Frequently Asked Questions

Career Copywriting Services

What kind of resume experience do you have?

I wrote my first resumes in a college business writing course, which I came out of frustrated that I was already better at them than the instructor.

I happen to be innately wired to parse and categorize information in a away that is ideally suited for crafting resumes, and I've been doing so ever since that class in 1993. I haven't stopped writing them since, though it was 2005 before I formally began offering them as a professional service.

In addition to 25 years of hands on practice, in the early part of my career I held several positions directly related to screening applicants, reviewing resumes and hiring, including:

  • HR position screening applicants - assisting with interviews and conducting background checks
  • Recruiter with an agency focused on IT - reviewing resumes, identifying and matching potential candidates with opportunities
  • HR role in a Fortune 500 firm - initial screenings and reviewing/filing all incoming resumes for required retention periods

I moved from the last HR role into a technical role where I truly belonged, but the experience those early positions gave me meshed perfectly with the technical writing experience my subsequent roles provided.

This somewhat atypical career path, paired with my first degree in Technical Communications, have made me an exceptionally skilled resume writer capable of working with commercial, industrial and technical professionals many mainstream writers find it difficult to adequately represent.

 

Can you write a resume for my profession?

I work with resume clients from fresh college graduates to global corporate executives. I am happy to help anyone at any level, because I firmly believe everyone deserves to have a resume that accurately represents their value as a candidate.

Because of my technical background and corporate experience, I do specialize in IT professionals and executives, commercial / industrial / engineering professionals, and upper level executives. I am part of a very small niche of writers with the technical competence necessary to fully explore and present the skill sets specific to these careers.

I’ve never hired a writer before. How does it work?

Resume projects follow a standard process...

Inquiry / Review / Quote

When a prospective client inquires about a resume project, I ask a few basic questions about their career and experience so I can understand which tier base rate is applicable.

Once we know which base rate is applicable and they decide they would like a formal quote, the client provides their draft document and any other relevant documentation. This is typically a Word file via email, though there are sometimes exceptions for hard copies.

I review the client's existing materials in detail, and determine if the base rate is applicable or additional work necessitates scaling up. I provide the formal quote in writing via email. I can provide quotes in a contract format on request.

The client then decides whether or not to greenlight the project.

Timeline / First Pass

Once a client decides to move forward, we block out the timeline, including:

  • Start date
  • Target date for follow up call
  • Target date for initial draft provided for review

At times I can begin a new document right away, and at times the start must be scheduled out around projects in process.

The first pass entails me translating every piece of information provided into what will become the master file. This file is heavily annotated with follow up questions regarding information provided and questions regarding information gaps identified.

This can take a couple of days up to a week, depending on the level of complexity.

I employ the Master Resume methodology and a proprietary template I've spent over a decade developing.

Follow Up Call / Master File Initial Draft

On the follow up call, I ask all the follow up questions annotated into the master file and document the answers in the file itself. This call generally takes at least an hour. Sometimes multiple calls are necessary.

After the follow up call, I take the information provided and generate the master resume file.

Depending on the level of complexity, this can take a couple of days up to a week.

Depending on the type of job, technical level of information, timeline and various other factors, sometimes I have the client proofread the master file before proceeding to the next step.

Postings / Polished Draft

Before editing a copy of the master file into a polished resume ready for submission, I review any job postings the client is actively interested in applying for. This is a crucial step when making decisions regarding what information should be included when trimming down a master length file to a single page (or two).

Reviewing relevant job postings also allows me to incorporate any specific primary and secondary key terms relevant to the position, which is necessary to help ensure an optimal match score in automated screening systems.

I then provide the polished first draft to the client for review.

This step generally takes a day or two after completion of the master file, assuming the client provides any relevant job postings in a timely manner.

Revision Cycles / Approval

The client reviews the polished draft and provides their revision requests in a format that's comfortable for them.

Once I receive revisions requests, I can generally turn them around within one business day.

Once revisions are completed and the client approves the document, I provide the finalized resume in Word and PDF formats, as well as the master file for the client to use as they wish.

What is the Master Resume Method?

Most people create their resume as a single page document each time they need one. Over the span of a career, you end up with numerous files, all containing slightly different information. I've been around long enough to see people have resume files across numerous types of digital media and be unable to, for example, access resume on a floppy disk because their new PC only has a USB drive.

I realized early on when I began working with resumes that the solution is to keep all the information from someone's career in one single master file.

With a master file, you never have to look for an old copy of a resume trying to remember how you phrased something from a previous job that hadn't been relevant on other versions, but was suddenly necessary again to demonstrate experience in that area for a new opportunity.

For the purposes of my process, it allows me to generate the most accurate representation of a client's skills, as well as ensure every possible detail relevant to an opportunity is covered.

I provide the master file to my clients as a courtesy. It is a by product of my process, but also a living document and a valuable tool for their career development.

In this way, a single resume project with me allows clients to continue adding their own information in the correct format in perpetuity, and provides a foolproof method for creating polished resumes custom tailored for every opportunity to be generated in a matter of minutes.

Note

To my knowledge no one formally teaches or has published a guide on what I call the Master Resume Method(TM). I coined the term, will be registering the trademark and am currently writing a book.

How long can my resume be?

One Page

A standard professional resume is one page.

It doesn't matter what some article said about a trend for more. It doesn't matter that you know someone who got a job with a two or three page resume.

It is not in a candidate's best interest to step outside established professional standards. It can create the appearance they are out of touch, or worse, that they don't care.

And with digital media measurably shortening attention spans, it's even more important to keep the length down.

When Two Pages Are Permissible

It is generally appropriate for professionals in senior level management positions to have a two page resume.

It is often appropriate for IT professionals to have a two page resume due to the detailed technical nature of their roles.

IT professionals in management positions nearly always need a two page resume.

Beyond Two Pages

The only time it is appropriate to have more than two pages is when academic professionals have a Curriculum Vitae, which is its own specialized type of document.

What To Do With The Extra Information

The advent of LinkedIn has made it very simple to make the information that doesn't fit on a resume available to potential employers.
There is absolutely no reason to exceed the appropriate standard length for a resume. Put the rest on LinkedIn.

How much does it cost?

Resume services start at a tiered base rate, and scale up if a particular project requires an unusual amount of work. The tiers are:

  • Standard single page resume
  • Two page executive and/or IT professional resume
  • Multi page Curriculum Vitae

All writing requires editing, it's a natural part of the process. With this in mind, all resume projects include 2 free rounds of revisions. On the rare occasion additional rounds are requested, they are charged at an hourly rate.

I cannot provide a firm quote on any resume project until I have reviewed the source material to determine the scope of work. Quotes are provided free of charge.

That sounds like a lot for a resume. Does it ever cost less?

No. Resumes are incredibly time intensive and I actively lose money on them. My rates are quite low for the quality of work and time necessary to produce it. My base rate does not go lower.

But can you make an exception and charge me less?

No. If you want to hire a resume expert with 20+ years of experience and a client base of global executives, you need to be prepared to pay appropriately for their services.

I understand that my rates are not within everyone's budget. I am happy to refer people to other resume writers when I am able.

My resume only needs to to be reviewed and polished, does that cost less?

In short, no. Here's why...

In my experience there are two kinds of resume clients:

  • Those who know their document needs rewritten
  • Those who think their document needs a polish when it needs to be rewritten

In over 20 years of writing resumes, I can count on one hand the number of times a draft resume I've reviewed has truly only needed a polish.

Aside from the fact that resumes are just plain hard to write and most people neither want or need to learn to do it well, the market has changed drastically. Automated screening systems have altered the way resumes need to be planned and structured in order to get through to the interview process.

Even extremely well written resumes usually need to be rethought, reorganized and keyword optimized in order to come up to contemporary standards and be competitive in the digital job search marketplace.

If a resume really, truly only needs a polish then I will tell the client that. They then have to option of hiring me at the standard rate for their type of resume, or of using my resume consulting option so they can have a detailed roadmap for revising it themselves.

You say you’re an expert, so why are your rates lower than other resume writers?

I work from home and have family obligations. My availability is limited and there are times when my writing calendar doesn't allow me to begin a new resume right away.

Because of the natural tendency people have to wait until the last moment to address their need for a resume, and because job postings people want to submit for have limited life spans, there are times when I cannot help a prospective client in the tight time frame they request.

Also due to my family obligations, I work remotely and am generally unable to meet in person to discuss projects.

I am aware of the limitations my availability puts on my place in the market regardless of my expertise, and base my rates somewhat below market because of it.

I understand your rates are fair, but I’m on a budget. Do you take credit cards?

For private resume clients, yes. I am able to accept credit cards via PayPal. Hiring a resume writer is outside the scope of the average family's budget, and most private clients choose this option.

Due to the cost of the transaction fees, I am unable to accept credit cards from B2B clients for commercial projects.

How long does it take to write a resume?

It varies slightly with each individual, but on average it takes 1-2 weeks. This includes:

  • Initial pass at analyzing existing content, transcribing it into its new format, and annotating questions regarding missing information.
  • A client phone call, usually about an hour, so I can ask my detailed follow up questions to fill in information gaps I have identified.
  • Generating the first draft of the master file with all the information available.
  • Analyzing master content against client's career goals and relevant job postings.
  • Editing the master file down to a polished final piece tailored for current goals and opportunities.
  • Client reviewing the draft and providing edits.
  • Completing edits, including any additional conversations necessary for clarification.

The timeline for any project begins at its scheduled start date. This can vary depending on the volume of work in process at a given time. Generally speaking, new resumes can be started within 1-2 weeks.

The timeline is also dependent on client availability to schedule the follow up call(s), and on the draft(s) being reviewed and returned with edits in a timely manner.

What is your availability?

My availability varies depending on current client load.  In general, a new resume project can usually be scheduled to begin within 1-2 weeks.

My job can’t know I’m looking, can you talk to me after hours?

Yes, this concern is routine and expected.

The majority of job seekers need to keep it quiet at their current job. I do not expect to be able to contact clients regarding their resume during business hours.

I am accustomed to scheduling resume calls outside of business hours to help ensure client privacy, typically at 8pm Central. Weekend calls are not preferred, but are an option when necessary.

My computer crashed and I lost my resume! Do you still have a copy of it?

Yes. I maintain my completed client project files in a secure, cloud based backup service. There is a small document retrieval fee of $25 to retrieve copies of archived projects.

Why aren’t there any sample resumes in your portfolio?

There are a couple of answers to this question...

Privacy

Resumes are by their nature very personal documents, and contain private information. It would not be appropriate to publicly post client resumes as writing samples.

Scrapers

Many a job seeker has been horrified to discover their resume posted on random spam sites they have never visited. This happens when unethical "scrapers" steal resume content a client posted on a legitimate job site for the sake of creating fake websites that make money with ads.

I don't share my client resumes publicly, and I recommend they never post it on online job boards, only submit to opportunities as directly as possible.

Plagiarism

My resumes are very high quality, and my clients pay for a carefully crafted document unique to them.

If client samples were public, anyone Googling resume samples for that type of profession would be able to copy and paste the content my clients paid for, and possibly even compete for the same jobs.

Exceptions

I do have explicit permission from a handful of clients to share redacted / anonymized versions of their piece to demonstrate my abilities in certain niches. These are only shared privately when necessary, and with the understanding they are not to be shown to anyone else.

Do you write cover letters?

Yes, I write cover letters.

That said, with the advent of electronic submissions, cover letters have become a lot less common. And rather than a single general cover letter people use repeatedly, when they are necessary they now need to be customized to each opportunity.

While I am happy to write one if a client insists, I hesitate to generate a single generalized letter when the current market requires them to be unique to get noticed.

I always encourage people to first give it a try on their own with a template I developed. This way they can incorporate unique personal details, and it will sound authentically like them.

The cover letter template is provided free on request for anyone already having a resume done. Cover letters I am contracted to write are discounted if done at the same time as a resume.

Can you write my professional bio?

Yes, I write professional bios.

Depending on the intended use, bios range from short blurbs to full page, detailed career histories.

It's important to be clear on what you intend to do with a bio. Some people try to use them in print and as introductory material for speakers, but the writing needs to be approached differently in such cases.

Can you help me with LinkedIn?

The short answer is yes, I can.

That said, rather than assuming you need professional assistance I recommend first referring to the wide range of information available on how to optimize a LinkedIn profile.

The most important thing to know is that your LinkedIn profile should not be a copy and paste of your resume. This frustrates hiring managers and creates a poor impression.

  • Use more conversational language than the choppy business speak of a resume
  • Provide more substantiating detail than on your resume
  • Include a larger variety of information, such as an extensive list of projects, experience wider than a resume is tailored for, and affiliated organizations

A key benefit of the master resume methodology is that a natural byproduct of any resume project is a robust career history perfect for translating into LinkedIn.

One LinkedIn reference book worth checking out is The LinkedIn Professor: Class is Now in Session - Your 21 LinkedIn Questions Answered.

Commercial Copywriting Services

What are your qualifications?

I've been writing in a professional capacity in a variety of positions since 1995. I have worked in corporate, manufacturing and clinical settings.

My corporate experience taught me to handle assignments ranging from large, structured projects with many deliverables to urgent, same day rewrites. My clinical experience taught me to apply technical knowledge in a practical way.

 

Key Roles

Prior to launching my freelance copywriting service in 2005, key roles in which my primary responsibility was generating, editing and approving documentation included:

  • Andersen Consulting, Software Quality Help Desk
  • Abbott Laboratories, Quality Assurance Supervisor

 

Specialized Skills

  • Search Engine Optimized website content
  • Software development and user manual documentation
  • Operating procedures for cGMP, ISO and CFR compliant manufacturing environments
  • Information Mapping Methodology

 

Education

  • BA in Engineering Communications, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 1995
  • BS in Biological Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago 2000
What is your availability?

For family reasons my availability is limited, and I take projects on a case by case basis. This ensures I do not commit to a timeline I cannot deliver.

I will always be up front about whether I have the bandwidth for a potential project - I would rather see a prospective client work with another writer than fail to deliver what their business needs.

My client load varies seasonally. Occasionally I can squeeze something in the same week. Generally, I can be available to begin projects with a 1-2 week lead time. For large projects expected to take several months, it is preferable to have more advance notice.

What is your rate structure?

I typically quote projects on a flat fee basis. After evaluating the scope of work, I provide quotes based on an estimate of the workload and my standard hourly rate.

A flat rate structure is preferential for me because it eliminates the time consuming task of time tracking, and for clients because it allows them to budget more accurately.

Open ended projects for which the scope of work is not defined and the deliverables are unclear, I bill at an hourly rate. Alternately, the deliverables can be billed at a flat rate as each is defined.

Can you work directly with our clients/partners/engineers/OEMs?

Yes. Once a project is launched and the requirements understood, I routinely engage directly with relevant third parties such as client product managers and OEM design engineers regarding content details. This eliminates the challenge of filtering technical questions through a non-technical marketing liaison.

Can you work with our in-house marketing team / our subcontracted graphic designer?

Absolutely. Working directly with existing marketing teams and other third party creatives to generate collateral is the most common way my services are contracted.

Can you bring in your own team?

I do not subcontract or project manage my own teams.

I do have a small circle of creative professionals I partner with you may want to have bid for your project. If I don't happen to work with someone who meets your project's specific needs, I am happy to reach out to my broader network to identify additional options for you to consider.

We don’t have a marketing team, can you also do graphic design?

No, graphic design is its own highly skilled specialty. I am strictly a writer. I routinely partner with graphic designers, both client based and from third party agencies, to generate marketing collateral.

But we don’t need it to be fancy, can you just design the layout this one time?

No, seriously. My artistic skills are limited to stick figures. My expertise is in content. I will not waste a client's time or money attempting to do a job I'm not qualified for.

Do You Write Case Studies?
Do You Write Press Releases?
Do You Write Operating Procedures?

Yes, I have extensive experience writing operating procedures in a manufacturing environment using the Information Management Methodology. Unfortunately, those materials are proprietary and I am not able to share samples.