I want to tell you something.
It’s not that important. No. It is.
What I want to say is that in February, I decided to take a chance and become a freelance writer. Specifically, I write resumes. Really great resumes.
I’ve been writing resumes for 20 years. When I struggled to find a job as a Director of Operations, my friends inundated me with suggestions to write. They flooded me with compliments about my outstanding writing. My determination to help others through my writing. Particularly resumes.
Over the years I’ve learned to spot trauma in a resume. I find that authors inadvertently reveal difficult life events — such as surviving 9/11, a miscarriage, a divorce, a cross-country move — through the words they choose to describe job responsibilities and accomplishments during these periods. In general, they minimize their roles and achievements during painful periods. I find myself asking, “What happened here, in 2010?” The author’s tone changes and their words lose power. “Leading” becomes “coordinating,” “managing” is demoted to “helping,” ownership of projects becomes “assisting.” As we work through the life and work events of the period, their diction gradually changes. Potent descriptions replace watered-down wording, and confident resumes, and candidates, emerge. The autobiography of trauma disappears.
In February 2019, I decided that writing resumes and employment documents would be my new job. I would be a freelance writer. I partnered with job coaches and a few recruiters. I was successful when I worked through a third party. When I began to cultivate my own client list? I stumbled. HARD.
I did not advertise my services. I did not ask people for money. It was incredibly uncomfortable to suddenly ask for money for a service I had performed for gratis for two decades. Even $50 or $100 seemed excessive. I discovered there are hundreds, if not THOUSANDS, of job coaches and resume writers advertising their services. They are well-known, well-established, and certainly earned much more than my I-am-uncomfortable-asking-for-money-is-$50-ok? fee per document.
My fear of asking people for money, rejection, remaining on public assistance, and “you’re not good enough” self-talk would sabotage my growth and success. They prevented me from appropriately marketing my services, from differentiating myself from other writers, and establishing my unique voice, style, and value.
Now I’m at a crossroads, again. I can continue to ghostwrite and hide behind my fear of exposing myself as a strong, compassionate, smart, and wickedly funny woman who genuinely cares about people and their place in the workforce. That is old behavior, driven by bullying and fear of being seen.
Or I can say that I’ve thrown up my shingle and write resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles. I can say that resumes are an essential component of a job search, but not the only one. I can say that my prices are slightly higher than $50, but still far less than your monthly paycheck. Or your new monthly paycheck. The sense of humor and compassion have not changed. I have learned more about how not to run a business.
I write resumes. Professional, personalized resumes. And they are fantastic, just like my clients (and me).