks is getting the information we need to be able to produce meaningful and compelling documents for our clients. Whether we use worksheets, telephone or in-person consultation, or a combination of both, it’s imperative that we dig out the nuggets of information that will help us package, position, and sell our client’s value.

    This challenge is more severe with some clients than with others. I have found the following strategies to be effective when working with those clients who don’t quickly grasp what I’m looking for or naturally think along the lines of “results” and “value to the employer.”

    Establish a Clear Target.

    If you don’t know what clients are seeking, you will not know what to ask them or how to position the facts you gather. Beware the client who says anything like this:

    • I’m not sure.

    • Anything, really
    • I want to keep my options open.
    • I was hoping you could tell me that.

    Quite simply, you won’t be able to write a powerful resume for this client, and his or her job search will probably not be successful. Why set yourself up for failure?

    Instead, require your clients to tell you the type/level of job they are looking for and furnish you with a few relevant job postings. You can use this material to steer the consultation, and your clients will end up with documents that make the most of their relevant experiences and capabilities.

    Get more tips for writing resumes for career change clients.

    Be Explicit.

    When talking with clients, tell them exactly what you’ll be looking for. Many clients like to talk in generalities, and you must bring them down to the specifics so you can gather accomplishment statements for the resume. You can prepare them by saying, “I will be looking for specific examples of things you’ve done in your career that demonstrate your skills,” but it’s quite likely you’ll have to be even more explicit than that. Here, behavioral interviewing techniques are especially helpful:

    • Tell me about a time when you managed a difficult project.

    • For the jobs you’re targeting, you will need to demonstrate that you have good customer-service skills. Describe a situation when you had to deal with a difficult customer. What did you do, and what was the outcome?
    • You’ve told me you have great negotiation skills. Tell me about a recent negotiation that was successful.

    Use Examples.

    Some people respond best when the ideal response is modeled for them, so if you want them to provide examples to you, use an example in your language to them:

    • Rather than hearing that you were very successful in that sales role, I want you to tell me that you inherited a territory that had falling sales for three years, you implemented an aggressive cold-call campaign, and you increased sales 27% the first year and 15% the second year.

    Interpret Their Remarks.

    Another good technique is to draw upon what your clients tell you and feed it back to them. After doing this a few times, you might find that your clients “get it” and start to give you detailed examples rather than generalities.

    • I’ve noticed that detail orientation has been important in all of your jobs, at the restaurant as well as in the accounting offices. Can you tell me more about some detailed projects you managed and how that helped the company?

    Inquire About Context.

    One of my favorite questions to ask clients is “What was going on?” when they took a specific job. I want to know the challenges they faced, what they were expected to do, and of course how they performed under those circumstances. With this context, I can write compelling position descriptions that focus on big-picture achievements rather than mundane day-to-day duties.

    Understand the Challenge

    Similarly, you can often write stronger accomplishment statements if you compare results to expectations. To get at this vital information, ask questions like these:

    • What were you expected to do?

    • What were the projections for that initiative?

    • Did you have a budget and timeline?

    • Did you have a quota?

    • How did you perform compared to your peers?

    • Was that a realistic expectation? If not, why not?

    • Why was that so difficult?

    Incorporate Feelings

    Some people respond well when asked questions that evoke emotions. They’ll reveal their feelings and passions in a way that points you in the direction of a key question or helps you understand what makes them great at their job. For example:

    • It sounds like you really enjoyed that job. What did you like about it?

    • What job have you loved the most, and why?
    • What in your career are you most proud of?

    • Was that difficult for you?

    Use Samples

    For some clients, an example is worth a thousand words. If they’re struggling to give you what you need, share with them some “typical” accomplishment statements for people in similar positions that you’ve culled from resumes you’ve written. Then ask, “Can we write a similar statement about you? Tell me about when that happened.”

    Ask for Endorsements

    Shy clients may feel uncomfortable talking about themselves. You might be able to get some rich content by asking them what others have said about them.

    • What did your last manager say about you?

    • How would your co-workers describe you?
    • Have you noticed any consistent trends in your performance reviews?

    Call Them On It

    In a few cases, I’ve had to take a bit of a challenging tone with clients who are simply uncooperative or unforthcoming. In these cases it’s important to use direct language so they don’t misunderstand. For example:

    • You’ve said that you’re an expert at operational efficiency, yet you haven’t been able to give me any specific examples of when you improved efficiency or how much you saved. Do you think an employer is going to believe your claims when you can’t support them with facts?

    In other cases, it might be that the client has unrealistic job targets. While I don’t want to shoot down someone’s dreams, I think it’s important that clients have a realistic expectation of success when we complete a resume project, and I won’t hesitate to say, “I’m not sure you’ll be a strong candidate for the senior-level jobs you’re targeting. Do you have a back-up plan if your efforts aren’t successful?”

    In the final resolution, we must work with the material we’re given. But it’s our job to go at it every-which-way to get rich material from clients who may not understand what we need or why we need it or don’t feel comfortable “bragging” about what they’ve done. The result of our hard work should be career marketing documents that impress employers with our clients’ capabilities, experiences, and successes. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worthwhile.

    See the Resume Writer's Secret Room for more questions to get better content!

  • 14 Mar 2017 5:08 PM | Anonymous

    Just last week, I experienced the complete spectrum of client experiences with regard to resume review and revision. Client A was thrilled with the draft, made literally no changes, and spent perhaps five minutes in post-draft conversation with me before immediately putting his new resume to work. Client B also said he was very pleased with his resume but wanted to “work through a few tweaks.” He faxed me a heavily marked-up draft and then spent an hour on the phone reviewing and explaining his changes. We went through that same process twice more – each time getting shorter, thank goodness! – before he professed himself 100% satisfied and ready for the final documents.

    The extreme contrast between these two clients made me think about my business processes. What made the difference between Client A and Client B? What could I have done to streamline Client B’s review? What should I do differently in future to avoid a similar scenario? Here’s what I learned and appreciated from this experience.

    Embrace the Balance

    I noticed I never question myself when I have a run of Client A scenarios! It’s only when the occasional Client B comes along that I worry I might be doing something wrong. Yet in the big picture, there are far more speedy resume revisions than protracted ones. As a rule, they balance each other out. So it makes sense to take the occasional lengthy process in stride and realize it all comes out in the wash. Just reminding myself of this truth improves my tranquility.

    Understand Client Types

    My Client B is a high-level executive who works in the esoteric world of leveraged finance. His close attention to details enabled him to become very successful in an extremely fast-paced and competitive arena. He applied this same laser-like focus to his resume. No detail was too small to be examined, discussed, and then decided upon. In fact, I realized as we worked and reworked the document, if he hadn’t gone through such an extensive review process, he wouldn’t have felt good about the resume!

    I could discern my client’s style from the get-go, when he sent me a nine-page resume that he had laboriously worked down to six pages. I was prepared for him to be detail oriented, highly technical, and verbose. Mentally preparing myself for that kind of client and a lengthier than normal interaction is a good first step in overcoming my natural impatience for a lengthy review process.

    Focus on the Work

    As writers, most of us take pride in our professional skills, and we put so much of ourselves into our work that it’s hard not to take it personally when clients critique our efforts. But making the matter personal won’t help you draw it to a successful close. Try to keep your feelings out of the issue, focus on the work itself, and never fall so in love with a phrase, sentence, or paragraph that you can’t see other possibilities.

    Fortunately for me, Client B is extremely charming and easy to work with (it just takes a while!). He never made me feel that I hadn’t done a good job. In fact, he was very complimentary about the strategy, writing, and editing that had brought his six-page resume down to two. Both he and I put all our attention on making sure the resume was as perfect as it could be, and as a result the review process was always pleasant and productive.

    Go Back to the Beginning

    Whenever there is lengthy editing to a document, there is a danger that the initial focus will be lost, or repeated edits will change the meaning of a sentence or a section. For every resume project, but especially when we have gone through lengthy and/or numerous review cycles, I like to look at it with fresh eyes before finalizing the next draft. For me it’s extremely helpful to review my interview notes, reread the client’s paperwork, and refresh my memory about current objectives. Then I read the entire resume top-to-bottom, with those objectives clearly in my head, and can make sure the document supports the client’s goals.

    If you’re having trouble with repeated client revisions, you might need to spend a few minutes with your client discussing her goals as stated at the beginning of your interaction. Describe how you crafted the resume to align with those goals, and point out any changes she is requesting that conflict with the goals. You might gently remind your client that she can’t be “all things to all people” but that the resume you created does position her for her stated goals.

    If nothing else, your “back-to-the-beginning” review will reassure you that you are on the right track and the edited version will indeed support the client’s goals.

    Remove Obstacles

    In a protracted review process, it is very helpful for you to be extremely efficient in getting subsequent drafts to your client. The minute you get off the phone or receive a marked-up copy, get to work, polish the next daft, and send it to your client. You want to position yourself as highly responsive and eager for your client to move on with his career transition. The fewer the delays, the fewer reasons the client will have for prolonging the process. In fact, he will probably be very appreciative of your efforts and do his part to keep the process moving as well.

    Be Honest With Yourself

    We all experience the occasional long client review cycle. But if the majority of your client reviews are multi-step, protracted, even painful processes, it would be a good idea to take a critical look at your work and perhaps get an outside opinion as well. Perhaps you need to improve your strategic thinking skills, your resume formatting and design capabilities, your basic writing and grammar skills, or learn some new strategies for positioning and presenting your clients.

    Ongoing training keeps our skills sharp and gives us confidence that our work is of a high-quality and professional caliber. At the least, consider partnering with another writer to share ideas, ask questions, discuss industry trends, and keep each other refreshed and up to date.

    Select Clients Carefully

    If you know that certain kinds of clients – whether representing a certain personality type, job function, or industry – repeatedly give you headaches, practice saying “no” and referring them to other writers. Everyone will be much happier!

    But don’t be afraid to stretch from time to time. I find that it is the most challenging clients who drive me to do my very best work. I am on my mettle, more determined than ever to produce a great product. There is great value in going deeper into the process, admitting new ideas, and being forced to explain what I did and why. And in the end, it is usually those same challenging clients who become my very best referral sources!

    Ultimately, Client B is happy. Client A is happy. And I’m satisfied that I did good work for two very different clients. So I guess you could say it was a good week!

    Are you pricing and marketing your services to attract your ideal client? Check out more of our business resources.

  • 14 Mar 2017 5:07 PM | Anonymous

    Verbs give us power – power to write documents that are well-positioned and that communicate a vast amount of information with just the use of a simple verb or two. Our colleague, Louise Kursmark, recently coined the phrase, “key verb,” an excellent description of how these verbs can be used to your advantage when writing resumes, cover letters, branding statements, leadership profiles and other job-search communications. Now, let’s explore the use and meaning of some of my favorite verbs.

    Accelerated the rate at which Kodak brought new products to market by redesigning the entire product development and engineering process, eliminating roadblocks, and streamlining documentation requirements. (Meaning: Communicates the message that you sped up the rate at which a certain activity or process happened and, in turn, you delivered positive results.)

    Architected the business plan, strategy, mission, vision, and organizational design for a new offshore financial services firm targeting private equity investors worldwide. (Meaning: Communicates the message that you created, designed, developed, and built all of the “pieces” for a new company, division, market, or other entity.)

    Catapulted the AT-101 Therapeutic Massage Device to #1 market share in the nation following a coast-to-coast media and advertising campaign. (Meaning: Communicates the message that you launched a product, service, technology, or company to the very forefront of the market/industry.)

    Championed development of a new cosmetics line targeted to the affluent Hispanic market and delivered $2.8 million in first year sales. (Meaning: Communicates the message that you were the driving force behind an idea, a product, a technology, a service, or any one of a number of other “inventions.”)

    Dominated the East Coast market and eliminated the competition following introduction of a fully integrated home security system for less than $1000. (Meaning: Communicates the message that you obliterated the competition and ruled the “universe.”)

    Honored with the 2006 “Sales Manager of the Year” award from Dow Chemical among a group of 300+ eligible sales management professionals companywide. (Meaning: Communicates the message that YOU were chosen for special recognition because you excelled at your job, a special project, revenue growth, or any one of a number of other achievements.)

    Imagined the possibilities for Dow to expand into emerging African markets, authored business plan, staffed new organization, and transitioned from concept into full-scale operation. (Meaning: Communicates the message that you conceived something new and revolutionary that brought about positive change and results.)

    Leveraged relationships with key accounts to facilitate RDL’s successful launch of dedicated logistics services, increasing annual sales by better than 22% within one year. (Meaning: Communicates the message that you favorably “exploited” existing relationships, partnerships, and activities to support, strengthen, or expand other business operations.)

    Orchestrated the start-up, funding, development, and market launch of a new technology venture to capture emerging opportunities in e-commerce and other e-based revenue streams. (Meaning: Communicates the message that you put together numerous different components to create a complete whole.)

    Pioneered initial concept that led to development of new technology to distribute electrical services nationwide. (Meaning: Communicates the message that you conceived, conceptualized, or created some new and revolutionary.)

    Revitalized dormant market, introduced new sales call program targeting key accounts, and increased regional sales revenues 31% within 12 months. (Meaning: Communicates the message that you re-energized and brought something back to life.)

    The next time you’re writing and you use a great new verb, word, or phrase, please be sure to pass it along to me. Let’s share our words and see if we can’t help each other all become better, more skilled and more powerful writers.

    See the list of 400+ verbs on the Free Resources page.

  • 08 Mar 2017 4:35 PM | Anonymous

    Remember the prediction that computers would create a paperless society? While this clearly hasn’t happened, it is evident that computers have changed the way we work and communicate.

    Similarly, the repeated threat that “the resume is dead” has not materialized, but resumes continue to evolve in new directions to meet the needs of an evolving workforce.


    • Previously a want ad in the newspaper might draw a few dozen responses. Today, an online posting attracts hundreds, perhaps thousands of resumes.

    • At one time a name-brand education and top-drawer MBA were enough to capture attention even up through senior executive levels. Now, more workers than ever have college educations, and MBAs are increasingly commonplace.

    • It used to be that workers joined a company and stayed till retirement. Lifelong career management was not the imperative it is today.

    • A traditional paper resume was the only kind that was available. Now we have various electronic resumes, online portfolios, online job applications, and numerous other ways of making career information available to potential employers.

    As resume professionals, we need to stay on top of evolving trends. And while the traditional resume is alive and well, in today’s competitive and active employment market it’s often appropriate to recommend and prepare additional documents that go beyond the resume to make an even stronger case for our clients.

    Here are a few recent scenarios in which I have created documents other than (usually in addition to) a resume to help my clients succeed.

    Household Name

    My client had spent ten years in high-profile positions with one of the best-known companies in America. When he left the company, within days he was receiving phone calls from recruiters, competitors, and other network contacts. They all wanted to talk to him about what he could do for them, and he set up half a dozen meetings for the next couple of weeks.

    What a great position for my client to be in! He wanted a resume to bring to his meetings or send in advance. Yet, when we spoke, it didn’t seem that he would need his resume to provide details of his background – it was already well known, and he was meeting with people who knew him or knew of him. So rather than create a typical two- or three-page executive resume, I recommended and prepared a one-page “snapshot” that captured just the highlights of his career chronology, accomplishments, and education.

    To supplement the one-page resume, we created a two-page leadership addendum that provided a more in-depth look into his top four or five career achievements. He planned to use these as a leave-behind following the meetings, to give his contacts deep and memorable insights into the kinds of challenges he had faced and the results he had delivered.

    Custom Proposal

    For another client, the first document we prepared was a two-page executive resume. As she executed her search campaign, I wrote custom cover letters and follow-up letters for her. After one series of meetings, she called to discuss an approach for her scheduled next meeting, and we decided to prepare a job proposal that spelled out precisely the challenges/opportunities facing the company and her value and ability to realize them.

    Armed with this custom job proposal, she impressed the top executives with her vision and landed the job.

    High-Tech, High-Touch

    As a third example, consider my client who was a senior executive of a high-tech consumer products company. He knew his target audience of high-tech executives (and recruiters) would look online to learn about him before and during the interview process. So after creating his traditional executive resume, I wrote a one-page narrative bio and a leadership addendum and then referred him to a colleague who helped him create a complete web portfolio.

    The portfolio included all of the documents I had created, shown in their entirety or pulled apart and presented in separate sections. Yet the portfolio format also allowed room for more, different, and creative additions that together created a comprehensive picture of this particular executive – his strengths and accomplishments, leadership style, and vision for the future.

    To Infinity… and Beyond

    There is no end to the variety of documents we can create for our clients! Taking a consultative approach, we can listen, analyze, and then recommend solutions that help our clients stand out from the crowd, convey just the right information, and create the right perception for each audience.

    After all, we’ve evolved from typed CVs to powerful resume presentations. Why stop there?

  • 08 Mar 2017 4:20 PM | Anonymous

    As professional resume writers, we all know that a great deal of a resume’s effectiveness is based on accomplishments what a job seeker has done to improve operations, increase revenues, strengthen bottom-line profits, reduce operating costs, enhance business processes, upgrade technologies, and so much more. And, as we also know, one of the most difficult tasks can be identifying those accomplishments when clients cannot easily articulate them.

    To help you become even more effective in identifying your clients’ achievements, I’ve outlined key areas of accomplishments for 13 different professions. Use this information as a guideline when you’re interviewing your clients, digging deep to uncover their accomplishments and showcase them in their resumes.

    To identify your clients’ achievements, begin by asking these questions:

    ACCOUNTING & FINANCE It’s all about the money!

    –Improvements in revenues, profits, ROI, EBITDA, and other financial measurements

    –Design/implementation of cost controls and quantifiable results

    –Negotiation of contracts including dollar amounts, profits, cost savings, and more

    –Implementation of automated programs, tools, and technologies to optimize business performance

    –Partner relationships with investors, pension plan administrators, board of directors, auditors, and others

    –Merger, acquisition, joint venture, and divestiture experience

    It’s all about organization and efficiency!

    –Design/implementation of streamlined work procedures and processes

    –Introduction of automated tools, programs, and systems to enhance efficiency

    –Internal and external communications responsibilities

    –Contributions to improved operations, cost reductions, and overall performance improvements

    –Personnel training and development experience, and the success of those employees

    –VIP and executive responsibilities and relationships

    It’s all about customers, clients, patrons, and others!

    –Improvements in customer service and customer satisfaction scores

    –Top industry rankings for quality of customer service organization

    –Contributions to sales growth

    –Key account management responsibilities and results

    –Introduction of automated customer service technologies and tools

    –Reductions in customer service operating and overhead costs

    It’s all about development and improvement!

    –Engineering/design of new products and their positive financial impact on the organization

    –Engineering/design of new processes and their positive financial impact

    –Redesign of existing products and their resulting financial/market/customer impact

    –Patents awarded and/or pending

    –Integration of advanced technologies to expedite engineering and expand capabilities

    –Project planning, management, staffing, leadership, and financial success

    It’s all about bottom-line performance!

    –Measurable increases in revenues, profits, EBITDA, ROI, and other financial indices

    –Leadership of/contributions to strategic planning and long-term business development

    –Leadership of/contributions to mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, and business-building initiatives

    –Success in expanding into new markets, new geographic regions, new countries, and more

    –Improvements in organizational performance, infrastructure, productivity, yield, and more

    –Recruitment and leadership of successful management teams (and their contributions)

    It’s all about quality!

    –Positive impact on quality of care and quality of patient outcomes

    –Expansion of health care services, programs, and outreach to meet patient needs

    –Development of innovative new health care delivery systems, medical procedures, and the like

    –Attainment and maintenance of stringent regulatory requirements

    –Implementation of advanced health care and health care support technologies

    –Reduction in disease incidence and overall health improvement of targeted patient base

    It’s all about the people and their impact on the organization!

    –Success in recruiting personnel and their performance within the organization

    –Improvements in traditional employee benefits and reductions in premium costs

    –Introduction of innovative employee benefits and incentives (e.g., flex time, onsite day care)

    –Expansion of HR information systems and technologies

    –Creation of expatriate recruitment, training, employee support, and related programs

    –Measurement improvements in manpower and organizational performance/productivity

    It’s all about distinction!

    –Establishing legal precedents

    –Managing prestigious cases and clients

    –Breadth of legal experience across multiple legal disciplines

    –Demonstrable expertise within one area of legal specialization

    –Success in negotiations, arbitrations, mediations, and the courtroom

    –Relationships with regulatory, legislative, judicial, and other agencies/organizations

    It’s all about yield and output!

    –Increases in production yield and output, worker productivity, and other performance measurements

    –Improvements in quality performance and award of quality certifications

    –Reductions in operating costs and overhead expenses

    –Design, set-up, and start-up of new manufacturing facilities and production lines

    –Seamless introduction of new products into existing manufacturing plants and favorable financial results

    –Implementation of new technologies, robotics, and other automated processes, systems, and equipment

    It’s all about product movement and sales performance!

    –Increases in revenues, profits, and market share

    –Improvements in product movement, from warehouse to retail floor to customer sale

    –Distinction for merchandise design and display (including sales results)

    –Departmental staffing and management responsibilities, and quantifiable results

    –Implementation of POS, interactive selling, online selling, and other automated retail technologies

    –Reductions in store operating costs, staffing costs, loss rates, and other expenses

    It’s all about capturing clients and generating profitable revenues!

    –Increases in revenues, profits, and market share

    –Individual sales and account achievements

    –Capture of new key accounts and revenue streams

    –Sales honors, awards and percentages over quota

    –Development of new territories and new markets

    –Introduction of new products and services (and results)

    It’s all about innovation and student/learner excellence!

    –Development of new curricula and instructional programs

    –Development of computerized and web-based programs and teaching/learning tools

    –Committee memberships, student activities, and special projects

    –Management responsibilities for programs, budgets, resources, personnel, and more

    –Experience in training and developing other teaching staff

    –Measurement of student/learner performance and achievement

    It’s all about technology innovation and advances!

    –Development of new technologies and their organization/operational/market impact

    –Involvement in emerging e-commerce, e-learning, Web 2.0, telecommunications, and other technologies

    –Financial benefits of technology (e.g., revenue gains, cost reductions, productivity improvements)

    –Patent awarded and/or pending

    –Success in systems migration, conversion, integration, and more

    –Domestic and international technology transfer programs and ventures

    These questions are just a sampling of the many industry-specific questions you can use to dig for information and identify great achievements. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to write resumes that are just the right mixture of responsibilities, accomplishments, career highlights, and brand for each and every one of your clients.

    Get more questions, sample resumes, and more for specific client challenges and job targets by taking an E-Summit training session.

  • 28 Feb 2017 4:27 PM | Anonymous

    One of the best things about reviewing resumes from ACRWs for publications and E-Summit training handout packets is reading all of the great resumes they contribute! As the resume samples come in, I am excited for each one, looking, reading, and saying out loud, “Wow! Look at this resume!”

    HOWEVER … you knew that was coming (!) … I also find consistent types of errors many writers are making. What follows are some basic English language and grammar rules that you should pay special attention to.


    Rule: When you are using two words to describe a noun, those two words act as an adjective and must be hyphenated.

    high-performance career … low-cost manufacturing … market-driven sales programs … problem-solving skills

    Exception: DO NOT hyphenate when the first of those two words ends in the letters “ly.”

    highly successful executive … consistently superior performance … remotely controlled device


    Rule: When you are writing serial items, they must all be written in a parallel voice.

    Directed all manufacturing operations including training and supervising staff, scheduling production, purchasing materials, managing inventory, troubleshooting operations, installing new technology, and coordinating all budgeting. (Note that all of the phrases start with an “ing” verb.)

    Directed all manufacturing operations including training and supervising staff, scheduling production, materials management, inventory control, troubleshooting operations, installing new technology, and budget management. (Note the inconsistency in the list of serial items - some starting with the “ing” verb and others using noun phrases.)


    Rule: Pick a method and stick with it where you either consistently use or not use a comma before the word “and” in a list of serial items.

    Trained all newly hired personnel in the sales, customer-service and customer-support departments of Macy’s Stores, Macy’s Outlet Malls and Macy’s Online Shops.

    Trained all newly hired personnel in the sales, customer-service, and customer-support departments of Macy’s Stores, Macy’s Outlet Malls, and Macy’s Online Shops.

    (Note that either of the two examples above is correct and consistent. In the first example, a comma is not used before the word “and” in each of the two serial item lists in the sentence. In the second example, the comma is used.)

    Trained all newly hired personnel in the sales, customer-service and customer support-departments of Macy’s Stores, Macy’s Outlet Malls, and Macy’s Online Shops.

    (Note the inconsistency of the sentence above where the first list of serial items does not use a comma before the word “and” while the second list of items does. This is incorrect because it is inconsistent.)

    Exception: It is recommended that you use a comma before the word “and” when the final item in a serial list has the word “and” in the clause.

    Coordinating materials movement, inventory planning, and shipping and receiving operations.


    Rule: Bullet-point items must be consistent and use the same verb or noun tense.

    * Budget Management
    * Staff Training & Leadership
    * Customer Service
    * New Product Introduction
    * Sales Territory Management
    * New Market Development

    * Budget Management
    * Trainer & Leader
    * Customer Service Representative
    * New Product Introduction
    * Managing Sales Territories
    * New Market Development

    (Note the tremendous inconsistency in the use of nouns and verbs in the incorrect example.)


    Rule: Pick a format and be consistent in how you present job titles and college degrees.

    Retail Sales Associate (1999 to Present)
    Sales Associate (1996 to 1999)
    Inventory Clerk (1995 to 1996)

    Retail Sales (1999 to Present) - This is NOT a title!
    Sales Associate (1996 to 1999)
    Inventory Clerk (1995 to 1996)

    Master of Arts Degree in Education, 2003
    Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology, 2001

    Master’s, Education, 2003
    Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, 2001

    I hope you’ve picked up some good English language and grammar rules and solid writing tips from this article that you’ll immediately start integrating into all of your writing projects!

    These issues haunt even the most experienced writers! Writers in our certification programs get an entire 90-minute session on writing tighter and consistent feedback to transform their writing.


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