You need to know how to write a resume…
If only resumes could write themselves, you wouldn’t need to waste your time reading a book. But they don’t, and you do. Except that this book is not a waste of time.
This book follows the idea that one way to conduct a successful job search is to position yourself like a product or business with a future employer as your customer.
If you need a solid book on resume writing tips, buy this book.
Why You Should Read This Book:
The key advice or resume writing tip of the book (and I concur) is to primarily target your resume to ONE job, even if you can do multiple. As Martin says, “No one needs a human swiss army knife,” which is a headline I’ve unfortunately seen on a job seeker’s LinkedIn profile. Don’t be that job seeker. Read this book!
The author’s main intention is to provide you both clarity and a proven box of tools in your quest for your next (or first) job. He believes that as the most financially impactful document in your life, the biggest investment in your future is, in fact, your resume. Indeed, your resume will influence the job you get, and the job you get will contribute to your long-term income potential, so his claim is not so far fetched.
If you need help to find the best resume writing format and understand how to craft and follow your resume objective, this book is an excellent resource. When you finish the book you will be confident you know how to make a resume.
Yate, Martin. Knock ‘Em Dead Resumes: A Killer Resume Gets MORE Job Interviews!12th ed., Adams Media Corporation, 2016.
Why this book and not another?
This book is overall relevant, actionable and practical.
The techniques and resume writing tips shared are a mix of standard resume writing wisdom and over 40 years of resume writing experience, accented by powerful explanations and exercises help you to focus your resume objective and build a resume that stands out or “Knocks ’em Dead!”
- If you carefully follow Martin’s advice and strategically implement it in your job search and to create your resume, you will learn a valuable life-long skill.
- If you need a resume writing template, he provides multiple versions and styles. You won’t go wrong following one of his resume writing templates.
- If you need resume writing examples from various periods in your career or for a career in transition you will find what you need. Martin provides resume writing examples from many different career choices and periods.
- If you want answers to questions like what is the best “resume objective” and what is the best “resume writing format?” the book will deliver.
Originally published in 1988, completely revised in 2008, be sure to find the most recent version, so that you have the up-to-date and current information (this is a review of the 12th edition from 2016). Resume writing is a rapidly changing field and picking up a decade old book will not serve your goals.
LinkedIn: The Newest of Resume Skills
In today’s market, your resume skills need also to include writing an impactful LinkedIn profile.
And while I didn’t come across any errors or bad advice in the book, the only place I’d offer a critique is the author’s description of LinkedIn and how it is changing the face of the resume and the job search.
We will agree to disagree on the use of the 1st person versus the 3rd person in your LinkedIn profile. I appreciate and see daily the impact of 1st person LinkedIn profiles.
They are conversational and persuasive; when I read a profile written in the first person, I feel like I know the person.
That said for the purpose of optimizing one’s LinkedIn profile if you follow Martin’s advice you won’t go wrong.
Expert Advice: Resume Writing Services
As a resume writing instruction book, Knock Em Dead Resumes is a solid authority. You might read other material regarding how to style your content or discussing the use of 1st or 3rd person, but overall you cannot go wrong with Knock ‘Em Dead Resumes.
Martin is the CEO and Owner of Knock ‘Em Dead Resume Writing & Career Coaching Services. He runs his own Resume Writing Service as a certified professional resume writer and a New York Times bestselling author. So it shouldn’t be surprising that the book is comprehensive walking the job seeker through all aspects of job targeting and resume creation.
He’ll have you identify problems to solve related your target job, filling out a thorough questionnaire and worksheet that have you outline all pertinent resume content.
He’ll then walk you through creating a professional brand, identify your transferable skills and professional values and then figure out how to demonstrate your mastery. The book provides lists/examples and guides you through the process of putting it all together.
He provides insights and advice into techniques that are likely to bring you the most success. We are in agreement that a combination style resume is best in today’s job market (over purely functional or purely chronological).
He also provides a questionnaire and template that I highly recommend, the closest thing I’ve seen to practically sharing all his secrets as a resume writer.
One of the best tools in the book is a basic template to collect required info and pieces into a document (master resume) that you can later use cut and paste into your chosen resume template.
Who Will Benefit Most from the Resume Writing Tips in this Book?
The book is written primarily for those following a traditional career path but covers techniques to help those in job transition.
Sample resumes included are for:
If this is your first resume or you haven’t written a resume in
As an experienced and successful resume writer, I will endorse an investment in this book and tell you that tossing $$ at an online resume mill is a simple waste of time.
Why? This book walks you through your work history, Martin asks you tough questions, he makes you do the work and the associated research to accurately target your resume. He provides the support and effective formats for different types of work and situations.
That said, hiring a strategic resume writer can be immensely useful, just be make sure to hire someone like Martin or me, who takes the time to walk you through all the steps in this book (or their own process) and then also provides you the value of their guidance and experience.
Again: Don’t Waste Money On a Resume Mill
Resume writing is not easy nor should it be. If you want a job you love, you need to invest some time and effort in your resume and your job search.
A $150 resume writer might spend one or two hours organizing your work experience, writing a summary and tossing in a handful of “action” verbs to make you sound fabulous, but in this amount of time, it is highly unlikely that they will create a compelling resume.
Indeed, they will follow your guidance, and if you don’t yet know your own weakness, or if you have not yet taken the time to target your job search appropriately, your resume will still fall flat.
A better option? Learn how to do it yourself.
Read it, follow Martin’s instructions and take a few weeks or a month to carefully and strategically write your resume.
Tell me the best resume book you've read?
Alison has interviewed, hired and coached 100s of employees. With over 20+ years progressive experience in hiring, training, interviewing and staff development, she knows how to maximize your resume and LinkedIn profile to engage your target audience.
On LinkedIn since 2005, she’s watched the network grow and influence the field of resume writing and the overall career search process. Want a LinkedIn geek? You’ve got one in Alison.
Today, Alison, focus on the writing of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, guiding and coaching her clients towards work they love.
Alison Rakoto is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Of
From location independent digital nomads to stay-at-home parents and experienced professionals ready to find freedom as consultants, the desire to rid ourselves of the corporate rat race is a common theme. I grew up in a Freelancer household — my dad quit his 9 to 5 job when I was 4 to become a freelance illustrator.
And yet, it took me until I moved overseas to consider the possibility for myself. And honestly, if I’d never met Leah of the Freelance to Freedom Project, I am not sure if I would have taken the jump.
A quest for happiness and a release from the 9 to 5 is a crucial motivator to turn “freelance.” And, stress is the main reason new freelancers give-up. Fear, anxiety, and an inability to find adequate clients or sufficient secure income is a critical reason that new freelancers return to an office job.
So how do you avoid stress as a freelancer and find success? Due to the wide variety of freelance and consultant positions and diverse individuals who fill these roles, there is not one magic answer. That said all freelancers and consultants can benefit from mastering and paying attention to the following nine subject areas.
8) Accepting Failure
As an experienced and successful Freelancer who works with a diverse clientele, in this article, I share with you not only why these nine subjects yield actionable tips for success, I also share some of my favorite groups, classes, and resources, to help you, whatever your niche, on your path to freedom.
If you take a quick survey of “successful” versus “failed” freelancers and consultants, one of the first things you will notice is that the successful freelancers precisely focus their offerings and target a specific audience.
Many failed freelancers try to offer 50 different services in a desperate attempt to snag a client. Don’t be that freelancer. If you try to be everybody to everyone you will crash and burn.
People hire relationships; people hire for specific needs. They need to know the moment they come across your LinkedIn profile, your Website or your Upwork page that your skills match their needs.
If I search “web designer” under people on LinkedIn, I pull up over 465,000 profiles. This doesn’t mean you cannot be successful as a web designer, but it does mean you need to find your market and excel at meeting the demands of YOUR market.
If I want a Divi website, don’t sell me custom-coded.
If I wish to have a site built on WordPress, don’t sell me Squarespace.
If you want happy and repeat customers, you must accurately represent your skills and your offers.
And then find reliable referral partners to send potential clients whose problems do not align with your solutions.
The best way to build repeat clients and your own word-of-mouth income stream is by knocking-the-socks off of your clients and you can only do this if you define and focus, set your sights on becoming an expert.
Success Lesson 1: Define your offer and your specialty. Focusing your business goals on a particular audience will make it easier for you to find success and to earn repeat clients, as well as, word of mouth referrals. Set goals in line with your experience level and appropriate to your skills set, income goals and resources.
2) Design your processes:
You’ve got experience, you’ve settled on your offer, built a website and written up a LinkedIn profile.
How are you going to get a client and what will you do once you HAVE a client?
A key reason for freelance failure is a lack of processes and organization during the client onboarding process that results in stress, confused expectations and even failed projects. Before following the procedures outlined in “Stress Less & Impress,” within the Freelance to Freedom School, I experienced scheduling stress because I couldn’t seem to control when my clients replied and returned materials. If you need processes, check out Leah’s freelancer school. You won’t be disappointed!
Finally, after refusing (and losing) a client, because he disappeared off the planet for over a week and then expected a rush job finished over Christmas, I sat myself down and followed the Freelance to Freedom Program’s “Stressless and Impress” Course. I followed the simple instructions for setting up an onboarding process and most importantly created a “How I work” document that I share with all new clients in a “Welcome Package.” Now, instead of clients being frustrated, and me stressing out from unexpected deadlines, my clients instead report back that they are thrilled with my responsiveness and turnaround time.
The other expectation management tool I now use as a result of my membership in the Freelance to Freedom School is a course titled “Consult Call Success.” I’ve found that starting all my client work with a short 15 to 20-minute call closes my sales and means that my clients and I start off our relationship with a clear understanding of expectations, again reducing stress and setting us up for success!
Success Lesson 2: Processes, processes, processes: follow a plan and manage expectations through well-designed processes. If you define and focus your offer, it is almost natural to then set-up the associated processes. This planning assures your success not only because it improves your client relationships, but also because it means that you save time and reduce your anxiety, by establishing easy to follow and consistent procedures. As Leah says: “Stress less and Impress!”
3) Find an Online Community:
In our quest for freedom, many freelancers often find themselves surprised to discover that they hate being alone or that they suddenly feel cut off from society. Working from home means no more “water cooler chat,” and no more “popping over” to a coworker’s cubicle to get their feedback or toss around ideas.
The solution? Find a group or several of likeminded Freelancers. My saving grace has been the support and friendship that I’ve found with the Digital Nomad Girls (and now the Inner Circle) and the Freelance to Freedom Project (and the school).
Facebook groups are a dime a dozen, and I’ve joined my fair share of duds, but the groups where I’ve found value are real keepers. Not only do I find them a lifesaver when it comes to practical business advice, but I’ve made both colleagues and friends, and I’ve found clients.
Success Lesson 3: Find a Community. Depending on your demographic and industry, I’d search Facebook groups and Google to identify that right community for you. You might need to start out by joining five groups or even ten.
Jump in and introduce yourself and then interact with a few posts, you’ll be able to tell reasonably swiftly if you’ve found a group of that will support you. If the group is a dud, drop it and find another. And, if you can’t find a community you like, build your own. Leah’s got a class for that too: Create Your Own FB Group!
As I mentioned in #2, to avoid stress and find the success you seek, setting up processes and managing expectations is crucial. From the beginning I cannot overemphasize the value of investing a little time and if necessary money into applications, memberships, and resources that allow you to automate, scale and manage your business like a pro.
Some of my favorite applications work fine using the free versions, such as Trello for goals, editorial calendar, project management, and tasks or AND CO for client management including proposals, contracts, billing, and expenses. Whereas others I’ve found work best if I invest in the paid versions, like Zapier, G Suite, LinkedIn, and Grammarly. (G Suite is INDISPENSABLE. Get yourself a business email, nothing shouts amateur like a personal email, especial Hotmail, Comcast or even AOL.)
Similarly, I’ve found that investing in lifetime memberships or continual access to certain groups or platforms more than pays for itself and in fact contributes to my longterm financial success and growth. My total expenses on a monthly basis for memberships and business applications is around $200. This used to freak me out, but now I realize that if I am paying for something, it is because I’ve received a service I value and that I’ve invested in myself and my business.
Success Lesson 4: Find the applications, groups or resources that will support your success and invest in them. If you want your clients to value your work, then you need to appreciate yourself. Your happiness and success are worth the investment in the tools and the communities that will support you on your journey.
One of the most common questions I see in Freelancer groups is “how do I stay on task?” The first step towards staying on task takes us back to lesson one: plan and focus, but even then, it’s easy to get side-tracked, procrastinate, over or under-whelm yourself on your way to success.
For me, I’ve found three golden tickets to accountability success. The first is long-term planning — assessing where I’ve been and where I am going — I need to have a plan if I am going to have a schedule. I need to have measurable goals if I am going to make progress.
After my planning, I’ve found that the best way to stay on track is through working with a voluntary accountability partner. Janice, The Career Introvert, and I met through the DNG group last November, we had overlapping interests and wanted to uplevel our game in 2018. We do daily check-ins and monthly goals setting. It’s been amazing to see the positive influence on my business! Accountability for the win!
Success Lesson 5: Be Accountable, you don’t have a boss to follow-up with you or co-workers to keep you on track, so figure out ahead of time how you will manage yourself. The days I miss my morning routine sometimes end-up near to total losses. For me and for you, real freedom ironically comes with an accountability plan!
This one is boring, but whether you abhor or adore spreadsheets if you don’t make a budget, you won’t have income goals or know your real expenses. And if you don’t have income goals or know your expenses, how will you know if you are a success or not?
Money in must be greater than money out…
Regardless of your geographic location or your status as a nomad or a local freelancer, you’ve got expenses, and you’ve got to
The good news is that there are dozens of finance and CRM apps. Hop into your favorite community group and ask what your peers love (or hate) to find something that works for you.
Success Lesson 6: Set-up your financial success with a budget and income goals. Do this from day one, and it will become a habit. Do this from day one, and you won’t get any nasty surprises, from the tax guy to your banker. Do this from day one, and you will be better positioned to charge what you are worth, and you will know better than to take work that won’t keep your lights on.
When I decided to become a freelancer, I realized that the reason I never loved the 9 to 5, is because I grew up in a freelancer household. As I mentioned earlier, my father is an artist and worked as a successful freelance illustrator for 40+ years.
His ticket to success? A morning routine, accountability, focus, and self-care. Every night before bed he wrote out a to-do list for the following day so that he could sleep peacefully. In the morning, he got up, ate breakfast, took care of his animals, drank a few cups of coffee and then went to work. Every hour or so he would break to refresh his coffee and talk to the cat (or me or my mom).
He listened to talk radio and always stopped a 1 PM for lunch. After lunch he took a walk and then he went back to work. He did on occasion work evenings to finish projects, but he always stopped for dinner and regularly put me to bed. He never worked on holidays and rarely on the weekend.
I’ve found that I too do my best work when I’ve had a break. When I really need to focus, I’ll do a Pomodoro session. Once every two weeks, I meet a group of girlfriends for coffee, and I start my day with yoga. I find some of my best ideas and solutions come when I am running, and so that is also part of my self-care routine.
Success Lesson 7: Self-care is crucial to freelance success. If you work 24/7 without proper breaks for real food, exercise, leisure or socializing the only thing you will accomplish is burnout. Determine what you need to do to take care of yourself and make it part of your calendar and your accountability plan. If you don’t take care of yourself, who will do your work?
All the steps leading up to #7 will make it easier for you to focus on self-care. In fact, planning, investing, budgeting, and accountability are all part of successful freelancing. You need a plan and clear expectations not only for your clients but also for yourself!
Don’t worry, I don’t mean outright failure as a freelancer, but rather the ability to accept that at times on your journey you will likely fail. Sometimes big, sometimes small. And then you will learn, and reassess, and come out stronger and wiser. Failure isn’t a weird thing, it is a perfectly natural thing.
When I first started my Freelance journey in 2013, I’d just left a 60+ hour-per-week job that I loved, with status, so I could move overseas. My superpower is writing, specifically, strategic writing. Throughout my career, I’ve written myself into employment and promotions. I’ve helped friends and peers with their resumes for years. And so, I knew that I could sell my skills as a writer, but my biggest block was a fear of failure.
Success Lesson 8: Accepting failure and learning what will work for you may be a multi-step process. Don’t give up when you fail, instead, take the time to reassess and determine what will work best for you. Set goals, but don’t throw in the towel when you find you need to readjust.
It took me several years of freelancing and working on a vast array of projects, before finally joining the Freelance to Freedom Project and realizing that success and fulfillment for me, meant sitting down and focusing purely on strategic writing for people searching for a fulfilling career.
I let go of my desire to just “be a writer” and instead concentrate on what excites me and gives me a feeling of satisfaction. Since that moment, I’ve come to understand that failure is part of the learning experience and that redefining and setting new goals is part of the process.
This might be last on my list, but folks, it does not diminish the importance of relationship building — otherwise known as marketing and networking. Or Every day I see freelancers setup websites or write generic LinkedIn profiles, and then sit back and wait for people to come to them like flies to honey.
But, honey, that is not how it works! People buy relationships. You need to get out there and network, engage, market, send cold emails, make cold calls. Your website or LinkedIn profile is your digital calling card and sales page, but you need to get out there and write proposals, talk to people, and apply for jobs. If you don’t interact — how will anyone find you?
Provide value. Be personal. Ask. Share.
“Alison, can I give you a hand with your website design?
“Tom, can I give you a hand with your customer service?
Make sure that your LinkedIn profile, and if you have one, your website tell people what you do and that they have a clear call-to-action. Make sure that you target everything to a precise audience.
If you don’t know how to do this then take my LinkedIn Success Masterclass at the Freelance to Freedom School.
Success Lesson 9: Build real relationships. Network. Market. Market. Market. Differentiate. Show your value. Engage. Provide Value.
Ready to be a Success?
What do you think of these 9 Actionable tips? Do you see how each tip is interconnected? Do you understand that you need more than an idea or an experience to achieve success as a freelancer? You can, and you will find success on your journey to freedom, but first, you must focus, set up your processes, build your community, invest in your business, be accountable, budget, manage your self-care, accept failure and last but not least, build relationships to market your wares!
What is your experience with freelance success? Where do you need help? Share in the comments and share this article to help your fellow freelancers!
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.
🚙 Family car or 🏎 race car?
🚜 Tractor or high-speed train?
What is your performance profile?
When you commit to a vehicle you consider it’s performance profile: what features and levels of reliability do you need in a car?
That yellow corvette might be gorgeous, but if you’ve got two kids, two dogs, and a mountain road to tackle, you’ll buy the Subaru Outback.
You might get a thrill from riding a high-speed train, but if you’ve got a field of wheat to harvest, you’ll buy a tractor.
Employers do the same thing: what are the skills and personality of their ideal employee and how do you measure up?
Don’t make your resume look like a Corvette if your ideal boss needs a Honda Civic. In the working world, reliability and practical features bring more value than pomp and circumstance.
Employers need to be able to imagine you solving problems and getting the work done.
Are you overqualified? Talk about your core skills and motivations. Demonstrate that you understand the job description and what is required to accomplish the tasks at hand successfully.
It is rare to expect a Corvette to do the work of a Honda Civic, so create an ideal performance profile for the task at hand. Then make sure your resume and LinkedIn profile align with this performance profile.
Identify the right work and the right company. Get noticed. Get hired.