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The Watercooler
Articles from the NRWA Newsletter

  • May 04, 2021 6:00 AM | Administrative Manager

    Welcome to our new and renewing members for the month of April 2021! Feel free to introduce (or reintroduce) yourself via our members-only networking forums: the Member Forum on our website, Facebook group, and LinkedIn group.

    You can find colleagues in your area by searching here.

    New Members

    • Ashley Ayvar in Canyon Country, California
    • Jenny Logullo in North Hollywood, California
    • Tracy Steele in Carlsbad, California
    • Susan Hickman - UCHealth in Conifer, Colorado
    • Denise Bitler - Resume-Interview Success, LLC in Tampa, Florida
    • June Halstead-Cox in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
    • Jessica Rosado - coachcontec in Miami, Florida
    • Jenny Sage in Meridian, Idaho
    • Jawaria Suhail - ThenonclinicalMD in New Lenox, Illinois
    • Ama Inyang - Yobachi Strategies in Baltimore, Maryland
    • Noah Owens in Clarksville, Maryland
    • Amy Sindicic in Lanham, Maryland
    • Stacie Fehrm - Stacie Writes Resumes in Kingston, Massachusetts
    • Allyn Gardner - Brookside Consulting Partners in Brockton, Massachusetts
    • Ryan Miller - Employment BOOST in Troy, Michigan
    • Hafiz Abdul Majeed in Lahore, Pakhistan
    • Erin Howard - Chirp Clarity in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    • Gabrielle Thomas - The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • Marvin Arts Jr.- Get Noticed Resume Writing and More in Mesquite, Texas
    • Annai Escobedo in Clint, Texas
    • Shaina Singleton - Recruity Consulting in Arlington, Texas

    Renewing Members

    • Jean Abreght - The Document House York, Pennsylvania
    • Georgia Adamson - A Successful Career Marlborough, Massachusetts
    • Michelle Aikman in Woodbridge, Virginia
    • Victoria Andrew - Intellectual Point Sterling, Virginia
    • Peter Anthony - EDSI Livonia, Michigan
    • Laci Baker - University of Montana Missoula, Montana
    • Hollie Baker - Custom Resume Writer Tyler, Texas
    • David Barnes - Dbarnes431 Communications LLC Fairfax, Virginia
    • Anne Barnwell in Keller, Texas
    • Candace Barr - Strategic Resume Specialists in Vestavia, Alabama
    • Christie Bertch - BERTCHBRAND LLC in San Marino, California
    • Krista Bogertman in Revere, Massachusetts
    • Marleen Cabral - Morongo Tribal TANF Program in San Bernardino, California
    • Daniel Chahbazian - Your Resume Services in East Norwich, New York
    • Norine Dagliano - ekm Inspirations in Winchester, Virginia
    • Louise Duffield - RedDeer & Partners in Colchester, United Kingdom
    • Deborah Eison in Chicago, Illinois
    • Paul Felshaw - Deseret Industries in Fairview, Utah
    • Mary Fisher - Resume Review Services in Douglasville, Georgia
    • Roshael Hanna - Resumes 4 Results USA in Woodbury, Minnesota
    • Pat Kendall - Advanced Resume Concepts in Beaverton, Oregon
    • Kathy Keshemberg - A Career Advantage in Appleton, Wisconsin
    • Kristi Kigar - Professional Resume Services in Lapeer, Michigan
    • Douglas Kiracofe - Galen Michaels & Associates in Grand Blanc, Michigan
    • Angelia Knight in Mississippi State, Mississippi
    • Liisa Maloney - Landed Design Solutions in Middletown, Rhode Island
    • Irene Marshall - Tools for Transition in Fremont, California
    • Kevonna McAnuff in Stone Mountain, Georgia
    • Stephanie Meehan - Cameron Smith & Associates, Inc. in Rogers, Arkansas
    • Brandi Munoz - People Culture Consulting in Houston, Texas
    • Dorothy Richardson - DKR Global Consulting Inc. in Deerfield Beach, Florida
    • Barbara Safani - Career Solvers in New York, New York
    • Deborah Schuster - The Lettersmith in Troy, Michigan
    • Micall Searles - University of Montana in Missoula, Montana
    • Gordon Walter - in Saint Charles, Missouri
    • Selena Webb-Ebo - MATC in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    • Sheila Wener - BYU-Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho
  • May 04, 2021 5:00 AM | Administrative Manager

    By Dr. Cheryl Minnick, NCRW, NCOPE, MRW, CCMC, CHJMC

    An e-note is the third note of the C major scale and the “mi” in fixed-do solfège… it is also a brief cover letter in an email body that captures the core of an applicants’ success. Unlike a traditional cover letter, an e-note is used for 1) internal promotion, 2) inside network connection, 3) job referral, 4) accompanying a resume when it alone is requested, and 5) uploaded into an online application field when a cover letter is not requested, or character space/word count are prohibitive. It’s also an add-on service a professional resume writer can offer.

    A cover letter and e-note are both preambles to a resume. Due to the e-note’s brevity, it is laser-focused, fluff-less, and absent a formal letterhead. It does, however, include a warm, formal greeting. To write a concise e-note, analyze the job posting and research the company to discern one top value job requirement, a key ROI, that your client offers. Write the e-note focused on that one key ROI sharing your client’s top two to three achievements that validate their expertise or tell a success story. Remember, brevity highlights weak word choice and spelling and grammar errors, so proofread this first impression document. To start an e-note:

    1. Write the subject line strategically inserting the job title and 1-2 qualifiers.

    HR Director, SHRM-CP - 10 years’ experience
    Senior HR Director, SHRM-SCP – referred by John Smith

    2. Write a brief opener distinguishing your client as a top candidate.

    Under my leadership, ABC Company decreased staff turnover, increased our annual satisfaction survey score, and won a “Best Places to Work” award for the county. I developed policies and strategies that:

    3. Insert a brief paragraph (or 2-3 bullets) detailing the key ROI in story form or quantifiable achievement.

    • Slashed voluntary turnover from 15% to 4% by building a competency model to retain top performers.
    • Boosted staffing 71% to fill 180 roles organization-wide, driving 54% in business growth.
    • Guided executive team through a corporate restructure, cutting personnel cost 25%.

    4. Close in an engaging tone with one last “pitch,” a one-line statement, reinforcing your client’s candidacy.

    The strength of my success lies in my people leadership and ability to champion change while improving employee morale. A phone call would give us an opportunity to discuss your needs and my fit. If I do not hear from you by Friday, I will follow up next week.

    5. Wrap it up by including a signature block with name and credentials, the contact phone, and LinkedIn hyperlinked address.

    Interested in becoming a Nationally Certified Resume Writer (NCRW)? Start with the free NCRW Study Guide (NRWA members only) available via download here.

  • May 04, 2021 4:00 AM | Administrative Manager

    By Anne Anderson, NRWA Newsletter Staff Writer

    In 2018, the NRWA selected the Stringfellow Management Group (SMG) as its association management company. Established in 2012 and based in Maryland, SMG is an AMCI-Accredited Association Management Company with 45 employees (35 of whom are in Maryland) serving 25 associations and foundations for association management, financial/grant management, and meetings management.

    Their clients span an impressively broad range of industries and interests such as floral design, sports construction, human resources, commercial real estate, clinical research nursing, animal health, historic American theaters, chiropractic care, grounds management, and manufacturing for wood machinery and asphalt roofing. SMG’s accreditation underscores its commitment to best practices in core functions, including financial management, evaluation of services, employee training, insurance coverage, and more. SMG takes a long-term view with its clients and is invested in their success.

    • We are fortunate to have a highly-skilled, experienced team serving the NRWA. Many of you have worked with the core team of Jen Thornton, Robbie Heacock, and Addie Blevins. Three people from SMG’s accounting staff work behind the scenes: Amy Chetelat (CFO), Mary Skudzinskas (financial manager), and Susan Posluszny (bookkeeper).
    • Jen Thornton serves as the NRWA’s executive director. Working in association management for 28 years, Jen earned her bachelor’s degree from Towson University and is a graduate of the Institute for Organization Management at the University of Delaware. She lives in Ellicott City, MD, with her husband, Matt. Her hobbies include travel, cooking, and baking.
    • Robbie Heacock is NRWA’s associate director. He has worked in nonprofit management and event planning for more than 15 years. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland University College. Robbie lives in Bel Air, MD, with his husband and two dogs, and they are currently awaiting the arrival of their first child through adoption. In his free time, Robbie enjoys live entertainment, cooking, and travel.
    • Addie Blevins, NRWA’s association coordinator, has been with SMG for just over a year, bringing prior experience with another association management company and managing social media. She loves working with and getting to know members and helping leadership develop great ideas into new programs. Addie earned a bachelor’s degree from Towson University. In her free time, she enjoys crafting and singing in her community chorus.
    • Jen comments that she has rarely seen a more dedicated and hard-working group of board members and volunteers than she has with the NRWA. The SMG staff provides administrative support for NRWA’s membership, courses, education, certification, finances, technology platforms, and website. She says the SMG team loves interacting with members or prospective members who contact the NRWA looking to improve their writing, take a course, get certified, or gain advice from our member community.
    • “Mary Jo King was President when we started with the NRWA, and she set a wonderful tone for the collaborative working relationship with NRWA’s leadership that has carried through since day one,” Jen said. “I feel we have built and continue to foster a nice partnership. I see us continuing to build on what we are already doing, caring about what’s important to our members, and striving to provide them with valuable information and resources to set them up for success.”
    • She went on to say, “Over the last couple of years, NRWA’s level of activity has greatly increased to provide more ways for members to connect and learn. NRWA board members are always thinking strategically about programs or benefits that are needed by our stakeholders and the resume writing profession in general, and they work to create these programs. That means there is always a lot happening! With so much change occurring, I think the key to success is flexibility and understanding. We look for ways to streamline operations, but we recognize the needs are constantly evolving for a dynamic and growing organization like the NRWA. We like it that way and look forward to many great years of supporting resume writers.
    • Jen closed with the following: “The best thing the NRWA can do is to continue providing strong leaders. NRWA members can continue stepping up to volunteer, sharing information, supporting one another, and communicating any new ideas or resources that would be beneficial.”

  • May 04, 2021 3:00 AM | Administrative Manager

    By Amanda Brandon, NRWA Newsletter Editor

    I recently sat down (on Zoom) with our NRWA board president Kathi Fuller and president-elect Sara Timm to discuss the upcoming elections and how our board serves the NRWA membership.

    What does the NRWA board do?

    First of all, every member of our board is a volunteer because the NRWA is the only nonprofit resume writers’ association in the world! And they work hard to make this organization a productive investment of your time and money through education, certification, and representation. Secondly, our board positions its resume writers and career professionals as experts in our field. For example, the NCRW is the most stringent accreditation in the industry (we’re featuring an in-depth look at this certification in the June issue).

    Who serves on the board?

    The board is divided into two parts – elected and appointed governance. The three executive positions are President, Treasurer, and Secretary. The six Directors of Member Support are also elected, and we have four membership segments: college career centers, military/workforce development centers, experienced business owners, and new business owners.

    Appointed positions include program chairs covering certification, education, marketing, sponsor relations, membership, written communication, and conference planning. These set program chairs are supported by committees and/or specific program direct reports working alongside them to meet different NRWA missions.

    NRWA 2021 Organizational Chart thumbnail

    Click the above thumbnail to see the full Organizational Chart.

    How long do elected board members serve?

    Each elected board member serves for one full year beginning in August after elections are certified by the current board. The Treasurer serves a two-year term because the role requires specialized training.

    The President has the support of the Immediate Past President throughout their term. They also serve for a full year as President-Elect and Ethics Chair to learn the ropes before stepping into their leadership position. The Secretary and Directors of Member Support each serve for one year.

    What does each of the elected leaders do?

    The President and President-Elect split duties related to the operations of the organization. The President handles communications and operations with the Advisory Board, Association Management, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committees. The President-Elect directs the Public Image and Ethics committees.

    The Treasurer handles the financials of the organization. The Secretary serves in a support role to the entire board – taking minutes, examining communications, and facilitating administrative functions. The Membership Chair leads a team of elected program managers in supporting different representations of our membership, including new business owners, experienced business owners, college career centers, and military/workforce centers.

    What do the appointed board members do?

    Each of the appointed board members is responsible for a tactical mission – marketing the organization, establishing world-class education programs, facilitating the industry’s best certification process, organizing our annual conference, and overseeing the content and quality of all print and electronic communications.

    How can I serve on the NRWA board?

    Great question! You can run for an elected seat! Elections are coming up in July. We’ll have more communications coming out in May and June Midweek Memos on how to run for an elected seat. One thing to note – you have to serve on the board for a year to run for President-Elect, Treasurer, or Secretary.

    You can also volunteer on a committee if you don’t want to serve in a leadership role. See the board’s Help Wanted page here.

    (P.S. I’m always in search of contributors for the newsletter! Email me to discuss what we’re looking for.)

    What makes a good NRWA board member?

    Kathi and Sara both offered the following board member profile:

    • Know that this is a working board. Expect to be hands-on in your contributions to the board. The NRWA expects you to show up as an active volunteer.
    • We are looking for diversity in our board. Diversity and inclusion are major focuses for the future of the NRWA. We need broader representation in experience and background.
    • We need a great Secretary! Kathi and Sara both suggested that our two greatest needs for the upcoming election are a Secretary who can roll up their sleeves and get stuff done. Our beloved Donna Tucker has served in this role for many years and is looking to retire.
    • Are you a sales or sponsorship pro? We need a rock-star salesperson and negotiator to handle affiliate partnerships and sponsorships. We need someone who can form partnerships with compatible companies and organizations and obtain sponsors to support our conference and other programs.

    What’s in it for you to serve?

    This was the best part of our conversation. The bottom line is that serving on the board solidifies your investment in your professional affiliation with the NRWA. It opens doors for you to excel in your field. Here are just a few of the benefits we discussed:

    • Networking. The networking that happens via the NRWA board is career-boosting. I can tell you from personal experience that I found mentorship in pursuing my NCRW. I’ve been talking about it for a while. But now, I’m taking steps toward making it happen this year.
    • Free webinars and half-price conference tuition. We don’t pay for service, but we reward our leaders and volunteers with reduced pricing on NRWA events.
    • Community. I’m not on the board, but I do get to interact with the board. Since I decided to volunteer, I can tell you that I feel like a part of a bigger community. Kathi and Sara reflected the same sentiment in our discussion.
    • It looks great on your resume! We encourage our clients to diversify their experience to build a solid personal brand. Serving with the NRWA builds trust and credibility. And it elevates your business.
  • May 04, 2021 2:00 AM | Administrative Manager

    By Amanda Brandon, NRWA Newsletter Editor

    I was struggling with my email this month and found a tool called Mailbutler. This tool acts like a CRM or personal assistant right there in your email program (MacMail, Outlook, Gmail, and GSuite).

    It’s truly saving my life right now. I love Mac Mail, but it lacks one awesome feature—templates. I don’t like going onto Gmail (which does include templates) because I’m easily distracted by browsers. So, I found this tool and thought I’d share it with my colleagues. Some of the key features include:

    1. Schedule “sends” and attachment reminders. Sometimes I work at night, and I schedule the send for the next morning. I also often forget attachments, and the delayed send (20 seconds) and reminders help me avoid the “oops” emails.
    2. Make notes, assign tasks, and schedule follow-ups. It’s like having a CRM in your inbox.
    3. Manage signatures with ease. The MacMail signature feature is fairly robust, but you can’t add images to it. I like that I can add photos and logos to my signatures.
    4. Integrate with productivity tools. I use Slack and Trello for project management, and Mailbutler integrates with several project management tools.
    5. Message templates. I send many of the same emails—scheduling phone calls, initial drafts, revisions. It’s nice to have a starting point saved in one place.

    I’d love to feature more “What’s Saving My Life This Month?” contributions. Here’s what to do:

    1. Share a tip related to your business or profession that others can adopt.
    2. Keep it to 100 words or less (we’re writers; I know you can do it!)
    3. Share a headshot and a 2–3-line bio with your location and business or job.
    4. Email your contribution by the 10th of the month. I’ll contact you when I run your submission.
  • May 04, 2021 1:00 AM | Administrative Manager

    By Amanda Brandon, NRWA Newsletter Editor

    The networking on our Facebook group was hopping this month! Here’s a recap of what you may have missed:

    • What do you do when a client makes you doubt your abilities? Dawn asked this question, and the encouragement was fantastic. If you need a boost, be sure to read it here.
    • How do you structure your consultation sessions with clients? I found this conversation so engaging and thought-provoking. Several members shared how they keep calls to a set time and structure their intake to minimize phone time. Others shared that phone time is what sets them apart. If you’re looking for some ideas on client communication, see that conversation here.
    • Does the ATS have you stumped? Check out some of the myth-busting on ATS requirements in this post and in this post.

    Did you know we have a membership forum? So, if you’re not on social media, this is a place to network with your colleagues. I’m planning on posting the same topics I post to other social media here this month, so we don’t miss anyone. Access the NRWA Forum here. (Hint: You must be logged in to see it!)

  • April 06, 2021 7:00 AM | Administrative Manager

    Welcome to our new and renewing members for the month of March 2021! Feel free to introduce (or reintroduce) yourself via our members-only networking forums: the Member Forum on our website, Facebook group, and LinkedIn group.

    You can find colleagues in your area by searching here.

    New Members

    • Chelsea Behrens - Rise to the Occasion in Seattle, Washington
    • Elizabeth Bersche in Alexandria, Virginia
    • Grace Chen in Campbell, California
    • Marissa Curry in Camarillo, California
    • Aprilis Diaz - Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Massachusetts
    • Trisha DuCote - University of Arkansas in Springdale, Arkansas
    • Sydney Frodsham in Plano, Texas
    • Alexis Guidry in Houston, Texas
    • Emily Hall in Pasadena, Tennessee
    • Brittany Hollis in Fredericksburg, Virginia
    • John House in Seattle, Washington
    • JoAnn Kirkland - A Word Owl in Shelter Island Hts., New York
    • Felicia Landry in Broussard, Louisville
    • Jade Lee - The Resume Parlor in Wappingers Falls, New York
    • Katy McGuinnis - Triton College in River Grove, Illinois
    • Cyntoni Miller - Black On The Job in Tolleson, Arizona
    • Jan Moppert - Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama
    • Chioma Ogbonna in Chicago, Illinois
    • Brittany Ohnsman - CodeWorks in Boise, Idaho
    • Tamlyn Parks in Spearfish, South Dakota
    • Nikki Pearson in Pontiac, Michigan
    • Luke Powell in Littleton, Colorado
    • Tami Pursley in Carlsbad, California
    • Monica Reyes in San Antonio, Texas
    • Jessica Rodriguez - The New York Public Library in Bronx, New York
    • Linda Siniard - Avalon Advisers in Redding, California
    • Lloyd Smith - Abstractlloyd in Rochester, New York
    • Kari Solomon - Aspire Resumes in Montvale, New Jersey
    • Tyeriah Todd - TST Career Services LLC Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • Karen Tweedt-Ordaz - Northern Valley Catholic Social Service in Corning, California
    • Chelsea Walker-Richards - Walker Richards Career Strategists in Land O Lakes, Florida
    • Leigh Waring in Villanova, Pennsylvania

    Renewing Members

    • Sandra Allison in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
    • Jean Austin - Talents Presented Resume Writing & Job Search Strategies in Melbourne, Florida
    • Tessa Barlow - DFW Resume in Sacramento, California
    • Jeannine Bennett - Vision to Purpose in Virginia Beach, Virginia
    • Ananya Bhattacharya - DuxVitae in Sugarland, Texas
    • Jacqueline Brown - Projections Resume Writing Service in Hephzibah, Georgia
    • Rhonda Douglas Charles in Brooklyn, New York
    • Gail Frank - Frankly Speaking - Resumes That Work! in Tampa, Florida
    • Tracey Gutierrez - Tracey Gutierrez Coaching in Maplewood, New Jersey
    • Lisa Hebert - LMH Advisors, Inc. in Bay Village, Ohio
    • Denise R. Hemphill - Confident Career Moves, LLC in Houston, Texas
    • Sarah Jewell - A Remarkable Resume in St Augustine, Florida
    • Billie Jordan - Advantage Resumes and Career Services in Maysville, North Carolina
    • Bernice Maldonado - Catalyst Era, Inc. in San Dimas, California
    • Julia Mattern - Julia Mattern Career Services, LLC in Westfield, Indiana
    • Michelle McClellan - MLM Communications in Portland, Oregon
    • Laureen McHugh in West Simsbury, Connecticut
    • Keith Miller - Ivy League Resumes in Staten Island, New York
    • Elizabeth Mills in Rockville, Maryland
    • Cheryl Milmoe - Cardinal Expert Résumés in Sayville, New York
    • Andrea Mitchell-Khan - Blackmere Consulting in Redmond, Washington
    • Deborah Nakashima in Kaneohe, Hawaii
    • Kelli Page - Professional Resume Services in Columbiaville, Michigan
    • Bea Ramos - USN FFSC in Washington, D.C.
    • Colleen Reyerson - Executive Resumes Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia
    • Patty Rusin - Getting There Today in Crown Point, Indiana
    • Amy Schofield - Schofield Strategies, LLC in Hollywood, Maryland
    • Anne Marie Segal - Segal Coaching LLC in Stamford, Connecticut
    • Scott Singer - Insider Career Strategies in Hallandale, Florida
    • Laurie Smith - Creative Keystrokes Executive Resume Service in Gastonia, North Carolina
    • Nancy Spivey - Ready Set Resumes in Atlanta, Georgia
    • Stephanie Staff - Resumes With Results in Glenmont, New York
    • Liz Strom - Creative Calm Solutions LLC in Oakton, Virginia
    • Dodie Thompson - Peak Resumes LLC in Colorado Springs, Colorado
    • Kiersten Troutman - Second Glance Résumés in Canton, Ohio
    • Jason Vallozzi - Campus to Career Crossroads in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    • Will White in River Grove, Illinois
    • Tawana Wood - in Elmont, New York
    • Linda Woodard - LDW Group LLC in Jacksonville, Florida
  • April 06, 2021 6:00 AM | Administrative Manager

    By Amanda Brandon – NRWA Newsletter Editor

    I had the pleasure of meeting Meg in a Facebook discussion about my new favorite tool—Trello. She uses it to project manage her resume business. She said “it was saving her life” because it helped her focus her energy on delivering service to her clients while not getting lost in the details.

    Better known as “HRMeg,” Meg has recently expanded her HR consulting services into writing resumes. It began with her helping friends’ college-age children get started in the middle of the worst economic climate ever for college grads—the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “My labor of love is helping recent grads in the 20-25 age range gain confidence and look good in their first major job search. I help people at all levels of experience, from recent graduates to experienced professionals, but I take a particular interest in assisting recent grads embark on their first real job search," Meg says.

    She’s been HRMeg for almost 30 years in the Washington, D.C. market and has read hundreds of resumes throughout her career. She’s recently dived into the NRWA as a way to network and connect with other “people who do this for a living.”

    In her day job, Meg manages HR for a small private investment firm, but her passion is writing. She told me that her love for writing began with a liberal arts degree in sociology. Throughout her professional career, she’s been writing reports, policies, job descriptions, handbooks, and more.

    “I know what makes a resume good or bad, so I started a side business,” Meg says. “I love writing, and I love being able to take a list of responsibilities or a job description and define the impact and accomplishments for a client.”

    Back to Trello for a moment…since we are focusing on ways to boost business and skills this month…here’s a screenshot of Meg’s Trello board:

    In case you’re not familiar with the tool, Trello is a project management system with lots of integrations such as time tracking, calendar connections, and connections to tools like Google Drive and Slack. The professional version (which is currently $10/month) allows you all these “connections” called Power-Ups.

    I loved Meg’s “process” for defining a client order—she starts with “expressed interest” and moves them through a series of cards based on what they need. She can see exactly what’s required in one glance of the Trello dashboard.

    Another HRMeg feature I loved is her website. It’s very well designed and clear that she offers her clients value and is invested in their success. The best feature of her website is her professional, educational content. She writes a blog post each week related to job search, resume writing, and other professional branding topics. She posts these to her social media channels and sends out a newsletter.

    Additionally, Meg’s ordering process is seamless—she spells out every package based on experience and encourages clients to “add-on” cover letters and LinkedIn services.

    If you’re looking for a tech-savvy writer friend, Meg is my recommendation. She’s collaborative and has a wealth of knowledge on HR topics and marketing strategies. When she’s not writing or onboarding new employees, you can find her plotting her retirement dream of traveling extensively. She lives in Gaithersburg, MD with her family. Find her online at or She’s also very active in the NRWA Facebook group.

  • April 06, 2021 5:00 AM | Administrative Manager

    By Norine Dagliano, NCRW – Grader and Writing Excellence Instructor

    Depending on how long you have been writing resumes and/or a member of the NRWA, you may have heard the advice to “front-load your accomplishments.” During a recent meeting of the NCRW graders, there was a brief discussion about whether this was correctly stated in the NCRW Study Guide and if the meaning was clear.

    A quick search on Google turned up the following definition:

    Front-load: To organize work on a project or information in a document so that the more important work or information is done or placed first.


    Unless you stepped into the career services field 24 hours ago, you are familiar with either the CAR, PAR, or STAR formula for helping a job seeker describe something they accomplished on the job. We start by asking them to describe a challenge, problem, or situation/task; then have them tell us what actions they took to address the challenge, problem, or situation/task; and we wrap it up by asking them to tell us the result of their actions.

    Now turn it around, aka front-load the example by beginning the story with the outcome or result.

    Here’s an example:

    Consolidated phone systems and upgraded hardware/software, which reduced operational costs approximately $150,000.

    Now turn it around.

    Reduced operational costs approximately $150,000 by consolidating phone systems and upgrading hardware/software. (The result/most important information is stated first – front-loaded).

    For added impact, you can even bold what you front-load—and don’t forget to include the bullet!

    • Reduced operational costs approximately $150,000 by consolidating phone systems and upgrading hardware/software.

    For additional rules and best practices for including accomplishments on resumes, refer to Section III, e. in the NCRW Study Guide. Available to NRWA members only, download the latest edition here.

  • April 06, 2021 4:00 AM | Administrative Manager

    By Paul Bennett – NRWA Director of Member Support, New Business Owners

    If you work for yourself, being visible in order to build your business is critical. But how can you achieve this?

    You could buy visibility by spending buckets of cash on advertising—but ads, on their own, don’t enhance the business relationships that you’ll need to survive. Therefore, a far more effective strategy for creating visibility is to cultivate mutually beneficial connections through networking.

    Building visibility is a mashup of “why, who, where, what, and when.” Addressing these Ws will greatly help you plan, focus, execute, and monitor your marketing activities. In this article, I’ll talk about the first four of them, and although the context is online, the broad principles apply to offline activities as well.

    Why do you want to become visible?

    In his bestseller “Start with Why,” Simon Sinek writes extensively about how the reason we do anything is so important. Addressing the why helps you set your “business compass” and should be done in the earliest stages of business planning. So, ask yourself why you want to become visible.

    “To become successful” is often the first reason that comes to mind, but it’s pretty vague. What do you mean by “successful”? Is it making lots of money? Could it be working whenever, wherever, however, and with whomever you please? Are you inclined to work with specific types of clients? Or do you want to focus on one or two areas from the broad range of services (resume writing, coaching, LinkedIn consulting, interview prep, salary negotiation, full-cycle career management, etc.) that our clients need?

    Who are the people to whom you want to be visible?

    Do you want to work with accountants or architects? Grant writers or geographers? Zookeepers or Zamboni drivers? (Yes, that’s actually an official occupational category.)

    Once you’ve figured this out, sustained focus on your target market can eventually pay huge dividends. When you’re just getting started, your priority will likely be financial survival (i.e., keeping food in the house by taking on as many new clients as possible). But over the longer term, hustling will enable you to start picking and choosing your clients, commanding higher rates, and hopefully, enjoying client interactions more than when you had to endure all of those obnoxious personalities to keep the lights on.

    The general idea here is to, eventually, niche yourself. You could become the go-to resume expert for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) professionals, or you could develop a reputation as the salary-negotiation consultant who understands the curve balls law firms enjoy pitching to nervous prospective associates.

    Alternatively, you could cast a huge net and serve an extensive range of clients (and some of us have done this quite successfully). However, if your ultimate goal is to maximize your personal visibility, then having very few competitors in a smaller, well-defined niche (like “retail commercial real estate marketers”) can prove much more lucrative than competing against the thundering herds that pursue huge, amorphous markets (such as “senior executives").

    Where are the people to whom you want to be visible?

    Speaking of herds, do statisticians have an online watering hole where they gather to geek out about primes and parallelograms? Or do teachers have a place where they meet to mull over curriculum development or classroom management?

    If you want to catch fish, you’ve got to go to where they’re swimming, and one of the great things about the internet is how it has thrown open the doors to what once were exclusive, “gated” professional communities. Twenty years ago, if you wanted to discuss career management with physicians, you would have found them far less accessible than they are now, thanks to the advent of social media. Today, all of us can participate in many specialized professional groups (bankers, hoteliers, therapists, and so on) on Facebook and, preferably, LinkedIn.

    The bottom line is, determine where your ideal clients hang out and then join in! Just remember that when participating in specialized groups, prioritize listening carefully over speaking frequently and limit your contributions to ones that draw upon your authentic expertise. Offering unqualified advice on topics outside your wheelhouse can make you stick out like a sore thumb or even get you banished by the admins.

    LinkedIn is by far the best place for professional networking, although Facebook and Twitter are also good venues. Furthermore, you can comment on blogs, but this won’t necessarily enhance your visibility as well as pleasing the LinkedIn algorithms will.

    What can you do to become visible?

    Once you’ve figured out why you want greater visibility, with whom you want to become more visible, and where you should go to start expanding your network, you’ve got to nail down and execute your strategy for making those all-important connections.

    A fast and reliable way to become well known is to solve other people’s problems, which can generate recommendations and referrals to the point that you’ve got to turn away business. And wouldn’t that be a nice “problem” to have?

    Wherever your ideal clients are online, you’ll find lots of people liking, loving, commenting, and sharing. Unfortunately, many of those interactions are of little value. Your top priority should be engaging with your network, such that your network engages with you in return.

    For example, Facebook is stuffed with billions of inconsequential post reactions (like, love, laugh, cry, shock, anger), quick-draw comments (“Congratulations!”… “Sorry to hear about that!”… “Agreed!”) and photo fails. If you’re Facebooking as “Suzy Smith,” then these kinds of lightweight interactions are fun and fine–but if you’re engaging on behalf of your business, you’ll want to focus on adding value to meaningful discussions.

    For LinkedIn, it’s important to understand the relative value the algorithm places on different activities. In general, the more effort you make participating on LinkedIn, the more you’ll get out of it. In other words, reacting (like, love, celebrate, insightful, and curious) is fine, but you’re going to get more mileage out of comments and shares (ideally, shares that you’ve chimed in on).

    In TSL Marketing’s blog post LinkedIn Content Tips: Which Is Better, a Like, Share, or Comment?"  Ryan Nicholson opines, “Hands down, comments really do dominate the algorithm, and there is really no question that comments alone are superior to even likes and shares combined.” (Andy Foote, an authority on the LinkedIn algorithm, agrees.)

    In conclusion, the best way to boost your business's visibility and foster its growth is to join communities best aligned with your “why" and then become an astute observer who frequently and regularly contributes helpful, engaging, and relevant content. This will enable you to spend less time shaking the bushes in search of new business and more time cultivating warm leads that have come your way. And that’s not just because you’ve been feeding those algorithms well; it’s also due to the magic of good old-fashioned word-of-mouth.

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