September 2020

by Michelle Swanson - Newsletter Editor

The NRWA’s first-ever virtual conference kicks off shortly—on September 13! Our volunteers’ efforts to bring this incredible learning and networking event to us—while we stay safe at home—have been extraordinary. I’ve attended the NRWA annual conference since 2011, and while the format will be different this year, I am looking forward to “seeing” everyone as we come together to share best practices and the latest trends. You can view the full agenda—with presentations on resumes, cover letters, job search strategies, business-building tips, bias and cultural sensitivity, and so much more—on the NRWA website.

Are you interested in contributing to the NRWA Connection Newsletter? Contact Norine Dagliano, Written Communications Committee Chair, at with your ideas!

A Preview of the 2020 NRWA Annual Conference
by Jean Austin, NCRW, NCOPE - NRWA Education Chair

Conference Keynote Speaker Spotlight - Melva Tate

Melva Tate, 2020 NRWA conference keynote speaker, human resources leader, coach, and trainer, has transformed the lives of professionals and organizations by inspiring them to move, stretch, and reach beyond their wildest dreams. She will open the 2020 NRWA conference with “Using Your Awesome Superpowers to Help Others Win!” This high-energy session will be laced with practical techniques that will help us unmask the six success superpowers, or EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient), every professional must master to help others succeed.

Melva’s belief in using one’s EQ to inspire and motivate others is fundamental to everything she does at Tate & Associates, the company she founded after leaving the human resources field. It has been key to the success of her business and the fulfillment of its organizational mission: “Cultivating People and the Places They Work."

Melva believes that we often become so focused on our systems, processes, and deliverables that we forget to use ourselves–that unique, intangible “something” within each of us–as a vital tool to help our clients move forward. “We’re not here to be right,” she says. “We’re here to get it right."

Don’t miss this opportunity to dive a little deeper into who you are as a professional and how you can strengthen your connections with clients and colleagues. Melva will kick off our 2020 conference on opening day, September 13, 2020, at 11:00 a.m., ET.

Click here for more details on the Virtual Conference!

Conference Fun! 
by Sara Timm, NCRW, NCOPE - NRWA Membership Chair

The conference may be going virtual, but that doesn’t mean that attendees will miss out on all the fun activities, like those hosted by the membership committee at previous conferences.

Here is a lineup of what the membership committee has planned for this year's conference:

  • An "icebreaker" Scavenger Hunt scheduled for late Sunday afternoon.
  • Conference Call Bingo "happy hour" on Monday evening (casual attire/optional pajamas theme).
  • NRWA Trivia "happy hour" on Tuesday (theme pending).

And to add to the fun, fabulous prizes will be awarded!

On behalf of the entire membership committee—including Annette Richmond, Tom Powner, Brandi Munoz, Caitlin Outen, Kareem Rodgers, and Tessa Timm—we are looking forward to seeing you all at the conference!

Member Spotlight: Bernice Maldonado 
by Amber Fernandez - Assistant Newsletter Editor

When asked to write this month’s “Member Spotlight,” I was given the names of several members who might be good candidates. All of them looked like fascinating people I would love to meet, but Bernice caught my eye right away for two reasons: first, she was a relatively new member (like me), and second, she had jumped into the NRWA with both feet.

Nancy Grant

I sat down for a video chat with Bernice and, to my delight, learned that we joined the organization around the same time—March of this year—so we are both “newbies.” She was initially attracted to the NRWA because of the NCOPE certification program, but she didn’t stop there: she became a member, earned her NCOPE certification, and enrolled in the Writing Excellence program. And when a new committee was proposed—the Diversity and Inclusion Action Committee–she immediately signed up! As you can already see, this woman does nothing halfway!

When I asked about her current business, she explained that she has been a corporate consultant for most of her career. But her passion is helping “first-generation professionals.” Her website reads, “First-generation professionals are from working-class (blue-collar) backgrounds and are the first or only in their family to be employed in a professional (white-collar) workplace."

Why this particular emphasis? Bernice describes herself as a “first and only” too. She was the first in her family to be employed in a corporate setting and now the only one to start her own business. Both of her parents were factory workers, so it was quite a “culture shock” when she started working in a Fortune 100 bank at age 17!

I can tell that Bernice wants to give professional guidance to people whose own parents cannot take that role. Growing up, she was unable to receive this guidance from her mother, who was illiterate and unable to speak English. Rather, Bernice learned the world of job-seeking at age 11 while helping her mother read through job listings, write resumes, and fill out applications. She recalls that the jobs her mother was able to get were often temporary, seasonal, or high-turnover, which meant frequently restarting the process.

What are some challenges unique to her clients? Resumes for first-generation professionals require some coaching, she explained. They are hesitant to market themselves because they don’t believe they have unique skills or talents that set them apart from other professionals. That hesitation often comes from their upbringing and/or not feeling valued in the workplace. I suggested this may be an issue with confidence, and she agreed. In fact, she calls herself a “resilience coach” because people moving between two different socioeconomic environments need a lot of resilience!

Speaking of confidence, she shared a related hobby with me: image consulting. Bernice helps people discover and promote their personal styles—something I definitely need help with! I complained that I can never find clothes that fit well and look good; she said that’s the key. “If it fits well, you’ll look awesome!” I asked her (okay, I begged her) to consider leading a workshop for the NRWA on image presentation. I was overstepping my bounds a bit, but she graciously said she’d be very interested!

When I asked Bernice what she loves most about the NRWA, I think she answered for us all: “I love the tools and resources available to members.” Indeed, her own business is centered on being a resource for others; she frequently holds live workshops and Facebook Live Q&A sessions, and she is developing a virtual learning program for first-generation professionals, soon to be available on her website at

It was a pleasure to chat with Bernice. She has the ability to make anyone feel more confident. I blushed when she complimented me on my interview questions! Bernice, you are a treasure to all who meet you. I’m glad you joined the NRWA and can’t wait to see where your journey leads!

Grammar Crime Stoppers 
by Donna Tucker, NCOPE - NRWA Secretary

preparing resumes

As professional resume writers, we keep up with the times when it comes to resume style and format. But are we keeping up with the evolution of grammar? I would never suggest that you forget everything your elementary school teacher taught you, but some things have changed.

Following are some of the criminal actions that may have landed you a proverbial slap on the wrist from an English teacher or two. You can breathe easy now–the laws have been modified.

  • Crime #1: Never end a sentence with a preposition. 

You’re acquitted: Feel free to do so unless the added preposition adds nothing to the meaning of the sentence. For example, writing “Where is he at?IS a crime because the question is complete without adding the word “at.” On the other hand, to avoid stuffy or stilted writing, it is perfectly acceptable to state “What are you waiting for?” as opposed to “For what are you waiting?

  • Crime #2: Never split an infinitive (that is, inserting an adverb between “to” and the verb).

Not guilty: Although a sentence usually sounds better if the “to” is next to the verb, there’s nothing wrong with separating the words with a descriptive adverb. Sometimes it is necessary to split an infinitive to preserve the rhythm and balance of the sentence.

For example, by splitting the infinitive when writing “He said he would try to carefully unpack the boxes in the morning,” we avoid an awkward sentence structure that would occur by keeping “to” and the verb together, as in “He said he would try carefully to unpack the boxes in the morning.

  • Crime #3: Never start a sentence with “and” or “but” (conjunctions).

You’re acquitted again: Remember your English teacher insisting on this one? Hogwash! There is no good reason for this rule. Use this technique for effect—but sparingly. Consider whether using the conjunction in this manner truly adds to the quality of your writing.

Donna is presenting a two-part session, “Fun with Grammar,” at the NRWA 2020 virtual conference. Register for the conference and be sure to “bookmark” these two sessions on the agenda as “must-attend presentations” to learn more about grammar rules, standards, and what’s changed.

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Wishing you the very best this fall,
The Leadership Team

Certification Programs 


New & Renewing Members 

Welcome to our new and renewing members for the month of August 2020! Click here to view the full list.

By the numbers for the month of August:

  • 35 new members
  • 13 members from the Midwest
  • 45 member renewals
  • 10 members from California

Feel free to introduce (or reintroduce) yourself via our members-only networking forums:

You can find colleagues in your area by searching hereNot yet a member of the NRWA? Click here to join!

Conference Announcements 

Are you interested in sponsorship opportunities for the 2020 Conference?

Sponsorship opportunities include options for sponsoring individual sessions, the welcome networking event, addressing attendees, a virtual exhibitor booth, and more.

We are also offering Member-to-Member Virtual Advertising Opportunities, including a Virtual Book Nook to promote and link to your literary efforts, and a virtual space for member-to member advertising in place of the printed ad book.

Click here for details on becoming a 2020 Conference Sponsor!

Virtual Conference Preview

Did you miss the virtual business talk on August 4 that provided a preview of our virtual conference platform? No worries! Click here to view the recording which includes a tour of the platform and answers to many conference questions.

Sponsored by:


The NRWA offers live and on-demand webinars, a self-paced Resume Writing 101 course, teleseminars, and more opportunities for learning throughout the year.



Registration for our virtual conference is still open! Visit our website for more information.


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Visit our public-facing companion site to access our directory of resume experts, learn more about how we help job seekers, and read our Ask the Experts blog.


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