Setting a new homework record

As part of my client intake process, I ask  virtually every new client to complete a questionnaire. It's comprehensive, requires thought and review, and takes quite a bit of time.

No question about it: it is homework.

This pertains not only to new graduate clients, but also to my executive level clients. I compare my work to writing a university paper: it takes tons of research material to condense the info into a few short pages, rich with nuance and saturated in relevant, informative content. A resume must also have a strong ability to influence, that is, influence the reader to call my client for an interview.

One of the questions in my homework is this "Do you have a favourite quote, philosophy of business or work, an oft-repeated saying?" The answer to this can give me insight into my client's working style, problem solving, relationship building, methodology, people management - I get a glimpse into what makes this person tick, and it helps me represent the person on paper with authenticity. 

A recent client has outdone all my previous clients - 12 years of full time work, more than a thousand clients - with the volume of quotes that exemplify her approach to life and work. She now holds the record in this category! Here are a few of the wonderful quotes this client shared:

"A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work." - Colin Powell

"Seek first to understand, then to be understood." - Stephen Covey

"Pleasure put in the job puts perfection in the work." - Aristotle

"Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it." - Michael Jordan

I counted 26 quotes. They came from philosophers, books on leadership from current or past "gurus," sports figures, politicians, and even a few of her very own.

Not only are these useful for my own insight into my client, they will undoubtedly find their way into her resume. To facilitate her step up the career ladder - she is aiming for a role as an Executive Director - I will likely find parallels between a quote and her methodology and results, and include a select two or three in her resume and cover letter.

I could even suggest to the client that she select several quotes and create an additional - and unique - portfolio document. (I have an idea brewing!)

I stand behind my premise that it is not colour and whiz-bang design that will propel a job applicant to the forefront; rather, a job applicant will stand out by offering clear insights into how he or she performs, the results his or her performance has brought to a previous employer, and by inference, how his or her employment will positively impact the next lucky employer. (The exception may be for the client applying to a graphic designer job posting.)

With this mindset, I have created interesting branding pages and addenda for many clients whether in technology, finance, sports, marketing, operations, etc., from entry level to executive. Whether or not I conceive such an addendum depends on each client's efforts in completing the homework fully, with enthusiasm. So much rests on the intake process.

As one client put it, "There cannot be excellent output without excellent input." I am not a magician, conjuring up resume content out of thin air. I am a partner with each client, gathering information and transforming it from basic statement to influential - and completely truthful - marketing copy.

There is much power in the written word. I love my work!

 

The value of keeping your resume up-to-date

I am currently working with a digital marketing professional. She contacted me about a month ago. We've been taking our time with her resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile as she wasn't expecting to begin her job search for awhile yet.

You probably see where this story is going. Yesterday Joanne, as I'll name her, emailed that in a downsizing exercise, she was one of several to be let go.

With a new career portfolio well under way to completion - we're just finalizing tweaks - Joanne can skip the panic associated with updating an outdated resume, without which networking or a job hunt cannot begin.

Did you know that September is International Update Your Resume Month?

I've had other, potential clients, who contacted me a day or two before the close of their dream job posting, which they'd just noted online, panicked to get something together so as not to lose the opportunity.

Given that I prebook, sometimes up to two months in advance (and other times able to take a new client immediately - there's no predictability in resume writing), that quick a turnaround is impossible.

It's also impossible as quality work takes time. Gathering the information and composing a strategic resume, and other self-marketing documents, is perhaps equal parts analytical and creative efforts. I won't charge good money for a slap-dash, mediocre effort, and thus I have to turn them away.

Here is a list to get you started on your resume update, as per my own list of potentail sources of great resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile content.

- performance reviews

- talent, skills, personality, leadership, 360 feedback, and other assessments

- emails of thanks, awards of recognition, informal "attaboy/attagirl" corporate motivation strategies

- job postings: existing and new job prospects

- your "brag" or "me" professional file that hopefully you are compiling on a regular  basis

In addition, I often request that clients complete a homework questionnaire. (This helps me build the resume, but also prepares the client for a job interview.)

That's the list of documents my clients share with me before I begin working with them. And after I review their documents, I prepare more questions and conduct an intake interview that takes from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours.

I ask questions until I have the details that I know I can spin into gold on their behalf. No lying, no exaggeration, no embelishment, just an objective perspective and an expert's eye on how to showcase each client's skills in action.

How's your resume these days? Outdated, not touched in 10 years, lost in a computer crash, still on paper? Don't wait and risk applying to your dream job with a sad, neglected resume that gets you nowhere rather than a strong, competition-busting resume that lands you an interview, get on it now.

After all, your earnings, pride, family security, comfort, and happiness are often tightly linked to your career.

If you need help, give me a shout! Email me at newleafresumes@gmail.com.