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The Watercooler
Articles from the NRWA Newsletter

  • June 10, 2022 3:00 AM | Administrative Manager

    By Nelly Grinfield, NCRW – NCRW Certification Commission Member

    As you work on creating a strong summary section, remember that you should include the client’s most impressive and relevant experience here. Since recruiters and hiring managers spend very little time reviewing each resume, the summary section is a key component in capturing the reader’s attention. 

    An objective statement used to be the norm on resumes—it told the reader what the job seeker wanted and their goals. Today, the objective has been replaced by a summary section. This is your first opportunity to sell the reader on why your client is the answer to the company’s needs. 

    The summary section can consist of a headline, a skills line, and/or a branding statement that communicates the client’s unique value to the future employer. Follow this with a brief paragraph, no more than six lines or four bullet points, that provide details, facts, and metrics to summarize the client’s relevant expertise.

    Don’t fill space with empty phrases such as “hardworking professional,” “responsible for,” or “proven—demonstrated—track record of success.” For example, a sentence such as “Team manager with excellent organizational skills, flexibility, and teamwork” provides no details and no value to the reader.

    In addition, make sure that any claims you make in the summary section are supported elsewhere in the resume. If the summary mentions that the client is a “B2B sales leader who is an expert in team leadership, new market penetration, and consultative selling,” make sure details and examples of this are spelled out in the experience section. 

    Remember that every word on the resume must have a solid reason for being there. Instead of filling the summary with overused phrases that could appear on anyone’s resume, convey the client’s unique qualifications and specific abilities to solve the employer’s problems. Here are some examples of this (first phrase is generic and meaningless, what follows is much more effective):

    • Top performer in division à #3 performance standing in division of 100 sales managers
    • Strong communicator à 100% “excellent” customer satisfaction rating based on 250 client surveys 
    • Problem solver à Prevented 12 facility shutdowns and saved $120K by leveraging resources

    Remember that a resume’s purpose is to effectively market your client’s skills, abilities, and expertise to secure an interview. Starting off strong with an effective summary section will put your client on the track to success.


    Nelly Grinfeld has volunteered for the NRWA since 2018 and serves as a grader on the NCRW Certification Committee. She really values her NRWA membership for all the fantastic learning and growth opportunities offered. She owns Top of the Stack Resume LLC in Cincinnati, OH. You can find her online at

  • June 10, 2022 2:00 AM | Administrative Manager

    By Eustacia A. English, NRWA DEI Columnist

    Happy Juneteenth! The 19th of June or Juneteenth is a day to commemorate, educate, and connect. Juneteenth commemorates the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in all 50 states after the Civil War ended, abolishing slavery. While the holiday is now a national holiday, it has gained more popularity due to the Black Lives Matter movement. Whether you've always celebrated Juneteenth or have never heard the term, chances are you've heard more about it recently than ever. 

    Read on for some interesting facts about Juneteenth: 

    1.     Juneteenth is the United States' oldest national commemoration of the abolition of slavery. “On June 19, 1865, about two months after the Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, VA, Gordon Granger, a Union general, arrived in Galveston, TX to inform enslaved African-Americans of their freedom and that the Civil War had ended,” according to The New York Times. “General Granger’s announcement put into effect the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued more than two and a half years earlier on Jan. 1, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln.”

    2.     The festival's name is a combination of June and the nineteenth century. Emancipation Day, Juneteenth Independence Day, Freedom Day, and Black Independence Day are all names for the same day.

    3.     Although Order No. 3 was issued on June 19, the almost 250,000 individuals enslaved in Texas did not immediately gain freedom. Many plantation owners/enslavers waited until after the harvest to announce the news, and many enslaved people who acted on the information faced severe repercussions.

    4.     Texas hosted the first Juneteenth celebration in 1866. Freed Texans began commemorating Juneteenth with parades, cookouts, prayer meetings, musical performances, and historical/cultural readings. Every community today has its own distinct traditions.

    5.     A Juneteenth tradition is to eat and drink red foods. Juneteenth festivities commonly include red velvet cake and strawberry soda, as the color represents perseverance. Red dishes are customary at Juneteenth cookouts and barbecues, as red is "a symbol of inventiveness and tenacity in bondage," according to The New York Times. Red honors the blood that African Americans shed.

    6.     President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act on June 17, 2021, making June 19th a federal holiday. This month, let’s celebrate! Take some time to reflect and learn more about Juneteenth. Many companies now give employees the day off and observe Juneteenth as a business holiday. Juneteenth is celebrated by many families and towns with parades, concerts, cookouts, and other activities. Shop at black-owned businesses, share history, or rest at home.

    Juneteenth celebrations are tough for some African Americans to enjoy because Black people are still working for equal rights in labor, health care, housing, education, and other areas. Some believe it is insufficient to increase public awareness of the holiday and provide time off from work until there are actual regulations enacted in this country to defend the underprivileged and uplift the marginalized voices.

    While the decision to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday is a step forward, realize that it is only a tiny win in the grand scheme of things, and there is still much more to be done. Take the day off to learn, educate, relax, refuel, reflect, and recommit to creating a sense of belonging, dignity, justice, and joy for all. And as always, wishing you all continued peace, love, happiness, and blessings.  


    Eustacia English writes the Perspectivecolumn, which examines Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in resume writing and career strategy. She is a 20-year HR and talent acquisition veteran and started Resumes on Demand last year. She also writes on DEI for The Black in HR e-zine. She lives with her husband and two children in Cherry Hill, NJ. Find her online at
  • June 10, 2022 1:00 AM | Administrative Manager

    By Amanda Brandon, NCOPE – NRWA Newsletter Editor

    I have two tips for you this month – Explore a four-day workweek and call your clients!

    Why I Decided to Work Four Days Per Week

    When I had a regular full-time job, I asked my employer for a four-day workweek. They didn’t love it and said I could work at home when needed. That helped some, but as an introvert and new mom, this really didn’t solve the problem. I needed a day to do all the things. You know – grocery shopping, personal development, and appointments. I was also a writer sitting in a cubicle. The distractions were endless. When you need to read complex reports and whitepapers to derive value, you need more than earbuds.

    This was one of my biggest drivers for creating my own career at home. However, I’ve realized that I still need that day, even though my schedule is flexible. So, I’ve been experimenting with taking one day off a week to focus on my kids and me. It’s life-changing!

    What do you think of the four-day workweek? Have you tried it? Let me know your stories, and I may feature them in an upcoming issue. Send your thoughts to

    Call Your Clients! They Need a Personal Connection

    I just got off the phone with a young lady I would hire for any sales role I had open in my company. She’s creative, tenacious, and dedicated to her customers. She reached out to me a couple of months ago to coach her on her next career path, after spending the past eight years in supply chain sales. I LOVED working on her resume and LinkedIn profile.

    I remembered today that I needed to respond to a compensation question she asked me. I asked her via email how her search was going, and she listed off six upcoming interviews. She also mentioned that she had a meeting with her manager and HR. I picked up bad vibes from that email.

    She quickly responded and told me she’d been let go. I immediately picked up the phone to check on her. It’s soul-crushing to get laid off, and I know that call of “I understand” and “You’ve got this!” helped her in some small way. This is why we do this – to better people’s lives and give them hope. I know a personal connection like that would mean the world to me if I faced this situation.

    What do you do in this type of scenario? How do you help your clients keep their heads up when they get hard news? Send an email to newsletter@thenrwa.orgso that I can share responses in a future issue.

  • May 06, 2022 9:30 AM | Administrative Manager

    Welcome to our new and renewing members for the month of April 2022!

    Feel free to introduce (or reintroduce) yourself via our members-only networking forums: the Member Forum on our website, Facebook group, and LinkedIn group.

    You can find colleagues in your area by searching here.


    • Ashley Beyer in Palm Bay, Florida
    • Felicia Davis - Dress 4 Success Office "Beyond the Business Suit" in Warren, Ohio
    • Sohair Elmowafy in Houston, Texas
    • Deborah Hampton - DLHedits in Belleville, Michigan
    • Jeannie Headley - Unapologetic Soul Coaching in Princeton, New Jersey
    • Victoria Pearce - VP Resumes in Houston, Texas
    • Danielle Robinson in Orlando, Florida
    • Teresa Salazar in Encinitas, California
    • Jennie Scharnweber in North Richland Hills, Texas
    • Belinda Stephens in Marianna, Florida
    • Tiffany Williams - Pitch HR in Atlanta, Georgia


    • Georgia Adamson - A Successful Career in Marlborough, Massachusetts
    • Meg Applegate - Hinge Resume in Noblesville, Indiana
    • David Barnes - Dbarnes431 Communications LLC in Fairfax, Virginia
    • Candace Barr - Strategic Resume Specialists in Vestavia, Alabama
    • Christie Bertch - BERTCHBRAND LLC in San Marino,
    • Krista Bogertman in Revere, Massachusetts
    • Steph Cartwright - Off The Clock Resumes LLC in Nine Mile Falls, Washington
    • Daniel Chahbazian - Your Resume Services in East Norwich, New York
    • Florence De Silva in Barataria, Trinidad and Tobago
    • Shelly DeVille in Cincinnati, Ohio
    • Deborah Eison in Chicago, Illinois
    • Stacie Fehrm - Stacie Writes Resumes in Kingston, Massachusetts
    • Paul Felshaw - Deseret Industries in Fairview, Utah
    • Allyn Gardner - Brookside Consulting Partners in Brockton, Massachusetts
    • Elizabeth Gross - Job Search Divas in West Roxbury, Massachusetts
    • Pat Kendall - Advanced Resume Concepts in Beaverton, Oregon
    • Muhammad Umair Khanzada in Brampton, Ontario, Canada
    • Douglas Kiracofe - Galen Michaels & Associates in Grand Blanc, Michigan
    • Cathleen Lanzalaco - Inspire Careers LLC in Cheektowaga, New York
    • Arno Markus - iCareerSolutions in New York, New York
    • Stephanie Meehan - Cameron Smith & Associates, Inc. in Rogers, Arkansas
    • Gulnar Mewawala - The Emphatic Resume in Voorhees, New Jersey
    • Cheryl Milmoe - Cardinal Expert Résumés in Sayville, New York
    • Kelli Page - Professional Resume Services in Columbiaville, Michigan
    • Deirdre Rock - Composed Career LLC in Rockaway, New Jersey
    • Patty Rusin - Getting There Today in Crown Point, Indiana
    • Marie Sales in Chicago, Illinois
    • Deborah Schuster - The Lettersmith in Troy, Michigan
    • Ellen Sears - E. Sears Careers in Suwanee, Georgia
    • Amy Sindicic in Lanham, Maryland
    • Selena Webb-Ebo - The Choice Career Coach in Milwaukee, Wsiconsin
    • Sheila Wener - BYU-Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho
    • Leena Zachariah in Novi, Michigan
  • May 06, 2022 8:00 AM | Administrative Manager

    By Anne Anderson – NRWA Staff Writer

    Rob Rosales

    Many NRWA members are very familiar with Rob Rosales, especially because of his considerable work on our conference and social media. We not only count on him as past marketing chair; he is president-elect and ethics chair, scheduled to begin his term in the new fiscal year, and already deeply involved in the planning process.

    Rob first became involved with the NRWA in 2015 when he left the corporate world and started his business, EZ Resume Services. He says he joined two organizations but found his roots here, where everyone was so helpful and engaging. As he puts it, “This is where I’ve grown up as a resume writer.”

    He has recently become a Nationally Certified Resume Writer (NCRW), noting that the achievement is a great confidence booster. He found the feedback very helpful and appreciates the support he received throughout the process from Norine Dagliano’s Writing Excellence program and the conference session on certification. Rob says, “I feel validated by the experience and my skill and the value I give to my clients.”

    Rob’s professional background focused on retail sales management, with his early experience at Kmart and San Francisco-based McWhorter’s Stationers, which grew to about 32 locations. He was recruited to join Goodwill of Silicon Valley as a store manager. He became a “fanatic” champion of its mission, earning promotions to district manager and then director, leading the retail division. Now, in addition to running his own business, he is a subcontractor for RiseSmart, an HR and outplacement firm.

    Rob’s experience at Goodwill helping people build their skill levels, develop careers, and improve their lives helped shape his decision to become a resume writer and career coach. He primarily serves mid-career to senior-level clients who are business professionals in services, operations, distribution, supply chain, and finance.

    Rob especially enjoys working with recent college graduates, helping them build a solid foundation. He says that in the nonprofit world, he learned that we’re all people and have challenges, and how we can pull together to help each other is heartwarming and motivating for him. He finds that philosophy is foundational for the NRWA and draws him to the organization.

    Rob sees the NRWA as being at a critical juncture because of the changes job seekers and service providers are facing today. In parallel with his experience at Goodwill, he will be able to apply his strategic leadership skills to this organization – understanding what drives our business, knowing who are customers are, identifying their needs, and building strategies to meet those needs.

    He understands this to be a long-term journey, one in which he can help us set our course and one that will meet the needs of the diverse membership. He hopes to continue developing ways for more members to engage as volunteers by carving up the work needed into smaller, digestible bits.

    Rob and his wife and three children live in central California’s San Joaquin Valley, relocating after spending several decades in the San Francisco Bay Area. Contact Rob at or

    Anne Anderson is an HR Manager at Charter Spectrum and a professional resume writer. She has been a member of NRWA since 2013. Find Anne online at LinkedIn.

  • May 06, 2022 6:30 AM | Administrative Manager

    By NRWA Certification Committee Member

    digital book

    Does this sound familiar? It’s time to wrap up a resume writing project, but several lines of text are spilling onto a new page. To correct the content overflow, you change the line spacing and margins to move the information back to the previous page. There’s even an MS Word command that conveniently shrinks the information to fit on the page.

    This strategy works when there’s already sufficient white space on the page. But go too far, and the results can be—well, not attractive and not reader-friendly.

    What is white space?

    White space is the blank areas of the page where no content or graphic elements exist. It’s the space between lines, paragraphs, bullets, sections, and margins where there’s nothing to consume but white space itself.

    Why white space?

    For a design element that is by definition “nothing,” it’s surprising that white space is one of the most important aspects of a resume’s design. It can:

    • Improve readability
    • Increase reading comprehension
    • Guide the reader to focus on key points
    • Clarify relationships between information
    • Create a sense of balance and elegance

    Nine Tips for Optimizing Resume White Space

    While there are no rules on how to incorporate white space into our resume designs, we can’t ignore the power of white space. Here are a few tips:

    1. Add paragraph spacing between bullets instead of using single hard returns.

    2. Increase space between job description paragraphs and lists of accomplishments.

    3. Increase space between headers, so sections don’t appear squished together.

    4. Break up long narrative sections. If a qualifications summary starts to read like the Magna Carta, break it into smaller paragraphs.

    5. Edit content. Sometimes there’s just too much information, and there’s nothing wrong with making cuts to improve the reader experience.

    6. Adjust margins, so there’s breathing room on all sides of the page.

    7. Be careful when surrounding certain information with white space, which could draw the eye. For example, offsetting dates in a sea of white space may emphasize a spotty work history.

    8. Be consistent. If paragraph spacing is set to 9 points between one job’s bullets, the format should carry over to other job bullets.

    9. Refer to the NCRW Study Guide, which has a section that explains how to create white space between lines of text.

    Strategically using white space on resumes can improve readability. However, avoid overdoing it, which could result in an amateurish look. Experiment with white space settings to create the perfect balance that works for your documents.

  • May 06, 2022 5:00 AM | Administrative Manager

    By Eustacia A. English –  NRWA DEI Columnist

    May is Mental Health Awareness Month and a time to raise awareness of those living with mental or behavioral health issues. It’s also a time for us to do our part to help reduce the stigma that so many people experience. Protecting and prioritizing our mental health is vital, especially in the workplace. After all, we spend more of our time at work, whether working remotely, in-office, or on a hybrid schedule.

    According to, “Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.” While working, it’s imperative to recognize the causes of burnout, the correlation to our mental health, and the ways to reduce it.

    The top five causes of burnout are as follows:

    1. Unfair treatment at work. All kinds of workplace issues exist, from bias to favoritism to mistreatment by coworkers to inconsistent compensation to corporate policies. All of these issues can cause burnout. When employees don’t trust their manager, teammates, or executives to treat them fairly, the psychological bond that makes work meaningful breaks.

    2. Unmanageable workload. When work feels burdensome, difficult to do well, or endless, you can feel suffocated, regardless of how many or few hours you work.

    3. Unclear communication from managers. When a manager’s performance expectations and accountabilities are inconsistent or unclear, the employee doesn’t have the necessary information to do their job effectively. As a result, work becomes difficult and frustrating.

    4. Lack of manager support. Manager support provides a psychological buffer, so employees know that their manager has their back even when challenges arise, or something goes wrong. A negligent, absent, or condescending manager leaves employees feeling uninformed, alone, and defensive.

    5. Unreasonable time pressure. Unreasonable deadlines and pressure can create a snowball effect. When employees miss one overly aggressive deadline, they fall behind on the next major tasks.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) recently updated the definition of burnout: “the syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Changing the definition of burnout can help dismantle the misbelief that it’s “nothing serious” because burnout can lead to anxiety and depression. Reducing burnout should take priority to protect your mental health.

    Here are a few ways to help you manage burnout:

    • Set clear boundaries between work and home. I know, easier said than done. This is a learned behavior that takes practice.

    • Maintain a healthy diet and exercise. If you are pressed for time, a 10-minute walk can make a difference. When we are experiencing burnout, it’s easy to reach for a sugary snack or fast food. However, these types of unhealthy foods may have a negative effect on our mood.

    • Take breaks during the day. Working eight hours straight without a break is not healthy. Schedule your breaks if you have to.

    • Take time to relax and unwind. Find time to have fun outside of work to relax your mind.

    • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to colleagues, your manager, or even a professional. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of genius.

    • Find out what works for you. Be sure to think about burnout remedies that work for your particular situation.

    It’s hard to believe that in 2022, there’s still a stigma around mental health. That’s why it is important, now more than ever, to know the signs and find ways to protect and prioritize YOU. Prioritizing your mental health is not selfish. Take moments for your own well-being. As always, wishing you all continued peace, love, happiness, and blessings.

    Eustacia English writes the Perspective column, which examines Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in resume writing and career strategy. She is a 20-year HR and talent acquisition veteran and started Resumes on Demand last year. She also writes on DEI for The Black in HR e-zine. She lives with her husband and two children in Cherry Hill, NJ. Find her online at

  • April 05, 2022 6:00 AM | Administrative Manager

    Welcome to our new and renewing members for the month of March 2022!

    Feel free to introduce (or reintroduce) yourself via our members-only networking forums: the Member Forum on our website, Facebook group, and LinkedIn group.

    You can find colleagues in your area by searching here.


    • Michelle Amparbin - Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg, New Jersey
    • Elizabeth Bersche in Alexandria, Virginia
    • Anthony Bradley in Chesapeake, Virginia
    • Amanda Buniak - Elevated Education in Catasauqua, Pennsylvania
    • Jaime Chambron - Career Agility System in Dallas, Texas
    • Jacki Creager in Brandon, Mississippi
    • Ashley Faison - in Elk Grove, California
    • Portia Ingram - Mo Life Media LLC in Dallas, Texas
    • Kawika Kane - Ben Hudnall Memorial Trust in Oakland, California
    • Rashmi Lis in Springfield, Massachusetts
    • Jenny Logullo in Saint Louis, Missouri
    • Alessandro Maione in Oakland, California
    • Jessica Newman - Ben Hudnall Memorial Trust in Fort Worth, Texas
    • Danielle Powelson - Ally Elite Agency in Williston, North Dakota
    • Michlie Ranieri - SquareBiz Recruiting in Farmingdale, New York
    • Tiffany Schmier in Henderson, Nevada
    • Darla Stevens - HR Compass in Soap Lake, Washington


    • Michelle Aikman in Golden, Colorado
    • Tessa Barlow - DFW Resume in Madison, South Dakota
    • Joanna Beattie in Hoboken, New Jersey
    • Denise Bitler - Resume-Interview Success, LL in Tampa, Florida
    • Katie Britton - The Finesse Resume LLC in Clover, South Carolina
    • Terry Buzzard Jr - SMI Coaching in Denton, Texas
    • Trisha DuCote in Springdale, Arkansas
    • Kyle Elliott - in Santa Barbara, California
    • Jane Fontaine in Attleboro, Massachusetts
    • Roshael Hanna - Resumes 4 Results USA in Woodbury, Minnesota
    • Lisa Hebert - LMH Advisors, Inc. in Bay Village, Ohio
    • Ama Inyang - Yobachi Strategies in Baltimore, Maryland
    • Diane Irwin - Dynamic Resumes in Cherry Hill, New Jersey
    • Kathy Keshemberg - A Career Advantage in Appleton, Wisconsin
    • Kristi Kigar - Professional Resume Services in Lapeer, Michigan
    • Angelia Knight in Mississippi State, Mississippi
    • Michelle Lewin - DesignProresume & Admin. VA in Kingston, Jamaica
    • Bernice Maldonado - Catalyst Era, Inc. in San Dimas, California
    • Kippie Martin in Madison, Connecticut
    • Julia Mattern - Julia Mattern Career Services, LLC in Westfield, Indiana
    • Michelle McClellan - MLM Communications in Portland, Oregon
    • Amy McDaniel in Channahon, Illinois in Lakeland, Florida
    • Laureen McHugh in West Simsbury, Connecticut
    • Jennifer Messner in Altoona, Pennsylvania
    • Elizabeth Mills in Rockville, Maryland
    • Andrea Mitchell-Khan - Blackmere Consulting in Redmond, Washington
    • Kevin Morris in Naples, Florida
    • Deborah Nakashima in Honolulu, Hawaii
    • Nikki Pearson in Pontiac, Michigan
    • Bea Ramos - USN FFSC in Washington, D.C.
    • Anne Marie Segal - Segal Coaching LLC in Stamford, Connecticut
    • Scott Singer - Insider Career Strategies in Hallandale, Florida
    • Laurie Smith - Creative Keystrokes Executive Resume Service in Gastonia, North Carolina
    • Nancy Spivey - Ready Set Resumes in Atlanta, Georgia
    • Stephanie Staff - Resumes With Results in Glenmont, New York
    • Liz Strom - Creative Calm Solutions LLC in Oakton, Virginia
    • Dodie Thompson - Peak Resumes LLC in Colorado Springs, Colorado
    • Jason Vallozzi - Campus to Career Crossroads in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    • Leigh Waring in Villanova, Pennsylvania
    • Livia Wright - The wRight Search in Lakeland, Florida
  • April 05, 2022 5:00 AM | Administrative Manager

    By Anne Anderson – NRWA Staff Writer

    Crystal Johnson is a welcome addition to the healthy contingent of members hailing from the Washington, DC, area. Although her family has roots in Omaha, NE, she grew up in Arlington, VA, and now lives in McLean, where she shares her home with her fiancé and two dogs, Kobe, a boxer-lab mix and Julius, a Jack Russell terrier.

    As an undergraduate at George Mason University, Crystal studied psychology with a minor in criminology, law, and society and obtained a master’s degree in criminology, law, and society with a focus on policy and practice. Her particular interest was research in advancing/fixing current policies within the criminal justice system. After serving in several internships, she landed a federal government internship with the Pathways Internship Program, which allows graduate students to begin their federal careers while being a full-time student.

    During her time in this internship, her supervisor realized that she had a talent for writing and superior analytical skills. This started her career as a contract specialist. She has worked for the Department of Education, United States Coast Guard (USCG), and Department of Transportation (DOT). She currently works at the Department of Homeland Security for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

    Crystal formed her professional resume writing business in 2019, serving various clients, especially in IT, federal, and administrative positions. She is seeing more entry-level clients and those transitioning from entry-level into strategic career positions.

    Crystal joined the NRWA in 2020 to expand her knowledge, stay current on the latest trends, and benefit from the organization’s network of professionals. She is gearing up to begin the certification process, aiming, she states, not just for a credential but to become a better resume writer. She especially appreciates getting to know colleagues from across the country and hearing about the latest trends. She participated in the 2021 conference and found it “super beneficial.” Wanting to expand her business and add subcontractors, she is finding NRWA to be an excellent resource for guidance and support of these efforts.

    Crystal assists the NRWA’s Director of Membership. She is interested in helping to expand the group’s member base and enrich the knowledge of current members. The committee meets monthly to brainstorm ideas. She has helped with polling on the Facebook forum, as one example. She says, “I love bouncing ideas off people who are just as passionate about resume writing as I am.”

    Contact Crystal at or

    Anne Anderson is an HR Manager at Charter Spectrum and a professional resume writer. She has been a member of NRWA since 2013. Contact Anne at

  • April 05, 2022 4:00 AM | Administrative Manager

    By Dr. Cheryl Minnick, NRCW, NCOPE – NRWA Certification Committee Member

    digital book

    Editor’s Note: This is not our typical content for the NCRW Corner, but we thought it was such an important topic that applies to resume writing; we’re featuring it here. This will be helpful to all NRWA members and those seeking the NCRW certification.

    College career professionals are often asked to write students a letter of recommendation for a scholarship, internship, or graduate/professional school. To avoid writing a letter of minimal assurance, four content areas should be covered:

    1. Describe your relationship to the applicant.

    2. Define their focus and success (academic, research, work, teaching, and/or service).

    3. Evaluate their accomplishments.

    4. Share personal traits only to the extent they predict growth or performance.

    Even well-intentioned writers unconsciously embed bias in recommendation letters. To write stronger, nonbiased letters, use:

    1. A gender bias calculator: or

    2. Titles for ALL candidates (Dr. Smith — not Sarah Smith or Sarah).

    3. Standout words for ALL candidates, that are most often used for men (excellent, superb, unparalleled, unique, professional, best, most, terrific, wonderful, remarkable, unmatched, amazing, quick learner).

    4. Ability traits (talented, smart, able, capable, brilliant, aptitude, innate, expert, proficient, competent, natural, inherent, instinct, analytical, insight).

    5. Compare candidates to scholarship or job requirements referencing research, publications, and needs; avoid irrelevancy (… is well-published, an excellent educator, and great skier!)

    To write nonbiased letters, avoid:

    1. Grindstone adjectives that are more often used for women, implying success from effort, not ability (hardworking, dependable, thorough, diligent, dedicated, conscientious, careful, effort, work ethic).

    2. Gendered adjectives (compassionate, sensitive, enthusiastic, tactful, caring, warm) which stall women’s success, especially those in science/medicine.

    3. Using stereotypes (Sarah is emotional) and typecasting (Dr. Sarah Smith is a caring physician). Rather, use neutral adjectives and labels (Dr. Smith is a skilled physician).

    4. Faint praise (Although the grant was not funded, she worked hard on the project … His publications are scant … She requires minimal supervision). A strong endorsement (She is made for this job!) is better than minimal assurance (He’ll do the job).

    5. Doubt-raisers (it appears, it seems, perhaps, I think, I feel, I believe) which are more often used in recommendation letters for women. (I believe She will no doubt excel.) Research indicates one doubt-raiser decreases an applicant’s chance.


    Dr. Cheryl Minnick, NCRW, NCOPE, has been a member of the NRWA since 2005 and has served on the Certification Commission since 2013. For the past five years, she has ensured the NCRW Study Guide aligns with best practices and Gregg Reference Manual updates. She has also served on past committees for Member Support and ROAR Awards. Cheryl regularly presents at NRWA conferences on ATS, implicit bias, new grad resumes, and college career center services.

    A veteran of the higher education career development space, Cheryl works as the Senior Career Coach at the University of Montana-Missoula and provides executive career consultations and resume writing for executive career development firms, as well as her own boutique business The Paper Trail. Find her online at

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