Area resident Angela Durden has provided a wide variety of services since 1992, including helping people with the art of resume-writing. She has a wealth of tips for resume crafting in two new books, both called K.I.S.S. Your Resume and Say Hello to a Better Job.
Durden offers many services, including newsletters, print materials, PowerPoint presentations and video production. She said that her skill set diversified over the years as technology changed and clients required her to do new things.
“When I set my business up in ’92, I was going to be a writer,” she said. “I was just going to write, give [clients] the words and they could do whatever they wanted with them, because that’s all I knew.” However, clients would see her finished products and expect a typeset, laid-out production instead of just the text, so she decided she needed to start learning layouts and desktop publishing, which meant purchasing a computer.
“I saw the writing on the wall. If I was going to be in business, I couldn’t just be writing…I was going to have to do more. So from that auspicious beginning of buying my first computer…from that, I just gradually learned more and more and more.”
She also started helping people with their resumes and thankful clients said she should write a book on the subject. Inspired, she began shopping the idea of a resume advice book around, but publishers were uninterested because she wasn’t a nationally-known expert. In the end, she decided to self-publish and the result of this was the 2000 book Nine Stupid Things People Do to Mess up Their Resume, a title based on Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s 10 Stupid Things People Do to Mess up Their Lives books.
She sold enough copies to break even on her investment and began to do more things, including a kids’ book, but later decided it was time to revisit Nine Stupid Things under a different name. Local editor Tom Whitfield helped her brainstorm to figure out what the book should accomplish in order to find a name.
“It simplifies. It helps people keep the [resume] process simple,” she told him, and in that moment it hit her. “It helps them K.I.S.S. it. Right then I went ‘new marketing campaign! New title!’”
K.I.S.S. Your Resume is split into two editions, one for men and one for women. While much of the content is the same in both versions, the narrative sections detailing how to use the book are written slightly differently.
In choosing covers for these two books, Durden thought it would be fun to play against type and make parodies of the over-the-top romance novel covers with images of a handsome man and a beautiful woman, depending on the version, being embraced by a resume. However, the mock-ups met with universal disapproval, even by Durden and Whitfield, so it was back to the drawing board.
Eventually the cover art was chosen. For men, the cover is black with white text in a military-style font and a red image of lips. For women, the cover is light pink with brown text and a faded background image of Durden herself standing atop dictionaries and victoriously holding her laptop. These covers met with much more approval.
The books still include the nine points outlined in Nine Stupid Things, although the ‘stupid’ designation has been removed and now they fit into the new theme.
“You would think that people would spell their names correctly,” she said, discussing one of the nine things. Contact information is often left outdated as well. These seem like no-brainers, but Durden has seen clients who have made these mistakes before.
After looking at the nine criteria, K.I.S.S. Your Resume helps readers build their resumes by going through descriptive checklists and then plugging results into a sample resume they can customize to fit themselves.
“It’s like sitting across the desk from me for two hours while I just grill you because this is all the stuff that I will go through if you’re there,” Durden said.
Durden has some advice that can be applied to pretty much any resume.
“A resume is an advertisement for what you do, for what you know, for who you are. That’s why you should never lie on a resume,” she said.
While this may seem obvious, she said that often employers will use outplacement services to help downsized employees update their resumes. These services basically are like Mad Libs for resumes and often mean less-than-quality results. When clients come to Durden for help, she goes over their resumes with them and can spot the things that outplacement services placed in them, often because clients will express surprise that they are even there.
Every piece of the resume is important, but Durden said to put three powerful words at the bottom of the resume that describe the applicant and are tailored to the positions they desire. She recently read a woman on MSN who advised people to do the same thing and called it ‘branding yourself.’
“I started that ‘branding’ many, many, many years ago,” Durden said. “She had to have gotten it from me because I’m the one who started it.”
K.I.S.S. Your Resume will help readers find the three best words to describe them. The words should be printed in the same font and size as the name at the top of the resume in order to draw the eye to them.
“It’s a matter of helping the resume reader…to stick with you longer,” she said. “It’s more important than people think.” Readers have told her that the three words often helped them stand apart in the interviewing process.