There’s a rumor that woman asked Picasso if he could create a quick sketch  on a napkin. He sketched the woman’s likeness and handed it to her with an invoice for a large amount of money. She was shocked. “But it only took you five minutes!” “No, madam, it took me all my life,” responded the artist.

When you have a resume built by a professional resume writer, the time spent is not limited to gathering information about your goals, previous jobs, and education. It’s not limited to the several hours of time your writer spends researching the job market for your skills, analyzing your talents and matching them to employers’ hiring requirements, building a targeted document with the right keywords to show up in search results, and carefully revising it to maximize the impact of the document with your particular local job market in mind.

Although gathering the information and writing the resume does take significant time, most of the value of your investment is based on the skill of the writer — expertise built through training and thousands of hours of resume-writing experience.

In addition, the greatest value you are leveraging is what Picasso considered his premier asset — an entire lifetime of knowledge and experience. A certified professional resume writer will empower you attract the best job interviews. Many clients land the job of their dreams. Will you be the next success story?

To cut down on reading time and keep the attention of recruiters and hiring managers, resume writers employ a variety of strategies that may seem unusual to those who don’t read resumes every day. Because the first review of a resume generally takes fewer than 30 seconds, these strategies may increase your chances of getting a call.

Here are a few of the stylistic conventions you will often see used by resume writers:

  • Resumes generally use first-person verbs without subjects such as “I” / “me” / “my”.
  • Most writers employ present tense for the basic job description of your current job and past tense for achievements of your current job and all the text for past jobs.
  • Resumes usually omit articles and possessive pronouns (“a” / “an” / “the” / “my”), except when doing so would detract from a sentence’s readability.
  • High-impact verbs instead of passive constructions help to grab the reader’s attention: A careful writer prefers “earned an award” to “was awarded.”

Although these conventions may seem strange or unusual at first, not using these conventions seems odd and offbeat to those who are used to seeing them every day, namely the people you most want to impress. That’s why we use them consistently: to get the best interviews for our clients.

Cynthia Funkhouser, CPRW


At the end of the interview, you’ll want to ask what the next step is. Then you should be sure to write a thank you note or email right after the call.


Checklist for a virtual interview

__  Have on hand hard copies of your résumé (identical to the version you sent in), cover letter, and job posting.

__  Work up a list of questions you may want to ask during the interview.

__  Print out a PowerPoint list of your talking points and company research.

__  Be sure your voice mail message sounds professional.

__  Keep water close by in case your throat feels dry.

__  If you use a cell phone, have your phone charger on hand with an outlet nearby.

__  If you use a laptop, have it is plugged in and charging.

__  Make sure your environment is distraction-free, and use a “Do Not Disturb” sign if necessary.

__ Keep your calendar or schedule on hand in case you need to schedule a second interview.


If you apply the ideas in this series, I am sure you’ll soon be well on your way to shining during your virtual interview. Best wishes for your success!

Cynthia Funkhouser, CPRW


  • Dress professionally. Put on your suit and practice on the webcam.
  • Check out how the colors appear on the camera with the capture function.
  • Make sure you have a professional-looking Skype photo.
  • Practice to be sure that you are in the best position in front of the webcam.
  • Look into webcam and not directly at the interviewer on the screen. When you look into the camera, you will seem to be looking at the interviewer.
  • Use a headset for the interview for clearer communication.
  • Use Ethernet instead of wi-fi wherever possible.
  • Plug your laptop in to ensure you have plenty of power.
  • Smile – practice beforehand.
  • Have on hand any links to online portfolios you may want to share so you can copy and paste them. (Learn how to copy and paste links if you don’t know how.)
  • Choose a funny nickname for your Skype account. Use your first name and last name as a username.
  • Forget to account for any time zone differences in the interview time.
  • Answer too quickly. Because of time delays in transmission, the interviewer may not be finished speaking.
  • Forget to turn off your cell phone.

In the final part of this series, Part 4, we will share a checklist for telephone interviews.

Cynthia Funkhouser, CPRW

Although some interview may be recorded, the majority of video interviews are live. You can interview using a webcam and a laptop, a desktop, or Skype on an iPad.

Make sure the area where you set up for the interview is clutter-free. Pay attention to the background. White walls are fine, but bookshelves in the background, for example, might be more interesting.

Try out all of your technology prior to the interview. Make sure your Internet connection and webcam are functioning well and that you have downloaded any software or drivers you need.

One of the most effective ways to prepare for any interview is to practice. If possible, conduct a few mock interview on Skype with friends or family to prepare for your live interview. Make sure the lighting and volume are set to what is ideal.

Finally, be sure you understand beforehand whether you or the interviewer will initiate the Skype call and make certain you both are accounting for any time zone difference.

In Part 3, we will review dos and don’ts for video interviews.

Cynthia Funkhouser, CPRW

Preparing for your phone interview is critical to your success. Spend as much time as you would preparing for a face-to-face interview.

Be sure to find out the following information at the time you schedule the interview:

  • Time of the call and time zone
  • Who will call who (and the phone number)
  • Expected length of the call
  • Who you will speak with (name and position title)

First, write down the job title you are applying for, the firm’s name, and any key information you want to convey to the interviewer.

Make an outline of your main points on PowerPoint presentation slides, and print the slides out to have on hand. These points might include:

  • Your accomplishments and achievements that relate directly to the hiring requirements
  • What makes you uniquely qualified for the position (that the other candidates won’t offer)
  • What you learned about the company from your research that links to your qualifications and achievements

Imagine how the conversation will go—what questions the interviewer might ask and how you will respond. Write up a list of questions and reflect on how you will answer each one. Speak your answers aloud and include your main points from your PowerPoint slides.  You will also need to jot down questions that you want to ask the interviewer.

Finally, be sure to plan for a quiet, distraction-free time and space for your interview— avoiding shouting children, barking dogs, and so forth.

In the next part of this series, we will go over special preparations you will want to make for video interviews.

Cynthia Funkhouser, CPRW

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A career change is an important investment. Job seekers complete training programs and conduct job searches only when programs are finished. How do you know that it will be feasible to find a job in the field you have targeted for your career change? One way you can get a better idea is to do a short, easy labor market analysis for your career change.

  • Step 1: Find the titles for the position you would like to research for your career change.

Make a list of job titles for the type of career change you are seeking. You may research these at the library, ask a counselor, or check on the Web. One often-consulted site is O*NET OnLine. For example, O*NET lists reported job titles for computer programmers: “Programmer Analyst, Programmer, Analyst Programmer, Computer Programmer, Software Developer, Applications Developer, Computer Programmer Analyst, Internet Programmer, Java Developer, Web Programmer.” If you are considering a career change to a programmer position, you could use any of these that are applicable to your search.

  • Step 2: Decide on your personal requirements for the position.

To which cities are you willing to travel? What salary ranges will you consider? Are you available to travel or work nights and weekends? Do you have any restrictions from your physician that might need accommodation? What other requirements do you have? These requirements are the factors you will consider when analyzing the results of your career change research.

  • Step 3: Using the job titles you identified, locate a minimum of five job postings that meet your requirements.

Actually, find as many as possible because you may be unable to reach some of your contacts. Some sites where you can locate postings include CareerBuilder, Monster, and Yahoo HotJobs. pulls listings from multiple sources. You can find additional postings on company Web sites, professional association sites, or local job banks. After you have collected the postings, research the telephone numbers of your targeted career change postings through a search engine such as Google or Bing or in an online phone directory.

  • Step 4: Contact the employers and recruiters.

Ask to speak to the recruiter or hiring manager for the particular position. Tell employers that you are considering a career change and would like to find out about local employers’ hiring requirements for XYZ positions. To keep the pressure off the recruiters, explain that you are not applying for a position at this time; you are simply seeking general information before investing yourself in a career change. Some contacts will be happy to help, though others may hesitate, especially if the contacts are not knowledgeable about the particular position and have been told not to transfer calls. Once you reach a contact, ask the following questions as relevant to your situation: (1) What are the hiring requirements for the position? (2) Has the company ever hired a candidate from (insert the college or training program that you are considering)? (3) What are the physical demands for the position (if applicable)? (4) How many of these positions has the employer filled recently? (5) What are typical starting salaries for someone with the qualifications you would have at the time you plan to apply?

  • Step 5: Analyze your results.

Compare your own requirements with your results from your employer interviews. How do they match up? If they don’t, are you willing to live with the differences?

If you can find at least five positions for which you could be considered, you have good reason to believe that you could successfully make a career change into your chosen field at the present time. You may also wish to check on the future projections for this field at O*NET OnLine.

If you are not satisfied with the results of your career change analysis, you will need to decide how you want to reframe your job search plans. Sometimes a change to a different state or region would result in a better market for the type of position you seek. If you are unable to target your job search so your results are satisfactory to you, you may want to consult with a career change counselor for other options.

If everything sounds good, then you have some assurance about your career change. Either way, you will have gained greater insight into your chosen path.


Cynthia Funkhouser, CPRW

(Reposted from articles)

Unemployed persons per job opening, May 2013


Even with U.S. unemployment rates decreasing in many areas to less than half what they were in January 2009, the job market still has three candidates for every job open. With that in mind, you still want your resume to be the most competitive that it can be to get the best interviews.

Moving past the other candidates

How do you get ahead of the other candidates? The most important strategy to make your resume competitive is to target it as closely to the job as possible. If you were a teacher and you are now applying for a position in educational sales, for example, you want to make your resume look like the resume of a salesperson besides showcasing your consultative expertise as an educator.

Making a case for yourself in your resume

How do you accomplish that if you have no experience in sales? One way might be to make a case for yourself by emphasizing how you have used your consultative and persuasive abilities in the past. Have you ever done cold calling? (If not, now might be a good time to volunteer to call for a fund-raising campaign.) Another tactic might be to emphasize your motivation and determination to make goals. Still another might highlight research skills you could apply to generate leads. If you add enough broad strokes and details about how you fit into a sales role, a portrait of a salesperson will eventually emerge in your resume.

Getting help with your resume

If you have any special challenges to overcome in the job market or if you simply want to make sure that you have a shot at the best interviews, you could benefit from making contact with a certified professional resume writer. The Professional Association of Resume Writers has a database where you can search for a certified writer ( It’s one of the easiest ways to shorten your job search.


Cynthia Funkhouser, CPRW


The Ideal Resume Burger

The Ideal Resume Burger


Want to make a resume that employers will love? Make a resume burger! (Don’t worry if you’re vegan. We don’t have to put animal protein in this burger.)

The ideal resume burger is very different from the average job candidate’s resume. Most resumes are lean on achievements with either supersized summaries or none at all and heaped high with condiments in the form of job descriptions. Looking at many resumes, you’d think the condiments were supposed to be bigger than the protein patty itself.

The Patty: Achievements

You want the main part of your burger to be achievements. What did you do that was different from what another person might have done in your job that got the needed results? What did your manager praise about your performance? What did your clients love about you? Why will your colleagues miss you when you leave? Tell what you did and the results for each position, preferably set off by bullets. Use proper resume action verbs for each entry. This part of the resume is the protein, the most important part of the meal and the part that will tell employers why they want to hire you.

Condiments: Job Descriptions

Each entry for a job can start with a job description, but keep it brief, as though it were catsup. Job descriptions are boring. In most cases, the hiring manager will know what you did on the job if it’s a relevant job. If you’re changing fields, the manager won’t care what you did in the job, but will be more impressed by your unique contributions, which will say something about who you are.

The Bun: Summary, Education, Skills Lists, Affiliations

Pull your burger and condiments together with a bun. The top of the bun will be a brief summary of what you offer that the employers are seeking. Don’t forget to precede this summary with a statement including the position title of the job you are seeking as a keyword. You can follow the summary with a keyword list under an appropriate  header such as “Areas of Expertise.” The bottom, below the condiments and protein, will be your education and any affiliations you might have, along with technical skills if you have not already included them in a separate list at the top.

Now You’re Good to Go

Voila! That is your resume burger, ready to draw the hiring managers in with its delicious fragrance.


Cynthia Funkhouser, CPRW