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

August 2021

by Amanda Brandon – NRWA Newsletter Editor

Happy August, my friends. How are you?

It’s beginning to look like back-to-school season in my neck of the woods. I’m in planning mode for my little brood of homeschool students (going into 8th, 3rd, and 1st grades). We are starting an exciting program called the Falcon Aerolab, which is geared toward training students in STEM careers.

My kids get to have a full day of STEM education once a week, and my oldest gets to build and learn to fly a radio-controlled airplane and a drone. And if they continue in this program, they can get licenses and certifications to begin careers in this industry in high school. I’m jealous!

In addition to our school planning, I’ve been doing some studying of my own—working hard on that NCRW certification. I completed a webinar for CE credit, and I’m trying to work through one Resume Writing 101 module per week.

If you’re looking for a chance to sharpen your business and writing skills, our annual conference is coming up very soon. The dates are September 20-23, and if you register by August 20th, you’ll receive a Swag Box! As my kids say, you don’t want to miss the free “merch.” Register at this link.

In this issue, we have:

Thanks for reading!

Amanda Brandon

Pet Colleague
of the Month: Blessing

Michelle Summers' dog named Blessing

Who’s in favor of bringing back the siesta? Blessing is!

Thanks to Michelle Summers for sharing her furry friend.

If you’d like to see your furry, slimy, or scaly friend featured, check for my Facebook post on the first Friday of the month or email with a photo, caption, pet’s name, and your name.

Sponsored by: Blast Your Resume

The NRWA 2021 Annual Conference - Resilient and Thriving - Registration is now open! Click here for more details!

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

Our Facebook group was quite active in July. Here are a few conversations you may have missed.

  • Should we require our clients to have MS Word to work with us? We had two active discussions on this. Some of our members even reveal this is in their contract. Find these discussions here and here
  • Do you need a business card? Here’s a look at how our pros are using these marketing tools in creative ways. 
  • Do you have insurance for your business? Check out this discussion to see what and who your peers use to protect their small businesses. 
  • Gift cards for referrals? Two recent discussions here and here offer some insight on what kind and how much.

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

    Microsoft Word hacks! Do you ever find yourself wishing you have a list of shortcuts for performing normal MS Word functions? I’ve been working on a list of these helpful key combos to speed up my document creation and editing processes.

    1. Select All: CTRL + A (PC) | CMD + A (Mac)
    2. Find: CTRL + F (PC) | CMD + F (Mac)
    3. Save: CTRL + S (PC) | CMD + S (Mac)
    4. Close Current Document: CTRL + W (PC) | CMD + W (Mac)
    5. Save As: F12 (PC) | CMD + Shift + S (Mac)
    6. Increase Font Size 1 Unit: CTRL + ] (PC & Mac)
    7. Decrease Font Size 1 Unit: CTRL + [ (PC & Mac)
    8. Change Letter Case: Shift + F3 (PC) | CMD + Shift + F3
    9. Insert Hyperlink: CTRL + K (PC) | CMD + K (Mac)
    10. Move One Paragraph Up/Down: CTRL + Up/Down Arrow (PC) | CMD Up/Down Arrow (Mac)
    11. Open Thesaurus: SHIFT + F7 (PC) | FN + SHIFT + F7 (Mac)
    12. Insert Date: Alt + Shift + D (PC) | CTRL + SHIFT + D (Mac)

    If you have a lifesaving tip to share with your fellow NRWA pros, please e-mail it to

    Feature Article: Our Annual Conference is Fast Approaching! 
    by Paul Bennett, NCOPE - Conference Committee Member

    Only a few more weeks remain until our 2021 NRWA annual conference (to be held virtually this year), and I’m excited about the great program that my hardworking colleagues on the conference planning committee are putting together for you!

    Paul Bennett

    Paul Raworth Bennett

    Each year, our conferences feature so many outstanding presenters that it's tough to choose between concurrent sessions (fortunately, like last year, we'll be recording all of them). The events are terrific opportunities for professional growth and networking. They’re filled with fantastic ideas for running our businesses and excelling at our craft. And they're great for making friends and having fun (as many of us know, ours can be a lonely profession at times).

    Last year’s virtual conference went off with very few hitches (thanks to our nimble, technically skilled Stringfellow Management Group), and this year’s conference will undoubtedly flow even more smoothly.

    But don’t just take my word for it; the numbers speak for themselves...

    Click here to read the full article.

    Member Spotlight: Alison Simpkins Smith 
    by Caitlin Gonzalez, NCRW & NRWA Newsletter Staff Writer

    Based in Birmingham, AL, Alison Simpkins Smith is the founder of Radical Resumes, LLC, where her mission is to impact job seekers’ lives by helping them “find their greatness within.” Between her vast achievements and active presence in the NRWA, she is an inspirational gift to all in the career services industry.

    Caitlin Gonzalez

    Caitlin Gonzalez

    Alison Simpkins Smith

    Alison Simpkins Smith

    While getting to know Alison over the phone to create this article, I immediately understood the special ingredient to Radical Resumes’ success – her genuine care for clients’ career growth. She has a warmth that is unwavering and unmistakable. “Writing resumes is more than a business to me,” she explained. “It’s my ministry.”

    A Technical Career Path: From Engineering Manager to Professional Resume Writer

    Alison started writing during childhood by journaling – “before it was cool.” In her late teens, she began writing resumes for young adults in college. As a professional, she wrote for newsletters and served as a leader in communications across various organizations. And, throughout all of this, she acquired expertise in the technical domain, a fortifying value-add to her target clients.

    Click here to read the full article.

    The NCRW Corner: Common Sample Submission Mistakes 
    by Sally McIntosh, NCRW, NCOPE Immediate Past Certification Chair

    Over the years, I have noticed that many people make the same mistakes when submitting sample resumes as part of the certification process.

    Sally McIntosh

    Sally McIntosh

    Whether you are working on attaining the NCRW certification or simply want to improve your resume writing skills, I strongly suggest reading the NCRW Study Guide. All writing is not the same. For example, resume writing is different from general writing. There are many best practices for resumes that are not part of general writing.

    Here are some of the more common mistakes we see on sample submissions...

    New & Renewing Members 

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

    By the numbers for the month of July:

    • 22 new members.
    • 27 renewing members
    • 4 new members from the Midwest.
    • 3 renewing members from Georgia.
    • 2 new members who joined by registering for the Summer 2021 NCOPE course
    • 2 renewing members from the NRWA Board of Directors.

    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!

    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.


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