January 2024

by Ruth Sternberg, NCOPE – NRWA Newsletter Editor

Happy 2024! I wish all of you a happy, healthy year!

This is your year for success, and we hope that this newsletter provides you with actionable advice and information to fuel your success journey.

In this issue we tackle a question on many of your minds: Should I write a book? Three NRWA members who have been through the process share their advice.

You also will read about:

Ruth Sternberg 

  • NRWA’s new management company, Celtic Associations.
  • A new board member, Erin Kennedy.
  • How to decide if you should write a book.
  • The NCRW Study Guide, a great tool to help you improve your writing.
  • Get great ideas to mark Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (This is a great list!).

Let us know what you think of the content and if there is a topic you want us to cover!

Interested in writing an article? Contact me: ruth@confidentcareersearch.com.

Happy New Year!

Meet Our New NRWA Partner

By Bernice Maldonado, NRWA Marketing Chair

We are excited to announce that the NRWA has hired a new administrative management company partner, Celtic Associations, to provide administrative support and conference planning services for the NRWA. The company is located just outside of Chicago.

Deb Ryan is the director at Celtic and oversees governance, board support, and strategic and annual planning.

Heather Browne is the account manager at Celtic and oversees membership and member communications, meeting management, and our website.

In addition to their core team, Celtic boasts a roster of specialists available to support NRWA in various capacities, including digital and website projects, customer service support, and meeting planning.

We are excited about the partnership and looking forward to working together toward NRWA’s success and growth.

Got an NRWA question? The new contact number 847.647.8919.

Deb Ryan

Heather Browne

Bernice Maldonado, owner of Catalyst Era, is an organizational consultant advising organizations on implementing inclusive change and talent management practices. She also volunteers helping first-gen professionals and students with resume advice. Connect with her at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bernicemaldonado/ 

MEET YOUR NEW 2024 NRWA BOARD MEMBERS: Erin Kennedy, Director of Member Support: Experienced Business Owners 

Why did you decide to run for a board position?

I’ve always enjoyed being a part of an organization and helping where I can. I saw a need for a board member who could fill an experienced business owner role and thought I could draw upon my years of business ownership (good parts and bad) to assist new and seasoned owners with areas where they needed help.

Erin Kennedy

What are some of the things you'd like to help the NRWA accomplish during your board tenure?
Assisting business owners with concerns, problems, questions, or whatever else they may need. I am hoping to learn some new things, too!

Tell me about yourself: 
I majored in human resources in college and thought I’d be helping employees in a different way. When I did my internship, which turned into my first (out-of-college) job in a career center, I was tasked with helping people write their resumes. That fueled my passion for resume writing and eventually, I turned my side hustle into a full-time, sustainable business.

What is your business focus? I’ve been in the resume-writing industry since 1999. Through the years, my business focus has evolved to primarily mid-level and senior executive resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and coaching.

What were you doing before you started your business? I was balancing being a fledging solopreneur, a new mom, and managing a small farm. We had llamas, goats, sheep, barn cats, and a dog. It was quite a busy time! Now, we are down to just indoor cats.

We now live in Michigan and love it. My husband and I bought an old farmhouse that we’ve renovated over the years. We have two sons. One is a senior in high school and one is in college. I can’t believe how quickly the time flies.

So, You Want to Write a Book

Tips from Three NRWA Authors

Thinking that it’s time to write a book? Sometimes it seems like everyone’s doing it! Titles are pouring out through Amazon.

Publishing a book seems like an easy way to enhance your business brand. Plus, you can self-publish instead of finding a traditional publisher. As the demand for information seems bottomless, writing a book looks like a no-lose play. If you time it right, your nonfiction book can boost your business, expand your horizons, or give you a platform on which to stand.

It can also tie up your time in knots for months, which limits your income from other sources.

If you’re weighing putting pen to paper or fingers to the keys and turning out your tome, consider this advice from those who have been there:

Dan Shortridge, NCRW, owner of Results Resumes, is the author of several local-interest books, as well as DIY Public Relations: Telling Your Story on a Zero-Dollar Budget (Quill Driver Press, 2022).

He recommends writing a book if you seek:

  • To showcase your expertise and generate more client leads. This applies if you’re writing a book on careers, resumes, job-hunting, or a related topic.
  • A prominent platform for bigger projects. Are you considering growing your firm, launching speaking engagements, or starting a podcast or video series?
  • Media attention to the topic of your book.
  • An additional stream of income. Note that books don’t take most writers rich; many would be lucky to earn minimum wage after an honest calculation of the time they put into it. But I’ve earned a few thousand dollars from mine.
  • To explore a topic in greater depth. Many issues can be handled in an article of a few hundred words. One good test to see if you have enough material is to write several articles and see if you’re repeating the same themes or ideas.

Dan added that writing a book might not be for you if:

  • Your time is limited. Trying to squeeze in creating 60,000 brand-new words in the right order is a difficult proposition for most people but especially if you’re raising young kids or starting a business. I fit mine in during early mornings, late nights, and lunch breaks. The process is not always pretty or fun.
  • Writing is not your main strength. Don’t assume that because you write resumes you can produce a book. A resume is one or two pages; a book can be hundreds. It’s an entirely different skill set.
  • It is mainly your personal story. Memoirs are tough to sell unless they’re from a big name.
  • You only want the thrill of seeing your name in print. That temporary ego boost isn’t worth the immense investment of time and energy. Write an article or column for your local newspaper instead.
  • You are replicating what is already out there. Write a book only if you have something important to say. A tackling a new topic? Sharing a special message? Offering a unique point of view? Creating a new framework or structure? Providing a new solution to a common problem? Without that, you have just another boring book lost in the warehouses.

Dawn Rasmussen is the president and chief resume writer at Oregon-based Pathfinder Writing and Career Services, and is the author of Forget Job Security: Build Your Marketability (2012).

She advises the following:

Can you stand out? Before going all-in, do some reconnaissance/competitive analysis on what else is out there. What are similar titles, and do they cover the same things you want to discuss in your book? The key is to have a unique “hook.” Is your message different than anything else out there?

How will you get the word out? Be clear about how you are going to market the book. It doesn’t sell by itself. Book publishers expect authors to have their own marketing platform and built-in audience so that you, as the author, are doing some of the heavy lifting as it relates to promotions that lead to sales.

Amy L. Adler, NCOPE, wrote Courageous Career Change (2020). She is an executive resume writer and owner of Five Strengths Career Transition Experts. She recommends considering this:

Who will read it? We teach our clients to get super specific and very narrow about their career goals. Writing a book is not all that different.

If you are known for your work within a specific audience niche or industry, or even for a specific aspect of career strategy (e.g., interviewing or hidden job market), writing to that specific audience gives those readers another platform on which to learn about what you do and how you do it.

If you haven't gotten to the point at which you are specific about your niche, a book that is not super-targeted might not have the same impact on a wider audience. If you're still at the stage of just loving to write about careers, resumes, job search, and so on, start a with a blog (if you want to be public about it) instead.

Do you have the stamina? Writing a book is not a simple undertaking. I've seen it from both sides (publishing house and author). I've seen authors commit to a project on paper but never follow through, and I've seen those who have delivered complete manuscripts way ahead of schedule.

In this era of self-publishing, the timeline is yours but don't expect it to be an easy one. I first felt this when I wrote a master's thesis. I started out enamored with my idea and exhausted by the time I delivered it, and that was not nearly book length.

In our next issue, learn some tips for getting the writing done!

Should I Use a Comma?

Getting Help 

By Kathy Keshemberg, NCRW, NCOPE

NCRW Certification Chair

Have you ever wondered while crafting a resume how to use a dash properly or when to insert a comma or use an abbreviation?

You might not have considered this resource: The NCRW Study Guide. It’s one of the most valuable resources included with your NRWA membership. This document includes 50+ pages of the best practices, guidelines, strategies, and so much more guidance for resume writers.

The NCRW Certification Commission graders continually stay on top of changes within our industry and update the guide, publishing a new version every January.

For the most part, this year’s updates corrected inconsistencies and, yes, even a few grammar and writing errors (we make them, too!).

We added advice about the use of bullet points to Section VI: Formatting and Design:

  • Avoid overusing bullets throughout the resume. Bullets can draw attention to important information, but if you bullet everything, no one point can stand out.   

Check out this section to see a list of standard bullet points that are recommended and learn when non-standard bullets for non-mainstream professions or creative designs are acceptable.

The major addition to this version of the study guide is our new Appendix C: Bonus Resume Tips. As the graders review samples and tests, they notice how documents can be improved in areas that don’t fall within the “rules” of the study guide. We have compiled these “subjective” comments to aid our members in taking their resumes to the next level. Be sure to check out this list. We will go into more detail in future articles.

And while we’re on the topic of the NCRW (Nationally Certified Resume Writer), is 2024 the year you will pursue this certification?

We certainly hope so! And to help, we have streamlined the process by eliminating the Study Guide Quiz. The steps are now:

1. Become a member of the NRWA.

2. Earn 10 in-house CEUs.

3. Submit a sample for review and receive a “Ready.”

4. Schedule the exam.

And, even if you don’t receive a “Ready” (approximately 60% don’t on their first try), the sample submission is a valuable exercise. You’ll receive 2-3 pages of written comments from a grader outlining areas to work on or specific issues to fix. The grader will recommend training you should investigate based on your skill level.

Feel free to submit a sample simply to gauge your writing skills and determine how you can move forward to achieve the industry’s gold standard in resume writing: the NCRW!

Kathy Keshemberg is the president of the resume-writing firm, A Career Advantage. Connect with her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathykeshemberg/.

NRWA DEI Awareness & Response: Empowering Communities on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day:

Ten Tips for Resume Writers and Career Coaches

 By Eustacia A. English, NCOPE

Monday, Jan. 15 is a federal holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is an opportune time for resume writers and career coaches to reflect on his legacy of equality, justice, and empowerment.

This is a day not only to remember the civil rights leader but also to contribute to the community in a meaningful way. Here's a guide on how resume writers and career coaches can positively impact their communities on Jan. 15:

1. Pro Bono Services for Nonprofits:

Consider offering pro bono resume writing and career coaching services to individuals associated with nonprofit organizations focusing on social justice, equality, and education. This helps ensure that everyone has access to professional career development resources regardless of financial means.

2. Workshops and Seminars:

Host workshops and seminars tailored to communities where people may not have ready access to assistance building their careers. Cover topics such as resume building, job searching, and interview skills. Empower individuals with the knowledge and tools to navigate the competitive job market.

3. Diversity and Inclusion Training:

Contribute to creating more inclusive workplaces by providing workshops on diversity and inclusion. Addressing unconscious bias, cultural competence, and fostering inclusive environments aligns with the principles Dr. King advocated.

4. Collaborate with Community Centers:

Partner with community centers serving diverse neighborhoods to organize events focused on career development. Offer resume clinics, mock interviews, and discussions on potential career pathways to empower residents in your area.

5. Support Minority-Owned Businesses:

Extend your expertise to minority-owned businesses or entrepreneurs. Guide business development, networking, and strategic career planning to foster economic empowerment within marginalized communities.

6. Career Counseling for Youth:

Volunteer to provide career counseling or mentorship to young individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. Inspire them to explore various career options, set educational goals, and overcome obstacles to success.

7. Networking Events:

Organize networking events that bring together professionals and job seekers from diverse backgrounds. Facilitate connections, share resources, and create a supportive environment for career growth.

8. Educational Workshops at Colleges/Universities:

Collaborate with schools to conduct workshops on career planning. Focus on inspiring students from all backgrounds to pursue their dreams, providing them with valuable insights into different career paths.

9. Resume Review Clinics:

Host one-day resume review clinics where individuals can bring their resumes for constructive feedback. This initiative particularly benefits those re-entering the workforce or facing career challenges.

10. Create Resource Materials:

Develop and distribute resource materials on career development, resume writing tips, and job search strategies. Make these materials accessible to community organizations, educational institutions, and on social media, amplifying the impact of your expertise.

Let us use our skills to positively impact and contribute to the dream of a more inclusive and equitable future.

Eustacia A. English has been in the HR/recruiting profession for over 20 years. She is also the owner of Résumés on Demand in Cherry Hill, NJ, where she provides résumé writing and career coaching services for new graduates, nurses, and other HR professionals. Connect with her at https://www.linkedin.com/in/eustacia/

New & Renewing Members 

Welcome to our new and renewing members for the month of November and December 2023! 
Click here to view the full list.

By the numbers for the months of November and December:

  • 16 new members
  • 50 renewing members 
  • 13 renewing members that have been members for 10 years or more

    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!

    Save the Date!

    The NRWA's next conference will be October 8-10 in Providence, R.I.

    Stay tuned for registration information.

    Interested in speaking? Start gearing up! We will be asking!

    Professional Development 

    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.


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