Frequently Asked Questions
How are you different from other professional resume writers?
All resume writers and coaches develop their own approach, style of working, and processes. I do not take on everyone who contacts me to become a client. I want to make sure that I am able to provide what you need. I bring many different skills to the table:
I thoroughly understand the hiring process for all types of jobs.
I can put together a sophisticated writing strategy.
I have experience in using a wide variety of formats and don’t use templates.
I have a clear writing process that works for all of my clients.
I have four professional certifications, both as a writer and a coach.
I have an MBA, which is not common in my field.
I am very responsive to my clients and know how to develop great partnerships.
Are you a certified writer and coach?
Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARW/CC):
- Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW)
- Certified Employment Interview Professional (CEIP)
- Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC)
Career Directors International
- Certified Professional – Online Job Search and Reputation Management (OJSRM)
What is your success rate?
I don’t keep statistics about the success my clients have found after we worked together. However, I often receive ongoing information from former clients about how their new resume completely changed their professional lives. A significant portion of my business comes from repeat and referral clients, so I know that my clients are happy with the work we do together!
What is your guarantee?
I cannot guarantee that you will get interviews, a promotion, or a new job. The resume and coaching are just one part of your process. I don’t have control over how you use the results of our work together.
However, I can guarantee that you will find me to be very committed to your goals, knowledgeable about the hiring process, and a responsive writer and coach. I will stay fully engaged as we work together.
Do you have an office?
I do not have an office. All work is done virtually over Zoom, phone, and email.
How do you work with clients who are not in the San Francisco area?
I work by phone, email, and Zoom.
Do you work with international clients?
Yes, I can work by phone, email, and Zoom with international clients. I can write resumes, so long as they are in English and follow standard best practices for writing in the United States. I take payments in U.S. dollars through PayPal.
Do you work with people who are re-entering the workforce?
Yes. In these cases, I typically start with at least one coaching session to build an overall strategy to re-enter the workforce. Coaching for how to do a job search and prepare for an interview is key to helping someone get back to work. From that point, we can develop a detailed resume and a LinkedIn profile.
How do I pay?
I accept checks, credit/debit cards, cashier’s checks, and PayPal. Payments are processed through PayPal. You will receive a receipt through QuickBooks.
Will our work be confidential?
Yes. I take privacy and confidentiality very seriously. I never discuss my clients with each other. I only introduce clients to each other with their permission. If a company or another individual pays on your behalf, I still will not discuss anything about our work together. There is more information about privacy policies in the footer of each page on this website.
Can I pay for your services on behalf of a friend or relative?
Yes. Sometimes people say “Work with Irene. I will take care of it.” Other times it is better to split the fees so the person is invested in their own process. I have received payments from parents, adult children, brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors, former bosses, colleagues, estate trust funds, and employers. I even worked with a soon-to-be mother-in-law who wanted to give my services as a wedding gift. She wanted her daughter-in-law to have a job!
Who will I be working with? Do you sub-contract work?
You get me! I plan on keeping my business small and personal, which means I will remain your sole point of contact from initial consultation to final documents. I do work with a professional proofreader. I have written more than 2,000 resumes and other career documents since 2003.
How do I schedule a time to talk with you?
I use an appointment scheduler and my Google Calendar. I use the scheduler to avoid playing tag, not to delay conversations. I am on Pacific time. If the appointments available on the scheduler are not convenient, you can call me at 510-790-9005.
How do I get started?
Schedule a free call and we can get started discussing how I can help you. If we decide I am able to provide what you need and we are a good fit, I will ask you for some additional information so I can put together a service agreement with professional fees. Once you have signed your agreement and sent payment, we can start the writing process. If we decide to start with coaching, we can schedule an appointment after you sign your service agreement. Payment will be due at the time of your appointment. You also have the option of setting up a retainer for ongoing work.
Why should I choose Tools for Transition?
There are many reasons!
- I listen to people.
- I thoroughly understand the hiring process companies go through.
- I am a strategic writer and coach. I know how to brainstorm, ask useful questions, organize information, put together plans of action, and really engage with my clients.
- I am a very experienced writer! I have written more than 2,000 resumes and other career documents. I have reviewed thousands more than that.
- I have a degree in accounting and an MBA.
- I have more than 40 years of work experience in corporate roles, family businesses, and as a consultant in multiple industries.
- I have four industry certifications as both a writer and a coach.
- People tell me that they have more confidence in themselves after we work together.
- I love what I do and I’m fully committed to helping people!
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How are you different from other professional resume writers?
All resume writers and coaches develop their own approach, style of working, and processes. We have different personalities, education, training, certifications, and experience. If one of us can’t help someone, we use our referral networks to connect them with another that might be a better fit. I do not take on everyone who contacts me to become a client. I want to make sure that I am able to provide what you need. It is important that you do your own due diligence to make sure I will be the best resource you have at your disposal. If we discover that we could work well together, then it will be time to get started! I bring many different skills to the table:
- I thoroughly understand the hiring process for all types of jobs.
- I can put together a sophisticated writing strategy.
- I have experience in using a wide variety of formats. I don’t use templates.
- I received extensive and ongoing professional training.
- I have a clear writing process that works for all of my clients.
- I have four professional certifications, both as a writer and a coach.
- I have an MBA, which is not common in my field.
I am very responsive to my clients and know how to develop great partnerships.
How does the writing process work?
If you’re curious what the exact process of writing your resume will be like, you can find a flowchart under the tab named writing process that will take you from beginning to end.
What if my current resume is old or I don’t have one at all?
That is not a problem. I have worked with many people when we have had to start from scratch, particularly those who have been self-employed, owned a business, or been with the same employer for a long time. I will ask you to provide specific information that will become the backbone of the new resume. We will then take that information to develop a master resume you can customize for any job interview.
How long will it take to write the resume?
My standard turnaround time for a first draft of your resume is 5–7 working days after I receive your prep material. I always deliver sooner when I can. From there, we need a quick turnaround to finalize the document to keep a continuity of thought. If we meet in my office, you will leave with a resume draft. I will review it again the next day and send it to you as your master resume. If we work by phone/email, I will send you your master resume after you have approved the final version. If I do not hear back from you within 30 days, I will consider the project to be complete. There might be an additional charge for an extended project. It is best to wait on any work together until you have the time, energy, and space in your life to devote to this. I prefer not to work on a rush basis because I don’t want to shortchange the writing process. However, if you need a resume as soon as possible, let’s talk and decide if that is possible. Under the right circumstances, I am willing to do a rush job.
Do you have sample resumes?
Yes! Over my time as a resume writer, I have written more than 3,000 resumes and other career documents. You can find examples on the Writing Samples page. All identifying information has been changed.
On the My Clients page, you will find an extensive list of the types of jobs that my clients have worked in and applied for. I always work within standard resume writing best practices, but I never use templates. Every resume should be different!
What type of information do I need to give you to write my resume?
I work with a proprietary questionnaire that I have developed over time since 2003. I will need two or three job postings that you are interested in to develop the writing strategy. Sometimes additional information from past performance reviews and LinkedIn profiles will be helpful. The more content I get from you, the easier it will be to write your resume.
What about updates to my resume in the future?
I keep redundant records on every document I have written since 2003 because I have so many returning clients. A resume revision is usually straightforward, but sometimes we need to develop a different writing strategy as you will be in a different place in your career. A resume revision is not a matter of “just a touch-up!” Keeping your resume updated, even when you are comfortably in a job, is good career management move.
What about my LinkedIn profile?
Your new resume will be the foundation of your LinkedIn profile. Unfortunately, I cannot go into your account to create your LinkedIn profile because it is against the terms and conditions for you to give me your password. So, I will give you detailed written guidance based on your resume that you can use to create your LinkedIn profile yourself. The guidance is typically 5 – 10 pages long. Many people find LinkedIn to be challenging, so I always recommend some coaching to make sure you know exactly what you are doing.
What about a professional bio?
Executive bios are typically needed to obtain consulting jobs with clients, to interest investors, or to be included on a company website as a member of a leadership team. They can also be part of RPFs and business proposals or can be used to introduce you for a speaking engagement or award ceremony. Depending on the situation, sometimes a professional bio really is more appropriate than a resume.
What about cover letters?
I don’t write general cover letters because I don’t think they are effective. If you want a cover letter specific to a job posting, I will ask you to send it to me, along with any other information available about the opportunity. I will also ask for a draft response so I understand what you actually want to say. If I think it looks good or just needs a few tweaks, I will let you know. If I think I can add value with additional writing, we can discuss and decide writing charges.
What is career coaching?
As your career coach, I will be someone who will help you assess where your career is now, decide what is important to you, and then assist in strategically planning your career for the future. My role is not to give you specific opinions about what you should do next. Instead, I will be more of a sounding board for exploration and brainstorming.
In our coaching partnership, I will be a resource for information and ideas and will support you as you make some decisions about your own career. I don’t have an agenda on what you should do next, so I can provide a neutral POV. I just want you to have a job and a career that satisfies you. As a coach and resume writer, I’ve spent years helping my clients regain confidence in both their careers and themselves. It’s one of the best parts of being a coach!
There are different types of career coaching. More information is available on the website.
Exploratory Career Coach ~ Job Search Coach ~ LinkedIn Coach
Interview Coach ~ Career Management Coach
Can you help me negotiate my salary?
Absolutely. Starting as a recruiter at Robert Half in 1999, I received specific training and experience in negotiating salaries and benefits. I have both personally written and reviewed countless offer letters over the course of my career. I have also helped to negotiate performance bonuses and severance packages. I would be happy to give you guidance on how to approach your salary negotiation during the interview process.
Can you coach me on how to use LinkedIn?
Yes. LinkedIn is firmly integrated into the international business world as a tool that helps people connect with others. You can use it to find a job, reach out to recruiters, and build your professional network. You can also use it as a way to effectively represent your current employer. It is a place to “see and be seen.”
There is a lot about LinkedIn that is not intuitive or obvious to a new, or sometimes even an experienced, user. LinkedIn is constantly updating their site, changing things around so creating a great profile becomes a moving target. This can be incredibly frustrating if you don’t know how to effector use the service.
When doing LinkedIn coaching, I use my own LinkedIn profile as a teaching tool. This can be done in my office or through a remote access phone call. It is simply easier to show things to you rather than tell you. LinkedIn coaching can include:
- Overview about LinkedIn and why it is important.
- Guidance on developing your own profile.
- Information on how to build and maintain your professional network.
- Ideas on how to use LinkedIn as part of your interview preparation.
Corporate and Academic Programs
What if I want to provide outplacement services for employees who are being laid off?
If your company is in a position where it has to lay off employees, I would be happy to work with you to put together a program that will help them.
First, we will set goals and determine a budget for each person. Then that person and I can decide how to make the best use of my time for writing/and or coaching. I have worked with as many as 40 employees who were being laid off from one company, and I could do more. Even though the company is paying, I will maintain confidentiality with the employee. If they want additional services beyond what the company has budgeted, I can bill them directly.
I participated in a program where a group of writers and coaches came together as a team to provide outplacement services. For example, in Fremont, California, NUMMI was an automotive manufacturing plant that shut down, laying off more than 4,000 employees. Several days were set aside off-site with a team of writers working with groups of employees at the same time. A lot of people received completed resumes. It was a group program but with individual service.
Do you work with graduating students?
I do! Working with graduating students and helping them launch their careers is always a joy!
In the past, I have worked with the California State University East Bay students as part of the completion of their MBA program. They set up a “career day” with speakers and workshops to help people start their job search. I was engaged to review everyone’s resume – one at a time. Each person received very specific and individual feedback to give them guidance on rewriting their resumes themselves. Believe me, it was a busy day!
I also participated in an alumni-funded program with Mills College, a nationally renowned liberal arts women’s college in the San Francisco Area. Rather than write for the women, I provided coaching on writing strategies, including a review of their current resumes. They then rewrote their resumes based on my guidance and submitted them back to the school for approval.
I would be happy to collaborate with other schools to develop new programs for both writing and coaching that will benefit their students and alumni.
Can I put together a special program involving more than one organization?
Yes. I can collaborate with organizations to develop custom programs to address specific needs.
For example, I was part of a program developed for retiring athletes from the National Football League (NFL) in conjunction with the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Working with another coaching firm, I was one of a small group of coaches who provided both remote and in-person individual coaching before, during, and after the weekend event. I also wrote resumes for some of the athletes.
Many professional athletes have difficulties with alcohol, drugs, bankruptcies, and divorces after they retire. It can be difficult for them to transition out of the world of professional sports into the job market, especially when the NFL and football are all they have known in their working adult lives. This program was part of an effort by the NFL to address that.
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