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    Capturing Winning Resume Writing Content from Job Seekers (TORI Winner Q&A)

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    TORI Award Winning Resume Writers Share Strategy for Capturing Winning Content from Clients for Their ResumesCapturing winning resume writing content from job seekers whose resumes you prepare can be beyond challenging. While it’s necessary for them to land interviews, it’s also critical if you want to enter your resumes in the TORI resume writing competition. It can add additional pressure when the industry, profession or level is new to you.

    So what can you do?

    To provide you with winning strategies, we went directly to former winners, and 12 shared their thoughts for this Q&A lesson on:

    Capturing winning resume writing content from job seekers, even if you’ve never worked in that field or at that level yourself.

    Meet the respondents:

    Laura Smith-Proulx

    Laura Smith-Proulx

    Tiffany Hardy

    Marlene Cole
    New Generation Careers

    Marie Plett

    Marie Plett

    Cheryl Lynch Simpson

    Cheryl Lynch Simpson

    Lucie Yeomans

    Lucie Yeomans
    Your Career Ally

    Melanie L. Denny

    Melanie L. Denny


    Rachel (Vander Pol) Raymond Headshot

    Rachel Raymond

    Angela Watts

    Gayle Howard

    Gayle Howard

    TORI Award Winners Answer Your Resume Writing Competition Question:

    Information Gathering: What are your strategies for getting your clients to give you such tailored, results-focused content? What if you’ve never worked in that field or at that level yourself?

    Clients need to send 3-5 dream jobs for key criteria and to understand the industry target, then extensive phone interview to gather stories – I also spend time Googling/YouTubing to understand the industry language, get the client to highlight results, quantify how they did the role/task better (than others or when they first started), results and more technical language to build into the resume.– Marlene Cole

    Having a really specific questionnaire is key, not just for the TORIs but for every resume. I’m not as adept at gathering verbal information from the client. I prefer having time to reflect on their responses and then I am inspired to create a unique resume for each client that represents their professional brand.– Marla Emery, ACRW, ACC

    When it comes to pulling together content, I often remind my clients that I can craft language around their story, impact, and even value. But I can’t quantify any of these details—that’s something they need to provide. If clients resist offering up metrics for whatever reason (they can’t remember the outcomes, or they aren’t in a field that tracks performance in this way), I’ll look for other numbers, such as the size of the company, annual revenue, market cap, number of countries served, size of the team or workforce, or scale of the industry.

    With that said, if a particular resume doesn’t have enough metrics, it’s not a good candidate for the TORIs.

    For the most part, I don’t have firsthand knowledge in any of my clients’ fields! I rely on my clients to provide technical or and industry jargon, and I do the rest. I’m lucky because I started out as a generalist—I’ve written resumes for more industries that I can count. Even so, I never hesitate to say to my clients: “My ignorance is about to show, so bear with me… what does XYZ stand for?”– Anonymous

    Understanding the pain points of their targeted companies is absolutely critical. I ask questions like: What problems do your target companies have that you can help with? What failures do these companies experience for not adequately addressing these problems? What success do they experience when they do?

    I do extensive research on their industry trends so that I can identify unique qualifications and expertise that align directly with their target companies’ pain points.– Tiffany Hardy, MS, CERM, NCOPE, ACRW

    I LOVE asking probing questions my clients have never been asked before! Even if I’m not familiar with an industry, I’ve found asking about the employer and the challenges in their work produces great answers. I also like to ask, “Are your results typical? Do your colleagues achieve similar outcomes?” because the answer is often quite telling! My clients are very accomplished and quickly describe how they’ve set benchmarks for growth, cost savings, and other positive results. It’s often the “why” behind these stories that makes for an intriguing read.– Laura Smith-Proulx, CPRW, CCMC, NCOPE

    Before I gather information from a client, I ask for job postings/descriptions they are interested in and I research their field and industry a little bit. And, quite honestly the CDI Certified Career Storyteller certification course has been the biggest gift in helping me gather information. It has stretched and challenged me in many ways. All positive!– Lucie Yeomans, CGRA, CPRW, NCOPE, CEIC, OPNS, JCTC, JCDC

    I learned early on in this industry that it doesn’t matter as much what the job entails as much as the impact the client has made. I don’t get bogged down in understanding every aspect of their work, but I focus more on how their work impacts the business. Among other ways, I ask probing questions about why they did a thing, what challenges came up and if they can measure the outcomes. I have done so many resumes for so many industries over the last decade that I wasn’t aware of and I have learned so much about various jobs out there that I never even knew existed!

    If it’s that far fetched, I Google some information to familiarize myself with the work they do and let them know that they may need to explain things a bit for me since I’m not familiar. They totally understand and I’ve never gotten push back on that.– Melanie L. Denny, MBA, NCOPE, CPRW

    I use two online questionnaires and also embed custom questions in every client resume; I then follow this with an hour-long interview. This hybrid approach allows me to capture different kinds of details in different ways which both broadens and deepens the amount and scope of measurable results I can source.– Cheryl Lynch Simpson, CMRW, ACRW

    The most important element in any resume is the raw client information. Garbage in – garbage out. I tailor my data-gathering process to be as thorough and convenient for the client as possible so that I can get the best quality information. Typically, I spend two hours on the phone with each client, learning their history, asking questions about anything I’m not clear about, and working with them to create a complete branding strategy.– Marie Plett, CERM, CPRW, BFA

    My intake process is focused on CAR (Challenge-Action-Results) stories, so that very much helps to get the numbers I need to write powerful statements.– Rachel Raymond, CERM, CCST, ACRW, NCOPE

    As a former recruiter, writing interview questions and eliciting information from people comes easily to me. I have an understanding with my clients that they are the field/industry expert and I am the resume expert. We collaborate on the project and each contribute in our areas of strength. I’m also tenacious about capturing meaty accomplishments that will speak to their target companies.– Angela Watts, SHRM-CP, RACR, CCTC

    I ask probing questions via worksheets that take them through CAR situations.– Gayle Howard, CMRW, CERM, CGRA, CARW, CRS+IT, CWPP, CPBS, CG3C, CTTC, CCCM, MCD, CONS

    Do the Classic Design Categories Shift This Dynamic?

    Our answer is no. The foundation of any strong and effective resume is content. Content will always edge out design. We’ve seen many gorgeous resumes that don’t even land a nomination because the writing and content just wasn’t there. Whether you are going TORI high design or classic design, focus on great writing, storytelling, and metrics first and foremost.

    The TORIs Are the #1 Highest ROI, Lowest Cost Way to Grow Your Resume Business

    There’s no denying the success that former TORI winners and nominees have attained by participating in this annual resume writing competition.

    Whether you want to be easily found by job seekers, stand out from the competition, or attain accolades that put you in demand, the TORI awards have done that for resume writers around the globe since 2000.

    Remember, those new classic design categories create opportunity for any talented, professional resume writer.

    Don’t wait! Registrations are accepted until Thursday, July 18, 2024.

    Learn More About the TORI Awards

    Learn about the competition & new classic resume categories >>

    Additional Resources

    Access video tutorial & lessons on resume writing >>


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