Blog Career Careers job search Job Search Advice resume resume writing Uncategorized

Yikes! It’s Tax Time Again.

Tax season is underway, and I know I have options when it comes to tax preparation: I can do it myself and hope I don’t make an expensive mistake. I can buy software and hope that I understand exactly what the program is asking me to do, or I can bite the bullet and shell out a few hundred bucks and get help from someone who knows convoluted tax code inside out. I don’t have time to keep up with the changes from one year to the next. And figuring out my tax burden is just not fun for me. Many people feel the same way about writing a résumé.

Tax preparation and résumé preparation are not that different. Both processes work best when you save vital documents, such as mileage and receipts for the IRS; and performance evaluations from previous jobs for your résumé. Not saving documents can be a liability, because it’s difficult to remember what to accurately list on your résumé or tax returns. Also consider how much is at stake if you’re ever audited. Yet many job seekers fail to understand the long term expense if a self-written résumé doesn’t generate interviews.

Additionally, I scratch my head at folks who look at résumé samples and copy sentences word for word thinking that’s going to grab the attention of a recruiter. I know I’d never copy anyone else’s tax return in order to get mine done, because it just won’t work. We all have a unique background. The same is true for the job search. Do you really have any idea what you might be leaving off? And what if the résumé you copied is out-of-date and has information no longer necessary?

If you’ve ever tried to complete your own taxes chances are you had to complete worksheets. A good resume starts with good information gathering as well. Both industries rely on worksheets, and client interviews for the best outcome.

While taxes need to be filed every year, thankfully we don’t need to apply for a job every year! Although a résumé should be updated once a year, or you should at least keep a running list of accomplishments and compile them in a folder. This should include annual performance reviews, job descriptions, awards, sales figures, and anything else where you helped your company make money, save money, become more efficient, etc. And just like your taxes, you’ll need to quantify in dollar ($) figures or percentage (%) points. Numbers are important!

Tax Filing fees are tax deductible. The same holds true for expenses related to the job search, which includes professional résumé services and software programs. So don’t forget to save those receipts if you do decide to invest in professional services.

Blog Careers Job job search Job Search Advice Resume Service resume writing Roanoke Job Search Roanoke Resume Writer Uncategorized

Black Friday and Small Business Saturday

1st Rate Resumes is marking down fees for the holiday season. We realize that money is tight and there are a lot of people out of work. And a gift certificate from 1st Rate Resumes makes the perfect holiday gift! During the Thanksgiving weekend, 1st Rate Resumes is lowering fees on resume services. These rates are 50% off our normal everyday fees.

Unskilled/high school entry level resume:  $99

Blue Collar trades:  $175

Middle Manager w/5+ years:  $225

Senior Manager:  $300

Cover letters may be purchased for an additional $25 each. Cover letters will not be sold alone, and must be included with a resume purchase. C-Level Resumes are not on special.


Clients must order the service by this Sunday Nov 27th and  pay by check, PayPal, MasterCard, or Visa. Client will receive a questionnaire to fill out and return to 1st Rate Resumes no later than Dec 31, 2011. No questionnaires will be accepted beyond that date for the sale price.

Turnaround time is 5-10 days. Client will have one opportunity to request minor revisions and changes at no additional charge. All revisions and projects must be finalized by 1/15/2012.

1st Rate Resumes has the right to add a surcharge for an excessive work place history beyond 5 jobs.

Questionnaires must be completely filled out in order to produce the best resume. You don’t have to worry about grammar or spelling, but you do need to describe what you do for a living, what your working environment was like, and the difference you made in the company’s bottom line. The better the information, the better your finished resume.

Client must be computer literate in MS Word. Documents will be delivered by email.

How to get started:  Contact us at SusanGeary (a) Subject Line: Black Friday Special. Make your you provide your telephone number, occupation, and an old resume if you have one. I’ll give you call and answer any questions you may have.

Blog resume writing Uncategorized

Are you Grammatically Challenged?

I just stumbled upon a new tool to help those who struggle with grammar issues. For example, do you write “in regards to” or “in regard to?” It’s most correct to say it in the singular form–in regard to. Unless you know that, you may be saying it wrong. Many people do. That’s where comes in. You can copy and paste your text into the site’s webform, and it will analyze your data. I tried it with a previous blog and found I had some  minor issues. Apparently I like to use “like” along with quite a few articles from time to time.

What I like most prefer about this program is that it explains in detail what the grammar rules are as it corrects your work. It helps you learn what not to do. Try it yourself and see.

Blog Career Resume Service resume writing Uncategorized Update Your Resume Month

How to Choose a Qualified Resume Writer

Update Your Resume Month is now in its 10th year. I know this because I was around as a resume writer when this event got underway. Back then the resume writing profession was unheard of. Why would anyone pay someone else to do something they could do themselves? Yes, that was the attitude in 2000 when I launched a career as a professional resume writer. The economy was buzzing, and people did not need a stellar looking resume to get a job interview.

Blog Career Job Search Advice resume resume writing Uncategorized

Rules are Made to be Broken

As I’ve mentioned on several occasions, there is a science behind resume writing that goes deeper than mere words on a page. I write a resume to reach several audiences, including strangers who don’t know you or your occupation, the hiring director who does know your occupation, and a computer that scans it first.

Blog resume resume writing Uncategorized

Word Up. Why MS Word Matters

If you are serious about getting a job, your resume needs to be formatted in Microsoft Word. I quiz potential clients, and if you don’t have MS Word on your computer, then we can’t work together. Here’s why.

Blog Career Careers Graduation Gifts Job Search Advice Resume Service resume writing Uncategorized

Why College Career Centers Suck

It’s college graduation month, and every year I’m disappointed to hear the number of new graduates who are unable to land a job in the field they studied. I don’t blame the educators, however, in my opinion much of the blame rests with College Career Centers.

Here’s why. After spending tens of thousands of dollars on a college education so that you can learn your intended occupation, you’re given misinformation on how to actually search a job.  For one, nearly all college career service centers require their Advisers to have a Master’s Degree. Yet rarely do these folks have much experience on how to find a job. Think about it. Once they get their own steady paycheck, they don’t leave. I mean, when’s the last time these folks actually looked for a job themselves?

The obvious problem is right on the university websites. I looked at Virginia Tech and Ferrum College just this past week. Their resume samples look like they came out of a book from the mid 1990s. The word “OBJECTIVE” sits right at the top of these resume samples. Please! If you spend that much money on a college education, ignore the Career Services office and find someone off campus who is up-to-date on hiring, job applications, and resume writing. That’s the best investment you can make to enhance your college experience. Otherwise, you many end up paying far more for that college degree in lost wages and deep disappointment.


Blog hiring Job Search Advice resume writing Uncategorized Work

Does Your Resume Date You?

Did you know there are subtle signs of your age just by looking at your resume? There are the obvious signs, like stating you graduated college in the 70’s (we now drop the graduation date when it’s more than 5 years  old.) But there are a few other things you may not have thought of, such as:

1.  Listing more than one telephone number on your resume. Crazy isn’t it? But new research is indicating that more and more  people under the age of 30 no longer have a land line. So only list one phone number (the one most likely to be answered) on your resume.

2.  Dates in the wrong place. Years ago we listed dates on the left side of the page. Today dates go on the right. That’s where computer readers search for them too.

3.  Insisting that a resume needs to be only a page. With today’s computer readers, length is not as important as keywords. Although I don’t advocate going beyond two pages. No one reads that far anymore.

4.  Not listing computer skills. And if you do list computer skills, dump the ones that are out of date, like Fortran, COBOL, BASIC. That will make you look like a dinosaur.

5.  Listing your high school education. Whether you went on to college or not, don’t put high school information on your resume unless you are 18 years old and searching for your first job.

Ideally you don’t want to go back more than 15 years on a resume. Some people can’t help it though. These are the folks who worked for the same company their whole life. And there is nothing wrong with that. Loyalty goes a long way in business.

Blog Resume Service resume writing Uncategorized

How to Evaluate a Resume Service

So you’re shopping around for a resume service. Do you really know how to evaluate all that’s out there between good and bad and everything in between? Let me help you.

First, look for samples. Many writers still post them. We no longer do. We found that our documents were being plagiarized. We want our clients to have the “Gucci” resume, and not the counterfeit. But if you do see samples, whether it’s in a book, or a website, here are some telltale signs your writer is a novice.

Blog Job Search Advice resume writing Uncategorized

A Nifty New Tool to Determine Key Words

If you’re having a hard time determining which key words belong on your resume, try this new trick. Cut and paste the most pertinent part of the vacancy announcement of the job you are applying for  (the qualifications section) into the webform at You’ll immediately find out which words should be on your resume.  Here’s what my own resume looks like when dissected by Wordle.