Strategies for Kick-Starting Your New Resume Business
This week, I want to take some time to respond to an inquiry from one of our readers:
“… I don’t yet have the confidence or inspiration to think that as a beginner I could offer a considerably more attractive or valuable service than the pros already sharing the pie.”
“How might a beginner without any initial ‘add-on’ services provide attractive value, when even ‘low rates’ cannot compete with the many free services available to students and professionals? Am I underestimating the popularity or need for ‘fee-based’ resume services? Are there certain ‘niches’ other than big ones like students and career-change professionals that a beginner might target as an ‘entry-level’ clientele?”
The answers to this reader’s questions are multifaceted. For example, I live in a large metropolitan area – Miami, Florida. There are several colleges and universities here, and also a fair number of public and private agencies that help people with their resumes. I have many years of experience in writing resumes, but beyond that I am simply one of many hanging out my shingle. And I do not compete on price (i.e. “XYZ Resume Service: The lowest prices in town!”).
So, how is one resume service among many, like mine (and like our reader’s) supposed to differentiate itself? How does our reader, as a fledgling resume writer, compete with the more established or experienced services?
The first piece of advice I can give is also the most crucial: Do not be intimidated by others out there in the market.
The fact is, there is so much need for resume writing and related career services right now that there is room for more quality providers. Also, the more services there are in a particular location, the more likely it is that a good number of them are shoddy, unprofessional, and do not deliver what they promise.
According to Rebecca Smith of eResumes.com, the most effective resumes are those that follow some basic principles. They:
- State a clear career objective that is in line with the needs of the current job market
- Include job qualifications stated in clear, measurable ways that show not only the types of problems the client can solve, but specific examples of the type of problems he or she has solved
- Incorporate formats that are computer-friendly
- Answer the “who,” “what,” and “so what” within the first 60 seconds of the visual scan
- Provide a document completely devoid of typographical errors
Believe it or not, many of the resume services you compete with will not follow even one of the above principles. So, first of all, make it your goal to learn as much as you can about how to provide resumes that are of the highest quality, and make sure you deliver that level of quality every single time.
Another thing to consider is how big you want your business to be. Do you want to be a resume “factory” that hires many writers to pound out many resumes a day? Do you want to write a few resumes to supplement your income on a part-time basis? Or are you looking at a business somewhere in between? This decision will also affect how and where you market yourself.
Marketing is a third consideration: What is your marketing budget? Will you have several thousands in start-up money, or will you be building your business with limited marketing and advertising funds? Most of the resume writers I work with are in the latter category, so I will address this group primarily.
I cannot stress this enough: Assuming that you already strictly adhere to the principles of an excellent resume that I listed above, the best way to build your business is through networking. When I relocated back to Miami a few years ago (after living in Europe for three years), I wanted to re-start my resume business in the U.S. I was a true “solo” entrepreneur (no real budget, and certainly no advertising dollars).
The way I built my business was to immediately join a “leads” club. In my case, I joined BNI (Business Network International), although there are several similar clubs in different geographic areas. This type of club generally meets weekly, and once you become a member, no one else who is in your same “category” can join (for example, Resume Writer, Plumber, CPA, Immigration Lawyer, Florist, Real Estate Agent … you get the picture). So, when anyone in the group needs a resume – or knows someone who needs a resume – the referral comes to the group’s “Resume Writer.”
In BNI, the members are not judged by how many referrals they receive, but by how many referrals they give to others – so members are constantly looking for ways to refer business to other members. For the first three years, I received a very nice and steady stream of resumes … then I hit pay dirt: A member joined as a marketing recruiter. She specializes in placing marketing professionals at the director or executive level. She does NOT do their resumes, and when she learned that I do, she asked to see some samples.
I showed her, and she tried me out on a candidate she had been working with for several months. He had excellent experience, but was not getting a foot in the door, even with the recruiter’s help. She thought it was a problem with his resume. So she had me re-do it. With his new resume, the candidate not only got the next interview he was going for, he got the job – at $175,000 plus bonus!
Now this recruiter (who is in demand nationally) tells all candidates who approach her that that she will not work with them unless they have their resumes done … by me! This is an excellent example of how you can find a perfect referral source for your services – if you put yourself out there and network. In today’s job market, there are many opportunities – and one simple meeting can sometimes jump-start your entire business in ways you never imagined.
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