Writing Your First Resume

Whether you’re a high school student or recent college graduate, if you’ve never had to write a resume, the prospect can be daunting. But don’t let fear of the unknown get you down. Because with the right attitude, a little bit of writing skill, and a hint of design ability, you can create a resume that will help you get your foot in the door at the restaurant, law office, or school system of your dreams.

Wondering where to get started on writing a resume, despite having little real-world experience? Wonder no more!

1. Be truthful. I realize this probably goes without saying, but the first requirement of any resume is that it must be true. Yes, you want to put your best foot forward, but that best foot better be yours—not some imaginary person’s. I’ve met people who think they could get away with a lie on their resumes, and they may for a time. If you’re thinking of doing this, it’s not worth the risk.* Regardless of how long you get away with your little fib, the day may come when your new employer will expect you to be able to juggle flaming bowling balls while balancing on an exercise ball. Why? Because your resume said you could. So keep to the truth, and things will go smoothly from day one.

2. Keep focused. You may want to mention every bit of life experience you’ve ever had on your resume, but employers don’t want to hear about it. What they do want to know is the applicable experience you have. Providing excessive work experience is a particular danger for those with loads of work experience, but it rings true for those building their first resume as well. Looking to get a job in the food service industry? Mention that you volunteer with the local community kitchen. (Don’t volunteer with your local community kitchen? See previous point.) Hoping to land a career as a caretaker for the elderly? Write about the hours you spent caring for your aging grandparents.

3. Frame your experience. Since this is your first resume, you won’t have oodles of work experience that directly translates to your job of choice. However, there are likely aspects of your experience that correspond to future job responsibilities. If you babysit, you’re used to keeping children safe and communicating with their parents of anything that occurred during the night that was out of the ordinary. These skills are essential in customer service! You may even be used to cleaning house after the kids are asleep. This shows initiative and a self-starting personality. Look at every aspect of your past experiences for resume potential, and use them to your advantage.

4. Provide educational details. High school students may be nervous to put their educational background, as it is fairly limited. Don’t sweat it! Since you’re applying somewhere with a reputation for hiring high school students, the hiring manager will expect to see resumes that mention ongoing schooling. It may seem silly, but if you’re still in high school, list your middle school and when you graduated from middle school. Then list your anticipated high school graduation date. This will show you are on track to complete high school in the traditional four-year window, which is a good sign for potential employers.

5. Shoot for one page. No matter what you put on your first resume, there’s no reason for it to be longer than a single page. Actually, unless you’re going for an executive position with a national organization, keeping your resume at one page is a great idea, even if you’ve got 20 years of experience. Why keep it so short? Employers are flooded with resumes every day, and they don’t have time to sort through six pages of information to find what they want. Do them a favor and increase your likelihood of landing an interview by keeping your resume short and sweet.

Want some help creating a resume that will open the door to your next job? Give me a call at (423) 380-9144 or drop me an email to get started.

*Another reason to not lie on your resume is that lying is not good in and of itself. Since I suspected you already knew this, I didn’t mention it in the main article.

Congrats, Mrs. Briggs!

First-time author just keeps selling books!

After helping Sara Jane Briggs edit, design, and publish her book (or journal, as she refers to it), I got an email from her. She wanted to thank me for my help and update me on the book’s success. Well, because of her supportive group of family and friends, the book has sold like wildfire. In fact, during its first week of publication, The Long Goodbye made it to the top of Amazon, earning the title of #1 New Release in Family & Inspirational Spirituality. The book that claimed second place after hers was the Spanish translation of a book by T.D. Jakes.

What an amazing feat for someone who has never published a book! Even more amazing is Sara Jane’s tireless devotion to telling people about her book. And that may be what has kept her book selling. People love Sara Jane Briggs and want to know about the hardships she’s been through. When they learn she wrote about it, they buy a copy. After they read it, they often buy a second copy to give someone. Then they tell their friends to buy it.

Not only does she continue to sell books to folks she knows, but the book that chronicles the miraculous healing of her husband, Larry, has started impacting complete strangers. How far will the book go? Only time will tell. But for now, congratulations, Mama Briggs!

Building Your Book Cover

Want the best book cover possible? Here’s how to make it happen.

Getting a book cover that makes you happy starts with finding a cover artist you like. Unfortunately, doing that is easier said than done. Having someone by your side who understands the process and will act as your advocate ensures you wind up with an artist who understands your vision so your cover hits the mark.

When I work with authors, I find multiple cover artists and present each artist’s portfolio to the author. Once an artist is chosen, the author and I begin working with the chosen artist. Depending on your requests, the timeframe to have your cover completed can be between a couple days to a couple weeks. Need changes made to the initial cover option? A good cover artist will make changes at no additional expense. And don’t worry—all the cover artists I present to authors work this way. After all, if you’re not satisfied, you’re not going to want to use that artist again. If you’re frustrated with your cover artist, you’re going to be frustrated with me. So I do whatever I can in my power to ensure your experience with the cover artist of your choice goes as smoothly as possible.

If you’ve shopped around for book publishing services, you may realize that my process for dealing with covers is different from bigger companies. Many of them provide one-size-fits-all services. In their system, you get an option of two, three, or maybe a handful of covers from which to choose. Sometimes, the cover options are just what you want. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Sometimes, the cover isn’t personalized and therefore doesn’t meet the vision for your book or make you proud of the final product. Work with me and you’ll have complete control over every aspect of your cover design—from any images used to fonts, font sizes, and font placement.

Don’t know that you can make this many decisions about your cover? No problem. Tell me what you want out of your cover and I’ll work on your behalf to get it there. Because writing your book was hard enough. Figuring out the rest shouldn’t ruin the experience.

If interested in making use of my book publishing services, click here to learn more or contact me today!

Make Your Resume Better

Want to score an interview for your dream job? Then you better have a solid resume.

If you don’t have your resume in tiptop shape, you’re not alone. But with the right steps, you’ll have a resume that shines as bright as your hopes and dreams. Keep reading to see what you can do to build a solid resume that puts you in the best position for success.

Aesthetics Matter. The first thing a potential employer is going to do is look at your resume. Hence why it should look like you know what you’re doing. To give this appearance, there should be consistent spacing throughout, easy-to-read fonts, a proper font size, and an understandable layout to your resume. Building a professional-looking resume is the first step to being treated professionally.

Keep It Short. One of the most common mistakes people make with a resume is to attempt to make it as long as possible. While you may think having a three-page resume makes you look impressive, employers disagree. In fact, unless you’ve had decades of experience and are a high-level administrator or an expert in your given field, your resume should be no more than a page.

Skip The Skipping. You may want to list every place you’ve ever worked on a resume. Don’t! If you didn’t spend the better part of a year working somewhere, employers don’t want or need to know about it. If you’ve not worked anywhere longer than three or four months because you’re always looking for a better job, you may not need an updated resume. You may just need to stick with the job you have right now until you’ve been there at least a year. Employers want employees who plan to stick around for a while. If you’ve got a track record of job hopping, it won’t matter how nice your resume looks because you won’t get an interview.

Honesty Is The Best Policy. Want to keep from looking silly during your interview? Be truthful. That means not making up titles or job responsibilities and explaining what you did clearly without exaggeration or deception.

Want some expert help with your resume? You don’t have to do it alone. Based out of Cleveland, Tennessee, I’m ready to work with you on a resume that opens the door to a better future, starting at just $75. Contact me today to get started.

Buy Your Own Books!

Also known as: Why don’t I include any copies of your book as part of my publishing package?

I love helping authors get their writing from a computer hard drive and into the marketplace. As an author myself, I relish helping to edit, design, or otherwise prepare manuscripts for the printing press, and it’s always sweet when the author holds his or her new book for the first time.

As much as I love seeing authors hold physical copies of their books, you would think that I’d include a few copies of printed books with my design packages. But I don’t.

So…what gives? Am I up to no good?

Well, no.

There isn’t a disconnect. And I’m not trying to rip you off. Quite the opposite. When I’m through preparing a book for print, you can order as many books as you want without going through me. Why is this a good thing for you? Because you won’t be paying me to order them. I set you up an account with one of the world’s most trusted book-on-demand publishers (Ingram Spark), show you how to order books for yourself, and get out of the way.

Don’t forget—you’re an independent, self-published author! In this world, independence is the name of the game, and I like to help you have as much of that as possible. Yes, I help with editing and designing, but those are things you need help with. You don’t need help ordering stuff online. You’ve mastered it by now…right?

Want to get twenty-five or fifty copies of your book to sell out of your trunk? No problem. Prefer 1,000. Go for it! Regardless, getting those books is going to be much cheaper if you order them on your own rather than have me or some other middleman do it for you.

Don’t believe me? Find out for yourself! Click here if you know the approximate size and length of your book to find out the cost of ordering one or more copies of your book. When you go to the site, feel free to play around with the book size and cover options to see how the pricing works.

Then when you’re ready to move forward with your book dreams, drop me a line to get started.

What You Can Expect From My Editing

You’ve written something special and want to make sure it shines as brightly and clearly as possible. Then you happen upon the website of a little guy from Cleveland, Tennessee, who claims to know how to polish your writing so it’s ready to hit the press.

But exactly how do I go about doing what I do and what can you expect from my editing services? Let’s consider these questions one at a time.

What is my process? Before we enter into an editing agreement, I will request you submit a sample of your writing. I’ll read and edit the sample as if you were a paying client. Next, I return the edited document to you. If you like the direction I’m going, we discuss the charge for me to complete the project. Note: This cost is contingent upon the length of your project and how much time will be required to edit it.

Want to keep your project’s editing costs down? Great! There are a number of things you can do to lower the cost of my services.

  1. Read your document multiple times and make necessary revisions on your own.
  2. Run your document through some sort of spellcheck program.
  3. Find an online service that will scan your document for words you use over and over. Then change some of these commonly used words some of the time.
  4. Give your project to a trusted friend who will help you find errors you may have overlooked.

Once you take these steps, your book will be much easier for me to handle and therefore be easier on your bank account.

What do I do during editing? In major publishing houses, there are a number of editorial experts who perform a variety of very specific tasks. Depending on where you go, there will be proofreaders, copy editors, developmental editors, and more. Well, I do the work of them all.

I check for spelling, grammar, and usage errors; look for holes in the story’s plot lines; ask questions to clarify your point; and make sure your sentences are easy to read and keep the reader moving forward.

Of course, not everyone is interested in editing services that are this in-depth, and I understand that. Hence why you don’t have to hire me for all of these services. Only want someone to make sure the commas and em-dashes are in the right place? I can do that. Or just want an honest voice who will point out inconsistencies in characters or plot holes in your story? I can do that also.

So whether you’re a writer in Cleveland or Chattanooga, Tennessee, or beyond, if you need some sort of editing assistance on your beloved project, drop me a line to see if my services could be the catalyst to get your project finished and to print!

Personalized Resume Service

If you’ve looked for someone to help with your resume, you probably realize that finding a regular person who will treat you like a rock star is virtually impossible. It’s not the resume company’s fault. It happens. Companies get big and customer service is often the first thing to go.

Thankfully, there are options. There are little independent folk who live in your community who are ready to lend a helping hand. And yes, I’m one of them.

Since I’m a one-man show, people who utilize my writing services have unique access to their writer. Want to talk with your resume writer on the phone? I’ll be the one answering. Shoot me an email? The response is from me. Need to pass some helpful documents my way that will aid in the creation of your resume? It’ll be my smiling face and bald head that shows up at Starbucks.

Based in the small city of Cleveland, Tennessee (just outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee), I’ve created resumes for people of all walks of life who are in all stages of their careers. Resumes I’ve written have helped hospital administrators, electricians, factory line workers, flight attendants, salespeople, social workers, and others put their best foot forward.

Whether you’re going for an open slot as the CEO of a massive company, trying to look impressive for the first interview of your life, or are anywhere in-between, I’ll build a resume that puts you in an optimal position to land the job of your dreams.

But I don’t just build a resume for you. When I am finished, I provide you with a PDF and a Word document of the resume. I do this so that if you change your aspirations, you can modify the resume to fit your new desires all on your own, without having to pay me to edit the resume. Will being this nice lead to me working my way out of a job? Possibly. But my clients appreciate the gesture, and keeping clients happy—whether they’re looking for a new resume or to have their 40,000-word book edited—is my main goal.

Ready to land your dream job? It starts with the right resume. So drop me a line today and let’s get started!

Cost For Resume Services: $75–$125

New Site

Well, thanks to some super rad Internet viruses, my site of more than a decade kicked the bucket. I was able to salvage a few blog posts, but besides that, everything here is new. So if you’re wondering why all the old blog posts were tossed online the same day, now you know!

Here’s hoping this doesn’t happen again. Ever. Takes too much time from writing and editing and designing to worry with web updates and sitting on hold with tech pros. Mad props to my pal, Robert Briggs, who is not only a photography master, but knows his way around the web as well.

Now back to your regularly scheduled program. And back to my bike ride through scenic Cleveland, Tennessee. As you were…

Oh, The Horrorscopes!

Flipping through a few old issues of the now-defunct Bradley News Weekly (Cleveland, TN), I came across some of the most useless and entertaining bits we put out during the last leg of the paper. Known as the Horrorscopes, these were a fun way for us to take advantage of the horoscopes that without just cutting and pasting them into the paper.

To be honest, I’m not sure which of these I wrote, as everyone in the office worked together to come up with these, but they were all great fun. As you will see, we were occasionally as vague as many horoscopes, but the Horrorscopes were often extremely specific and it is in that specificity that they find their true horror. That and our strategic pitting of one sign against another.

Without further ado, I present to you a few Horrorscope highlights.


ARIES, you need to be a team player when it comes to your job. Do your work as best as you can, but let it be known that you also stand by your coworkers. Be cautious when interacting with the coworker you hold a grudge against. It’s mutual.

GEMINI, sometimes the most unselfish act involves letting others do things for you. Stand back and let someone else enjoy the spotlight and dote on you. Avoid any compliments from the man in the white t-shirt. He is a backstabber.

CANCER, you can fix whatever is broken if you are prepared to put in a little hard work. Even your strained relationship with your daughter-in-law can be salvaged. Consider saving time by scaling back your goal, or asking others for help.

LIBRA: Finally! Libra, the world becomes an easy place in which to live this week. Throw aside your inhibitions and bask in your good fortune. Also enjoy some moments of indulgence. Just don’t eat the pudding on an empty stomach.

PISCES, if you don’t gather up all of your facts, someone could end up looking like a fool on Tuesday. Someone could even wind up in the hospital. That person could be you.

ARIES – Despite sincerity, your apology isn’t so readily accepted at first. Prove your repentance with your actions and not just your words and be sure your neighbor doesn’t know where you keep your insulin.

GEMINI – Others find you to be very amenable because you’re happy to oblige everyone’s whims. By the end of the week, you feel a tad nervous about a work project, and for good reason. If the coworker with the twitch wants to help, say “No.” He’s out for your destruction.

SAGITTARIUS – If you’re feeling a bit restless, now is the time for a road trip or an escape somewhere else. You may want to make this a solo trip especially if you desire soul searching. Even better, you may want to take the friend you’ve been unsure of lately, as it’s better to keep that person close right now.

CAPRICORN – When someone opens his or her heart to you, don’t be too careful in weighing the effects on your life. You could miss a wonderful opportunity in the process. So if someone asks you on a road trip, don’t forget to take your new cutlery.

AQUARIUS – No one can argue that you aren’t inventive and original. However, they may not be so quick to jump on board with one of your ideas. Don’t take offense. It’s just that your ideas are kind of bad.

GEMINI: A special friend from your past comes back for a visit. It could lead to interesting things. Keep your agenda open for Wednesday when love is in your stars. It will start a little awkward, but give it time.

CANCER: Keep your patience with a friend on Tuesday. This person is just feeling a little stir-crazy and really doesn’t mean the things he or she is saying. Avoid sleeping on your left side or drinking out of straws.

SCORPIO: A close friend really needs your help on Thursday. Make sure your schedule is open so that you can lend a hand. Put work on hold for some quality time with your mate. If this friend is a Gemini, be cautious. He or she is looking for love.

PISCES: Be the life of the party on Friday. You just may hook up with a winning romance. Look to Scorpio for some companionship. Unless you want to get hitched, avoid Geminis. They’re looking for something special.

AQUARIUS: Your confidence continues to rise, Aquarius. It could be because of good news you’ve been receiving at work. Consult with Leo for advice on improving your financial future. Then spend your money on self-defense. You may need it soon.

Grow Your Writing Expertise

Yes, I have my specialties when it comes to writing. At least I used to have specialties. Now I look for ways to grow my expertise and thereby my income. Because while specializing has its perks for those who break into the big-money markets, the rest of us need to canvas the market to stay fed.

My freelance career began in 2001. I was a high school English teacher with a couple published pieces under my belt (think: mediocre poetry, tense-shifting sci-fi, and small literary magazines). Somehow, I grabbed a gig covering sports for one of America’s first online-only newspapers, Chattanoogan.com. Sure, I played baseball with the owner’s son in high school and college, but I never dreamed of working for him. After all, newspapers were full of fact and boring sentence structure, whereas I was full of fiction, themes, daring story construction, and artistic merit. But I did it for a little extra cash and to get into sporting events for free.

As a reporter for an online newspaper, I had to submit my story immediately after the game finished. It was a bit frustrating for a burgeoning writer as myself. I needed time, time, time! How else could I polish my prose to be as unprosaic as possible? Eventually, I realized there was no option. I did what had to be done. I compromised my literary name to get a job done. That’s right—I forced myself to write quickly. One or two edits at most, and the story was shot to my editor, who would edit it once more before launching the story into the land of 0s and 1s.

Fast-forward a year. I’d given up on teaching and was looking for full-time work, as I continued freelancing for Chattanoogan.com. Providentially, I got an interview at True North Custom Publishing Company (now True North Custom Media). They appreciated my ability to work on deadlines and still write with a little pizzazz. (Okay, I added the pizzazz part. It’s called artistic license.) Over the next five years, my writing became compact and my areas of expertise expanded.

Mainly a healthcare custom publishing company, True North practically handed me an honorary MD. I diagnosed loved ones and told them about the latest treatment available to care for their diseases. Slowly, the company picked up a few bank clients, put out an outdoor magazine for a while, and even produced an art magazine. While the company grew, so did my writing chops and confidence. At the peak of my time there, I wrote 3,000 words a day, and most of them found their way to print with very little revision.

But as Robert Frost said (or was it Ponyboy?), “Nothing gold can stay.” Things changed and it became time to move on. I became the editor of a weekly paper, only to have the paper go defunct under my feet a year later. Suddenly, the freelancing I’d done for years on the side became necessary. No freelancing? No food or shelter.

Thankfully, my training at the Chattanoogan.com and True North paid off. I’d not written press releases, eBooks, or paid blog entries. I’d never covered snowboarding equipment, how to become a better conversationalist, or working as a paparazzi. That all changed when my freelance business required a boost. I was ready and willing to tackle it all!

At least I was until I didn’t get paid for a job. Desperate for more work, I told a client if I didn’t do a bang-up job, there was no need to pay me. Guess what? The client didn’t like what I wrote. Or he said he didn’t. Regardless, I didn’t get paid and became more selective in my clients. I continued going after demanding jobs that stretched my abilities. However, before I’d sign on the dotted line, I would make sure I could work well with the client and provide the quality work they deserved. More often than not, the answer has been yes. Yet there are still times when I am approached for work when I have to decline.

Has diversifying my writing improved my bottom line? Of course it has. If you don’t open yourself to new challenges and a greater diversity of work, you’ll go hungry or possibly worse, your writing will grow stale. Thankfully, with the crazy variety of new clients coming my way courtesy of folks like Amplification, Inc., I don’t have time to let my writing grow stale. In the event things get a little routine, I’ll just look back at my last blog entry and get my head back on straight.