The NRWA Watercooler - The monthly newsletter for the National Resume Writers Association - Quenching your thirst for information and connection

February 2021

by Amanda Brandon - NRWA Newsletter Editor

Greetings from sunny Colorado! I hope you’re all enjoying the start of a new year. This is my first official newsletter as editor, and I’m so excited to meet you all! I’ve been working behind the scenes with Written Communications Chair Norine Dagliano and a great team since December.

I’m excited for Valentine’s Day because it means my 6-year-old daughter can walk again (she broke her leg in a sledding accident three days before Christmas). Talk about a way to end an epic year. It turned my world upside down in more ways than one. It was a big test to my business, but my clients were super caring and understanding.

That’s what I want our goal for February to be—to show people we care about their success. As you all know, many of our clients are in tough situations. They are displaced, disillusioned, and disappointed. We can boost their confidence by coaching and going the extra mile. Don’t sell yourselves short, but going the extra mile pays off.

I’m looking forward to hearing your feedback on our Watercooler changes and some of the fun to come. This issue is packed with useful tools to boost our businesses and collaboration. Cheers!

February Member Challenge: Get Social with Your NRWA Colleagues 
by Amanda Brandon - NRWA Newsletter Editor

I’ve been a member of the NRWA for more than a year, and I was unaware of how many networking opportunities there are in our organization. When I took this role as editor of the newsletter, I was nudged toward SO many resources—the Forum, the Facebook Group, Member Mixers via Zoom, and our LinkedIn Group.

If you aren’t frequenting these virtual watercoolers, what are you waiting for?

Collaborate & Communicate
These interactive groups are full of referrals, advice, and people who know their stuff. I’m blown away by the respect and collaboration that happens in these online hangouts.

One of my plans for future newsletter editions is to adapt a column that I used to write for a technology blog to our group—I’ll title it “What Resume Pros Missed in Social Media Last Month.” My blog included a list of awards—Top Twitter Handle, Top Business Insight, Best Comment, and more. It was so fun to write, and the response was phenomenal.

So, I need y’all to get social and start frequenting our member social media channels!

Pet of the Month: Gizmo, the 42-year-old cockatoo
To get started with the social recap, I’d like to introduce you to our pet colleague of the month.

I posted my persistent colleague’s mug shot on Facebook and got quite the response! Please meet Gizmo, the NRWA’s oldest pet colleague, at 42 years old and still flapping. Her favorite thing to do is to say she’s a “good girl,” and she mutters under her breath like a teenager (Don’t we all?).

Thanks to Dawn and everyone else for sharing their feathered and furry friends with us. I’ll make a similar post again soon to find our next featured friend.

Pet of the Month: Gizmo, the 42-year-old cockatoo

Photo Credit: Dawn Bugni

Guest Article: Super-Charge Your LinkedIn Knowledge and Skills with an NCOPE Certification 
by Kimberly Ben, Top Resume Writing & Career Services

Book and laptop

I’ve always been a big proponent of continuing education. The job market is constantly shifting, hiring practices continue evolving, and career professionals must keep up to remain relevant and continue delivering a valuable service.

Like most of the rest of the world, I was completely unprepared for 2020. Clients and prospects began contacting me with questions about how to navigate a job search during a pandemic. Some experienced an unexpected layoff or furlough, and others were doing their best to prepare for the unexpected.

I soon noticed a lot of my conversations centered around networking and how to leverage LinkedIn. I knew this was an opportunity to encourage my clients to invest more time and energy into their LinkedIn profiles, but I didn’t know how to do it. The more questions I received, the more I found myself frantically researching to find the right answers.

I’d been writing LinkedIn profiles for a few years, but I’d gotten lazy. I encouraged all my clients to build powerful profiles and use LinkedIn to maximize their networking and job search. Still, I hadn’t kept up with the platform changes, and I definitely didn’t feel confident educating my clients on its use.

I want to be completely honest—initially, I went back and forth over whether to invest in the NCOPE course and certification. I’d planned to obtain a completely different certification before the end of 2020. However, after careful consideration, I decided to go with the NCOPE program, and it was so much more than I anticipated.

I understood how to write branded, keyword-rich content for LinkedIn profiles, but most of my clients were completely lost on what to do with their profiles. Tom Powner is the program creator and instructor and an extraordinary LinkedIn knowledge resource. Course attendees actively participate in this intense, interactive training that includes:

  • Five live weekly webinars covering the hallmarks of powerfully branded LinkedIn content, effective keyword search strategies, the best profile settings for job seekers, and the ins and outs of LI Recruiter.
  • Weekly “open office” hours for Q&A, quizzes, handouts, and homework.
  • Three CEU credits, a monthly NCOPE meetup, and access to an exclusive Facebook Group.
  • Certification good for one year (which makes perfect sense given that LinkedIn is a continuously changing platform) and a low recertification fee of just $129.

I am currently updating my website and creating content for my newly-added LinkedIn coaching service. I feel confident about the guidance and training I can offer clients to help them get the most out of LinkedIn.

Kimberly Ben, NCOPE, ACRW, CPRW, is a full-time resume writer, job search coach, and Top Resume Writing & Career Services owner.

Member Spotlight: Amanda Brandon 
by Anne Anderson – NRWA Written Communications Committee Member

As the number of NRWA members grows to nearly 700, it’s a perfect time for us to tap the many talents of Amanda Brandon for the new newsletter editor. Here is a distillation of our delightful conversation.

Amanda has been working as a freelance writer, editor, and professional branding/career professional for 13 years, building on a broad foundation of journalism and marketing. Her early aspiration was to be a newspaper reporter, but she changed direction when she fell in love with freelance feature writing in a college class and became intrigued with the idea that she could eventually build an entrepreneurial career.

Amanda Brandon photo

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Mississippi, she spent three years as managing editor for a pizza-industry trade publication and five years in health care marketing. She then served as lead marketing writer for a rapidly growing technology company before committing full-time to her freelance business in 2011. (She actually quit her day job on her 30th birthday!).

In building her business, Pro Polish, Amanda worked on more than 30 full-length book projects, print and online course development, nonprofit communications (including grants and fundraising), and social media strategy, largely focusing on the business-to-business space. She served as a writer and editor for entrepreneurs and niche marketing agencies and provided marketing services to clients.

As her mission solidified—to help people communicate what they do and why it matters—Amanda expanded her offerings to include helping jobseekers and project-based professionals craft compelling personal marketing documents. She was shrewd in her use of LinkedIn to help her business grow, using ProFinder to obtain new projects and the one-time “questions” feature to build her network and get her voice heard. She honed her resume-writing skills by writing for contract resume firms and built a portfolio.

Amanda especially enjoys educating clients in the marketing aspects of job seeking. This includes helping people to ponder the value they bring to their companies and what they’ve really accomplished; to create and use their personal stories; to put together their “pitch” and think about their personal brand; and to effectively use the documents she and they have collaboratively prepared.

Amanda joined the NRWA in 2019, and her approach has been to get to know the organization a bit before becoming active. She is impressed with the collaborative nature of the members and the quality of the certification process. Envisioning significant developmental opportunities for the role of the newsletter, she is eager to pursue them.

Amanda wants the newsletter to educate members in the wide array of available resources and be a lively place for dialog and debate. She is thinking about strategies that will increase member collaboration, strengthen the organization’s social media presence, raise awareness among jobseekers, and help the NRWA become recognized more broadly as a valued resource.

With her husband, three children (12- and 6-year-old daughters and an 8-year-old son), and the family dog (Pepper the boxer), Amanda makes her home outside Colorado Springs, Colorado. When she is not working, or homeschooling her children, or helping with our newsletter, she may be writing her blog on professional motherhood or, as she says, “reading a book and avoiding the dishes and the laundry.” Find her at,, and

The NCRW Corner: How to Express an Approximate Number 
by Norine Dagliano, NCRW – Director of Written Communications

preparing resumes

One standard to follow when writing a resume is to be concise—keep your writing tight. One way we do this is in how we express numbers. For example, we could spell out the number eighty-five thousand when expressing an amount, write the actual numerals—85,000—or tighten it up even more by using the abbreviation for thousand: 85K. But what if the amount is an indistinct number higher than that?

Again, we have choices.

The Gregg Reference Manual recommends using more than with an approximate number to emphasize that the actual number is larger: more than 85K.

Another option is to use the mathematical symbol for greater than: >85K

And a third option is to simply use a plus sign, but this is where it gets tricky. Does the plus sign go after the K (85K+) or before the K (85+K)?

I’ve seen it written both ways, so I posed this question to the NCRW graders. The consensus is unanimous: the plus sign goes after the K. The graders' rationale is clear.

The K is taking the place of the triple digits or the word thousand. Inserting the plus sign before the K is equivalent to writing 85 plus a thousand or, in numeric terms, 85+000.

As writers, we often fall back on colloquialisms or fossilized errors (mistakes we see so often that we believe they are correct). Our clients rely on us to know the rules and apply them, even if they don’t. And what might sometimes seem to be a “picky distinction” really makes sense when thinking it through.

When you’re not sure, the Gregg Reference Manual Tribute Edition is the NCRW “go-to” guide for questions about grammar and punctuation. If you’re seriously committed to writing excellence, then invest in a copy today and always keep it close at hand.

New & Renewing Members 

Welcome to our new and renewing members for the month of January 2021!
Click here to view the full list.

By the numbers for the month of January:

  • 48 new members.
  • 6 new members from Maryland.
  • 4 renewing members from Texas.
  • 5 new members who joined by registering for the NCOPE.

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

You can find colleagues in your area by searching here
Not yet a member of the NRWA? Click here to join!

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