September 2023

by Amanda Brandon, NCOPE – NRWA Newsletter Editor

Hi NRWA friends!

Happy Fall! Are you getting excited about the conference?

Amanda Brandon

Amanda Brandon

If you’re coming to Colorado Springs, you’re in for a treat! The leaves are beginning to change, and the weather is perfect. And the venue is first class. I hope to meet some of you!  

I want to let you know that I will be transitioning out of the NRWA Newsletter Editor role in October. I am taking a position with a major healthcare organization, and I’ll be using my skills as a writer for executives to augment their leadership communications team. I’ve been doing it part-time since May, and the role has grown to encompass most of my time.

Sharing this newsletter with you each month has been a joy and a privilege. The NRWA is one of the most genuine and supportive organizations I’ve worked with in the past 20 years. It’s rare to see a group of people care about each other’s success so much. I will miss interviewing our members and crafting this publication each month.

A special thank you to Norine Dagliano for mentoring me and helping me make this publication what it is today. Also, thanks to the NRWA board for their openness to ideas. It’s truly been an honor to work with each of you.

Norine will be announcing our search for a new editor after the conference.

A few things you’ll see in this Watercooler issue:

  • Member Spotlight: Learn more about our President-Elect,
    Brenda Cunningham.
  • Tech Talk is Extremely Useful This Month! Lisa is bringing a best practice guide for the leading ATS – Workday.
  • NRWA DEI Awareness & Response: Joan Blumenthal shares context around Jewish holidays, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, and how these dates affect the NRWA conference scheduling.

    As always, if you have ideas or want to be added to the Member Spotlight list, please drop me a line at

    Thanks for reading!

    Member Spotlight: Brenda Cunningham

    Editor’s Note: Brenda Mariah Cunningham will be taking the lead of the NRWA starting in January. We thank her for her commitment to making this organization valuable to our members. Here’s a little more of her story.

    NRWA: How did you get started in resume writing?  

    BC: Knowing how unfulfilled I was in my chosen field of study (engineering), I developed a side hustle based on something I felt I was actually good at: writing. I seemed to have a knack for taking the things people said and translating them into easy-to-understand language. I knew I wanted to do something other than engineering. However, my first small business course forced me to look beyond my original goal of opening a restaurant (with my dad, because I am not the best cook) and dig deeper into my strengths. Resume writing emerged as the victor. I regret nothing.  

    NRWA: What is your current business focus? Where do you see yourself growing? 

    BC: I’m in a season of deep introspection, and it caused me to take a good, hard look at what brings me joy. I realized that writing resumes the old way no longer sat well with me. So, I’ve been perfecting a new real-time writing approach that saves me time and gets my clients going a lot sooner.

    Also, over the course of nearly 20 years in this profession, I realize that more and more clients need help with what to do after the resume, so I’ve been focused on building and improving my coaching programs in job search strategy, interview prep/salary negotiation, and soon, I’ll be releasing my first on-demand course. Information exists everywhere, but knowing how to apply it personally is the new challenge I am positioning my clients to face.  

    NRWA: What educational opportunities have you explored to help you grow? 

    BC: I firmly believe that because I’m doing the work I was born and wired to do, I have the desire to constantly evolve and become better. So, as a lifelong student, I have pursued multiple trainings through the amazing NRWA webinars and stayed plugged into other organizations’ content. I even ventured beyond traditional career-focused channels to study employment law through eCornell.

    Anytime I find myself getting the same question repeatedly, I take it as an opportunity to sharpen that area. It is my/our duty to be accurate in the advice we’re distributing. This is also why I attend the NRWA annual conference each year; it’s a concentrated learning experience that keeps me on the cutting edge.  

    NRWA: Why did you join the NRWA?

    Originally, I joined the NRWA because I wanted to get better at resume writing, and NRWA members were the most welcoming, friendly group I had seen. I was impressed that they were/are the only nonprofit association—that this was OUR ORGANIZATION; It belongs to all of us. That’s why I started, but why I’ve remained is largely the quality of information, the commitment to making us all better, and the amazing network of peers that I am proud to be a part of. There is a gravity associated with the NRWA name, and I am excited to be a member.  

    NRWA: What have you gained by being a member of the NRWA board? What do you hope for in your year as President? 

    The beautiful thing I’ve witnessed is that our board members aren’t looking to gain but to serve. But in that process of serving, we gain priceless experience. When I first joined the board, I wasn’t sure that I was worthy, but my perspective shifted along the way. I saw that I contributed in a meaningful way and that it was okay to not have all the answers.

    Being willing to do the behind-the-scenes work keeps this critical organization in motion. In short, I have gained belief in myself, pride—knowing that I was part of something bigger than me—and critical skills that will serve me in my business (like strategic thinking, delegation, collaboration, and precise communication).  

    As President-Elect, I have been learning more and more to trust my own voice and solidifying my mindset that I can contribute at a high level. And moving into my year as President, I am striving to create a sense of safety and belonging for more to get involved, but also streamlining how we do things so no board member, member, or volunteer feels overwhelmed.

    Times do change, and it is the president’s job to listen and remove roadblocks so that we stay ready. I promise I will do my very best, but I can also guarantee that I will miss the mark on occasion, so you are all welcome to speak up and plug in to make the whole organization and industry better.  

    NRWA: You’ve attended the NRWA conference before. What value did you receive and hope to receive this year?

    BC: I attended my first conference in 2012, and I have only missed one conference since (I think). I always feel so incredibly equipped following the conference, ready to launch new offerings, and confident enough to adjust my pricing when necessary. I leave with the tools, mechanics, and know-how to do new and advanced ways to better serve my clients.

    I understood the need to shift to virtual in 2020, but I LOVED getting to see everyone in New Orleans in 2022. The in-person experience is unparalleled, and I will always prioritize attendance. I have attended other conferences, but the NRWA events feel like home. The investment to attend the conference yields ROI many times over.  

    NRWA: Do you hold any certifications? Which ones?  

    BC: I hold certifications in Job Search Strategy (CJSS), Career Management (CCM), Interview and Compensation Negotiation (CICNC), and Employment Law. Recently, I earned the NCOPE and will be pursuing my NCRW by the end of this year.

    Tech Talk: Best Practice Tips For Job Seekers Using

    Workday ATS
    By Lisa Dupras, NCOPE, CPH

    Author’s Note: This article is taking a different spin on technology this month. I took the role of job seeker to focus on how resume writers can provide best practice tips for our clients who apply for jobs through the Workday ATS.

    Workday has the largest market share (25%) of all companies in the U.S. To see if a company uses Workday, the job seeker can find the Workday logo at the bottom of the recruiting website/portal.

    Getting Started with Workday Candidate Profile

    Creating a profile is very easy and only takes a minute. Users can easily view the status of their job applications. A few notes about the Workday ATS profile:

    • The valid job application statuses inside Workday are in progress, under consideration, interview scheduled, and offer extended.
    • For security reasons, if you create a user account created for one company it will not work for another, even if both companies use the Workday ATS. 

    Applying for the Job

    Companies that use the Workday ATS Cloud give applicants the following choices:

    • Use my last application – This option is helpful if applying to multiple jobs at the same company. 
    • Autofill with resume – This option can be a lot of frustrating rework for the candidate if mismatched information loads into the wrong location in the Workday application. 
    • Apply manually – The applicant has more control as they cut and paste requested information from the resume to Workday. 
    • Apply using my LinkedIn profile – This option is the fastest and most accurate! LinkedIn and Workday have already matched data to the correct fields.

    The application process follows the same general steps across multiple employers with the following differences:

    • Knockout questions – The questions that can reject the job application. 
    • When applications reject – Each company can determine when the knockout occurs.
    • Additional optional questions – Pfizer asked me for my GPA!
    • Chatbot – Companies may install a chatbot that answers job application questions.

    Notes for the job applicant:

    • If the target company uses a Workday chatbot, ask the bot what jobs match your resume. The bot will send you a list of what open jobs to apply to.
    • The option of uploading resume information using LinkedIn is fast and accurate. 
    • Make sure LinkedIn skills contain target job keywords before uploading to the ATS. 
    • Once you upload your resume to the Workday ATS, you CANNOT SEE IT. As a result, job seekers will NOT know about data parsing issues.

    How Do We Know the Resume Information Loaded Successfully?

    Here’s how the Workday ATS Cloud processes the application:

    • When applicants create a profile, the company stores the applicant name and email. 
    • When applicants apply for a job, the target company can store work history, knockout responses, gender, ethnicity, and voluntary disability identification.
    • The uploaded resume is saved as a searchable PDF file.
      • Optical Character Recognition (OCR) parses text from the PDF file.
      • Parsed information from the searchable PDF is saved (per Workday, this includes name, contact, work experience, skills, education, certifications, and awards).
    • Data from all three sources is tied together by applicant and stored securely for each company in the cloud.
    • Recruiters search the ATS database of applicant information for suitable candidates.  

    More notes for the job applicant:

    • Attempts to parse resume content inside boxes, tables, or containing special characters may result in failure, display as unintelligible characters, or output the wrong information.
    • Content in text boxes or resume content that is not part of the upload process (technical section, skills, career summary) will be on the PDF version of the resume but nowhere else.
    • Keep your resume and job application information consistent. Data mismatches will be flagged for recruiters to review but could cause problems with the application process.
    • You must choose skills from a Workday list when “Autofill with Resume” or “Apply Manually” is selected. Choosing “Apply Using my LinkedIn Profile” will automatically import up to 50 skills. 

    Feel free to use these best practice job seeker notes with your clients.

    Lisa Dupras is a resume writer, career coach, and owner of Elev8 Resumes and Coaching in Lanoka Harbor, NJ. She specializes in helping folks pivot into IT careers. She is NCOPE-certified and offers job search coaching and interview preparation services. Connect with her at

    NRWA DEI Awareness & Response: 2023 Jewish Holidays

    By Joan H Blumenthal, MBA, NCOPE, NRWA DEI Committee Member
    Intro by Brenda Mariah (Cunningham), NCOPE, NRWA President-Elect

    At our last DEI meeting in early August, some realized that we kept referring to “Jewish holidays” as the reason why our conference is held on certain dates. But we did not have any real knowledge of what that meant. We set out to change that and had committee member Joan Blumenthal provide more context so we can all have a better understanding. Please enjoy what Joan put together in her comprehensive breakdown of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Knowing more about different cultures helps us all to be more sensitive and create a better organization.

    In addition to ethnic diversity, modern Jews are divided into different sects. North America has four main ones: Reform, Humanistic, Conservative, and Orthodox.

    When are the September 2023 Jewish Holidays?

    Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur dates are based on a lunisolar calendar, combining lunar calendars and solar calendars. The Gregorian calendar is the calendar used in most parts of the world. Holidays are at different times every year, depending on the lunar calendar.

    Jews worldwide have celebrated Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur for almost 6,000 years. The time between the two holidays is called Days of Awe.

    • Rosh Hashanah will begin at sundown Friday evening, September 15, for all sects. Reform and Humanistic Jews end Rosh Hashanah at sundown on Saturday evening, the 26th. For Conservative and Orthodox Jews, the holiday ends at sunset on Sunday, September 17. Sundown depends on one’s time zone.
    • Yom Kippur will begin for all sects at sundown on Sunday, September 24, with Kol Nidre. Yom Kippur ends at sunset on Monday, September 25.

    The Significance of These Holidays

    Rosh Hashanah

    • Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the Hebrew year and is the traditional anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman according to the Torah (The Five Books of Moses.)
    • On Rosh Hashanah, the sounding of the shofar (a hollowed-out ram's horn) is traditional.
    • Jews attend synagogue services, where they recite prayers. In general, it is a happy holiday.
    • Festive meals are in abundance. Because Jews hope to evoke a “sweet new year,” eating foods like apples dipped in honey and other sweet foods is traditional.
    • The way to wish someone a Happy New Year in Hebrew is by saying “Shana Tova.” In Hebrew, this means “A Good Year.”

    Yom Kippur

    • Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is known as the holiest day of the Jewish year; it is about asking God to forgive sins, reflecting on past mistakes, accepting repentance, and praying.
    • As part of the tradition, Jews avoid working, and all adult members observe a fast from the evening before Yom Kippur until the following sundown.
    • Jews attend synagogue after sundown, and the service begins with Kol Nidre, which translates to forgive all vows.
    • Fasting is a way to cleanse and purify the body and soul.
    • Jews recognize the dead and often visit cemeteries the day before. Yom Kippur ends with a single blast blown on the shofar.
    • The fast is broken at home, and usually break fast food is served.

    How Can the NRWA Help Avoid Scheduling Conflicts?

    NRWA and its members can check the dates of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur before scheduling conferences, webinars, and other related events. Members should refrain from contacting clients on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. One cannot simply guess a person's religion by their last name.

    Listed below are Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Gregorian calendar dates:

    New & Renewing Members 

    Welcome to our new and renewing members for the month of August 2023! 
    Click here to view the full list.

    By the numbers for the month of August:

    • 14 new members
    • 5 new members with 8+ years of experience in resume writing
    • 38 renewing members 
    • 8 renewing members have been members for over 10 years 

      Feel free to introduce (or reintroduce) yourself via our members-only networking forums:

      You can find colleagues in your area by searching here
      Not yet a member of the NRWA? Click here to join!

      We’ve done land, we’ve done sea, and we’ve gone virtual. In response to popular demand, this year the NRWA is going hybrid! We invite you to join us as we Ascend to New Heights in Colorado Springs, CO.

      Taking on our biggest challenge yet, the National Résumé Writers Association will be hosting a variety of educational programming, both in person and virtually. As always, join us live for the best experience, which includes in-depth workshops, featured presentations, and extensive opportunities for networking. For those who are unable to join us in person, we will be live streaming selected presentations featuring our most popular topics and trending discussions.  

      Highlights to this years’ conference include our keynote, featured speaker, and preconference presentation. Additionally, we are bringing our conference to life by joining our in-person and hybrid audiences together through an event app that will promote engagement and networking to a larger audience.

      In-person attendees can earn up to 10 CEU's, while virtual attendees can earn up to 5 CEU's. Remember: registration is closed for in-person attendees, but you can still register to attend virtually!


      Professional Development 

      electronic learning

      The NRWA offers live and on-demand webinars, a self-paced Resume Writing 101 course, teleseminars, and more opportunities for learning throughout the year.


      Certification Programs 

      NCRW - Nationally Certified Resume Writer
      NCOPE - Nationally Certified Online Profile Expert

      Resume Experts

      Visit our public-facing companion site to access our directory of resume experts, learn more about how we help job seekers, and read our Ask the Experts blog.


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