The Top 5 Lessons I Learned in my First Full Year of Business

2019 was my first full year in business for myself as a resume and LinkedIn profile writer and what an amazing year it has been! I have so enjoyed working with clients to help them identify and communicate their strengths, experience, and expertise. I love when clients have “aha” moments where they truly see the impact they’ve made in their organization and across their careers. This means that they’re ready for interviews and able to speak to their unique qualities and what sets them apart from other applicants.

Owning my own business has been a huge learning curve and I wanted to take the opportunity to share some of what I’ve learned in the last year – both in best practices for resumes and LinkedIn profiles and business practices. In 2020 I’m looking forward to growing my business by adding interview coaching, more speaking engagements (so fun!) and working more deeply with clients to help them find the next best fit. If you’re interested in my services, check out my profile and client recommendations here and message me to set up a call.

1. LinkedIn only works if you work it. I completed the National Certification for Online Profile Experts (NCOPE) this past summer. You can have an amazing profile and excellent resume attached to your LinkedIn profile, and that alone will help you to show up in search results, BUT, being active by commenting on others’ posts, posting your own content or articles, and interacting with companies and organizations you’re interested in will increase your reach exponentially. I recently completed a profile where the client received a message that he was 27x more likely to be found by recruiters after updating the profile per my recommendations. If you’re actively looking I suggest spending at least 30 minutes a day writing germane comments and interacting with connections on LinkedIn. If you aren’t actively looking, 30 minutes a week will suffice – keep your network active so that you don’t have to resurrect it when you need it.

2. Refer, refer, refer. It’s okay to turn down clients who aren’t a good fit. I love what I do and I have experience across many industries. However, sometimes a client isn’t a good fit for a variety of reasons – they’re focused on a specific company that I don’t have experience with, or they’re in a niche industry or position where I don’t have the technical language needed for the resume or profile. Good news! There are many other resume and profile writers out there who have this experience and one of the best things you can do for the client and the industry is to refer them out to another writer. It’s a win/win/win – for you, the client, and the referred writer. In the past year I’ve developed a niche in HR, marketing, public health, and academic CVs – I love getting referrals and love providing them! Let’s make sure that each client gets what they need.

3. Each person has unique strengths, whether they know it or not. One of the reasons resume writers have business is because people have trouble figuring out their ‘wins,’ highlights, and what sets them apart. I have honed my intake over time to be short and to delve deep to help clients uncover their expertise, the ‘how’ of how they deliver impact. From early career to late career, career changers to clients wanting to take the next step up the ladder, identifying how you work best (in a team, independently, with or without direct reports), what kind of leader you are, and what motivates you at work will help you figure out 1) what you’re good at, 2) what you enjoy, and 3) what would be a great next step for you.

4. The content of your resume will determine your next job. This is short, but, if there’s something you do at work but you hate it and don’t ever want to do it again – don’t put it on your resume. (For me this is event planning – the possibility that something can go wrong day-of when you’ve planned everything perfectly is too much for me – kudos to all the excellent, calm event planners out there.) You will be hired primarily for what you’ve listed as your strengths and experience on your resume. If you don’t want to do it, don’t list it.

5. Follow your passion AND what you’re good at. I never thought I’d be writing resumes for a living. I have a Master’s in Literature from Northwestern University, decided the academic route was not for me, and have always loved writing but couldn’t find the right fit. As I edited and re-wrote friends and family’s resumes and they got interviews and clinched new, awesome jobs, I slowly realized I had a gift for this kind of writing. I then worked part-time, at night and on weekends, to build my business before quitting my 9-5. It was a leap, but I’ve worked hard to make it a success – I increased my salary by 25% this first year.

My top Clifton Strength is ‘context’ – I love creating a cohesive narrative for clients of their entire work history, who they are, and how they create impact. Weaving those lines together for people who’ve steadily climbed a ladder, want a major career change, moms who’ve taken time off to be home with kids, people who’ve spent time caring for an ill loved one, etc. is a challenge and an honor. Representing our complex selves on a piece of paper is not easy. We all contain multitudes. But to get your foot in the door, you must identify how your unique qualities will answer the organization’s needs. Dividing between what you’ve done, who you are, and what you’re reaching for is a personalized, individual process that will tell you more about yourself. I love my work and I love ensuring that my clients are not only happy but have learned about themselves through the process.

What did you learn in 2019? What mistakes will you be sure not to repeat, and what do you want to do differently or bigger in 2020? Taking time to reflect on these questions will ensure that you start out the year on the right foot. Wishing you success – the way you define it – this year and beyond.

If you’re ready to move on or find out how many recruiters might contact you with an updated LinkedIn profile, find my client recommendations on LinkedIn, message me there, or reach out to me to set up an appointment to discuss your unique needs and goals.

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