As someone who has worked in human resources departments and higher education, Mary Southern has helped students and established professionals get jobs.
So four years ago she took that knowledge and turned it into a business.
Southern founded a resume writing business Resume Assassin while working for the University of Texas in Austin to help students and adults create resumes, cover letters and social media accounts that get results.
And by results, she means jobs.
“Its really grown year after year,” Southern says. “I’ve worked with people from all sorts of industries, CEO’s, CTO’s, project managers, sales, marketing, doctors…really a wide range of industries. And since I’m a one-person business I’ve tried to grow organically and focus on the customer, delivering a product that gets them results.”
Southern—who also works for Des Moines Area Community College managing concurrent enrollment for area high schools—said a lot of her business has come by way of referrals.
“They like what it did because it got them results and they refer me to their friends and family,” Southern says.
Most clients of Resume Assassin have come from the East and West coasts but since Southern is back in Iowa, she’s trying to expand her footprint in Iowa and across the Midwest.
When Resume Assassin initially launched Southern said she joined professional organizations to learn best practices and would provide resume and cover letter advice on Indeed job forums and LinkedIn groups to build credibility.
“A lot of employers do recruiting through LinkedIn,” Southern says. “So if they optimize their profile like they should they will show up in a lot more searches that recruiters are doing.”
She says her target audience is primarily professionals with work experience who haven’t written a resume in a long time.
“I’ve had some return customers and some people come this as a gift for friends or family,” Southern says.
Resume Assassin offers three different resume writing packages depending on the amount of experience the client has, plus a cover letter package and a LinkedIn profile package. Each package comes with a “keyword analysis” to ensure that resume can get passed the automated tracking system, which a lot of companies are using to weed out initial applicants.
“A lot of the people I work with haven’t created a resume in a long time,” Southern says. “A lot of times people submit a generic resume to every position they apply to, which is not very effective in the job market today.”
Southern starts each resume from scratch. She asks clients to fill out a questionnaire, send her a copy of their current resume and links to job postings they may be pursuing or be the type of job they want to pursue.
“What I’ve noticed is a lot of people don’t take the time to think about the accomplishments they have done throughout their career,” Southern says. “You want to show the hiring manager what you have achieved from a previous employer and how it can apply to this position within your company.”
So not only does the resume need to get passed the automated tracking system, it needs to stand out.
Southern says, “There are different ways to draw attention to some major achievements that are relevant so the hiring manager can see it by just glancing at it.”