This core lesson is a gift to you from my private arsenal – the model I followed in my written resume critiques and quotes (that was adapted from my live critique).
My “live” hybrid (phone/website tour) critique maintained a 94-97% close rate but when I became the resume expert for 54 professional associations, I rapidly realized I wouldn’t have the time to do 50-295 live consults a week. I ended up developing and refining several templates that my subs and admin staff could use after I had looked at the resume and goals, assigned it to a certain type of critique and a price point (I had templates for new grads, career changes, those using CVs, and those with functional formats).
With the following I maintained a 37-50% close rate.
While that might sound low, keep in mind that 37% of 50 is 18 projects in a week and it is 109 out of 295. (No, we honestly – thank goodness – never had 109 projects in one week!)
While I certainly prefer closing 94-97% with the live consults, the following system works great if you have folks you cannot connect with live, are looking for part-time income while you build your second career as a resume writer, or just don’t want to have that ‘sales talk’.
For the full 94-97% consult process visit Done-For-You Consultation Script & Sales Strategy for Resume Writing & Career Services (Core Lesson).
So, here we go with a simple model to follow for a free critique and quote. Note: It’s simple, but it IS long copy. It works because it is what you would need to do in a live consult to take the prospect through your process!
Provide a courtesy introduction that makes them know you are addressing the questions/concerns they have laid out in their request.
Example One: “Thank you for the opportunity to provide this critique for you. Since you will be entering the job market after 27 years, I believe the most appropriate tact I can take is to provide you with some initial education on the processes that are utilized in reviewing resumes today.”
Example Two: “Thank you for your request for a resume critique. As promised, your resume critique follows within the promised four business day turnaround. I have started out by providing you with a written critique but would be glad to speak with you about taking the next step. As an award-winning and published Certified Master Resume Writer with over X years of expertise, I am sure you will find benefit in the following analysis:”
Example Three: “Thank you for the opportunity to provide this critique for you. Before getting down to the key topic of addressing your resume, it was interesting to see San Diego as your target locale. I just finished writing a resume for a client residing there earlier today. I myself will be there from 4/16-22 where I will be speaking for the XYZ annual convention. What a beautiful place to live.”
Review what a resume needs to do to survive and thrive in the job search jungle.
This section is all about educating your prospect about how unprepared he or she is to write their own resume! By walking through the three audiences and what they look for, you make them realize you are more than a typist with some design skills and a big vocabulary.
“Strategies for a Dynamic & Effective Resume
I believe it is easier to provide a brief overview of what a truly effective and competitive resume should encompass prior to attempting to point out how your document may be deficient, so bear with me for this important overview.
It’s a competitive market out there with:
• 40,000 new resumes being added to Monster.com each DAY;
• Many companies receiving hundreds and frequently thousands of unsolicited resumes each week (Google receives 1,500 per day);
• 45% of surveyed employees stating they are looking for new and better employment positions.
Therefore, good or traditional resumes that just tell what you have done or read like a laundry list are not enough to stand out and land the interviews you are seeking.
Consider these requirements of every resume, which are ones we need to take into consideration with your document:
Diverse Audiences: Your resume must satisfy the needs of not just the knowledgeable decision maker but that of HR Clerks who may have limited knowledge and may spend under one minute in a quick scan of your document.
Therefore, the resume must be quickly scannable for top-line content in under one minute, be rich with key words, readily draw the reviewer to unique value, and clarify quantifiable results.
Electronic Key Word Scanning and ATS: Most recruiters and many employers scan resumes into databases vs. having them reviewed initially by staff. When a candidate is needed, a key word search is performed to pull up qualified candidates.
Therefore, a resume must be front-loaded with key process words to make the cut; don’t assume they will know because of your job titles. Further, layout, font, and spacing should be scanner friendly.
Similar Qualifications / Different Value: The majority of resumes, in their telling style, tend to be overviews of responsibilities and skills. Even when top line summaries are included they rarely do anything but point out that you have the same skills required of all candidates for the targeted position.
Therefore, it is critical to sell your value to the company, not just your experience. You must rapidly make it clear why they should consider you over the other similarly qualified candidates.
Looks Do Matter: If you think that a visually distinctive resume will not make you stand out positively from the competition, think again. While you do not want to use fancy formats or frilly formats, drawing attention and standing out through clear and attractive formatting can make all the difference in the world with whether your resume is picked from the stack.
Therefore, generic templates, packed pages with limited white space, unusual fonts, too much bolding or italics, or just blah presentations need to be avoided. Make sure your resume draws positive attention.
Most resumes just TELL and won’t stand out unless:
(1) A recruiter hears about you, takes the time to recognize your value, and pitches you to an employer;
(2) you network your way to a decision maker who becomes convinced to review your resume based on your conversations and the impression you make.
Otherwise, it is more than likely that an employer, recruiter, or HR Clerk would skip over much of what you have to offer because they will scan rapidly, skip around, and probably not see enough of what they are seeking. Employers and HR staff simply do not have to read and make conclusions with all the candidates who make themselves available; they simply go to the next one.”
Address the problems in their resume. Yes, you can take the time to stroke them if you want to, but if you are doing written critiques vs. live ones, it is probably because you are very busy and time is of the essence.
There are two options that can be deployed here:
Option One: Write something like, “I am sure that you now have a clear idea of the issues with your resume, so let me move onto what I will do for you.”
Option Two: Give the prospect a short list of the outstanding problems in their resume (the WHAT) without sharing the solutions (the HOW). Your service is the HOW!
“Your Resume Evaluation
1. Target position is unclear.
2. Summary is a list and does nothing to sell you and help you stand out from the competition.
3. Timeline in the work history is dating you.
4. Hard to identify job titles in the work history.
5. Current job description format makes it hard to scan quickly and identify value.
6. Job descriptions lack challenges, actions, and results.
7. Limited key words.
8. Font choice is hindering readability.
9. Length of resume may cause it to be thrown out before review.
What I am recommending may sound like a small book, but we will have no problem keeping this document to two pages with our strategic process.”
Provide your simple solution to the problem.
“The Next Steps to Success
I hope you have found this information helpful in understanding the needs of your resume. However, if you would like to take advantage of our expertise in <FILL IN THE POSITION/INDUSTRY> career marketing, we can work with you to take your expertise and make it work for you on paper by enhancing your presentation and resume content together.
In order to accomplish these changes, here is the R&D process that I would propose to you:
1. Together we gather additional information on each position with emphasis on challenges, actions, results, and responsibilities. This means performing a telephone interview of approximately one hour where we will delve into your career timeline. Through this we will capture the story and identify your unique selling proposition.
2. I then perform a research step, as needed, to ensure we don’t take any information for granted and that we maximize the appropriate key words for your targets. This is an important step because the longer you have been in a job the more you tend to take it for granted, and when you target a new position you don’t necessarily think in terms of positioning your existing experience for those new roles.
3. With this information in hand I would next create your totally revised resume.
Turnaround time from interview to draft is typically 7-9 days. However, our office will be closed from 4/28/08 to 5/2/08 while we attend a conference. We are currently booking interviews for the week of May 5th.
Drafts are sent in MS Word (or PDF if necessary) via email or fax for your review. Then we work together on any fine-tuning, and upon your satisfaction I send you a final email with document versions in MS Word, RTF, and ASCII as well as an instruction sheet for when to use each version.
We also offer a number of other services to provide turnkey career management such as cover letter and reference page development, targeted resume distributions, industry/company research, recruiter matching, and salary negotiation coaching. I would be pleased to discuss any service options and the packages that are available.”
Further entrench the education on why they need professional assistance. But note that this isn’t the point where you sell yourself. You are selling them on the concept benignly at this point.
“Why do you need to invest in a professional resume?
WARNING: If you are a professional resume writer, then write your resume yourself. If you are not, DON’T! Here’s why:
Regardless of what you might have heard about knowing yourself (the product) best, it rarely if ever means you are the most qualified to sell yourself on paper.
Think about it — if products were marketed by their creators, then Coca-Cola would be marketed by chemists and the corporation would not be the multi-billion dollar brand that it is today!
While you yourself might not yet represent a multi-billion dollar brand, your resume does have the power to position you to attain the goals you desire – when it’s done properly. However, hard working, conscientious professionals take their strengths, achievements, and talents for granted. Rarely do they know where to look, how deep to dig, how to tell the story without saying too much or too little, what to play up, or how to present it, because they are far too close to the subject, not familiar with the review strategies of the companies they are targeting, and not professional writers/marketers when it comes to selling themselves in a resume.
While I have provided you with expert strategies and advice in this critique, attempting to apply it yourself could be akin to my following written instructions from my auto mechanic on diagnosing and repairing my car’s engine. I’m not a mechanic and while I might get lucky, patch it together, and think I know what I’m doing since I received expert advice, all too soon I will be stranded on the side of the road having wasted time, now with the added expense of a tow truck, and still having to pay my mechanic to do the work and wait longer while it is done. In fact, I will have wasted more time and more money than if I just fixed the problem the right way with the use of a professional the first time!
I don’t tell you this to be arrogant or assumptive – 16 years of teaching resume writing, performing job placement, traveling around the country performing transition workshops, and winning awards as a professional resume writer have allowed me to see the mistakes that job seekers make over and over again. In all that time I can’t think of more than two cases where the do-it-yourself update to the resume created by the job seeker was any better than the original, which tells me you don’t want to waste opportunities doing it yourself unless you are as good at it as I am. If you’re not, then your competition is sure to have the advantage if even just one of them seeks the assistance of a qualified professional.
I encourage you to invest in your career – the one area of your life that makes all other wants and needs possible – so you can take control, get what you want, and avoid wasting time. Time is money and opportunity, and when your goal position is staring you in the face, you don’t want to lose out!! You’ve got just one chance to make a great first impression, and A Competitive Edge Career Service, LLC is your partner in doing just that.
Remember, if you are not a professional resume writer, you should NOT write your own resume! If you have not done so already, read above to understand why.”
Give them proof and visuals. People tend to believe more what they read and see. So, now is the time to send them to your website to see samples of your resumes and testimonials from your happy and successful clients.
Resumes should be image files and not be printable, if possible. Don’t be afraid to have 5-10 samples on your website so that people can understand the difference between their generic resume and one crafted for a unique job seeker.
“Why Work With Our Company
All resume writers are NOT created equal!
<Company Name> is recognized as one of the top resume writing firms in the country. At our website you will find details of our extensive credentials, awards, recognitions, publications, and industry contributions. You will work with a seasoned professional who is one of only a handful of Certified Master Resume Writers in the world, resume expert for 54 professional associations, and multi-time resume and job placement award winner.
When you work with our company you are assured of personalized, expert service with no forms, no sub-contracting to less qualified writers, and no templates / generic formats.
View our dynamic samples: www.xyz.com/sample/htm.
Read our outstanding success stories: www.xyz.com/test.htm.
Here are two examples of the results our clients attain:
“Prior to coming to you, I sent out 15 resumes in 30 days with very few bites. Once you rebuilt my resume, I sent it to two companies whom both offered me jobs. The one I took actually increased my annual salary by $40,000 and my total compensation package by $60,000. Thanks again.”
– G. Lauck, Regional Sales Manager for a Hewlett Packard Company
(Emailed 2 Resumes; 2 Interviews; 2 Job Offers)
“It took me three months to find this executive position. Thank you so much Laura. You helped me build confidence and change my life. You went beyond writing a resume and letter. You gave me great advice for negotiating a career.
– M. Denard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Chicago Parks District
(Mailed / Delivered 18 Resumes; 6 Interviews; 2 Job Offers)
We are confident that you simply will not find a similar level of quality, value or results anywhere else.”
Present the offer. This is where you talk to them about their investment. For this example, I am just using resume and ALWAYS assuming cover letter even when they don’t ask. You can also move straight into offering a package and explaining why it is being recommended.
Your investment in this custom process is $825 for both the resume and custom cover letter.
Our professional resume services, when considered in light of the importance of career satisfaction and quality of life, represent a minor investment that pays future dividends in the results you will receive — our clients have found our resume service to dramatically improve their ability to more rapidly transition while maintaining the control they demand over their careers.”
Close with how to get started.
Please let me know if I can answer any questions for you regarding this process.
If you are interested in moving forward, the next step would be to go to our website and make your purchase so that we can schedule the information gathering interview. To process payment please go to www.xyz.com/abc and select <NAME OF PRODUCT OR PACKAGE>.
Once payment is processed I will contacted you within two business days by email to schedule our 1-hour interview.
Again, please feel free to respond with any questions you might have. I look forward to playing a pivotal role in helping you attain your next career goal.”
* * *
That’s it! String your long copy together and customize it, and you have a very personable strategy. Of course, you may want to change the examples and some of the wording I use so that job seekers contacting multiple services don’t all get the same critique and quote back!
Here’s to your being well and wealthy!