October 2022

by Amanda Brandon, NCOPE – NRWA Newsletter Editor

Hi NRWA friends! It’s October! It’s sweater weather in my neck of the woods. Are you feeling the crisper air and adding pumpkin spice to your coffee yet?

This issue is particularly special to me because disability awareness is a real passion. My late sister, Michelle, was a disability advocate. She struggled with dyslexia and auditory processing disorders, yet she overcame so much to give back. Her mission was to equip elementary students with the skills they needed to overcome adversity and lead productive lives. She taught special education focusing on dyslexia and therapeutic reading for nearly eight years before she passed in 2017.

Amanda Brandon

Amanda Brandon

I helped her get through college, acting as her editor for most of her written work. She found communicating on paper incredibly time-consuming and daunting. It blessed me to help her overcome this struggle. She blessed me later when she offered instruction ideas for my children, who struggle with dyslexia and dysgraphia.

After helping my sister and seeing my three children struggle with learning to read and write, I see how we resume writers and career professionals can support others even more.

In this issue, you’ll see a focus on disability employment awareness in three of our articles and some fun conference highlights, including the winners of the ROAR awards.

We also want to thank Robbie Heacock from Stringfellow Management Group (our association management company) for his hard work on our newsletter and website over the past few years. He’s taking a new position outside of the company later this month. We’re so excited for him, but he will be missed!

Finally, I’m running a little empty on features and spotlights. I want to hear your business strategies, work hacks, and client stories for future issues. If you want to share your ideas and business, please email me at newsletter@thenrwa.org.

Have a great month!

In This Issue:

NRWA 2022 Conference Photos 

I didn’t get to go to the conference this year, but doesn’t it look fun? You can see all the conference moments at this link. Do you have your own photos to share? Head to our Facebook group and share away!

Announcing the 2022 ROAR Winners 

The winners of the 8th annual Recognizing Outstanding Achievement in Resumes (ROAR) competition were recently announced at the National Résumé Writers’ Association (NRWA) conference, Unveiling Strategies for Success, September 18–20, 2022.

The NRWA holds this competition annually to recognize top-tier resume-writing talent in the career services industry. Winners of the ROAR competition join an elite circle of resume writers who have been recognized for their technical writing and presentation skills. One winner is selected in each of several categories by a judging panel, consisting of the following NRWA members this year: Kathi Fuller, Lorraine Beaman, Bob Janitz, Arno Markus, and Dr. Cheryl Minnick.

The 2022 ROAR Award winners are:

  • Anne Barnwell, winner in the Military to Civilian Transition Category.
  • Cathy Lanzalaco, winner in the Professional Category.
  • Marie Plett, winner in the Mid-Level Manager, Executive, and Fictional Client categories.

Click here to view the award-winning resumes from this year's competition and all past competitions.

Anne Barnwell, of Keller, TX, got her start in the resume-writing business 30 years ago as a student at Cornell University, where she worked in the career development office. For many years, she honed those skills by helping friends and family members. In 2018, Anne launched The Write Resumes and has earned credentials as a Nationally Certified Resume Writer (NCRW), Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Master Resume Writer (CMRW). She writes resumes for clients spanning college students to C-suite executives across various industries. Anne specializes in working with transitioning service members and helping people return to the workforce after a long career break.

Cathy Lanzalaco of Buffalo, NY, owns Inspire Careers, specializing in helping executives and career-minded professionals build careers and land jobs they love in less time than going it alone. She is the creator of the Inspire Careers Student Professional Launch Program™, the only new college graduate success program in the country. With 15+ years of human resources experience, Cathy gives her clients the perspective “from the other side of the desk,” helping them create career marketing materials and stories that align with what recruiters and hiring managers are looking for in a job candidate. In addition to this award, Kathy won a 2018 ROAR award and has been a proud member of the NRWA since 2017.

2022 ROAR Award Winner Cathy Lanzalaco poses with her resume sample at the 2022 Conference

Cathy Lanzalaco, of Buffalo, NY, was selected as a winner in the Professional Category of the Recognizing Outstanding Achievement in Résumés (ROAR) competition. She is shown holding a poster of her winning resume submission at the National Résumé Writers’ Association annual conference on Tuesday, September 20, 2022.

2022 ROAR Award Winner Marie Plett poses with several of her resume samples

Marie Plett, of Toledo, Ohio, was selected as a winner in the Mid-Level Manager, Executive, and Fictional Client categories of the Recognizing Outstanding Achievement in Resumes (ROAR) competition. She is shown with posters of her winning resume submissions at the National Résumé Writers’ Association annual conference on Tuesday, September 20, 2022.

2022 ROAR Award Winner Anne Barnwell

Anne Barnwell, of Keller, Texas, was selected as a winner in the Military to Civilian Transition Category of the Recognizing Outstanding Achievement in Resumes (ROAR) competition, awarded during the National Résumé Writers’ Association annual conference, September 18-20, 2022.

Marie Plett of Toledo, OH, is an 11-time ROAR Award winner whose passion for resume writing goes back to her childhood. As a 12-year-old, she would often help her recruiter parents by reviewing resumes. She started her business, Aspirations Career Services, Inc., in 2004. A Certified Executive Resume Master, Marie has won more than 30 industry awards for producing best-in-class resumes featuring high-impact content and visually stunning formats. She is widely known throughout the career services industry for her award-winning resumes and generosity in sharing her knowledge as a trainer and mentor of some of the best resume writers in the business. This includes this year’s NRWA conference, where she led an intensive “boot camp” to help fellow resume writers develop the graphic design skills that serve as a foundation for the visually stunning resumes she creates for her own clients.

About The ROAR Competition
Recognizing Outstanding Achievement in Resumes or the “ROAR” competition was first launched in 2015. Contestants submit resumes they have written (and fictionalized to protect job-seeker identity) to be judged by a panel of industry experts, most of whom hold the Nationally Certified Resume Writer (NCRW) credential. Submissions are evaluated based on several criteria, including strategy, style, creativity, positioning, layout, readability, ATS compatibility, branding, keyword optimization, grammar, technical writing skill, and compliance with the NCRW Study Guide and The Gregg Reference Manual. Winners, who are typically announced at the NRWA’s annual conference, receive multiple forms of recognition and a free one-year membership in the association. To learn more about this year’s competition, visit the NRWA website at: www.thenrwa.org/ROAR

Perspective: Disability, Part of the Equity Equation 
by Eustacia A. English NRWA DEI Columnist

This year, the theme for National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is Disability: Part of the Equity Equation. This topic brings me joy on a personal and professional level. In September, I started a new role as the Senior Director, Global Recruiting & DEI for an organization whose mission is to ensure accessibility to technology for people who are disabled. As I started the mandatory company training, I thought it would be significant to share my findings and thoughts with the NRWA community.

A disability does not necessarily mean a personal health condition but rather a mismatch between a person’s abilities and their environment. I was eager to learn about different types of disabilities and how we, as an organization, can accommodate or interact with our colleagues with disabilities.

Eustacia English

Eustacia English

diverse handprints

Visual disabilities: I never considered that there are different types of visual disabilities, such as long-sightedness, blindness, color blindness, and low vision. A study published by the Journal of Usability Studies found that only 28% of blind users could successfully complete an online job application due to the processes designed without accessibility in mind. When coded correctly, screen readers announce content to users with vision disabilities.

Motor/mobility disabilities: These types of disabilities go beyond the use of hands and arms to other muscular or skeletal conditions. If users cannot use a mouse, they need technology such as speech-to-text software, mouth sticks, eye trackers, and voice recognition software.

Hearing impairments/deafness: If our hearing-impaired colleagues don’t have a way to interact with audio files, they will miss out on a lot of content.

Cognitive & learning disabilities: Not all disabilities are physical. Learning and cognitive disabilities can have unique challenges in the workplace. Some standard accessibility adjustments to accommodate this group include allowing extra time to review content, presenting content in multiple formats, and enabling speech-to-text input.

Invisible disabilities: There are invisible disabilities such as reading, auditory processing, visual-spatial processing, processing speed, memory, attention, and executive functioning.

Temporary/sporadic disabilities: People can experience temporary situations that affect their mobility and work. I am an example of this when I suffer from sciatic nerve pain in my lower back and physically cannot move for a period of time.

Now, let’s discuss some tips that everyone can do to make the workplace inclusive for people with disabilities.

1. Language: How we talk about people with disabilities is subjective. It’s recommended to start with “person-first language” and say a “person with a disability” instead of “disabled person.”

2. Readability: Write in plain language with visual cues to ensure everyone can understand the message.

3. Wheelchair Users: Don’t lean or reach over someone who uses a wheelchair, and don’t touch a person’s wheelchair without asking first.

4. Vision Disabilities: Introduce yourself as you initially approach a blind person. When in a food line, don’t make it awkward. Ask them if you can help with their plate. However, if they say no, be okay with that. Not everyone is going to accept your help. At events, have digital copies of presentations available. And during presentations or meetings, describe the things you’re talking about on the slides.

5. Inclusive Outings: When planning functions with colleagues, ensure they’re inclusive of everyone. It’s important not to put any people in a position to feel excluded.

Please note, this is a short list of many recommendations. Some of these things I was aware of but some I was not. I encourage you to do additional research to learn more about what you can do to assist your colleagues with disabilities.

My biggest takeaway is to simply be polite and ask questions instead of making assumptions. Going forward, I will do my best to use the best practices I learned to support colleagues. As always, I wish 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 LinkedIn.com/in/eustacia.

NRWA Member Spotlight: Ellen Sokolowski
By Amanda Brandon, NCOPE, NRWA Newsletter Editor

I met with Ellen Sokolowski in August via Zoom to discuss her role in helping people with disabilities gain access to resume writing help, interview coaching, and job search strategies. We had a lovely conversation, and I learned that I want to be more like Ellen when I grow up. Her mission is evident, and her passion for people is unmistakable.

Ellen is a counselor with the Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services and serves a wide range of mostly rural individuals who need a boost in their job search. She equips them with job search support, including resume writing, LinkedIn profiles, and interview coaching.

One of the impressive parts of Ellen’s work is that she works with people who have a range of disabilities – learning, physical, behavioral, and neurodiversity. She and her colleagues help individuals with disabilities obtain and retain employment. They also connect job seekers with companies and agencies that provide paid and unpaid training opportunities.

“It’s gratifying that I work with people who may be at the lowest point of their lives, and I get to see growth and development to the point where they are working and being productive,” Ellen says.

Ellen’s clients run the gamut from high school students to older candidates who need assistance gaining accommodations to either seek employment or maintain a current role. She and her colleagues can assist persons with disabilities in becoming comfortable in explaining their accommodations to an employer; educating employers on reasonable accommodations that may be available and accessibility in the workplace.

Another area of focus for Ellen is working with disabled students transitioning from high school into the professional world.

“We work with many high schools to help students develop their pre-employment transition skills,” Ellen says. “This includes work-based learning, work readiness, career evaluation, and assisting in the college entry process (applications, major selection, and disability accommodations).”

Ellen and her colleagues equip students with a plan for employment that outlines how they will get from high school to their next professional goal, whether it’s a two-year degree, a four-year degree, professional training, or an apprenticeship.

“We can assist with things like tuition, tool and equipment costs, and traditional career services (resumes, interview preparation, etc.),” Ellen says. “A recent addition is helping candidates prepare for video interviews and video resumes.”

In a major effort, Iowa Rehabilitation Services is working with companies to establish apprenticeships for clients, extending beyond the traditional trades such as plumbing and electrical. “We’re seeing apprenticeships in dental hygiene, medical assistance, hospitality, and more,” Ellen says.

I asked Ellen if there was a need to identify disabilities on a resume in case the applicant needed accommodations. She says it’s not best practice to identify a disability on a resume, but more important to showcase quantifiable skills and value to an employer.

“We would not put any reference or recommend that a reference to a disability appear on the resume. “Ellen says. “The best practice would be to assist the person with a disability to address this in an interview setting.”

Covering gaps in a resume is another way Ellen and her colleagues equip candidates. She says that a skills-based resume is often the best remedy for this. “We can show that the candidate acquired them versus sharing a chronological work history,” she says.

For interview preparation, Ellen suggests that candidates keep accommodations part of the conversation. She says they work with candidates to identify if they can do the essential functions in the job description. If they need an accommodation, she recommends they discuss how the employer can help them meet that need.

“It may be beneficial for the candidate to educate the prospective employer about the need through conversation,” she says. “They may find a different way of performing a task that works for them, but the task is still completed.

“For example, if a candidate is in a meeting that requires notetaking, they can use a device like the Echo Smartpen to record the notes and get a transcript instead of laboring to get the notes on paper.”

Ellen and her team can equip employers to handle these accommodations through the onboarding and orientation process so that it becomes part of the role.

I learned that many common standards in the workplace often started as disability accommodations. For instance, ergonomic office chairs can be considered an assist for someone with a back injury. A standing desk can help with multiple struggles, such as attention and physical impairments.

“Small changes to the office environment can make a person productive and feel included and supported,” Ellen says. “Inclusivity is something that individuals with disabilities can identify with; I think employers want to make their workplaces more inclusive. This is one way for them to do it.”

Educating employers on individual differences has been a success factor for Ellen and her colleagues. For instance, one counselor established a relationship with Winnebago, and now they place neurodiverse candidates in their production roles. The counselor identified that many of her clients have excellent attention to detail when reading blueprints and constructing complex equipment. This skill set is an advantage to a camper manufacturer.

“I think it’s a matter of finding strengths in a neurodiverse population,” Ellen says. “And changing the interview process – a traditional interview process may not benefit that [neurodiverse] individual. Give them a problem to solve, and you’ll see how well they solve problems and how creative they are.”

Ellen says that’s a piece of her role – to educate employers on how they can change a few things to build a diverse and inclusive hiring process.

Ellen joined the NRWA because she attended one of our webinars. She said she loved the educational side of our mission and wants to continue growing in resume writing skills.


Ellen Sokolowski, MS, CRC, is an advocate for the disabled and neurodiverse, which shows in her dedication to forwarding this cause. She has served as the president and in several other board positions with The National Rehabilitation Association. She’s also received three awards for her dedication to service: the Yvonne Johnson Leadership Award (National Rehabilitation Association), Max T. Prince Meritorious Service Award (National Rehabilitation Association), and the Gerry Byers Memorial Award (Iowa Rehabilitation Association). Ellen holds a Master’s degree in Counseling and Personnel Service from Drake University and is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. Learn more about Ellen’s work at IVRS.Iowa.Gov and find her online at LinkedIn.com/in/ellensokolowski.

The NCRW Corner: Different Degrees of Opinion and Fact 
Tips from the NCRW Certification Commission

There clearly are some differing opinions among resume writers as to the “correct” way to include mention of a college degree on a resume or cover letter. On the one hand, what is the “correct” way to write the type of degree on a resume under the heading “Education”? On the other hand, what is the “correct” way to include mention of the degree in a sentence.

When do we include periods, capitalize the degree, insert a comma, or include the word “in?” Finding consistency in the answers to these questions is a challenge!

Education section on a resume:

After scouring the dictionary, Gregg Reference Manual, AP Style Guide, NCRW Study Guide, and various resume-writing books, we are forced to admit that we don’t know if there is a “correct” answer.

If we adhere to the teaching that the degree is a title bestowed upon the recipient, when one graduates from a four-year college, he/she is now a Bachelor“of arts” or “of sciences.” If one completes two more years, he/she is a Master. Go a little further and one is a Doctor or Ph.D. So, if following this teaching, when writing the degree on a resume under the Education section, one would write: Bachelor of Arts, Sociology (check how it is written on your college diploma.)

We have seen other variations in format, including inserting the word “in”: Bachelor of Science in Biology; Master of Arts in Psychology. Then, there are those who insist that the word “Degree” should be included: Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology.

In her book Resume Magic, Susan Britton Whitcomb includes the following example: “B.S.; Meaning: Bachelor of Science (or bachelor’s degree); Common Mistakes: Bachelor in Science or Bachelor’s of Science.”

And what about those pesky periods? Is it correct to write BA, BS, MBA or B.A., B.S. or M.B.A.?

Without a definitive answer on what is correct or what is not, we yield to the following recommendation:

Whatever you choose to do, be consistent.

But, when should one capitalize the degree in a sentence? When examining the correct way to handle this in job search correspondence, the answer is definitive and is explained in the Gregg Reference Manual, Section 353:

Do not capitalize degrees used as general terms of classification: a bachelor of arts degree/received his bachelor’s. A master of science degree/working towards a master’s.” However, this same section goes on to say “…do capitalize a degree used after a person’s name: Claire Hurwitz, Doctor of Philosophy.”

Section 644 provides an additional example: “Fred is getting a master’s in international economics.”

Continuing our focus on education, let’s examine how to write honors on a resume.

summa cum laude is “with highest honor.”
magna cum laude is “with great honor.”
cum laude is “with honor.”

Each of these are phrases, not proper nouns. Whether writing the phrase in Latin or English, the same rule applies—write all the words in lowercase. Not sure this is correct? Check a dictionary.

We have often seen them italicized on a resume, in fact, some university style guides suggest italics, but we can’t see any reason for this. Section 287 of the Gregg Reference Manual (GRM) notes the following:

“Once a foreign expression has become established as part of the English language, italics or underlining, is no longer necessary.” The GRM goes on to list 72 common phrases that adhere to this practice.

If you are concerned that the word “cum” shows up on a resume or in job search correspondence, you have two options:

1) Get your mind out of the gutter and present the information correctly;
2) Stick with the English phrase and write “B.S., Geology with highest honor.”

The reality is that many people don’t know the difference between summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude anyway.

New & Renewing Members 

Welcome to our new and renewing members for the month of September 2022! 
Click here to view the full list.

By the numbers for the month of September:

  • 16 new members.
  • 1 new member from the United Kingdom
  • 1 renewing member from Australia
  • 1 new member who became a member by registering for Writing Excellence training
  • 1 renewing member who register for NCOPE training
  • 3 new members from Illinois and Texas
  • 2 renewing members who presented at our annual conference
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!


electronic learning

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


Certification Programs 

NCRW - Nationally Certified Resume Writer
NCOPE - Nationally Certified Online Profile Expert

Resume Experts


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.


Affiliate Partners

Platinum Level: Distinctive Resume Templates, WriteSea; Silver Level: Indeed, Profiling Pro, Resume Products, Web Pages That Sell

Follow Us on Social Media:

Facebook    Twitter    Pinterest    LinkedIn    Instagram

Click here to join our mailing list!

Copyright © 2022 The National Résumé Writers' Association, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you opted in at http://thenrwa.com/

The National Résumé Writers' Association  |  443-966-3851
2331 Rock Spring Road, Forest Hill, MD, 21050