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Resume Assassin: Help with getting hired

Resume Assassin

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.”

Growing organically


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.”

Resume Assassin: Help with getting hired | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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