Our Process



The Process


Shop my Web site. Check out my Work & Testimonials page. Look over all my products and services, and the prices. Read my business policies. If you have any questions, send me an e-mail or give me a call.

— Choose the services you are interested in.

— Do you have general questions about resumé services and document formats—what things are, when they’re needed, and how they’re used? If you’re confused about resumé terminology and technology—terms like “scannable,” “ASCII,” “plain text,” “HTML,” “Web resumé,” etc.—you’re not alone. Many of these terms are not used consistently or clearly in the resumé business. I’ve put together a Resumé Glossary to help sort things out. There’s more information on my Tips & FAQ page. I’ve also got a Site Index page to help you find specific information on my site.

Contact me. I’ll be happy to talk with you on the phone to discuss your goals and your experience, and what I can do for you. (This is what most resumé writers refer to as their “free initial consultation.” I always thought of it as “basic customer communications.”) If you have questions, want a price quote, or are ready to place your order, it’s a big help if you e-mail (or fax) me your existing resumé in advance. A couple of hours’ advance time will give me a chance to look it over.

— Call me at 763-954-1385.

— If you’d like to set an appointment to talk to me: call me, or e-mail me at info@crystalresumes.com, with your phone number and the best times to call you. Appointments can be made for evenings or weekends. I’ll reply to confirm the time, or suggest a different time if necessary.

— You’ll find all the information you’ll need for keeping in touch with me on the Contact page.

Finalize your order. Before I finalize your order, I’ll answer any remaining questions you may have, and quote you a price and delivery schedule for the services you request. I’ll also discuss the scheduling for interviews or other contacts needed for your projects. Then I’ll take some basic information I need for working with you, ask you some questions about your job search, and take your credit card payment or arrange for payment via PayPal.

— I accept MasterCard, Visa, Discover, and PayPal. I can also take checks or money orders, but in that case I cannot begin work or commit to a schedule until the payment has cleared. For more information, see my Payment policies.

— Like all resumé services, I require full payment in advance before beginning work on your project or committing to a schedule, and I can make no refunds. That’s because this is custom work. I put a lot of work into each project, and top-notch custom work isn’t done by people who don’t know whether they’re going to get paid for it.

But you don’t have to pay for everything else when you order your resumé. If you’re interested in optional services (cover letters, alternate-target resumés, etc.), you can wait until you’ve seen the approval version of your resumé. As long as you order and pay for them when you give me your final approval of the resumé (or earlier), you’ll get them at the same price you would have paid if you ordered along with the resumé.

Send me your existing resumé, by e-mail or fax, if you haven’t done so already. I need this to get started.

Note that if you fax your existing resumé (or e-mail a scanned PDF), there’s an extra charge for typing or converting the basic information.

If you don’t have an existing resumé, you’ll complete my resumé builder questionnaire instead. Set aside some time for this—you’ll want to get it to me soon, but you want to be sure you do a careful and thorough job.)

NOTE: I don’t need a visually formatted resumé from you. All I need is the information, in Word, plain text, or RTF. It doesn’t have to look nice. So feel free to save some time by putting down the information yourself, in advance. See the Resumé Builder service description for details of what information I’ll need from you.


Schedule interview. Usually, this is done when I start the project and take your payment. Otherwise, once I’ve received your existing resumé, I’ll get in touch with you to schedule the telephone interview. I’ll usually need a three to five business days to prepare the interview. The schedule will depend in part on my workload, and on what days and times you are free. Interviews can be scheduled for weekdays, evenings, or weekends.

Interview. The interview will be as long as necessary to gather the information needed to create the best resumé I can. The interview usually takes from one to three hours, depending on your level of experience and the complexities of your background and your job search.

Please note: the interview is nothing like a job interview. I’re working for you and with you, looking for material that will help me present you. You can take it easy, and tell me things you’d never mention to an interviewer.


Approval. When I’ve written your resumé (and QC’d what I’ve written), I’ll create an approval version in Microsoft Word, and e-mail that to you. (If you order supplementary pieces such as cover letters, I’ll send approval versions of these too.) Check it over carefully to make sure all the information is correct, and that your experience and qualifications are presented fully and accurately. If there’s additional information that might belong in the resumé, let me know. Make sure you’re comfortable with the wording. Then e-mail me with your approval, or any corrections or comments. I’ll do multiple rounds of review and revisions if that’s what’s needed. One to three rounds is typical. Occasionally more are needed. (To protect ourselves against occasional abuses, I reserve the right to limit the approval stage to three rounds of feedback from you.)

I do the rest. Once I’ve received your approval on the Word version, I’ll do the remaining document formats for your resumé.

Shipping. I’ll send the final package to you via e-mail.

Then—on with your job search! (I particularly appreciate feedback from my customers, and I’d be very interested to hear how things go.)


Time Frame

There are no shortcuts in quality resumé work. Done right, it’s custom work, with meticulous attention to a lot of detail—and careful, methodical quality control. That sort of work takes time.

Scheduling depends in part on my workload. I’ll also need to coordinate the interview and other contacts with you. So my timeframe depends in part on your schedule, too—on how quickly you get back to me when I need input from you, and on how soon I can schedule interviews at each stage.

So turnaround times will vary. But before your order is finalized, I’ll tell you when you can expect the approval versions.

I’ll need a week to prepare for your interview, and two weeks after that to get an approval version of the resumé to you for your review. Cover letters may add a day or two. These times are minimums—I can’t do it in less. Please don’t ask.


How I Write Resumes

I produce resumés that are effective across the board, with all sorts of readers, at all stages of the hiring process. I can usually write one resumé that covers all the markets a given client may explore. The only approach to resumés that gets this result is in-depth information gathering and fact-based, client-specific information strategy. “Tricks” don’t cut it. The common “tricks” either don’t work, or turn a lot of people off, or get you past the first screening but guarantee you’ll flunk the next stage. Some of the common tricks, in fact, guarantee that you’ll get no response to your resumé at all. I see it happen regularly.

I go far beyond the rather superficial, generic facts that job seekers, and other resumé writers, commonly think to put on resumés. I look for the information that will help employers form a concrete, complete, and distinctive picture of your background and abilities.

Every employer comes to a resumé with many basic questions about an applicant. Because my resumés answer many more of these basic questions than do most resumés, it makes the employer’s job easier (which they appreciate), and makes them want to move right on to talking to you personally about the things that can only be covered in an interview.

My process is determined by what is necessary to produce such resumés. I’ll start out by speaking on the phone, discussing your objectives and your job-hunting situation, agreeing on a time frame and scheduling the in-depth interview, taking care of payment, and covering questions I may have about the basics of your background, which I need answered before I can explore further.

Next, starting from your existing resumé as basic historical framework, I develop interview questions to explore each area of your background: each position you’ve held, your education and professional development, etc. Doing this in advance allows me review my experience with others in your field, and apply it to developing the right questions for you. This helps me make much more effective use of the interview time.

The interview is an extremely important part of the process. It typically lasts from two to three hours. It’s an intense experience both for me and for the client. Working without preconceptions as to what will be needed, I put you through a sieve to get any information that might possibly help me to present you. I cover the whole range of possibly relevant information—I’ve learned a lot from my experience about where valuable nuggets may be hiding. Later on I’ll sort it out and decide what to use, and how. My clients are commonly surprised at how much valuable information I dig up, things that they never would have thought to mention, either because they took them for granted or because they didn’t realize that they were relevant until they saw them in the context of my questions. (That’s because my questions reflect what an employer wants to know.)

My clients learn a lot from the interview about how to think about their own backgrounds from the point of view of an employer, and therefore about how to present themselves to a employer (or to a contact who may become an employer or a connection to an employer).

If there are problematic aspects of a client’s background, or things a client isn’t sure how to present, I’ll discuss them, and how to deal with them on the resumé and also in an interview. Sometimes the solution is surprisingly easy, since it’s often just a matter of providing clarification with information specific to your own case. (This is sometimes true even in cases where there are perceived gaps in employment.) In more difficult cases, I can advise you about different informational approaches you can take for different situations, and about the tradeoffs you may have to manage. I’ll also write the resumé to lay the groundwork for any talking points you may need to give the best presentation.

The interview, therefore, is a major part of the value I provide. My clients very often remark on how much they’ve learned from it. One of them called it “resumé therapy.”

The interview is also, of course, the foundation for an exceptionally effective resumé.

When the interview is done, I’ll review the information I’ve gathered and decide on my approach to the resumé as a whole, and to each element of it. Then I’ll write it, slowly and carefully, one section at a time but always hopping around to tweak as I get new ideas or see new correlations. I write to show your professional development, showcase your achievements and also the abilities and knowledge behind those achievements—not only technical abilities, but the full range of management skills. For key achievements, I’ll build the bullet points into a brief, orderly cause-to-effect sequence to reinforce the picture of purposive management. Where your record has gained you professional advancement, I’ll make that clear. I’ll write to show how long you’ve exercised the key skills that you possess, and in what contexts.

I pay special attention to the Profile section at the beginning of the resumé, since that’s usually the first thing people look at when they’re evaluating a resumé for the first time. (It’s also the most effective location for keywords if the employer uses an applicant processing system that scans resumés for keywords. This is increasingly common even for management positions.) Items in the profile are carefully prioritized, so the things that will grab the most people and motivate them to pay careful attention to you will be right up top. Similar items will be grouped together to reinforce each other. Claims made in the profile will all be backed up by the history in the resumé—the reader won’t be left wondering if they’re for real. As in the rest of the resumé, the emphasis is on substance. Most people fill the profile—and the whole resumé—with soft skills, empty buzzwords, and sales talk copied from somewhere else. When an employer sees this, his eyes and mind bounce right off, because it’s the same stuff in almost every resumé he sees, so it obviously doesn’t mean anything at all. I usually put soft skills at the end of the profile, and I limit them to the most important soft skills for your objective, the ones that are fully backed up by the history in the resumé. This does justice to your own soft skills, while showing you as someone who can back up claims with facts. In order to be sure I’ve got everything in the Profile that needs to be there, and made the best choice of the available points, I write the Profile last, after I’ve thoroughly sifted your information in the course of writing your history and other qualifications.

One of my specialties is using raw information to tell stories. There’s no room for narrative in a resumé—no room for all the connecting phrases and other wording that make a narrative readable and effective. But with enough information, carefully chosen and arranged to make each point, the logical connections will get the main points of the story across: they’ll not only show the employer what you’ve done but show that your contribution was real and distinctive, show that you can work successfully with the full range of stakeholders, and work to achieve enterprise goals as well as departmental goals. This assures them that you can do valuable things for future employers. Because the picture is far more concrete than the usual, and because it is based on detail specific to your own background, the resumé will make you stand out sharply and positively from your competitors, especially at later stages of the hiring process when you're up against other people on the short list.

Sometimes, where stories aren’t possible, I can put in talking points. There may be background that doesn’t go in the resumé, but which you might still want to make a point of in an interview, or at least in some interviews. The reasons are various: Sometimes, it’s something that is only relevant to some of the positions you might be applying to, and there’s just not room for it on the resumé. In other cases, it’s something of secondary importance, but still valuable, that could be covered briefly and appropriately in a conversation about related points, but putting it clearly and in context on the resumé would take up more space than it’s worth. Occasionally, it’s sensitive information that can’t be put on a resumé but that you can talk about with the right person. I find out about these things during my in-depth interview. When writing, I look for opportunities to insert some wording in the resumé that would provide a basis for these talking points—perhaps even a cue for the interviewer. This may not happen in every resumé I write, but it happens often.

It doesn’t pay to be stingy with information. No matter how much advance research you do on a prospect, there’s no telling when some specific point, that you might never have anticipated, will grab someone’s attention as something they are particularly interested in—or even “just what we’re looking for.” This is especially true for higher-level positions, where a resumé may be reviewed by a number of people on a management team, any of whom might respond to such an unanticipated cue. It could be a question of experience demanded by a planned acquisition or expansion, or the upcoming retirement of someone on the staff, or any new development. The more specific and unusual the point, the less likely that any of your competitors will have mentioned it. So it pays to keep an eye out for specific concrete items in your history or skill set that might answer to such unanticipated possibilities. They are probably worth making room for if they will in any case reinforce the picture of your core history and skills. Done carefully and concisely on a highly individualized basis, this can open additional doors to you and help put you at the top of an employer’s short list.

A frequent problem with writing resumés is to make clear the sequence of positions and responsibilities, so the employer doesn’t get confused and start wondering if something is being deliberately left unclear. Sometimes the problem is chronological, with overlapping employment or other complications. Often, it is a question of changes in title (or even of employer, in the case of acquisitions) without changes in responsibility, or of important increases in responsibility without changes in title. These problems, too, can be solved by presenting the relevant information clearly and concisely.

A resumé needs a clear information hierarchy to allow scanning or reading at different depths by different people at different stages in the hiring process, while making sure that the information most important at each stage is prominent at the level each reader is looking at. Only in this way can a resumé get you through the initial screening while still making the more complete case needed at later stages.

With this kind of attention to information strategy and typographic strategy, a resumé can open doors at every stage in the hiring process: 1) the initial automated screening, 2) the screening in the HR department by the assistant of the HR person in charge of jobs like yours, 3) the senior HR person, 4) the hiring manager and, for executive positions, 5) the whole management team. It also includes the stage that people often forget about when thinking about resumés: AFTER you’ve gotten the job, and have been working successfully in a company, and are in line for consideration for further advancement.

It’s a serious challenge in resumé writing to get this all to work in two or three pages, while keeping the resumé clear, concise, interesting, and easy to read. The resumé has to be all meat. There’s no room for the generic language and boilerplate that makes most resumés look alike. (If you’ve heard the myth about keeping your resumé on one page, and are concerned about it, see Killer Myth #1: “Keep It On One Page” for a discussion of this. If you need a one-page resumé for networking or for use as a LinkedIn profile, I offer that as an extra.

A resumé with all of the above in it doesn’t come out perfect on the first pass. Quality control (QC) is a distinct production stage in all professional writing processes, and a stage that requires special skills that come only with professional training and experience. QC is a stage that is often overlooked by people without professional experience in general writing skills. That includes most resumé writers, who never had professional editorial experience and never even knew of the existence of a specialized body of writing skills, much less QC skills. I’ve had years of professional QC experience in editorial and typographic production, and I spend more time on QC than cheap resumé writers spend on the whole project. The result is a professional document that can stand inspection anywhere.





Blot out, correct, insert, refine,
Enlarge, diminish, interline;
      Be mindful, when invention fails,
      To scratch your head, and bite your nails.
               —Jonathan Swift

Perfect speech is like a jade-worker whose tool leaves no mark.
—Lao Tze, Tao Te Ching, XXVII (tr. Arthur Waley)




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