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

April 2021

by Amanda Brandon – NRWA Newsletter Editor

Hi NRWA friends! It’s Spring! Well, for most of you. I just scooped about a foot of snow from my driveway – again for the second time in about 10 days. According to my friends and neighbors, this is “Spring” in Colorado, and I should be “thankful for the moisture.” I am thankful for the moisture, but this Southern Belle needs to see some daffodils and yellow pollen.

I’m adjusting to my new home and learning the challenges that come with 30 inches of snow. It’s tough work just to get out of your driveway. I also joined a CrossFit group this month to hold myself accountable to exercise. I love hard training, and this is no joke. I did 40 burpees and 40 pushups the first night. My arms were screaming when I went to bed.

However, I’m noticing some things about my new lifestyle—both the snow and exercise. These challenges are teaching me resilience and grit. I see definition in the physical work and the mental work. And that’s what we’re focusing on this month in The Watercooler. What work can we do to boost our businesses and skills?

Our articles focus on growth and development:

  • Alison Smith shares how she’s using her engineering background to coach professionals through technical resumes. 
  • In the NCRW Corner, Norine Dagliano is sharing how front-loading resume accomplishments strengthen your clients’ stories. 
  • Paul Bennett shares his thoughts on visibility and growth in finding the right clients.
  • Finally, our member spotlight is Meg McCormick or “HRMeg.” She’s redefining herself as a resume writer after 30 years in HR consulting.

I’d love to hear your feedback on the articles this month. I need your ideas as well! Please send them to me via email. Thank you for reading. Cheers!

Amanda Brandon

Pet Colleague
of the Month

Marian Bernard's dog

Marian Barnard’s “Rodney” is a former colleague who won our pet superpower contest this month. He crossed the Rainbow Bridge in 2015, but his hidden talent didn’t require words. According to his owner, “he could melt your heart with his huge brown eyes."

Want your furry, fluffy, or scaly friend featured next month? Check for my post on Facebook the first Friday of the month OR email your photo and caption to me.

Sponsored by: Blast Your Resume

What Happened on Social Media for NRWA Pros in March
by Amanda Brandon – NRWA Newsletter Editor

The networking on our Facebook group was stellar this month! I posted about an unexpected photo from a client and heard some other off-color stories from our “colleagues.” It was a hoot! Want to see the full post, visit it here.

Valuable Conversations: Here are three conversations you may have missed on Facebook this month. Lots of value for growing your business!

  • Should you edit a client’s LinkedIn profile? Larisa asked this question, and many pros shared how they handle this pervasive question. It’s worth a read, ICYMI.
  • What do you do when you make a mistake on a resume, and the client calls you on it? I found this conversation so helpful and am so proud of our members for sharing “what to do” instead of “How could you?” It really showcases the spirit of our organization. I ended up adding some “in case of errors” language to my contract. See that conversation here.
  • Have you updated your member profile? Norine posted about this on Facebook. She was the first resume writer to respond to a client who had contacted 15 resume firms. He found her through the NRWA member directory! I landed my first client through this directory in February. (Similar story, I followed up with the client.) See more details here, and update your profile today!

What’s Saving My Life This Month?
by Amanda Brandon – NRWA Newsletter Editor

The professional development hour. I had a Zoom call with a friend in Florida last week. We just got together to discuss our businesses, pricing, strategies, and how to use some common tools. It was the best hour of my week—kind of like going to a real watercooler. We went almost an hour over our scheduled time because the collaboration was just perfect. If you need a boost, I recommend you add a professional development hour to your week. Read a book, Zoom with a colleague, or work on your own resume!

I’d love to feature more “What’s Saving My Life This Month?” contributions. Here’s what to do:

  1. Share a tip related to your business or profession that others can adopt.
  2. Keep it to 100 words or less (we’re writers; I know you can do it!)
  3. Share a headshot and a 2-3 line bio with your location and business or job.
  4. Send it to me via email by the 10th of the month. I’ll contact you when I run your submission.

Feature Article: How Doing Resume Reviews for Helped Me, My Business, and Job Seekers 
by Alison Smith – Radical Resumes, LLC

Providing 10-minute video reviews of resumes for was an unexpected gift, resulting in three wins!

  • My business has soared since the start of my assignment; coupled with Norine Dagliano’s 5-star Writing Excellence course, my confidence to develop robust resume strategies has resulted in nonstop, consistent referrals and projects.
  • My knowledge of different industries has expanded exponentially; some resumes that previously caused anxiety do not phase me. 
  • In addition to the NRWA professionals, I can collaborate with over 50 writing professionals who share the same passion and mission of helping people find a path to employment satisfaction.

While 10-minute training videos will never compete with what we do as full-service professional resume writers, this service is perfect for helping interested job seekers learn resume basics and serve as a fundamentals boot camp for any daring resume writer.


After completing the “Writing Excellence” course in September 2020, I wanted more opportunities to apply the breadth of what I learned during the summer-long class. Based on an article in the NRWA’s September 2020 newsletter, (an NRWA partner) was in search of experienced resume writers to perform video reviews of resumes. It sounded interesting, so I applied. My expectations were neutral.

Click here to read the full article.

Jewels & Tools: Thoughts on Visibility and Growth 
by Paul Bennett – NRWA Director of Member Support, New Business Owners

If you work for yourself, being visible in order to build your business is critical. But how can you achieve this?

You could buy visibility by spending buckets of cash on advertising—but ads, on their own, don’t enhance the business relationships that you’ll need to survive. Therefore, a far more effective strategy for creating visibility is to cultivate mutually beneficial connections through networking.

Building visibility is a mashup of “why, who, where, what, and when.” Addressing these Ws will greatly help you plan, focus, execute, and monitor your marketing activities. In this article, I’ll talk about the first four of them, and although the context is online, the broad principles apply to offline activities as well.

Why do you want to become visible?

In his bestseller “Start with Why,” Simon Sinek writes extensively about how the reason we do anything is so important. Addressing the why helps you set your “business compass” and should be done in the earliest stages of business planning. So, ask yourself why you want to become visible.

“To become successful” is often the first reason that comes to mind, but it’s pretty vague. What do you mean by “successful”? Is it making lots of money? Could it be working whenever, wherever, however, and with whomever you please? Are you inclined to work with specific types of clients? Or do you want to focus on one or two areas from the broad range of services (resume writing, coaching, LinkedIn consulting, interview prep, salary negotiation, full-cycle career management, etc.) that our clients need?

Click here to read the full article.

The NCRW Corner: Front-loading Doesn’t Just Apply to Washing Machines 
by Norine Dagliano, NCRW – Grader and Writing Excellence Instructor

Depending on how long you have been writing resumes and/or a member of the NRWA, you may have heard the advice to “front-load your accomplishments.” During a recent meeting of the NCRW graders, there was a brief discussion about whether this was correctly stated in the NCRW Study Guide and if the meaning was clear.

A quick search on Google turned up the following definition:

Front-load: To organize work on a project or information in a document so that the more important work or information is done or placed first.


Unless you stepped into the career services field 24 hours ago, you are familiar with either the CAR, PAR, or STAR formula for helping a job seeker describe something they accomplished on the job. We start by asking them to describe a challenge, problem, or situation/task; then have them tell us what actions they took to address the challenge, problem, or situation/task; and we wrap it up by asking them to tell us the result of their actions.

Now turn it around, aka front-load the example by beginning the story with the outcome or result.

Here's an example:

Consolidated phone systems and upgraded hardware/software, which reduced operational costs approximately $150,000.

Now turn it around.

Reduced operational costs approximately $150,000 by consolidating phone systems and upgrading hardware/software. (The result/most important information is stated first – front-loaded).

For added impact, you can even bold what you front-load—and don’t forget to include the bullet!

  • Reduced operational costs approximately $150,000 by consolidating phone systems and upgrading hardware/software.

For additional rules and best practices for including accomplishments on resumes, refer to Section III, e. in the NCRW Study Guide. Available to NRWA members only, download the latest edition here.

Member Spotlight: Meg McCormick aka “HRMeg”
by Amanda Brandon – NRWA Newsletter Editor

I had the pleasure of meeting Meg in a Facebook discussion about my new favorite tool – Trello. She uses it to project-manage her resume business. She said “it was saving her life” because it helped her focus her energy on delivering service to her clients while not getting lost in the details.

Better known as “HRMeg,” Meg has recently expanded her HR consulting services into writing resumes. It began with her helping friends’ college-age children get started in the middle of the worst economic climate ever for college grads – the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My labor of love is helping recent grads in the 20-25 range gain confidence and look good in their first major job search. I help people at all levels of experience, from recent graduates to experienced professionals, but I take a particular interest in assisting recent grads embark on their first real job search," Meg says.

She’s been HRMeg for almost 30 years in the Washington, D.C. market and has read hundreds of resumes throughout her career. She’s recently dived into the NRWA as a way to network and connect with other “people who do this for a living."

Click here to read the full article.

New & Renewing Members 

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

By the numbers for the month of March:

  • 32 new members.
  • 39 renewing members
  • 5 new members from California.
  • 5 renewing members from New York.
  • 2 new members who became members by registering for the NCOPE certification course beginning on April 29

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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