Success in Business: Steph Cartwright, CPRW, Off The Clock Resumes
I feel in business, it’s important to learn and support each other in their successes. That’s what I hope Success in Business is all about.
I came across Steph Cartwright’s website when looking for my own business inspiration. I wanted to learn more about writing for resumes, but had no clue how to go about anything in the business.
I was really drawn towards Steph’s business due to her straight-forward and logical persona she manifests in her writing style. Once I started conversing with her through e-mail, I knew she would be a great candidate to learn more about when it comes to growing one’s business.
Here is a bit more about the successful business, Off the Clock Resumes:
First off, please explain a bit about your business and how you started.
Sure, I’m a Certified Professional Resume Writer and the founder of Off The Clock Resumes LLC.
I started out as a serial job seeker. I jumped from customer service, hospitality, and office administration jobs as I chipped away at a two-year liberal arts degree. I postponed a four-year college experience because I had no idea what direction I wanted to go in for my career. I knew I was a strong writer and loved writing, but I didn’t know how I should translate that into a career.
I started freelance writing in my free time, tried a little bit of everything from website copywriting to manuscript editing, and still struggled to find that niche that was going to give me a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
I fell into resume writing completely by accident. I came across a Craigslist ad looking for freelance resume writers, no experience needed. I realized that my resume had never failed to get me the job that I wanted, so I gave it a try.
I launched Off The Clock Resumes in 2014, and I’ve enjoyed helping others land new and better jobs that give them a sense of purpose and fulfillment ever since.
What is your favorite part that you do with your own business?
When I can improve a person’s life with a resume or LinkedIn profile, it’s amazing. It manifests in different ways: a pay increase that changes their family’s livelihood, a better job-person fit that gives that client a sense of purpose and fulfillment that they were missing before, a boost in confidence in their own strengths and accomplishments, and so on.
It’s absolutely miserable feeling stuck in a job that doesn’t maximize your strengths or undervalues your efforts. Feeling stuck in your job search adds even more frustration and discouragement. Getting unstuck in your job search and, in turn, your career can have a cascading effect on your life.
I love when I can be a part of that.
It doesn’t bother me that I get to work from home with my three furry co-workers, too!
When did you know you could start your own business? Time-wise and Production wise.
I was still working a comfortable, full-time office administration job and freelancing when I was contacted by someone on LinkedIn who wanted me to join his startup as a writer. I’d be ghostwriting his book, writing articles and website copy, and managing the startup’s social media which I thought was my dream job at the time. Two weeks in, I realized the startup was a scam.
I had two choices: Grovel for my unfulfilling office job back or dive headfirst into launching my resume writing business.
I was extremely fortunate to have the support system that I had at that time.
Why did you start your own business? Rather than stay with another company.
I started out resume writing as a freelancer for an online resume service, but I realized that the training videos used to get “no-experience-needed” resume writers up to par only scratched the surface. I sought out experts and organizations in the career services field to learn as much as I could on my own.
The more I learned, the more I disagreed with the business model and client communication practices enforced by that resume company. I wanted the freedom to create a client experience that would light me up. I also wanted to create a more personalized service that I knew would get my clients the results they hoped for.
What advice would you tell anyone wishing to get into your industry?
Join professional associations, attend conferences, find a co-working group, and meet others in the field as soon as possible. Having a community of support, even if it’s a geographically dispersed community, made the biggest shift in my company’s success.
I joined the National Resume Writers’ Association and attended my first conference in 2018. I was blown away that this organization is such a strong community where the members treat each other like co-workers rather than competitors. In the Facebook Group, for example, members ask each other for advice and even refer clients to each other if they have scheduling conflicts.
Who or did anyone inspire you to start your business?
There really wasn’t any one person who inspired me to start my business. My husband (boyfriend at the time) was incredibly supportive and helped me financially while I got my business off the ground, though.
Who do you gain the most inspiration from in terms of starting, continuing, etc. your business?
My mom has been an amazing support, sounding board, and inspiration from the start. My first encounter with entrepreneurship was my mom. She started her bookkeeping business as a full-time working mom, owned and operated various businesses since then, and makes it look easy. She’s always had great advice to help me navigate challenges and has been a cheerleader through it all, the rough months and record-breaking months.
What are some of your least favorite aspects of maintaining your business? Do/can you outsource that task anytime soon?
Great question! I’m not great with numbers, so the bookkeeping and accounting side of my business could easily be outsourced. But I’m a firm believer in business owners taking ownership of their numbers. You should know what’s coming in, what’s going out, where you can save, and what you should plan for.
I’ve also written hundreds of blog posts for my business. I love writing, but I’d love to get a fresh perspective on career advice for my website and social media. I’d love to build a small marketing team of bloggers and content writers in the foreseeable future.
Did you ever imagine that you would be running your own business? In this industry or otherwise?
No, not at all. Now that I am, though, I have a hard time imagining myself doing something else.
Do you think you’re successful with your business? Why or Why not?
Success to me is more than how my business is doing. My business has allowed me to thrive creatively, strategically, and independently. My business has created a flexible lifestyle for me and my husband that we didn’t imagine we could have five years ago. My business has also helped me finish a four-year degree in less than 18 months. So, yes, absolutely.
When did you consider yourself as a business owner?
When I fully committed to resume writing under the business name Off The Clock Resumes, I started considering myself a business owner. Prior to my website’s launch, I was spreading myself thin across different areas of freelance writing. I was advertising content writing, resume writing, and manuscript editing services. When I decided to niche down, I changed my tune from “I’m a freelance writer,” to, “I run an online resume business.”
Why did you go into this specific industry? What appealed to you about it?
I love how technical resume writing or LinkedIn profile writing is. There’s a formula combining branding, keyword-optimization, conversion-driven copywriting, and technical writing that works for everyone. Your formula is unique to you and your career story. I love discovering it and putting it to work for you.
If you’ve thought of giving up on your business, what/who has kept you going? What made you consider quitting?
Every business has their ups-and-downs, but having that supportive community of other resume writers has kept me going during the rough weeks. I have a particular friend that I met through the National Resume Writers’ Association, and she has a few more years of experience on me. Her encouragement and advice has been indispensable when I’m doubting myself or struggling with a particular project.
What is your process when approaching a new product or client?
I offer a handful of different products and services to meet the needs of a wide range of job seekers, so my process can differ across products and services.
For example, I specialize in optimizing your resume for a specific job posting online or several job postings that exemplify your ideal job with the keywords Applicant Tracking software will be looking for. This Targeted Resume service starts with my Are We A Good Fit Quiz & Introduce Yourself Form on my website. I’ll analyze your job target, collect more information from you in a Work History Examples Worksheet and 30-minute phone call, then start your first draft which is typically ready for review in five business days.
However, I also sell a kit called the Do-it-yourself Resume. The Do-it-yourself Resume helps you create a job-winning resume for a fraction of the cost to hire a professional resume writer. It comes with a modern resume template, a Branding Statement Cheat Sheet, a Skills Inventory with a bonus Work History Examples Guide, and a Resume Targeting Checklist. You can purchase it directly on my website and get immediate access to my expertise in these templates and worksheets.
Where do you see your business in 5 years?
Artificial intelligence and automation are rapidly changing hiring processes and the job search overall. I’ve been working on a handful of different projects to communicate the importance of your digital footprint and networking at all stages of your career. LinkedIn is the industry leader, so job seekers need to have a profile and learn how to actively use the site. Even if you aren’t looking for a job right now, you can be working on boosting your profile and growing your network before you need it.
In five years, I’d love to see my business become the go-to educational resource for the online job search.
What goal are working towards in your business at the moment? A milestone, a new service, a client/project number, etc.
Right now, I’m working on a major update to my LinkedIn e-course and coaching program. It’s a comprehensive LinkedIn program for job seekers that I’d love to make more affordable and faster to finish. I’m hoping to have the new e-course and pricing structure ready to launch by the end of the year.
Would you like to expand your business? Whether that’s bringing on new employees, new services, etc.
I’m always working on new products and services. My latest product release was my Job Search Planning Kit which includes a Networking Strategy Generator, Social Media Action Plan, Employer Targeting Guide, Follow-up Planner, and Onboarding Worksheet. While it’s available to purchase for instant access now, I’ll be reworking the kit into a subscription-based product in the next year.
What is a skill that you’ve had to improve about yourself to succeed in your business?
Selling. I am not a salesperson. I hate asking for the sale, but it’s necessary to succeed in business.
What do you wish you could tell yourself about your first client interaction?
My first client was a referral from a co-worker at my full-time job. I was told by my co-worker that he was in his 70’s and was returning to work after a decade or so of retirement. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
I was given a previous resume and questionnaires to work with for freelance projects, but this client had never had a resume before. The cherry on top of an already challenging situation was that he wanted to change careers, and, at that time, I wasn’t sure how I was going to make a 30-year career in mining and retirement hobbies relevant for a sales job.
I had no idea what questions to ask or how to structure an interview with him. He brought me notes that he had written up with what cars he’d owned, his skills with his iPhone, and anything else he could think of that might be helpful. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t.
I wish I could have told myself to be more prepared. Knowing the right questions to ask a client is critical to learning and retelling their unique story in a way that presents him or her as the best fit for the job that they want.
How do you mainly acquire clients?
I attract about half of my clients through word-of-mouth referrals. The other half is split pretty evenly between LinkedIn and Google.
I’m on LinkedIn almost every day. The trick to using LinkedIn to attract clients is to accept every connection request and immediately ask why he or she reached out to you. I also respond to every message and comment as quickly as possible. LinkedIn isn’t something you can “set and forget.”
I’m also an avid blogger for my business. I’ve written hundreds of blog posts, share high-quality tips and guides, publish weekly. You can’t be afraid to share your best advice for free. Your ideal clients find you online by searching for how to fix their problems first, so blogging is one of the best ways to get Google to send you more clients.
What is a common piece of advice you tell your clients?
Your resume isn’t about you. Your LinkedIn profile isn’t about you. Your job search isn’t about you.
What are the company’s goals? What are the goals of the role you want to apply for? What problems can you fix for your ideal employer?
If you want to present yourself as the best fit for the job that you want, then your resume or LinkedIn profile has to be all about the company.
How do you keep track of clients/projects?
I’ve always been an organized person, so I’m all about processes. I mostly communicate with clients and collaborate on projects over email to keep it simple, but I love using Google Drive and Asana to manage all of my projects on the back-end.
How can people reach out to you and learn about your work?
You can learn all about my services and process at my website, www.offtheclockresumes.com. The fastest way to get in touch with me is by email, email@example.com. You can also reach out to me on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/StephCartwrightCPRW or on Instagram. My handle is @offtheclockresumes.
Steph has made a great career out of helping and supporting others in their professional careers. It is important to keep in mind, as business owners, we are able to help those that support our products and services.