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The Write Resume In The News

Chandler Woman Adept at Balancing

By Luci Scott
Arizona Business Gazette
February 5, 2004

The greatest challenge for Chandler businesswoman Kathy Sweeney is knowing when to answer the phone. She runs an Internet-based company, with clients around the world, from her home.

When it's 6 a.m. in Hong Kong, it's 8 p.m. in Phoenix.

"When you're a single mother of two children, you have to balance time between family and business and still make money," said Sweeney, owner of The Write Resume. "I have to draw the line."

She founded her business 17 years ago after leaving a job in human resources, where she saw many job applications.

"The resumes were always really bad," she recalled. "I wanted to be able to help job seekers before they even got to somebody like me."

The most common problems she sees are typographical errors, layouts that are visually unappealing (make them flush left, not centered, she suggests) and an emphasis on soft skills rather than the hard ones. Knowing how to craft a resume is especially important now that computers scan them for key words, she says.

"A lot of people say 'team player,' 'effective communicator.'

"Most employers assume you are a team player and an effective communicator," she said.

If someone is looking for a job in accounting, he or she should point out experience in accounts payable, accounts receivable or general ledger.

"If the employer has all three of those in the ad, and I have those three (in a resume) and you have one, I'm going to come out on top in their search."

Sweeney had an office for years but moved into her home to save on overhead. But clients never come to her home.

"I tell them, 'I'm going ask the same questions over the phone that I'd ask if you were sitting here.' "

A client in Hong Kong came to her after his business was destroyed by the recent outbreak of SARS, an acute respiratory illness, that halted travel to Asia. Sweeney helped him get three job offers, and he is now vice president of operations of a U.S.-based Internet security company that has a presence in Asia.

Another client was in the Middle East. "Some gal from Israel was moving back here; her husband is a U.S. citizen and she is not," Sweeney said. Before the woman followed her husband to the States, Sweeney worked with her.

Sometimes clients come to Sweeney for help, and she can see the problem is not with a resume but with issues such as lack of the right training.

"I had a gal one time come to me; she wanted to be a graphic designer. I asked her the same questions I ask my other clients: Have you worked previously in that field? She said no. "Do you have education in it? No, she didn't. "Have you used computer programs in that field? She had not. I said, 'Ethically, I cannot take your money because I can't make you into something you're not. You need to get an education.'

"Her next response was she didn't have the money. I told her to check into financial aid. So I not only deal with the resume, but I know about all the programs available out there to help people get what they need."

Sweeney recently received the national 2004 Ruby Slipper Award created to recognize contributions of home-based businesses. Why a ruby slipper?

"Because there's no place like home," said Janet Drez, creator of the award and the owner of a home-based consulting business, also in Chandler.

Sweeney has donated time and expertise to the Wesley Foundation, an agency for women escaping bad situations, and to the Department of Economic Security before the agency provided the job-hunting support it does now. She participates in job fairs and belongs to national resume writing and career development associations. She belongs to the Resume Writers Council of Arizona, which this month will question a panel of human resources people about what they want to see in resumes and applicants.

"We ask tons and tons of questions to be sure we're doing the job right," Sweeney said. "It's an education to bring to our clients."

Her advice for someone wanting to start a home-based business? Do research to find out if it will be profitable. Do competitive shopping. Talk to the staff at the Arizona Business Connection at the Arizona Department of Commerce to get advice and licenses. And join professional associations.

"People need to have a strong foundation in what they're doing and also need to have support," she said. "When I started my business, a resume writer friend mentored me. I then mentored another gal. We're all here in Phoenix and all friends. You can look at it as competition or cooperation."

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