Start deciding whether who I am aligns with what you need:
What’s your work style?
I’m open and encouraging when asking questions and guiding decision-making, but opinionatedly (yep, that’s a word) collaborative about what ends up on the page.
I use humor, analogy, storytelling, and sometimes imagery, but I’m strategic about the frequently effortless-but-buttoned-up tone that ends up in copy. The same story can take different shades, tones, and colors depending on where it shows up (corporate website vs. LinkedIn vs. executive résumé vs. dating profile—okay, I don’t write dating profiles!).
What is your writing process?
I use a “write now, edit later” approach to gather ideas and develop content, but have been called a shrewd editor by chief editors themselves when nearing a project’s finish line.
For individuals, I use the executive résumé writing and LinkedIn development process, etc., as a tool for career coaching. This means intense discovery, collaborative / iterative writing, and consultative work together.
What does it mean to use the executive résumé writing process as a tool for coaching and discovery?
I can’t write about you without getting to know you. I get to know you by asking a lot of questions. Those questions frequently provoke a certain struggle that ideally results in clarity for having considered their answers. In the months following projects, I frequently hear that clients’ professional brands—as well as their new knowledge of themselves and their industries—not only show up in predictable places like career copy and formal job interviews, but unpredictable places like every day professional meetings and conversations.
Findings and discoveries are as unique as the people themselves, but here are two examples:
- The head of product development of a Fortune 100 cloud applications and platform services company relayed after several months of stealth job searching that his experience facing my questions had turned him into an “interviewing machine.” Indeed, some of the “too heavy for a résumé” content we’d uncovered began showing up in his interviews, and he was soon hired as the GM for an enterprise cloud division.
- The head of global brand development for a retail conglomerate shared midway through her project that the relevance of some questions she’d answered in my digital workbook were vexing at first. That is, until she found those details showing up in every day business conversations. Her finding: “I realized that *I* had to gather and internalize that information. For now and for later.”
How long will it take to complete my project?
I’m not a quick fix guy, nor am I generally interested in merely making something pretty and grammatically sound. I want my individual clients to face tough questions and have a transformative experience for having gone through the hard work. This is why the shortest offering, the Rapid Fire Resume Design Package, is two to three weeks. And why the Career Planner / Changer and Career Explorer programs take six to twelve weeks.
How do you gather information about my background?
I use interviews, questionnaires, workbooks, and other exercises to get to the bottom of nearly every story. Because my clients are so deeply involved and committed to their projects, they learn a great deal along the way and they know why we made certain design, positioning, and word choices.
The Career Planner / Changer and Career Explorer programs are intended for people who are ready to dig deeply to find out who they’ve become and what that means to the hiring market. Some move soon after working with me, while others stay in place for years. When you begin factoring your level of specialization (which is why you’re paid as you are) along with your compensation and benefits package, and geographic and family requirements, the field narrows a great deal, indeed. As a professionals hits SVP and higher, the types of jobs that will interest them whittle down considerably. Also, if you think about it, ideal roles don’t come open just because you’ve decided you’re suddenly ready for a new challenge.
This is why I believe in long-term planning and career development, and my work is just that—embedded within the decision-making process inherent to telling the right story.
In a nutshell, I use the process of guided discovery, decision-making, and ultimately writing as a tool that has led many clients to say: “Jared, this is a lot like career coaching.” I’ve even had clients say, “The workbook alone was worth the fee, I can’t wait to see what comes of our work together.”
Who is your ideal client?
I work well with companies and people who are inquisitive and upbeat about the future, not stressed because of a misstep. I’m a strategic resource for upward movement, not a crisis manager or mistake fixer.
For individuals, I work primarily with passive job seekers (people who are employed and ostensibly happy, but curious about what might be next and creating a suite of cross-branded professional documents for when opportunity comes along) and stealth job seekers (people who are working, but intend to proactively take steps toward a career change).
Who is in The Résumé Studio’s network of résumé writers?
As an active member of The National Résumé Writers’ Association, I have a lively and ready group of résumé writing colleagues and experts with whom to share resources, ideas, and best practices—and to whom I refer work from time to time.
I’ve been a member of other related associations, but find that I have only so much time to participate. I’ve also found professional associations can become echo chambers and the best I can offer my clients is to keep my ear to the ground with what is actually happening in companies.
Why don’t you offer rush jobs?
- Quality: I can’t help going deep into a client’s story as we together create a simple and clear story that’s easily understood.
- Value: I also like my clients to walk away with a better sense of their professional value, which doesn’t happen in a rushed environment.
- Productivity: Finally, my life is carefully calendared so I’m not only fresh and rested when working with my current clients, but also so I have the downtime necessary to let the creative process work. Some of the best ideas and solutions I’ve ever had for a client happened on a trail or in another place where I wasn’t actively thinking about their project.
What differentiates you from other executive résumé writers?
This requires a longer answer, but I am asked it so often and the “executive résumé writer” search term is so liberally used online, that it makes sense to include it here.
The quickest way to explain the difference is this:
- An account executive has “executive” in his or her job title, but s/he is not likely to be in the C-suite any time soon.
- An EVP role differs considerably between a $45M nonprofit and a heavily regulated Fortune 50 company.
As an executive résumé writer, I usually work with leaders at very large institutions who are in positions of influence, and who are at least in the Fortune 100. There are other wonderful writers well-suited to handle the rest.
I can tell you candidly, however, that without experience in retained executive search—where I was schooled by two of the smartest and most professionally-requiring women I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing—I wouldn’t be working with the world’s top performers.
So today when I work with companies like the ones listed here, I know to whom the credit is due. Writing and conducting searches for large institutions leveled up my résumé and prepared me for what I do. It continues serving as a litmus test for ever decision I make.
I’ve also learned a great deal simply by working so closely with leaders in large institutions, watching them grow and helping them to shape the arc of their careers over many years. From seeing some from years ago grow from managers and directors into C-suite roles, to helping people who already occupy domains of influence take the wheels of their own careers, Nothing substitutes what you learn in the trenches.
I occasionally have the privilege of working with someone from outside the Fortune 100 leadership, and I enjoy it. I always warn them that my questions and experience align most closely with successful people in big jobs who need a clear, no-nonsense direction and suite of documents. Some, even young people, are ready for that and take a great deal from the experience.
What’s your aesthetic?
Well, isn’t that a lofty question. Still, I’m asked so here’s the answer. At a certain level of professional authority, it’s important to inspire an air of simplicity, grace, and knowing that has to ring clearly and uniformly across all executive communications.
In my experience, those communications—résumés, profiles, bios, press releases, etc.—should reflect a “simple telling” of you standing in your professional center, rather than so-called power verbs and confusingly-designed documents. Symbols, graphs, charts, and other decorations are lovely, and they work for some, but they eclipse the clarity of a truly authoritative story.
Can we employ power verbs and snazzy designs? Yes. Do I advise it? Usually not. It’s akin to blinging out a Honda and thinking it will pass for a Bentley.
Do I always get it right? Yes. Is it easy? Hell no. Every day is hard work.
What are you like on stage?
I’ve spent much of my life on stage, having performed before audiences of up to 10,000 people, so I’m entirely comfortable.
My presenting style is casual and often conversational—not intentionally inspirational, although people have shared afterward that they were inspired in some way.
I work hard on developing presentations with lots of practice insight and application, and draw on my background in teaching to map a path between what I want an audience to learn and how I want them to get there. I also work well with event organizers to understand and adapt current presentations to the tone, style, and needs of each group of people.
For instance, when I presented back-to-back global webinars for the CFA Institute, my tone was what one would expect for an audience of financial analysts: centered and, I’ll confess it, a bit dry. However, when I presented for the first time to a group of humanities MA and PhD students from University of California, I decided to be more myself. Toward the last half-hour of the 1.5 hour talk, I wondered internally whether I should have gone into stand-up comedy. (I’m not promising comedy, by the way! It just happened!) The event organizer whispered, “Spot on,” as I stepped offstage, and the reviews cited not only an entertaining quality, but also a great deal of learning.
That’s my singular goal, incidentally: to teach. It means that I’m also a constant student of my craft and the biggest critic of my work.
Which reminds me of a funny story:
A recruiter returned for a tune-up of her LinkedIn profile a while back. She shared her website’s homepage copy to be sure it remained aligned with her LinkedIn profile, and I said, “My god, who wrote your homepage?”
To our mutual amusement, she exclaimed, “You did!”
Even though I had clearly forgotten that fact, I share the story because it was a chance for my own copy to stand up against my own unabashed criticism. Occasionally I encounter content I wrote in my early years and cringe. Thankfully, I get a lot of good feedback these days, particularly as the content I develop begins to work in the real world; but as a deeply critical technical writer, the interaction with that returning client was a funny and comforting commentary.