Interview with Senior Editor, Tiffany Cruz: What is Power Writers USA’s Resume Writing Strategy?
As a writer, we need to ask our clients questions in order to determine what is important to them. Their answers will enable us to showcase their skills and achievements most effectively. As we gain experience with writing resumes, we intuitively know what the “hot buttons” are for a range of occupations. Here are some fun questions about Power Writers USA and the driver and passion behind our work.
- Do you specialize in writing resumes for a certain type of market? If so, which one?
I consider myself a resume generalist. My clients are spread across all ages, industries, sectors, national and global locations, and job titles. My most frequent clients are program and product managers, and then sales directors, but I wouldn’t consider myself to be an expert in these areas, as I often write for CTO/COO/CEOs, nurses, IT managers, analysts, customer success directors, store managers, and entry-level college students. I do however have a niche in the technology field.
- Why have you chosen that field? Please provide your reasoning (you may have been a former employee in this field for instance, or you may have an affinity with people who are struggling, or enjoy the challenges of the blue collar workers).
I have chosen the generalist strategy as my own work history, prior to resume writing, is very diverse. After having worked in sales, customer service, marketing, quality assurance, operations, and project management, I feel I have the ability to connect with diverse individuals, gain trust, and capture the true essence of their careers. I have considered delving into a specialty, however I made a strategic decision to avoid this route, as this could limit referrals (which are currently 29%+ of my business). I have a real passion to connect, dig deep, and help my clients feel good about their accomplishments, all while creating a marketable product to enrich their professional and personal lives. Nothing drives me more than getting that follow-up email or call from a client who is ecstatic about their new role or even dream job, and thanks me, for my time and efforts. This call, can come from anyone, and I don’t want to limit my clientele and their potential.
- If you are a “generalist” who prepares resumes for whoever knocks at your door, why did you choose to follow that path? Please provide your reasoning.
As a generalist, this path made the most sense to me, personally and professionally. With diverse clients across the US, all with varying needs and goals, I wanted to be able to accommodate as large of an audience as possible. With each and every client, I conduct extensive research on the job market, trends, and opportunities available to them.
As a generalist, I can provide more help to more people, grow my business, and provide economic benefit with job creation. With more and more time spent as a professional resume writer, I learn the “hot buttons” for varying industries and roles based off extensive client interaction. I ask for frequent feedback from clients so that I learn what works well and what does not, and I can constantly evolve my processes.
To clarify, I certainly do not take on any and all jobs as they come. My business has many opportunities that I have to turn away. For example, if I think a client is not a good fit for me based on skills, personality, or communication style, we will have to thank them for their time and provide them resources to find a resume writer elsewhere. We have turned away business due to being too busy and not being able to meet client deadlines! After speaking with tens of thousands of potential clients, I have a solid intuition as to whether a client and I will “mesh well” or not. About 90% of the time, we can take on a project, but any smart business owner knows that you cannot please everyone, and there are special circumstances in which another writer is better suited for the client.
- Explain your process in developing a client’s resume strategy. How do you prepare questions? Do you write them out and send them to the client, or do you conduct in-person or telephone interviews? What is your reasoning for conducting your interviews this way?
After 3 years of communicating with clients strictly via email, my business has evolved into a blend of phone and email communication to develop the resume strategy. I learned that clients have a wide range of writing skills and some people prefer to type out their accomplishments and some/most prefer to speak about them. I make a point to remain flexible and adaptable to my client’s needs and wants, although I prefer a phone call to help understand their tone, persona, and attitude, I give my clients the option of phone, questionnaire, or a combo.
No matter which approach they prefer, I spend extensive time with their resume to identify any obvious gaps or immediate questions I have to dive into during the call. I also research a few sample job postings (the client provides) so I get a good feel for what their potential employers are seeking in a candidate. I have a list of questions ready, most commonly during the call, and talk them out. I have a sales background and understand the benefit of asking open-ended questions, so that tends to be my focus when fact finding. I customize all the questions to make sense for where they are at professionally. For example, I would ask a Customer Service Supervisor for the number of staff members on their team, examples of training or developing a long-term team member, and what performance goals they have. With a project manager, I would ask questions around project duration, stakeholders, budgets, reporting, and deadlines.
I have found that clients like the option to choose, and most choose a phone call, so I will continue to run the business this way until customer demand changes. I want to be able to give them the most bang for their buck, while capturing their career and persona on a marketing tool.
- In considering either your specialization area or those resumes you have enjoyed writing the most as a generalist, explain how you go about determining what questions will bring out the “right” answers from a client.
I had a client today who can help answer this question, as I approach all client interactions in a similar manner. My client is a top-performing sales director and had 4 bullets of content for 8 years of experience, even with a #1 global ranking. He was candid, but gave me quite a bit of resistance when I started asking him to tell me about his strategy for new business development, prospecting, and networking. He actually said that he didn’t want to share his strategies as he felt like he was revealing industry secrets.
In any situation, I feel out the client. In this case, I felt I had not educated him enough, so I stopped and shared with him that I am (most importantly) on his team, therefore the more content he can provide, the better for both of us. I reminded him that these are types of questions he could have during an interview and should consider preparing an answer. Once I regained his trust, I rephrased the questions to be more direct, as some clients need this. I came back with “tell me how you determine who you will approach next for a strategic partnership.” Then the floodgates opened, and the client happily relayed his business strategies, quantitative numbers, key clients, and big wins.
The moral of the story is that my approach to get the right answer is to listen to the client. Not just to what they say, but how they say it, and how deeply invested they are in a conversation. After thousands of client consults, I feel it is fairly easy to hear if a client has not prepared for the call, have little interest in it (such as, they already have a job, just need a resume update for appearances), or if they are also working in the background. All of these circumstances are fairly rare, thankfully, as I make every attempt to prepare my clients for the call in-advance. However, they do happen, and I feel it is my job to realign and refocus my client so that I get out the information I need, ultimately making them a satisfied client.
- What occupation would consider you the most competent to write? Why?
I consider myself most confident in writing for Technical/High-Tech professionals, specifically at a Director level and above. I have a deep-level understanding of what these people need to achieve in order to survive in a rapidly evolving environment. I can talk in a way that engages and challenges them. This brings out their personality, drive, and motivation so I can convey this onto paper.
I hope you enjoyed reading this and feel like you know us just a little bit more! Cheers.