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THE ONLY NATIONAL NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION FOR PROFESSIONAL RÉSUMÉ WRITERS

Feature Article: Interview with Author Louise Kursmark

January 06, 2023 2:00 AM | Administrative Manager (Administrator)

Editor’s Note: I sat down with Louise Kursmark for an interview around Thanksgiving after I saw many of my LinkedIn connections sharing that they’d been featured in the updated Modernize Your Career series and upcoming Resume & LinkedIn Strategies for New College Graduates. This book series is a frequent reach on my personal writing desk.

I also learned that Louise and Wendy Enelow just released an updated version of Modernize Your Resume: Get Noticed…Get Hired. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring you an inside look at what goes into a book like this. Enjoy!

Congratulations to the NRWA members featured in the upcoming Modernize Your Career titles: Resume & LinkedIn Strategies for New College Graduates and Modernize Your Resume, Third Edition:


NRWA: Why did you write these books?

LK: The principal audience for our books is job seekers. Many will not hire a resume writer, so we write these books to help them be more fluent in writing their resumes and managing their careers.

I don’t worry about [the books] cutting into our market as professional resume writers. There is a huge need for our services, and what we provide is incredibly valuable. But the books help to create a benchmark for what makes a good resume. And, of course, we know that many resume writers use our books as resources, so we want to be sharing the best practices and best examples to help our colleagues as well as the general public.

Each book in the Modernize Your Career series has a slightly different focus. The upcoming book for New College Graduates is written a bit differently, with more step-by-step instructions for every part of the job-seeking process from resumes and LinkedIn to letters, job search practices, and interviewing. We’re assuming a broader range of readers with more experience in the Modernize Your Resume book – that they have some understanding. We explain the why and how and give job seekers confidence.

NRWA: What can resume writers gain from your books?

LK: I’ve been a resume writer for a long time, and I still I find value in seeing how others do things. I get ideas from others’ work. It keeps my creativity alive. I expect that many writers can gain similar value from the books.

NRWA: How did you get started as a resume writer?

LK: I started doing secretarial services to work from home. I’ve always been a good writer, but I never knew I could make a living from it. (I should have consulted a career coach!) People were asking me to edit and write, and over time I shifted entirely to resume and career services. I learned the craft by doing, serving, attending training and conferences, reading books, listening to my clients, and refining it all into my own style.

NRWA: What does your business look like today?

LK: I’ve been in business since 1982, but I don’t have a high-volume practice. I probably take four new clients per month along with regular updates from past clients.

I’m not a career coach; I’m a writer. I love the writing and strategy that’s involved in creating a resume. I enjoy positioning my clients and building their professional narratives. The vast majority of my clients are senior executives—more specifically, executives who know what they want and where they want to go.

Most, if not all, of my business comes from referrals. Quite often my executive clients will ask me to work with their college-graduating children. I really like working with new graduates. They’re ambitious and hardworking. It makes me hopeful for the future generation.

NRWA: What’s the most interesting resume you’ve written?

LK: One of the most interesting was my first board of directors candidate, a European senior executive who was extremely accomplished and very fascinating. I had fun positioning him for board opportunities, and I enjoyed the challenge of doing something new and a bit different.

Another was my son. He was trying to get into a competitive major in college, and I was wracking my brain to come up with accomplishments because he didn’t do anything in high school except play in a garage band! I ended up using his band experience as the value in his resume. He got into the program (thank goodness), and he’s been really successful as a U/X designer since graduation.

NRWA: Why would you suggest a writer join a professional organization like The NRWA?

LK: We have to always be learning. If we’re stagnant, our work will reflect that. Take advantage of having a group of colleagues to relate with, ask for advice, and share your struggles and successes. Our industry feels unique in that we share freely and don’t feel like we’re competing.

NRWA: How do you select submissions for your resume books?

LK: We do a mass invitation to submit resume samples. Our evaluation questions: Does it look good? Is it diverse in style? Does it fit our topic?

I then go through and proofread the resumes and have editorial license to change some elements for the book. I will sometimes change a name or gender to ensure a diversity of samples. I might add design elements. I want the samples to look as good as possible. Because it is published in black and white, the glorious colors used by the writers won’t be visible. However, most of the edits are quite minor. I want the samples to showcase the different writers’ skills and strategies.

If anyone is interested in hearing about future publishing opportunities and has NOT received past appeals, email [email protected] to be added to the distribution list.

NRWA: How did you get started in writing resume books? What professional gain have you experienced from it?

LK: Way back when Jan Melnik (my co-author for Expert Resume & LinkedIn Strategies for New College Graduates) was writing a book on how to start a resume business. She recommended me to her editor, and I wrote my first book about running a home-based business. Later, at an industry conference I met an editor from the former JIST publishing company and proposed my first resume book: Sales & Marketing Resumes. I kept writing book proposals and kept writing books. I absolutely love the process—I would do it full-time if it paid well enough. (Writing resumes is much more lucrative.)

The main benefit of writing books is that it positions you as an authority and helps you gain more frequent speaking and training opportunities. You become better-known in the industry. However, writing a book should be a passion project. You also need to be prepared to market the book. I’ve worked with publishers in the past, and now Wendy Enelow and I have a self-publishing company and do the marketing ourselves.

NRWA: How can a professional resume writer build their audience?

LK: I think libraries are an incredible resource. Propose a program there – where you teach people how to write a resume. Consider what are the local needs and just ask.

NRWA: What other resources do you offer resume writers and job seekers?

LK: We have an entire book on writing for executives in the Modernize Your Career series. It’s called Modernize Your Executive Job Search. In addition to resumes, the guide features examples of LinkedIn profiles, bios, cover letters, and board resumes and a detailed guide to conducting an executive job search.

Another tool is the Modernize Your Job Search Letters. This guide gives you many examples of e-notes, cover letters, recruiter letters, networking letters, thank-you letters, job proposal letters, and letters for challenging circumstances

NRWA: Where can we find your books?

LK: Our books are available in many local bookstores and online at traditional booksellers like Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Also, quite likely at your local library! We also have a website, EmeraldCareerPublishing.com, where we sell digital and print copies of our entire catalog.

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