While sound strategy, tenacity and a hearty dose of fearlessness are crucial to today’s successful job hunt, a targeted, compelling resume is, perhaps, the linchpin when it comes to getting potential employers excited about you.
But, for so many of us, constructing a resume is about as pleasant as spending the weekend cleaning out Grandma Edna’s musty, cluttered basement, or having your wisdom teeth removed.
It’s awkward. It’s confusing. Frankly, it can be quite overwhelming.
How, exactly, does one transform a living, breathing career full of challenges overcome and unique accomplishments and distill it into a modern, professional looking sheet or two of paper—that conveys exactly who you are and why you are perfect for your targeted role?
For some, there’s one logical answer:
Hire a qualified resume writer.
But, where do you begin? And, how do you know if you’re even a good candidate for a professional?
If you know what general type or types of jobs you are looking for, but need help figuring out how to best package your capabilities for your target audience, a resume writer may be a key partner in making it happen.
What does a resume writer do?
Yes, of course. They write resumes. But great resume writers aren’t just “good writers.”
They’re excellent listeners, strategists, and sorter-outers of information. Great resume writers also know how staffing and recruiting decisions are made, both from a technology standpoint and a “how human-decision-makers-roll” perspective
"Our job is to act as an informational ‘referee’ — someone who can help sift through a job seeker’s background and drill down to the most important (and relevant) parts that connect directly to the hiring employer’s needs,” she said.
“The essence of what a resume writer does is to clarify the value that a candidate brings to the table and tell their career story in a way that leaves a target company positively salivating to pick up the phone and call the person in for an interview.
“Basically,” she added, “a well-crafted resume makes an employer sit up, pay attention, and worry that the competition might snap that person up before they do!”
Sounds great, right? Next question.
What’s the process of working with a resume writer like?
Every resume writer is different, so if you’re thinking about hiring one, make sure you find one whose process aligns with your preferred style.
For example, Jenny and team prefer an initial consult (phone, video conference, or in person) followed by email communications. Some resume writing firms conduct all correspondence through questionnaire and email, and others are all-hands-on, with multiple meetings. Whatever means the resume writer uses, the first part of the process will involve information gathering and strategizing.
Jessica Hernandez, President and CEO of executive resume writing firm Great Resumes Fast, said her team will initially collate important information about each client’s career history, experience, accomplishments and career goals. They then use this input to create a messaging strategy and a resume that’ll pass through applicant tracking systems (resume scanning software), make sense to the first human gatekeeper, and impress the hiring team.
What else is important when considering a resume writer?
“Ask questions, ask questions, ask questions,” said our own Jenny Foss.
“Even better, if you know someone who has worked with a resume writer, ask if they’d recommend that person or service. This typically is not a small investment for people. You absolutely want it to be more than worth your while; you want to feel great about the end product and have it help you move more quickly toward your targeted job.”
Also important to note: There is (literally) no barrier to entry to becoming a professional resume. You, today, could fling open your doors and announce to the world that you are now a resume writer.
This can be quite detrimental to unsuspecting job seekers, Dawn said.
"After the Great Recession, a flurry of people hung out their shingle as ‘resume writers’ when in fact, they were only using templates and poor writing to fleece people out of their hard-earned money."
All the more reason to do a bit of due diligence before taking the leap.
Here are a few things to consider / questions to ask:
Does the writer have a professional website that resonates with you and gives you some assurance that these are genuine (and current) professionals who genuinely care about your success?
Does the writer (or firm) seem to command thought leadership in the industry? Can you find blog posts, articles or other evidence that suggests they understand deeply how this game works and what hiring managers will want to see on resumes?
Can you see samples of their work?
Do you see glowing reviews? Positive reviews from real people online or referrals from acquaintances can be so helpful. A great resume writer will happily connect you with a few of their past clients so you can chat with them and learn about the process and how successful they were.
Do they have any professional certifications (e.g. CPRW, NCRW), membership with professional organizations, or other visible public involvement?
What was the path that led them to become resume writers? And, do you think that this path aligns well with what you’re trying to accomplish?
How many years have they been doing this and, how do they keep their knowledge fresh? (Nothing worse than that long-in-the-tooth resume writer that keeps right on dishing up advice worked well in 1999.)
Do they offer a free intro consult or conversation to determine fit? (At JobJenny.com, we absolutely do.)
Red Flags to Watch Out For:
The downside of the thriving resume industry is that there really are charlatans who will take your money and deliver a terrible product, even critiquing professionally-written resumes to impress you and then butchering your existing resume. Avoid this kind of disaster by keeping an eye out for obvious and subtle red flags.
Andrea Gerson, Founder of Resume Scripter, points out that some "resume writers" actually outsource the writing to others — and pay them very little to do so!
"Many of the large resume writing companies (also known as “resume mills”) farm out projects to low-cost freelancers with questionable resume writing skills,” she said. “When making this investment, you can certainly find ‘fast and cheap,’ but in this industry, you typically get what you pay for."
"Want a $50 resume? Believe me, you will get what you pay for! Any quality writer cares deeply about you as a client and cares deeply about their reputation. Most small businesses thrive on referrals — we want you to be happy so you tell your friends and family for referrals."
Another red flag is a resume writer who will eagerly quote 'success rates' for job seekers using their resumes. There are too many factors influencing the success of their clients' job hunts, including the amount and type of networking being done and how the job search is conducted. Better to see samples of the writer's work and talk with past clients.
If a resume writer has a low Yelp rating or most online reviews are negative, this would also be a strong indicator that something is, well, a bit off.
Someone who is brand new to the field cannot call themselves an experienced resume writer; if they have unlimited availability, there's a reason!
Also, expect professional follow up. If the writer doesn't stay in touch with you and follow professional standards of communications, they are unlikely to produce a professional resume for you.
If you’re on the fence …
It's hard to know whether you need a resume writer, and ultimately it's your personal decision. Jessica says, "If you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed or frustrated it’s a good sign you should consider hiring a resume writer. The burden lifted off your shoulders will be worth it!"
Dawn adds, "If you aren’t sure how to state your credentials in a meaningful, powerful way, then you probably need to hire a professional resume writer. Most people don’t write resumes except maybe once every few years, so that skill is pretty rusty. But that’s what professional resume writers do, day in and day out. We take our craft seriously and take the time to educate ourselves on current hiring trends, preferred formats, and what hiring managers / recruiters / headhunters are seeking."
Jenny, a Certified Professional Resume Writer herself, said, “If you’ve got at least a ballpark idea of what type of role you’re trying to land, but maybe aren’t getting traction or don’t know quite how to position yourself as a ‘smack-in-the-forehead’ obvious match for that role? Then it’s probably well worth considering.”
And the best part about finding a great resume writer?
Jenny and her writing partner Karen Friesen (also a Certified Professional Resume Writer) pride themselves on their writing skills and strong knowledge of the hiring process, of course.
But the thing that people seem to really gravitate toward when hiring Team JobJenny.com for professional resume writing is their levity and what a client once dubbed as their “huge G.A.S. (give a sh#t) factor”.
“Even under the best of circumstances, no one — and I mean no one — is like, ‘Yayyyy, job search!’ or ‘Yayyyy, it’s time to write my resume,” said Jenny. “It’s really stressful and heavy feeling. Great resume writers won’t just make the process survivable, they’ll be encouraging and energizing. Heck, they may even make it fun.
“Essentially, they’ll make sure you feel like you have someone in your corner and rooting for you every step of the way.”
And really, don’t we all need our own personal cheerleaders?
This post may include affiliate links. Please see our affiliate disclosure here. We only recommend people, products and services that we know and trust. All resume writers here certainly fall into this category. For more recommendations on resume writers, check out our RESOURCES page.
This post may include affiliate links. Please see our affiliate disclosure here. (Article by: Karen Friesen)
You know how writing a killer cover letter can feel a lot like, um, a root canal for your brain?
For some, the exercise is so doggone painful they either bail on it altogether, or end up scribbling out something bland, wordy or super not helpful when it comes to landing an interview.
And landing the interview is the entire point.
Your resume and cover letter are the dynamic duo of job search – marketing tools that, when done right, will help you get your foot through the door and a shot at dazzling your future employer.
Cover letters present a huge opportunity to capture the attention of recruiters and hiring managers. Here’s why: most people’s are really BAD. Thanks to most of your competition, the people on the receiving end are accustomed to reading cookie-cutter, snoozeworthy cover letter prose. So when something incredible (and on point) lands on their desk, they’re gonna stop and take notice.
So how can you pull it off?
Let us teach you
We’ve been working with LinkedIn.com to create two inspiring new courses designed to take the “root canal” factor out of cover letter writing and get you noticed.
If you are a LinkedIn Premium member, you already have access to the entire LinkedIn Learning library of self-paced video courses (and there are a TON).
Simply click on the tiny little “Learning” icon right at the top of your profile or go right to:
LinkedIn Learning is an incredible resource for anyone looking to shore up or gain new technology skills, sharpen your business capabilities, or get a handle on your job search strategy. You’ll find more than 13,000 online video tutorials on LinkedIn Learning (including five and counting featuring Jenny) — and it’s all there for the taking with your free month.
Cover letters can be tricky.
Let’s work together to crack the cover letter code and get you landing some of these interviews you know you deserve.
PROOF is an occasional series that showcases (and celebrates!) people who employed new job search strategies and landed THE job or promotion they wanted. Today, we feature David Rice of Portland, OR. (Story by Emily McIntyre)
When David Rice decided to seek some work-life balance and leave his tech consultancy after eight successful years, he knew that 1) he was going to be a strong asset to his next employer and 2) his resume didn't quite do the job.
"In my opinion, my resume sucked!" he laughed. "I knew I had great qualities and experience, but my lack of degree felt like a negative on my resume, and no matter how many times I rewrote it, it didn't feel right."
After a friend and former JobJenny.com client tipped David to her services, he decided to go all-in and invest in the Whole Enchilada package. A great move, as it turns out.
Just a few months later, David interviewed for and landed his dream job, as the COO for the Home Builder's Association of Metro Portland. More on his job-seeking process in a moment: let's back up and take a look at David's unconventional career.
David described himself as a perpetually "bored student" with high SAT scores and a low GPA in high school. He preferred spending time tinkering in the garage with the Apple IIe he’d inherited from his uncle (a hobby that ultimately led to his founding the tech consultancy) over homework.
Stints at several universities — Western Oregon State, Willamette University, Portland State and Purdue — left him uninspired, so he left the academic world and, eventually, found a home at DeTemple Company, a family-owned construction company based in Portland, Oregon. It was here that David began to realize his core strength: problem-solving.
At DeTemple, he filled a variety of roles (and solved a lot of problems along the way), with primary focus on IT and operations. David climbed his way through the ranks, ultimately serving as the company’s president and COO.
It was a fantastic run but in 2010, after 17 years with the company, David was ready to move on.
With young children at home and an itch to try something new, David decided to launch his own tech consulting firm to solve a recurring problem.
"A classic area many of my clients would get burned by was in the communication between what they need and what they get," he said.
And so, he served as their voices.
David partnered with large tech firms, translating requirements and specs, and ensuring his clients’ got the absolute most out of their investments. It was a great fit for his unique skill set and let him spend time with his children as they grew into teenagers.
In 2018, however, David was itching to get back into corporate leadership. After eight years of entrepreneurship, however, it was challenging to know where to begin, or how to best position his consulting experience so that it would resonate with recruiters and corporate decision makers. This is where JobJenny.com entered the equation.
What was Working with Jenny Like?
"I wasn't in a hurry," David said. "I knew I wanted to explore a few options to find that perfect niche. And, I knew I needed help with my resume."
At their first meeting, David plonked his resume down on the table and they dug in. The experience was more holistic than he expected.
"Before we even got into ‘the resume,’ we spent time talking about my goals: where I wanted home to be for my job, how long I wanted to do it… we discussed this as my last career stop. We talked about all kinds of issues around what was important to me in my job—money, duty, time, benefits."
After the initial meeting, Jenny and David built a snapshot the types companies he should reach out to and roughly defined the ideal next role. From there, Jenny and her team began to hone his resume and LinkedIn profile.
"They did a fantastic job of taking 30+ years of experience and getting it to work on one resume," says David.
How Fast Did Your Job Search Go?
As is often the case with Jenny's clients, David found that his “post-JobJenny” job search was significantly easier than he’d expected.
"I only did two interviews. Two! That’s because my presentation was so targeted," he said. "I truly believe that it was my resume that got me my new job."
(Jenny insists that it’s also because David just lights it up in everything he does.)
What’s Your New Job Like?
“I absolutely love my role at the Home Builders Association of Metro Portland. From the first meeting with the CEO, I knew it was where I wanted to be,” David said. “He was the perfect personality, and with the higher-level thinking that I like to do, I knew we'd complement each other.
“The staff and the CEO I work for are incredible,” he added. “And, our Board of Directors is equally incredible to work with. Every single thing I was promised coming on has been delivered."
Any Advice for Entrepreneurs Looking to Return to (or Land) a Corporate Role?
"Walk, don't run to Jenny's services!" he said.
Like many job seekers, David’s main obstacle was not knowing how to get noticed in the initial application process for a position—and, really, not knowing what he wanted to do next. Jenny's counsel and support made it possible to target his resume — and his entire job search — toward roles that would be a great fit, and to interview with confidence.
And, well. He did it. Congratulations, David!
Do you have a success story that you’d like featured on PROOF? If yes, be sure and send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. We love hearing about the amazing things you’re doing!
PROOF is an occasional series that showcases (and celebrates!) people who employed new job search strategies and landed THE job or promotion they wanted. Today, we feature Shannon Forrey of Los Angeles. (Story by Emily McIntyre)
As a girl, Shannon Forrey was fascinated by science and spent many hours in the garage working on projects with her dad, an engineer. Understandably, science fairs were her favorite part of school. Shannon would also often stay up late, reading books on astronomy and dreaming of the day when she would work for NASA.
In spite of these dreams, Shannon’s experience in the school system was common to many women; she found herself slanted away from STEM subjects.
"I was a good writer," she says, "and I just got kind of pushed into communications."
She earned a degree in advertising from The Art Institute of California—San Diego and spent the next decade working as a designer, an art director and a digital strategist for organizations like The Salvation Army. The work was fulfilling in some ways but, at her core, Shannon knew that she wanted to return to science and… NASA was waiting.
Over the years, Shannon had taken some biology and astronomy classes and had applied for a few positions at NASA, even reaching the interview stage once. She knew, though, that if she wanted to go in this direction she needed to pivot her focus and find a way to ensure she could land her dream job.
In 2016, she quit her job and went back to school full time, to earn a Master of Science in Space Studies at the University of North Dakota. During her studies, she participated in a NASA design challenge specifically for university students. Fresh out of school again, she freelanced as a Senior Marketing Specialist for a deep space company, while continuing to position herself for her dream job at NASA.
And here's where the magic of Jenny comes in.
What Did Jenny Do For You?
According to Shannon, the question is more, what didn't Jenny do for her?
She purchased the Whole Enchilada service and began the process of restructuring her professional and personal presentation, starting with LinkedIn and moving on to resume and cover letter, as well as personal social media profiles.
"I really enjoyed working with Jenny on my cover letter in particular," said Shannon. "Cover letters are just the worst. I do a custom cover letter for every job and it's so hard because you have to be professional, but have some personality so they can get a feel for you. Jenny really helped balance my experience with my sense of humor in a way that really highlighted who I was.
“When you present something like that to a recruiter you stand out so much, and then you are consistent in person."
How Did the Application Process Compare with Your Last Try?
Shannon remembers applying at NASA just before she quit her job and went back to school. She’d been called in for an interview but didn't get a callback.
"It was so disappointing!" she said.
Two years later, with a relevant degree under her belt and Jenny at her side, Shannon applied for a position that seemed tailored to her abilities: Social Media Producer for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. With a customized, personable cover letter, she demonstrated exactly what she could walk through their doors and deliver.
The results were stunning.
"I got a call the next day," she said. Six interviews and two weeks later, she received an official offer letter. Just over a month from the first call, she started her dream job at NASA! The process had been seamless and she credits Jenny's help with giving her the confidence she needed.
"You really have to be able to talk with everyone and support what your resume says! Luckily, Jenny wrote my cover letter in such a way that I felt exactly like the same person going into the interview as I was on paper."
Do You Have Any Advice for Job Seekers?
Shannon said that a common blind spot for job seekers is personal social media profiles.
"My boss mentioned that the hiring team looked me up on Instagram, and that's partly why I got hired."
She said that the extra time she took to ensure her personal social media reflected her professional aspirations paid off.
"I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to make my career change," she said. “But I think that, regardless of whether you chose to be in a job seeking position or not, there's a professional way to present yourself. Jenny, having been a recruiter, knew exactly what she would have wanted to see. This insight was so beneficial to me."
Do you have a success story that you’d like featured on PROOF? If yes, be sure and send us a note at email@example.com. We love hearing about the amazing things you’re doing!
This post may include affiliate links. Please see our affiliate disclosure here.
I just got back from Carpinteria, California, a wonderful little beach town just south of Santa Barbara. I didn’t get much opportunity to work on my tan (um, it was 40 degrees). Instead, it was a week spent with the incredibly talented LinkedIn.com team. We filmed two new job search-related courses for the LinkedIn Learning platform. They’re set to launch in the coming weeks.
Do you know about LinkedIn Learning? Are you using it?
LinkedIn Learning — formerly Lynda.com — is a massive online learning platform offering expert-led business, technology and creative skills development courses. And, if you have a LinkedIn Premium membership, you have access to every last one of them, at no additional cost.
Why is this so great?
If you’re already investing in LinkedIn Premium, this is an incredible value-add to the membership, especially if you’re an active job seeker or, perhaps, looking to shore up a skills gap or sharpen an existing skill to be more competitive in the market.
Many of the clients I work with know nothing about LinkedIn Learning and its availability to Premium members. Given this, I’m here to shout it from the rooftops that you should check it out.
Currently, our Resume Makeover and Job Seeker Tips courses are included on LinkedIn Learning. Soon, the tutorials we just filmed — both designed to help you grab the attention of potential employers with a dazzling cover letter — will also go live.
The platform is just unbeatable if you’re looking to learn something new — whether that’s leadership skills, interview tips, photography, Agile project management or advanced Excel (and just about everything in between).
Not a LinkedIn Premium member now?
How’s about a free month?
If you’d like to check out all that LinkedIn Learning has to offer — and enjoy all the additional benefits of LinkedIn Premium — they’re offering a free month trial membership.
Are you already using LinkedIn Learning? Tell us what your favorite courses are in the comments below. And, if you’d like to be alerted when our new courses launch on LinkedIn Learning, be sure and sign up for our mailing list!
This post may include affiliate links. Please see our affiliate disclosure here.
We’re more than halfway done with January.
How’s it going on the resolutions?
If you’re like a lot of people (raising hand), this is that period during which the optimistic high starts wearing off and the rubber meets the proverbial road. It’s when the excitement over all that meat, butter and cheese you bought for your keto diet is seriously waning (and you’d nearly kill for a brownie and some Cheetos right about now). It’s when you don’t even want to look at your running shoes, nor lace them up and head out in the pouring rain (said with love, Portland).
And for anyone who’s made “Land a new job in 2019!” their primary resolution, this is also about the time you might just need to shift into grit mode — because the post-holiday high has worn off and throngs of recruiters have not (yet) thrown themselves on your doorstep.
Deep breaths. Deep breaths. Job search rarely moves at the speed of light. But, as you move through January and beyond, it’s important to understand the most common reasons that job search resolutions fail — so you can sidestep these pitfalls and win the game.
You haven’t defined your goals (specifically)
Many job seekers are of the “I want to be open to anything that comes my way” ilk. And, that’s understandable. You don’t want to close off options. It’s scary to close off options.
However, it’s also very hard to create a compelling resume, LinkedIn profile and networking talking points if you’re trying to speak to the universe of possibilities all at once. Simply put, it makes it hard for recruiters and hiring managers to connect the dots between what they need and what you can walk through their doors and deliver. And, if they can’t connect those dots, guess what? They’re going to contact someone else; someone who has made it incredibly easy to figure out how and why they make sense.
Having no or little definition will also complicate your search. How overwhelming does it feel to sit down at your computer and endlessly search for that nebulous, undefined perfect job? Probably quite.
Try this instead: Before racing out of the gates to spruce up your resume and LinkedIn profile … before applying for a gazillion jobs … think through what this next job looks like. What do you want to be doing? What environment are you best suited for? What are these jobs likely called, and who are they with?
Having at least a strong ballpark idea of what you’re aiming toward is going to dramatically increase your odds of success, and dramatically decrease your anxiety.
You are relying 100% on online applications
Guys, we gotta stop having this conversation. OK, we’ll have it again, because it’s that important.
If your entire job search effort involves applying for job after job via an online portal and then sitting back and waiting, you may be looking at a long, frustrating haul here.
There are 1,000 reasons why this isn’t your best method. Here are a few:
Your resume will likely be scanned and rated by resume scanning software before humans ever see it (if they see it)
You are competing with people who are pulling out the stops to establish or leverage an “in” at that same organization — guess who gets the recruiter’s attention first?
You are competing with a gazillion other people, who are also “just” applying for this job online
Resume scanning software (also known as the applicant tracking system) might have a hard time reading and parsing your resume into data fields (especially if your resume is in an unusual format, using flowery fonts or includes photos or graphics). If this happens, you may never get contacted
Try this instead: Certainly, I’m not saying to NEVER apply for jobs via online portals. Many companies require that you come into the system in this manner, even if you have an inside connection. However, don’t just apply and call ‘er done. At a MINIMUM, go over to LinkedIn and see if you have a first- or second-degree connection at that company, and work to leverage that.
Try this instead: Certainly, you should respect yourself enough to do the front-end assessing, goal-setting and planning, but the only way you’re going to see this thing through is by taking action. Small, deliberate (and, at times, out-of-your-comfort-zone) steps every single day — even when you flat-out don’t feel like it — are what will take you the distance.
You aren’t tracking your progress.
Lack of organization will not only make you feel more discouraged and overwhelmed through this transition, it may also put you at risk for missing an opportunity. You absolutely don’t want to feel anxious and out-of-control through this process, right? Of course not.
Do This: At a minimum, keep a notebook or simple Excel spreadsheet going that maps out who you’ve spoken to, what you’ve applied for, where things stand with each person or opportunity, and when you should follow up.
You don’t believe in yourself.
Few people will believe in you, take a chance on you or pull out the stops to hire you if you don’t believe in yourself. Why should they? Businesses need employees who have the self-awareness, poise and confidence to perform. They need leaders who are inspiring and decisive. They do not need a bunch of low-energy Eeyores running the show.
Try This: With full recognition that , even under the best of circumstances, job search can be among life’s more stressful endeavors — you’ve GOT to step into job search with confidence. If you’re having a challenging time mustering this, check out this article (The Muse) for some quick tips.
Do you have a tip to job seekers stay motivated and on track with their efforts this year? Please share it in the comments below!
One Thanksgiving, my niece — then about 8 — looked up at two framed photos on the wall in my parents’ dining room. She glanced curiously from the picture of my sister and brother-in-law — her parents — on their wedding day to a portrait of me. And then, without hesitation, she announced:
“Look. There’s Mom and Dad at their wedding. And there’s Aunt Jen … allllll alone.”
There was the year that I was so lonely that the mere fact that it was Thanksgiving made me even more lonely and, even though I was spending the day with family, I was inconsolable.
And let’s not forget about that memorable Thanksgiving 13 years ago. I was eight months pregnant (going on 800), about to become a single mom (and quite terrified about this fact), and feeling like I may quite literally explode.
Little did I know, I’d be a new mom less than 24 hours later. (We won’t even talk about how I nearly had to take a cab to the hospital that night, because all of my “people to call” were dead asleep.)
Last year, my mom flew across the country to spend the week with us. She taught my daughter — then 12 — how to make her signature stuffing and cranberry relish. I cried when she left.
And this year … this year our blended family is missing all three of our kids. It’s not our year for Thanksgiving. We’ll be having our traditional feast tomorrow night.
Tonight, we’ll gather at a tiny, dimly-lit Old Hollywood lounge and celebrate Thanksgiving proper over Vespers and truffle fries.
Through all these years — sad years, happy years, giantly pregnant years and vintage cocktail years — I’ve come to learn something very important:
Life is beautifully messy.
You envision how it’s supposed to be. You pine for what it ought to be. You assume that everyone is having some Norman Rockwell style day or existence, as you’re eating takeout Chinese in your sweatpants. You don’t have your dear ones around you when you really, really want them around you.
You drink Vespers instead of eating turkey. (Hell, yes.)
Wherever you are today, tonight, this weekend or this year — try and embrace it. The chaos or the solitude, the heated dinner table debates or the Netflix movie marathons, the pining for something else or hoping the moments will never end.
You are absolutely enough.
Your holiday experiences, as special or non-special as they may be, do not define you.
Your gratitude, your heart, your character and your dogged commitment to finding what it is you’re here on this planet to do?
That’s where the rubber meets the road.
Out of the ashes of what my life was supposed to be, I’ve created a life that is.
And, it’s pretty damned incredible.
I’m incredibly grateful for every one of you who has found your way here. Your business, your kind words, your commitment to being everything you were made to be are just everything.
So, whether it’s a dream Thanksgiving or one that you’re hoping will just end (for the love of it all) — or something in between — thank you for being here.
PROOF is an occasional series that showcases (and celebrates!) people who employed new job search strategies and landed THE job or promotion they wanted. Today, we feature Paul Wells of Boulder, Colorado. (Story by Emily McIntyre)
Paul Wells had built a great career working in machine design and mechanical engineering for equipment manufacturers in the food and beverage industry; think Pepsi-Cola, Anheuser Busch—the actual machines that package our favorite snacks and drinks.
Over the years, he’d moved into project management, finally landing in a consultant role in Chicago—a position he held for more than a decade.
“I was happy enough where I was at,” he recalled, “but I began thinking about getting back to my machine design roots in a way that would let me continue using my project management skills.”
With his last child reaching high school age, he was ready to consider what the next decade or two looked like in his career—and he had a hunch it might be a move that also got him away from Chicago’s killer winters.
Paul wanted to make sure that, if he did make a move, it was a good next step for him.
“I wasn’t interested in a lateral move,” he said, adding that he didn’t want to have to start over in his career. Without much idea of where to start he took his girlfriend Tamara’s advice and checked out JobJenny.com. (Tamara has used Jenny’s services more than once, with great success.)
What he chose
Paul chose the Whole Enchilada, a bundled package that provided Paul with both strategy and the marketing tools he’d need (resume, LinkedIn profile makeover, cover letter) to give this a solid run. Jenny and her team helped Paul articulate the experience he had, including directing a $500M yearlong facility expansion project and the redesign of a major bottling line for one of the world's largest beverage manufacturers.
Turns out, for Paul, that was all it took.
“The thing that was most surprising to me was that once we did the LinkedIn update and that went live, I had more traffic on than I could keep up with! I could pretty much cherry-pick opportunities from my contacts there.”
What he ‘cherry-picked’ was a Senior Director of Engineering position with Wild Goose Meehan, in Boulder, Colorado. His job hunt was successful—and he’d barely started!
How does Paul’s new position compare to his previous role?
As he’d wanted, he has hands in both the machine design and the project management sides of equipment manufacturing. Moving from working with equipment for massive companies to the microbrewing world, he finds he deals with similar considerations.
“On the big side, you’re focused the most on going fast and doing things efficiently. That’s important for small systems too, but the application changes. The big guys don’t care about spilling barrels as long as they keep moving. The small companies will be concerned about getting every single drop of that run of beer; every drop is valuable.”
Wild Goose Canning produces filling equipment for canning and bottling in the craft brewing, kombucha and cold brew coffee marketplace. Now, Paul says, even wine is going into cans, and he thinks the market will only increase for this type of specialized equipment.
As for location, Paul is loving his new city. In Chicago he was keen on the lake front, but now he’s “literally five minutes from actual mountains.” He enjoys hiking, biking, and running and has been exploring the local culture which he says has been extremely welcoming. A number of his long-time friends have recently moved to Boulder too, so he and Tamara have a built-in community.
Paul’s advice for anyone hoping to change their careers
“It’s really helpful if you can work without a timeline. For me, I was thinking it was take six months to a year, at least, and I didn’t plan to do much of an active search.” Taking the time to really fine-tune his LinkedIn profile and resume ended up paying dividends, and fast.
What was working with the JobJenny.com team like?
“It’s funny because Tamara had used Jenny’s services a while ago, I used her, and now because of this move to Boulder I think Tamara is using her again,” said Paul. “I love Jenny’s entire menu of offerings. The Whole Enchilada was a good choice for me because I was able to talk through my experience with her to make sure it was up-to-date and then she wordsmithed my roles in a way that pointed me in the right direction.”
What are Paul’s plans for the future?
Boulder is a kind of “ground zero” for the microbrewing revolution, which makes it a great place for Paul to plan his future. He says that one of his favorite parts of working for Wild Goose Meehan is that he feels he has input and influence into the direction of the company and a huge scope for his professional imagination.
“I think it will keep me energized for a while,” he concluded.
Do you have a success story that you’d like featured on PROOF? If yes, be sure and send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. We love hearing about the amazing things you’re doing!
The following is a post by Emily McIntyre, professional badass (no, seriously, look at her website!) and a fantastic new addition to the JobJenny.com blog.
Are you feeling a wee bit terrified as you navigate job search?
You’re not alone.
Transitions are scary enough by themselves. Add in the self-doubt that can strike at the worst moment, the need to hustle and appear confident (no matter how you really feel), and the looming specter of your dwindling bank account and you have the perfect storm.
Tammi Brown, owner of Wag Wagon Pet Services in Portsmouth, NH, remembers the day she walked into the non-profit where she had worked for years, only to be informed her position had been eliminated.
“I thought, crap! It’s the week of my 40th birthday!”
At the time, she didn’t even have a LinkedIn account due to sensitive client work, and had never been unemployed. She had no idea what her first (or next) moves should be.
The truth is that, even if you’re organized and proactive about finding your next job, some parts of the job search will still be out of your control. Great prospects take time to fully explore. A resume re-write takes a while. A career pivot doesn’t happen overnight. Fine, you accept that: everything worth doing takes time.
That said, your mortgage won’t stop coming due just because you’re out of a job or underemployed. And what about the car payment, Netflix, groceries and Girl Scout Cookies?
While you job search, is your anxiety building?
Worrying about making ends meet? Feeling out of control—of your finances, your career, your life? If this sounds like you, why not consider a quick cash gig to keep you afloat (and sane) while you navigate he process?
Tammi found herself spending lots of time with her beloved dogs the week after she lost her job, taking them for glorious windy runs on the beach near her New England home between scouring boards for jobs and enlisting team JobJenny.com to help her construct her first LinkedIn profile.
It was these very breaks that led to new inspiration.
“When I saw just how happy my dogs were, and how unstressed they were at the end of the day after a great romp, I started to think there might be an alternative to the traditional doggie daycare environment, which doesn’t work for all dogs.” She started asking other dog owners in town what they thought, and suddenly had clients.
Just like that, she started a new business. Seven years later, it’s still going strong.
Tammi is an example of how, with a little creativity and some research, you can take control of your career through even the toughest times. And, even if you don’t launch an entirely new career like Tammi did, there are all sorts of ways for you to make quick cash to support you as you get out of a role you don’t enjoy or navigate your way back from a layoff.
Where do you begin?
Mine your life for moneymaking ideas.
Many folks don’t notice the obvious when it comes to making money quickly.
What are you good at? Does your job as a project manager require you to track details and stay organized? You might be an excellent virtual assistant.
Do you have graphic design or other creative capabilities? All sorts of small businesses or startups need help with these tasks on an ad hoc basis, and have no idea where to turn. You might find them advertised on sites like Craigslist, or you could consider pitching your services to companies directly.
Good at communicating? Talk conversationally with English language learners through a service like Italki or Cambly.
Tammi’s non-profit experience involved working with limited resources and constantly networking for the international AIDS projects she worked with. This gave her skills that came right in handy when she opened Wag Wagon.
“I didn’t pay for any advertising,” she says. “I had no problem asking people what they needed. How I could make their lives better. I talked to anyone with a dog. I’d say, ‘Hey, that's a great looking dog! I’m a dog walker. Are you local?”’
And the clients flowed in. Within two short years, Tammi had so much business that she stopped taking on new clients, unless one of her current clients vouched for them. She also revamped her services to ease her schedule a bit and enable her to focus on the work she loves the most.
Her second career — which started as a cash gig — is a huge success.
Of course, dog walking, graphic design and administrative tasks may not be your bag. No worries, there are so many directions you can go with this.
Here are a few...
If repairing your bathroom sink sounds like an easy morning task and you enjoy making lawns look beautiful, offer to help family members, neighbors or friends with odd jobs they either don’t have time to tackle or that are outside of their wheelhouse.
You can price these by the hour or by the project, and once you settle on a fee, get started!
Project ideas: rake leaves, clean gutters, lawncare, landscaping, paint house or rooms, plumbing tasks, finish carpentry, deep organization and decluttering, taking clients’ castaway clothes to the Salvation Army or thrift store… the list is endless!
You’ll find somme great info on what it looks like to run a successful handywork business here.
Household or commercial cleaning
Everybody needs help with cleaning, whether it’s your sister-in-law who’s in school AND has a three-year-old or it’s your elderly neighbor. Separate from decluttering and home organization, cleaning houses requires little initial investment—just cleaning solutions, cloths, and maybe a broom and dustpan—and it can be incredibly flexible schedule-wise.
Commercial cleaning is another idea which, if you can get your foot in the door at a business, can be lucrative and steady work. This is usually done after business hours; you might need to recruit a friend or family member to help given the quantity of tasks to complete.
Hourly or project rates are determined by you and your client: try looking on a few websites for similar companies in your area, knock a few dollars off for your inexperience, and start reaching out to your network.
If you are a quick typist and have a strong grasp on spelling and grammar, you might be a good fit as a transcriptionist, for any number of industries. Even better if you have specialization in an industry that regularly uses transcriptionists, such as law or medicine.
This is a position that lets you set your own hours and, as long as you have self-discipline and can complete the work satisfactorily, has no limit.
Payment can range from by the hour for you to by the audio hour, which means you can pull in anywhere from $10 to $45 an hour. Here’s some information on becoming a transcriptionist.
There are so many ways to earn quick cash.
Other great, immediate moneymaking ideas include:
driving for a mobile taxi service like Lyft or Uber
renting out a room on Airbnb (be sure and check with your local community for specific regulations on this)
taking surveys through Survey Junkie
delivering groceries and food through Instacart or Caviar
acting as a personal chef, or
running errands for people through TaskRabbit.
Take an hour and brainstorm some ideas — the more unique the better, since the market will be less flooded.
As Tammi discovered, an unexpected layoff can become an unexpected gift, even if it doesn’t seem that way up front.
Staying proactive and bringing money in the door won’t just help you make ends meet. It may spawn an entirely new career, or create a satisfying side hustle.
And a side benefit? By taking charge today, you’ll feel powerful—and people who feel better about themselves tend to be stronger job candidates.
Are you thinking about changing careers? If yes, then you need to know about Dawn Graham and her brand new book, Switchers.
Dawn is the Director of Career Management for the MBA Program for Executives at The Wharton School and one of the best-known career coaches in the U.S. She's also host of SiriusXM Radio's Career Talk show (we first met there!)