Amanda Brandon is a writer who specializes in personal branding and resume writing. She believes what you do matters, and she helps you find that value to share with the world through customized resumes, LinkedIn profiles, cover letters, bios, and other professional branding.
Several years ago, I was looking for a new job because my boss left. I didn’t want to work in an “interim department” because the organization I worked for was a bit slow to hire.
I also knew that the healthcare system where I worked was starting a marketing department for the patient care services. I wanted to be a groundbreaker, so I applied as soon as I saw the position post. And then…nothing.
I worked up my nerve to talk to a friend who worked on the hospital side to see if she could get me a name or a recommendation for the open marketing position. Within two days, I had an interview and an offer!
Being bold in your goals and talking to your network are surefire strategies for finding a great job.
Here’s a comical, not so great way of getting a job.
That same year, I was at a party organized by some alumni from my alma mater. It was fairly exclusive because a top-ranked news anchor was at the party. And I happened to run into him on the stairs.
I introduced myself and said that I liked his show. I was about to say that I had graduated from the same journalism program a few years ago before he cut me off.
He leaned in and gave me a kiss on the cheek and said, “Not here, Baby. I can’t get you a job.”
In the words of my high school here Cher Horowitz, “As if I needed his help!”
Job search lesson: Don’t expect favors. I’m sure this news anchor got approached all.the.time about getting internships and jobs. I get that, but he was so rude.
Don’t be like that to the seekers in your life.
Give them something valuable – an introduction, an informational meeting, a resume review. Be genuine and pay it forward.
Need a resume review? Total job search package? Let’s connect on LinkedIn.
Have you ever chatted with a chatbot – the artificial intelligence-powered virtual assistant that helps you find information on a website? You can select from pre-loaded answers to questions and it directs you to help pages or contact info for the company.
Whether you like them or not, these bots showcase a secret weapon for jobseekers or project-based professionals – pre-written scripts.
Scripts: The Secret to Great Marketing
I’ve been a professional writer for the past fifteen years, and a big part of my corporate work was developing a few key pieces for sales and marketing teams. With each product or campaign launch, I received a request for the following items:
Project/Promotion Overview – This was the who, what, when, why, and where for the sales/marketing team to understand the audience and how the promo/project would work.
FAQs – Every product launch included a series of frequently asked questions. This was useful for not only the customer, but it also helped the team selling the product familiarize themselves with how a product could improve productivity or benefit a potential client.
Email, Social & Phone Scripts – This series of scripts helped the sales and marketing teams develop cohesive and clear communications about the new product, the press release, or whatever we were launching. When you have a script, it helps you start conversations quickly and keeps you on message.
Testimonials – Before we launched a product, we asked our best customers to test the product for us and give us feedback. This builds credibility and helps your team say “Look who else is getting similar results.”
Case Studies – As soon as we could, we released a case study on new functionality and how companies were getting results with our products. This is another credibility booster. The problem, solution, results method were often the deciding factor in a sale or project.
How Scripts Apply to Your Project or Job Search
Let’s take the product launch list and apply it to your job or project search. Here’s where scripts can help you stand out from the crowd and apply to more jobs or send out more project proposals.
Script No. 1: Your “What You Do” Statement
This is basically your elevator pitch. Use this formula to develop your overview script of what you do.
I help (who you help) with (XYZ problems) to (how you solve problems).
My what you do statement for jobseekers:
I help job seekers who need help formulating their accomplishments to polish their professional profiles – resumes, LinkedIn, cover letters, introduction letters, and thank you letter – so that they can put their best foot forward in their job search.
See how this is about you and not about me? This is an effective script because it shows how I can help solve YOUR problem. That’s what your target is looking for – how you can help. I have several of these already saved in a Word file for my different types of projects. You should too.
Script No. 2: Your Resume
Your resume is a living, breathing document that you should update at least once a month.But the reality is that most people wait until they need to find a new job, seek a new project, or are asked for it before they update it. And then, it’s a monumental project.
I highly recommend you take a few minutes a month and review your current accomplishments and update them on your resume. That way, you’re ready when you need it.
It’s also a good idea to have different versions of your core resume, especially if you’re a project-based professional. I have a different resume for my book editing, job seeker writing, and marketing writing. Why? When I customize my resume, I get more responses and you will too!
Pro Tip: Recruiters and hiring managers can tell when you take the time to respond to their direct needs. Scripts help you do that. When you have good bones, you can customize the keywords and responsibilities to match your target job. If you aren’t customizing your resume/cover letter when applying for jobs or projects, then you may not be getting optimal results.
Script No. 3: Your Cover Letter
What’s the most neglected part of a job search? The cover letter! It’s neglected because it’s often seen as difficult to craft and I’d bargain most of us aren’t ever taught how to write an effective cover letter.
When I decided to start my own business, I wrote hundreds of cover letters for projects, part-time gigs, and remote positions. I realized very quickly that this was the secret to getting a response. When I matched my contributions to the potential hiring company, I almost always got an email back or some sort of response. I started tracking it and realized that my cover letters received a reply 60% of the time. That’s an excellent response rate in marketing terms.
Here’s a brief description of how to craft a winning cover letter:
Contact information is important. Don’t skip this part. Try to find a contact name. If you can’t find it, use “Dear Hiring Manager.” “To Whom It May Concern” is so impersonal.
Paragraph 1: Tell why you’re writing and specifically what position/opportunity you’re interested in and where you found the opportunity (this part is very effective in standing out).
Paragraph 2: Give your “what you do” statement as it relates to the position description. Be sure to use keywords from the job description. (This is where your contact will spend their first 3-5 seconds. Make it compelling, so the screener will forward your application!)
Paragraph 3-5: Relate your experience to their needs. Use numbers, technical expertise, and accomplishments to give a broad picture of why you match the companies needs. (This will be the part the hiring manager will highlight and revisit.)
Paragraph 6: Recap why you and this company should start a conversation. Tell the contact next steps and how to reach you (even if it’s in your header) because you want to make it easy for them to find you. (Make this short and sweet. Write it like you’re in a coffee line and you can’t wait to continue the conversation next week.)
Here’s a quick script:
“I’m interested in helping you achieve X, Y, Z, and would love to continue this conversation via telephone or Zoom. You can reach me at Phone and email.”
Paragraph 7: Thank the contact for their time and consideration. I believe this is a huge differentiator.
This is my closing for nearly every letter:
“Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to speaking with you soon.”
Be cordial, confident, and direct in your closing.
Script No. 4: Your LinkedIn Profile
Do you have one of these yet? If not, stop what you’re doing and go set it up. It’s free, and it’s considered a major tool in your professional job search. Some industries request the LinkedIn profile in lieu of a resume and cover letter.
I’ll write a more formal guide to LinkedIn soon, but this is your chance to be casual and confident in your work experience. Use personal pronouns. List accomplishments. Take skills test. Ask for recommendations. Make connections.
Some keys for LinkedIn success:
Use a professional photo. This is so important. Don’t include your dog or kids. Don’t crop yourself out of another photo. Find a photographer friend to take a photo for you. Pay for it because it’s worth it.
Use the 120 character headline to your advantage. You have two options – keyword it or make it compelling.My headline:
Pro freelance writer & editor specializing in developmental editing and jobseeker marketing
Content Strategist | Remote Work Expert | Content Marketing Specialist | Email Specialist | Data Obsessed
I really like the second option for tech professionals or industries where software and technical skills are in high demand.
Make your summary rock. This is where you highlight your accomplishments and plug those keywords, but don’t just stuff it. Use them in a narrative style so that it looks like you took the time to write a brief bio. Highlight tangible accomplishments and use active voice.
I personally use my summary to describe the kinds of writing and editing I do:
Experienced freelance writer and developmental editor who specializes in polishing content to help clients meet their goals. Resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, bios, elevator pitches, bios, marketing scripts for email, video scripts, case studies, articles, thought leadership pieces, non-profit fundraising letters, annual reports, blogs, and other professional communications.
Ghostwriter and development editor services too. My work includes more than 30 books and courses.
Get a custom URL. I write dozens of resumes a month, and so many jobseekers are using the assigned LinkedIn address. You can easily customize it in three simple steps:
Make sure you’re logged in and click “Me” at the top.
Click View Profile > Edit Public Profile & URL.
Customize the link with your first and last name. If you have a common name, use your middle initial.
How Often Should You Update Your LinkedIn Profile?
I update my profile at least once a week. I’d add this to your weekly marketing checklist, especially if you’re actively seeking employment or projects. You need this tool in your arsenal more and more, so don’t neglect it. And be sure to network on the site several times a week. Like posts, make comments, and share about your work. These factors all increase your visibility to potential collaborators or employers.
Script No. 5: Your Letter of Introduction
As you have probably learned, it’s easier to get a job or project when you know someone. Networking is the number one way to get on someone’s radar when you’re looking for a new gig or career.
That’s why a letter of introduction is key to your job or project success. You need to be ready to send a greeting to a potential client or employer – even when there’s not a job posting.
Here are few tips on how to craft this script:
Tell them how you got their contact info. Don’t be creepy!
“I saw your blog post on XYZ, and I had a few questions for you.”
“You and I have a mutual connection…”
“My colleague told me that you may have a position opening up, and I wanted to see who the hiring manager is…”
“You and I have similar services. I’d like to see about setting up a referral network.”
“I have a client looking for XYZ. I wanted to see what your expertise and pricing were on this part…”
Explain what you’re looking to do in more detail (3-5 sentences).
Give your contact info and close it out.
You can reach me at email and phone. Thank you for your time. I look forward to working together soon.
Sign and proof.
Where to Keep Your Scripts
Now that you have a list of scripts to create, keep them all in one place. I have a folder on my desktop AND in my iCloud Drive AND in my Google Drive, so that I can access these files from any device at any time. You never know when you’ll need to send a quick intro.
I just completed a big research project where I looked at hundreds of social media profiles. Want to know what I learned? Pros do five things right with social profiles:
Pros fill out their entire profile and everything is in the right case. LinkedIn profiles almost double as a resume today. So make sure you list your current job title and everything is in the right case (meaning you know that your name is a proper noun and so is the place you work).
Pro social profiles have a professional headshot. I was shocked at the number of people with 500+ connections who didn’t have a photo. I was also a little surprised at the number of “interesting” photos.Pro Tip: Get a professional photo taken every year or two to use in social media profiles.
Pros have a headline that grabs attention and makes sense. Each social media network has its own “way” to present your “what you do” statement. LinkedIn gives you an opportunity to describe your experience and what you’re looking to do. Use this to your advantage.Walking the Walk: My LinkedIn profile headline is “Pro writer, editor, marketing consultant and founder of Pro Polish.” I’m a professional writer first and foremost, but I do A LOT of editing and marketing consulting. And I’m trying to promote my Pro Polish service. That tells you what I do and how I can help you. That’s the ultimate goal of every social media profile headline: what you do. Get this right!
Pros link up their social profiles. One of the cool features of LinkedIn is the ability to link to your Twitter account. Not everyone is a Twitter master, but it’s nice to check it out. It’s a simple profile update that connects your online presence.
Pros are always updating their social profiles. I don’t do it every week, but I do try to look at my LinkedIn profile at least every couple of weeks and make updates. This is my primary sales tool for my business, so it better be sharp and up-to-date. It also helps your searchability to share content and to add sections to your LinkedIn profile. The same is true for your Twitter bio. I use my Facebook and Instagram profiles for a different purpose than my professional writing and marketing business, but I update my bio all the time.Pro Tip: Sharing your “what you do” is effective and important. Don’t neglect this part of your professional life.
Need help with your professional social profiles? Check out my Pro Polish service where you can get a pro look at how you can improve your resume, LinkedIn profile and online presence – whether you’re looking for a job or to expand your sales.
I just got off the phone with a potential client and he was thanking me for my help and expertise. We are in a serious negotiation over a potential project and I’m really excited about working with him if we can get everything aligned.
The reason I’m excited about the project isn’t the money. Yeah, money is nice and it pays for things, but I don’t really work just to get a check. I could do a lot less putting myself out there if I wanted to just earn a paycheck.
My work is an extension of who I am. It’s what I do to help others become better. A marketing project isn’t just a way to get the phone to ring. It’s about investing in people and in their lives – to make them better.
And that’s why what you do matters – your “what you do” is an investment in the lives of other people.
Someone once asked me if I loved what I do enough to do it for free. At the time, my focus was on making a living for my family. So, at the time, it seemed like a silly question. But today with a little more life experience and some time off for my family, I’d wholeheartedly agree that I love my work enough to do it for free.
I’m so grateful I get the opportunity to do what I love to help my clients create a better life for the people they love and serve.
So, yes, what you do matters to someone else. That’s the thought I want to keep in my head and heart for today and every day.
Interested in discovering how your “what you do” can help others more effectively? Check out my service called Pro Polish, which is designed to help you make the most of “what you do.” Find out how you can get better results with your resume, LinkedIn profile and business correspondence.
When I got started freelancing more than a decade ago, I knew a thing or two about a resume, but I knew it wasn’t all that was going to get me noticed. I had to stand out in search results and an inbox.
That’s when I got really bold with headlines, subject lines and ditched the generic bullet points. My resume and cover letters are living, breathing business tool that get a lot of my attention. If I don’t keep them fresh and polished, it fades fast and I don’t have quality work to fill the calendar.
When You Don’t Like Talking About Yourself
Almost anytime I tell someone I’m a writer or editor, the subject of resumes and cover letters and LinkedIn profiles come up. I get a range of feedback on resumes and cover letters – from “I’m not getting any interviews” to “I really need to update my resume” to “I don’t know how to make my resume stand out online.”
It’s Tough to Get Your Name Out There
And I often hear that people don’t have much success with online job ads and working their LinkedIn network for job leads and projects.
I also get a range of feedback on LinkedIn – Is it worth it to keep up with the connections and the adding content? You betcha.
Why Is LinkedIn So Important?
It’s important because you are often asked for your profile link and recruiters, potential project managers and hiring managers look at your social profiles. If your LinkedIn profile is neglected, you may get passed over.
I think of LinkedIn as a way for you to put your resume in anyone’s hand in an instant. It’s a link and a connection. That’s easy to text or email right in the coffee line or at a networking event. Yes, you need business cards, but I promise you – a thoughtful email and a link to your profile will get noticed faster than that pile of cards sitting at the bottom of a recruiter’s purse.
LinkedIn also gives you instant authority in your field. When you spend a few minutes a few times a week reading articles and making comments, you’re extending your experience and you’re expanding your network.
But what if you’re not sure what to say about yourself? It’s easy to talk about what you do, but it’s not always easy to get that to a few stand-out bullet points on one-page 8.5 x 11.
Sharing What I Know
So, when I examined my business offerings recently, I decided it was time to take my know-how – resumes, LinkedIn, cover letters, unique ways to find jobs and projects online and put into a tool other pros like you can use.
I call it Pro Polish. I offer several packages based on what a pro’s need is – resume revamp, LinkedIn love, cover letter lessons, a portfolio site or a customized set of sales scripts and proposal templates. I want to help pros take the guesswork and frustration out of talking about themselves and get to the interviews, projects and next level of success.
I recently went through a transformation in my business – I took a break and started over. It was a gutsy move and one that scared the dickens out of me.
But this year, I’m looking at a new freedom. I’m starting on some of my own info products and will be launching an ebook series later this spring. I’m finally doing what I want to do with my business and have honed my specialty to serve more a more specific clientele – professionals, entrepreneurs, independent publishers, startups and tech companies.
I recommend everyone take a break and get clear about what you do in your business and why you do it.
Then, take out the trash. Clear out the things that are getting in the way of what you really want for your time, money and work.
This post is a hint at what I’ll be releasing in the next couple of months – an in-depth e-book series and new blog on how to get very clear about what you do.
It’s based on a model I’ve been using in helping my clients understand who their clients are and their pain points for years. Now, I’m putting this successful, simple strategy on paper for others to use to get clear on what they do.
Everyone tells you that you need a blog. Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. That depends on how it will help you grow your business.
Blogs can have many focuses and they can enhance the user experience when they visit your website. You can use them to share product updates, tips and tricks, news, thought leadership articles, your take on what’s happening in the industry, recipes or photos.
Whatever focus you take, the purpose is the key. The purpose of your blog is to build trust, loyalty and to provide useful information for your audience. And it helps people who don’t know you find you through the search engines.
If you’re thinking about starting a blog or want to enliven an existing blog, it’s important to understand the commitment:
Your readers will want to hear from you at least once a week.
Your blog should not be sales-driven. It should be educational.
Your blog needs calls to action that ask the reader to take the next step. You don’t want to push them away.
If you’re interested in discussing the life you want to create for your blog, let’s chat. Contact me for a free consultation today.
“Amanda’s input and critiquing of my resume portfolio was quite helpful. The insights she provided helped me to prepare for the application and interview process. I would most definitely recommend Amanda to anyone who is in the process of looking for a new career position!”
Tim Y., Colorado Springs, CO
“If you’re looking for someone to go above and beyond not only helping you rework an old resume but also assist in preparing you for interviews-Amanda is your go-to!!! She took the time to get to know me and asked me what I wanted out of my next career. Her ability to make your resume stand out next to others is a gift. She is truly talented and passionate about helping you find your next position and her communication is impeccable. I felt like I was her only client!
Andi S., Colorado Springs, CO
I was really struggling with doing my resume. With my stressful job, I just didn’t have the energy at the end of the day. The weekends would come, and it was hanging over my head like a lead balloon. Not only that, but I knew I didn’t know enough about how the resumes get screened by a computer and what keywords to use….etc. Then I was introduced to Amanda! What a lifesaver! She made the process painless and easy, was professional, and really knew her stuff! She put together an amazing resume for me and I have been through 3 interviews for the first position I was interested in! Thank you, Amanda, you have been a lifesaver for me!”
Sharon S., San Francisco, CA
“Amanda is very knowledgeable, knows exactly what needs to be done to revamp and/or create a resume. She also gives consultation updates on professional sites that need some extra TLC. I am very pleased with the services she has provided. Amanda provides a 15-minute free consultation and is very professional with a breakdown of everything. I have already had several companies approach me and have some good solid interviews lined up. Amanda, I can’t thank you enough for all your time and help. You have made my 2021 year start off with a great Big Bang!”