Expert Answers on How to Start (and Brand!) Your Resume

What's your hook on your resume?

Check out The National Resume Writers Association's expert answers on how to utilize the top third of your resume to share your career story and grab the attention of your reader to land the interview.

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What belongs at the start of your document?

Contact Information: Name, cell, email and LinkedIn URL.

Headline: The job title you are applying to.

► Branding Statement: 1-3 sentences sharing your specific value and achievements toward company pain points.

Core competencies: Keywords straight from the job ad that describe your skills and expertise.

Need additional guidance on your branding statement? Grab my branding statement mini-workbook!

Increase your worth by 7%


Increase your worth by 7%? You heard that right!

A new research study by TopResume indicated that professionally written resumes not only perform better than DIY documents but increase your worth. Another perk? You land faster.

I find this anecdotally with my clients as well. A recent client doubled his salary after our collaboration.

TopResume's findings uncovered that recruiters perceive candidates with professionally written resumes to be worth 7% more than those without them. 

Of those candidates, 68% secured that job within three months of having their resume professionally written and 42% of them moved on to a higher-level position.

So, what should you look for in a resume writer? Make sure your resume writer:

Understands your career goals.
High-performing resumes are written toward your job target. Writers author documents for robots (ATS) scanning for keywords AND to win over human readers.

Asks good questions.
Your resume writer needs to dig deep for quantitative and qualitative metrics in addition to understanding your unique competitive edge in the market.

Educates you on the process.
Hiring a resume writer is an investment in your career. Ensure you understand and are on-board with their process as they vary among writers.

Open the door to new opportunities with me AND increase your professional worth. Let’s get started!

One Key Phrase to Let Go of your Mistakes!

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How do you let go of mistakes? Can you let go or do you mentally get out your boxing gloves, beating yourself up?

Last week I had some calendar conundrums. My daughter missed a birthday party because of a calendar snafu and at one point, I double-booked myself. 

Can you shake off a mistake as just that - a mistake? Instead of ruminating, feeling shame or guilt, try just saying, OH WELL!

Oh well... I'm not perfect. I'll look at how I calendar to avoid this in the future.

Oh well...I messed up that report at work. I'll check in to see how I can make it right.

Oh well...I think someone misinterpreted what I said. I'll check in with that person to clarify.

I'm still a student of letting go. 

How do you give grace to your mistakes? Do you treat others' mistakes differently than your own?

The Power of Networks: Starla Hart on The Open Door Interview

Do you have a full-circle career moment?

Starla Hart, Director of Community Initiatives at 16 Tech Community Corporation, does! She assumed the role of her undergraduate mentor that led her to the work she is doing today!

In this month's Open Door Interview, she shares how the strength of her network helped her overcome obstacles both personally and professionally and how taking a big risk has opened doors that changed everything for her.

🎧 Listen here.

Add a Badge: LinkedIn’s Newest Skill Assessment Feature

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Add badges of skill to your Linkedin profile that recruiters will notice.


With LinkedIn's newest feature: Skills Assessment.


33 skill tests are currently available mostly for tech-related skills. If you pass the multiple-choice skill quiz you earn a badge for your profile verifying that skill. The tests are on the honor system and have to be renewed annually to retain the profile badge.

A sample assessment question, per LinkedIn Help, for JavaScript at the beginner level, for example, is: What is the HTTP verb to request the contents of an existing resource?


You can find the skill tests available as a button in your skills and endorsements section.


Now! The new feature rolled out globally this week. More tests coming soon!


A competitive edge. Recruiters will be using badges as a new way to filter the candidate pool for matches to job openings.

You'll be found. Companies will also be able to target paid job ads for candidates with a verifiable skillset.

Want to learn more? Read TechCrunch’s take here.

The Imperfect Job Search Club: We All Have a Membership!

No one told me growing up that perfection was unattainable.

Try-hard striving is my natural mode of operation. Endlessly trying to craft perfection out of the mess is exhausting. Is that what you feel when you are faced with resume writing? Are you overwhelmed by positioning your zig-zag career into the perfect match for the job you want?

I don't have a linear career path either. Maybe you hopped from job to job and can't seem to tie a cohesive career narrative together. Perhaps you are stepping back into the workplace after a career pause and feeling paralyzed by the modern job search.

Whatever twists and turns you have, welcome to the imperfect club. We all have a membership!

The good news? People want to hire real people. People with perseverance, character, grit, and wisdom. Use the lessons you learned and the skills you gained in your path to your advantage.

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Where can you start? Zoom out to discover your unique offerings! Start uncovering your value with these questions:

💡What strengths do others acknowledge in you?

💡 What feels fun to you, but seems like work to others?

💡 What skills do you use often (and like using!)?

💡Where do you get greater returns than the average person?

What has helped you hone your value to advance in your hashtag#career?

Increase Email Replies with Two Words

Words we say and write matter. This is no surprise to me as a resume writer. But what about in our everyday humdrum email correspondence?

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Boomerang found in their analysis of over 300,000 emails that using certain greeting and closing words can influence the rate of reply.

How do you greet and close an email?

Before reading these research findings, my go-to's were to start with 'Hi <name>' and to close with 'Best, Meg'

Now I've made a change.

The study found the best success:

To start with:

'Hey' or 'Hi' for a 63-64% response rate. Ditch the 'Dear.'

To close with:

'Thanks in advance' or 'Thanks' boded the best with a 63-65.7% response rate. 'Best' came in 10% lower.

So whether you are exchanging emails with co-workers, seeking new connections or wanting to land a job, use the numbers in your favor! How do you greet and close your email reader?

One Simple Answer to Cure Networking Fatigue

As a jobseeker, networking is the number one way to land a job and for those who are gainfully employed, it is a great way to cultivate your network. How do you do it without burning out?

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The answer?


Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. James Townsend describe boundaries like property lines. Know where your backyard begins and ends. You are in control of what and who you let in your fenced backyard.

So when it comes to networking share your time and talent generously, but:

Know your limits. Whether we like it or not, we are finite beings with a finite amount of time each day. Know the limits of your calendar and energy.

Know your capacity. Everyone has a different capacity. Whether it is related to introversion or extraversion, your season of life or stress, know what lights you up and what drains you.

Know your priorities. Your schedule may allow a phone call or coffee date but ensure it matches up with your current personal and professional priorities. Just because your calendar allows doesn't mean a yes is necessary. If you can't touch-base or share insights over coffee, be clear in your no. If possible, refer the requestor to others who may be helpful or beneficial resources.

How do boundaries play a role in your networking?

I'm in the Spotlight: Working Mama's of Indianapolis

Where do you find support Indianapolis working moms?


I recently discovered Working Mama's of Indianapolis blog and Facebook group. It is a great, virtual way to support one another when holding a career and family in tandem and in the tension!

I'm super excited to be featured in their Working Mama Spotlight this month. Check out the blog, Facebook group and my cute kids (I may be biased;) in the spotlight.

Time Management: As Easy as Yes and No

Time Management is as easy as two words: yes and no.

When an opportunity comes your way you have two choices:

👍🏼YES: Which is saying no to something or someone else.

🛑 NO: Saying yes to something or someone else.


It is so simple yet so hard to do well. Be conscious of the small words you dish out because the impact is great.

Casualties of poor time management:

➞ Your physical and mental health

➞ The people you love

➞ Your work and/or your team