October 2023

by Ruth Sternberg NCOPE – NRWA Newsletter Editor

Hi, Everyone!

I am Ruth Sternberg, your new Watercooler editor. I take the helm hoping to meet the high standards of Amanda Brandon. I am grateful for the terrific work that she did staying on top of trends, and working with writers, proofreaders, and our management company to make everything perfect!

As I edited this month’s selections, I was still tingling from the wonderful conference in Colorado Springs.

Ruth Sternberg 

It was outstanding and full of highly relevant guidance. The fellowship wasn’t too shabby, either! It’s always terrific to see my colleagues in person.

If you haven’t attended a conference in person, I’m happy to talk with you about why it’s such a great experience.

Kudos to the entire conference committee for making this one a hard act to follow!

In this issue, you will read about the 2023 writing and service awards announced at the conference. You also will expand your knowledge of SEO so you can make your website shine and get some tips on how to help your employees maintain their good mental health. This is a hugely important topic and one we can’t ignore.

Before you dig in, two things:

1. Want to write for the Watercooler? Want to help out in some other way? Shoot me an email at ruth@confidentcareersearch.com.

2. NRWA’s marketing chair, Bernice Maldonado, is looking for interested committee members. This is a great way to give back to the organization. Contact her at contact@catalysterainc.com. Our committees are terrific! I’ve made wonderful friends through committee service.

Have a great month! See you in November!


Donna Tucker Named NRWA Industry Hero

In 2015, NRWA Board Member Donna Tucker created an award to honor professionals who contribute significantly to our field’s growth and progress.

She picked as its symbol a blue clock.

Donna Tucker

Now she has her own.

Join us in congratulating Donna as the recipient of the 2023 NRWA Industry Hero Award.

Past awardees have introduced valuable tools, championed excellence, and raised industry standards. Donna’s contributions are broad. Her 25-year commitment includes co-founding the Resume Writer's Council of Arizona (RWCA) and encouraging 50 of its members to join the NRWA. After she joined our organization in 2006, Donna served on the Public Image, Professional Development, and Written Communications committees. She is also a past recipient of the Vivian Belen Award.

Donna served as regional vice president when the NRWA had regional roles. She also served as NRWA’s treasurer and is now the board’s secretary.  Donna’s emphasis on accuracy and professional development shines through her presentations at NRWA conferences and RWCA’s annual Grammar Bowl.

Donna’s dedication to education and selfless service has been instrumental to our profession's growth. Beyond her professional achievements, Donna volunteers as a resume writer for nonprofit organizations, aiding the homeless and the unemployed.

Donna’s work and dedication deserve recognition. Her impact on our industry is evident, and we look forward to celebrating her contributions further.

Member Spotlight: Sara C. Timm Receives the Vivian Belen Award

Congratulations to Sara C. Timm, who has received the 2023 Vivian Belen Award, presented at our annual conference.

Sara C. Timm

The award is presented annually to a member who embodies the spirit of service, innovation, and leadership championed by Vivian, an original NRWA Founding member. The winner exemplifies everything she believed in:

  • Adherence to the code of ethics she helped to create.
  • Commitment to fairness and integrity.
  • Advancement of the NRWA's mission to mentor and educate.

Sara joined the NRWA in 2016, and since then, has served as a director of member support and as an active member of the Public Image, Conference, and Membership committees. She served as our organization's president from 2022 to 2023.

Her contributions have raised the bar for future endeavors within the NRWA.

Sara's notable achievements include:

1. Strategic Planning Leadership: As president, Sara oversaw the NRWA's strategic planning process, demonstrating critical initiative and leadership. Her expertise has been pivotal in charting our course toward a brighter, more sustainable future.

2. Website Development and Mission Statement Update: Sara played a key role in developing the NRWA's new (soon-to-be-released) website, providing the NRWA with a modern and user-friendly platform to better serve our members. Simultaneously, she spearheaded the update of our mission statement, reflecting our evolving goals and values.

3. 2023 Annual Conference Preparation: Sara stepped up to fill the gap left by our departing association management company. Her dedication and resourcefulness were instrumental in our location selection, and her on-the-ground support both before and during the event showcased her unwavering commitment to the NRWA's mission. During the weekend prior to our conference, held in Colorado Springs, Sara was busy planning to accommodate an overflow of members wishing to participate in the Garden of the Gods excursion. She fielded calls, sourced transportation options, and coordinated drivers to meet this need. 

Sara's passion for our cause and her tireless efforts in enhancing the NRWA's impact are truly commendable, and we are honored to celebrate her achievements with this prestigious award. Her dedication to the NRWA and its mission has set a shining example for all, and we look forward to her continued contributions in the years to come.

NRWA Recognizes Outstanding Writing

The NRWA is thrilled to announce the winners of the Ninth Annual Recognizing Outstanding Achievement in Resumes (ROAR) competition, where exceptional creativity, writing skills, and resume standards mastery take center stage.

Since its inception in 2015, the ROAR awards have been a symbol of excellence in the resume writing industry. Year after year, NRWA members have showcased their finest work, further cementing ROAR's reputation as the gold standard for resume writing. This year's winners have demonstrated their prowess in crafting resumes that not only meet the industry's strict standards but also captivate and impress.

Our winners this year delivered resumes that stand out for their innovative positioning, creative strategies, and exceptional keyword optimization. Their ability to create compelling narratives for candidates is inspiring. Here are our 2023 winners:

New Graduate/Entry-Level: We have a tie! The winners are Lucy Yeomans and Julie Maahs.

Mid-Level Manager: Jonathan Estreich 

Executive Resume: Marie Plett

Transition/Military/Return to Work: Marie Plett

The ROAR competition continues to advance excellence in resume writing, and this year's winners have set the bar higher than ever. Their achievements underscore the importance of creativity, strategic thinking, and superior standards in crafting resumes that open doors to new career opportunities.

The NRWA wishes to extend its sincere gratitude to the distinguished panel of NCRW judges, including Ruth Pankratz, Kathi Fuller, Gary Foster, and Sara C. Timm, whose commitment ensured a rigorous and impartial evaluation process.

Entering the contest is a great way to showcase your skills. It also can help your marketing! Consider entering in 2024. See the NRWA website for information.

Tech Talk: How SEO Can Improve Your Visibility

By Lisa Dupras, NCOPE, CPH

In today's digital age, your website is an essential platform to showcase past clients, recommendations, sample resumes, services, and your professional background. However, a well-crafted website is only part of the equation.

If your website does not effectively attract your target clients, growing your business will be challenging.

Consider this scenario: A potential client performs a Google search for resume services. Does your website appear in the results? You can improve this situation with better search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. These strategies can boost your website visibility, ranking, and online presence, helping you reach your desired audience.

SEO continues to grow more complex, and your eyes probably glaze over when you consider this maze of technical jargon and intricate algorithms. But success using SEO ultimately boils down to three fundamental components:

On-Page SEO —This optimizes the content of your website to improve its search engine ranking. Here is how you use it:

  • Incorporate keywords to offer the high-quality and engaging content your target population is searching for. 

  • Check to make sure your website is mobile-responsive and easy to navigate. More than 50% of web users are on mobile devices, and Google gives a higher ranking to mobile-optimized web pages.  

  • Ensure your website pages load optimally to enhance the end-user experience. 

  • Create titles and web-page descriptions that are compelling and relevant. 

Off-Page SEO — These are strategies and activities you can implement outside your website, but that still influence its search engine ranking. 

  • Post on social media and other platforms, including as a guest blogger, and lead people to your website by providing its link. Depending upon the popularity of the platform or site where you are posting, you can drive more viewers to your site.

  • Showcase positive reviews and testimonials to build authority, credibility, and online reputation. 

Technical SEO –  This refers to the behind-the-scenes components of your site that can affect its performance and accessibility to search engines. 

  • Your website should work seamlessly on all devices, especially mobile phones. 

  • Browsing should be secure and protected by SSL encryption.

  • Give your site a Google search boost with schema markups. These are pieces of code that help Google locate and display your site pages when people perform searches. It also helps Google understand the details of your products and services better.

  • Submit XML sitemaps. These list all of your site’s relevant URLs and make it easy for search engines such as Google to find and present your web pages.

    In next month’s article, I will explain more about these individual categories. But as you get ready to enhance your SEO strategy, here are things you should gather:

    • Identify the percentage of visitors who find your site using mobile
      s -
       Log into your Google Analytics account (or ask your tech support person!). Navigate to the “Users” tab, click on “Technology,” and find the “Device Category Report.”

    • Identify your website authority score (AS) - The AS measures the authority of a website in a particular niche or industry. The score ranges from 1 to 100 and is based on backlinks, content quality, and user experience. Wikipedia has an AS of 98, so your baseline number may be low! To find your AS, you can use a tool such as Semrush, which offers a Authority Score Report. Enter your website URL and check the value. 
    • Identify your top four competitors Is your competition local, regional, or national? Enter keywords such as “resume services” or “career services” into Google search. Navigate past the sponsored ads to the top three companies listed under the map. This is important because it will help you decide how geographically targeted and robust your keyword strategy should be.

    • Assemble a list of all existing backlinks Locate all the sites where your website URL is displayed as a clickable link.

    • Identify your conversion rate and average position -- These are two essential metrics for assessing the success of your SEO efforts. The rate tells you how effectively you are turning visitors into customers. The position tells you how high your site is ranking when people search on the Internet. Log into the Google Search Console (or ask your tech to help) to note your baseline click-through rate (CTR) and average position.

    I hope this gives you a good introduction to some of the things you can do to improve your reach on the Internet. It can be complicated, but it’s also worth it!

      Lisa Dupras is a resume writer, career coach, and owner of Elev8 Resumes and Coaching in Lanoka Harbor, NJ. She specializes in helping folks pivot into IT careers. She is NCOPE-certified and offers job search coaching and interview preparation services. Connect with her at LinkedIn.com/in/dupraselev8coaching.

      NRWA DEI Awareness & Response: World Mental Health Day
      By Cathy Lanzalaco, MBA, RN, CPCC, CPRW, SHRM-SCP

      October, a month traditionally associated with autumn leaves and Halloween, has acquired a more profound significance. Oct. 10 is globally recognized as World Mental Health Day, a time dedicated to raising awareness about mental health issues, promoting good mental health practices, and advocating against the stigma that sadly still surrounds it.


      Established in 1992 by the World Federation for Mental Health, the day gives organizations a chance to heighten awareness of mental health issues and showcase opportunities to advocate for resources.

      This increased global focus on mental health reflects a progressive understanding of the critical need to serve those affected by mental health issues. But it also reflects a deeper understanding of the role mental health plays in everyone’s overall wellness.


      Mental health is as vital as physical health, yet it often goes unnoticed or undiscussed. This oversight can lead to serious implications for individuals, communities, and societies at large. Recognizing World Mental Health Day provides an opportunity to:

      1. Educate the public and dispel myths and misunderstandings.
      2. Reduce stigma by breaking down the barriers that prevent people from seeking help.
      3. Highlight the resources, tools, and services available for those who need them.
      4. Promote early intervention to produce better outcomes for those living with mental health conditions.

      NRWA Members Weigh In

      I surveyed a cross-section of our members about their stress levels over the past few years and asked what steps they take to keep themselves mentally healthy. Here’s what I found:

      • Thirty percent of respondents reported feeling a significant increase in stress over the past few years with the remaining responses split between “somewhat” or “no increase.”
      • Seventy percent indicated they engage in exercise or a hobby/activity to manage their stress levels.

      Guidance for Career Professionals and Business Owners

      The workplace can be stressful, but it also can be a place of support. Here are some ways that professionals and business owners can take care of their own mental health and ensure a supportive environment for themselves, their employees, and their clients.

      1. Prioritize Self-Care: It’s easy to overwork ourselves, neglecting our well-being to meet business demands. However, taking breaks, setting boundaries, and engaging in relaxation techniques can improve our mental well-being and productivity.
      2. Promote Work-Life Balance: Encourage flexible work hours, regular breaks, and time off. Recognize that employees have lives outside of work and help reduce burnout.
      3. Create Safe Spaces: Encourage open dialogue about mental health. Provide regular check-ins and platforms where employees and clients can discuss their feelings without judgment.
      4. Provide Training: Equip your team to recognize signs of mental health issues and know where they can direct someone to appropriate resources. Bring in experts to provide valuable insights and tools for everyone involved.
      5. Offer Resources: Ensure that employees are aware of available mental health resources, whether that's counseling services, helplines, or online tools.
      6. Be Proactive, Not Reactive: Don't wait for a crisis. Implement mental health strategies and practices as a regular part of your personal routine and business operations.
      7. Serve Mindfully: For those of us in client-facing roles, recognizing the signs of mental health issues and approaching situations with empathy and understanding can make a significant difference.
      8. Ask for Help: This is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of self-awareness and strength. Reach out to a mental health professional if you feel you or someone you love needs support or intervention.

      As career professionals and business owners, the call-to-action is clear: to integrate mental health awareness and support with the way we live and operate our businesses. By doing so, we not only uplift ourselves but also foster a more inclusive, understanding, and resilient professional world.

      Mental Health Resources:

      National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): https://www.nimh.nih.gov

      Mental Health America (MHA):  https://www.mhanational.org

      Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):  https://www.samhsa.gov

      Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA): https://adaa.org

      Psych Central: https://psychcentral.com

      Call 988 for the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline with confidential help available 24/7.

      New & Renewing Members 

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

      By the numbers for the month of September:

      • 18 new members
      • 6 new members from Missouri 
      • 47 renewing members 
      • 24 renewing members that have been members for over 8 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!

        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.

        LEARN MORE

        Certification Programs 

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

        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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