Level up your job search in 2017 with a creative resume + Life Updates

Resume, career, freelance

get The Job you deserve in 2017!

The New Year is upon us which means  (hopefully) you’ve already plotted, planned and written down your goals for 2017. One goal that undoubtedly shows up on most lists at the start of the New Year is “increase income” either with a new job, more freelance/side work or a combination of the two. A fresh resume that stands out from the rest is one way to breathe new life into your job/gig search.

If you haven’t done a major overhaul to your resume within the last year, we need to talk. An outside of the box resume is the only way to go in 2017. The competition is stiff so it’s time to toss that old stock Monster.com drivel and break out design elements like illustrative icons, fancy fonts, profile photos and cool colors (GASP). Yes, I said color. It’s 2017 for goodness sake!

If you’re an entrepreneur or freelancer, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why do I even need a resume?”. That may be true for many but you never know what opportunity may cross your path. There’s an old Proverb from a hood philosopher that goes, “if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready”. Typically, I use my online portfolio and writing samples in lieu of a resume for freelance work but I have applied to gigs that require one so better to be safe than sorry.

The key is to write and design your resume in such a way that it reflects your personality and… Click To Tweet

If you’re a “creative”, you definitely want your resume to stand out heads and tails above the rest. There is heavy competition in most creative industries. If you’re wondering what a “creative” is, I’m referring to the graphic designers, makeup artists, photographers, freelance writers, copywriters, marketers, advertising professionals, fashion designers, public relations managers, etc. Everyone is vying for these cool jobs and the opportunity to “level up” up their skills and experience.

I’m going to give you the lowdown on how I created a resume that landed me an awesome Marketing/Communications opportunity at a Fortune 500 company and a spot in a Top 10 graduate school M.S. Communications program! I’ve also received responses from ad agencies that I applied to which is better than cold, hard silence. Ad agencies are a tough sell with little to no agency experience.

But first, here are a few reasons why you should toss that black and white yawner of a resume and get creative:

Employers get a glimpse of the kind of employee you’ll be

Do you go that extra mile? Your resume is the first chance you get to make a good impression. You don’t want it to be ho-hum like the other 500 applicants. Take it a step further and show them who you are before the interview. A resume doesn’t have to be a chore. Make it a fun project! It sets the tone for your interview and your tenure assuming you get the job.

Employers get an idea of your design sensibility

Do you shun risk or do you take chances? To be honest, I’ve contemplated an untraditional resume in the past but I wasn’t quite brave enough to go through with it. I was in commercial/retail real estate for a long time and conventional (read: boring) resumes were the norm. I consider my personal style to be one part conservative to two parts edgy, so it always made me nervous to be too “out there” with potential employers. You don’t want to turn them off but you can strike a balance, even if your industry is more suit and tie than flip flop and khakis.

 you’re an ‘outside the box’ thinker

Are you a leader or a follower? You can say you think outside of the box and take chances…or you can show them. It takes guts to do something out of the norm. Career websites give us a standard resume format and we follow suit like zombies. You’re not going to do that this year!

If you have a design background, blog or brand then you should take advantage of it by using your own brand colors so it’s consistent. You can be certain that the person doing the hiring will visit your website, if you have one (you do have one, right?). Wouldn’t it be nice if your aesthetic flowed straight through from start to finish? This shows them that you know the importance of branding. Believe it or not, even if you work in corporate America you are your own brand.

why i overhauled my resume plus life updates

Last year, I decided to take a mini-break from freelancing to stick my toes in the corporate America pond once again. I’ve wanted to be a part of corporate communications since I graduated with my Journalism degree many moons ago. My website and freelance business and blog were a strategic part of my exit from an industry that I didn’t enjoy and, quite frankly, wasn’t very good at because I wasn’t using my natural talents and gifts. It wasn’t until 2015 when I “picked myself” that I found some success in pursuing my dreams and now I couldn’t be happier.

I was doing well freelancing with amazing high-paying clients but to be honest, my work/life balance was in the shitter for awhile. That wasn’t fun which made my productivity respond in kind. I missed having a consistent paycheck that didn’t require back to back 12-hour+  workdays. I still take one off projects but it’s a lot more fun now that I get to pick and choose projects that speak to me.

With the advice of my best friend whom I admire and respect, I decided to look for something in corporate communications. I knew I’d have to start over from the bottom which wasn’t a problem for me being the free spirit I am. I was transitioning to a new career and needed to learn best practices in a structured environment.  I took on a part-time role at a large global Fortune 500 technology company to see if communications and marketing were something  I wanted to pursue full-time. I know it sounds crazy but I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat to live the life I’ve always dreamt of!

I learned more about email marketing, analytics and SEO in those first few months than I ever would have on my own. Best decision I ever made! I loved it so much that I applied to two top 10 highly ranked competitive graduate schools for a Masters in Strategic Communications and was accepted to both.

I never hated corporate America completely…I just wanted more flexibility and to live life on my terms. My new resume was instrumental in achieving both of those goals. Now that you know what brought me to this point, let’s get to the good stuff.

I used Canva (free) for templates and inspiration. Canva has so many different layouts, elements and options to choose from. It makes it a fun process!

For my most recent resume for grad school, I was inspired by the resume of Marissa Mayer, President of  Yahoo. Her resume is simply amazing! There are so many interesting elements to borrow from including a photo, quote, icons, abstract lines, graphics, strengths and languages.

I’m in the technology space so I liked the lines that were incorporated. It grabs your attention without being too in your face. Surely, you can use one or two of these design elements in your own resume.

Level up your resume
more Tips:
  • Have your resume professionally printed for interviews and face to face meetings as colors vary from printer to printer
  • Compress file size, if emailing large document
  • Hyperlink your website in the resume, if possible
  • Use a professional photo and make it consistent across your social media profiles and website/online portfolio
  • Have someone else proofread for errors and typos
  • Don’t forget to add facts and figures

I hope this gives you some ideas to get the job you deserve in 2017! A fresh new resume will invigorate your job search. Thanks for reading!

How Our Favorite Brands Gained A Cult-Like Following (Part 2)

Branding Breakdown Series (Part 2: STARBUCKS)

Starbucks Honk Kong

Starbucks Honk Kong

I’m back for Part 2 of my #brandingbreakdown series. In Part 1, I discussed Chick Fil A and the reasons I believe they’ve been able to grow a tribe of loyal fans.

I received a lot of positive responses from that post and I hope it helped small business owners and entrepreneurs think of ways they can incorporate similar strategies into their own business/brand. This series stems from my post called “Are You Striking The Right Tone For Your Brand?” where I featured a downloadable PDF to walk you through an exercise to develop your brand’s tone and voice.

This week I’m back for Part 2 of my #brandingbreakdown series to talk about another company that has a following like no other. Yes, you guessed it (and it’s in the title).

It’s Starbucks!

The name alone makes me want to drift off into a euphoric coffee-induced state. Too much? I don’t mean to wax poetic but a good cup of Starbucks allows me to function on 75% mode with little to no sleep, so let’s get into it.

Here are the reasons I believe Starbucks has grown into the 800 lb. gorilla with the cult-like following we see today.

1).     Customer Service – Yes, customer service comes in at #1 again this week but it is so important. It’s one of the main reasons why Starbucks continues to go gangbusters. I’ve always had the most pleasurable experiences at the busy coffee shops. I’m not sure if it’s the good karma that place exudes or the coffee beans that everyone is all hyped up on but it’s always a great experience.

Customer service is key to people buying your product no matter what realm the business operates in. No, let me rephrase that…

Customer service is vital to customers championing your brand. There’s a big difference. Click To Tweet 

Starbucks has put their stamp on their service with one simple question: asking your name. This is one element that makes them stand out. Sure the name is misspelled or flat out wrong 99.97% of the time but so what…it’s funny and social media share-worthy. It also makes the service seem more personal assuming they happen to remember it. Many restaurants ask your name but, for some reason, it stands out when Starbucks does it.

If you follow Starbucks on Facebook, you will notice how interactive they are by responding to nearly every question or request. They are dedicated to not leaving their customers hanging. Many small businesses should take note of this.

And although the company is no stranger to controversy like the infamous “Red Cup Gate 2015”, they take it in stride with class.

Focusing on user experience or customer service as a principle will never steer you wrong. Add an amazing product and you become unstoppable.

2). The Cool Factor – Everything from the music they play (and sell) to their Instagram feed is beautifully curated, youthful and hip. They are in touch with their customers and on the pulse of what’s happening and it shows. People of all ages and demographics stand behind the Starbucks brand.

The coffee shops are a playground for movers and shakers. Freelancers and creative types go there to work and vibe off of the energy and meet like-minded types. I’ve heard it many times, “deals have been made at Starbucks”.

If I may be blunt for a moment, as a freelancer who now works at Starbucks often, what I love most is that they don’t interrupt the flow of the patrons. The coffee shop is a peaceful haven to work even with the constant dribble of noise. I appreciate that.

3) They are everywhere – Unlike Chick Fil A who chooses to be the turtle, Seattle based Starbucks is most certainly the hare.

The company was founded in 1971 and now operates 23,391 locations worldwide. Yes, let that number sink in for a moment.

You will find Starbucks in airports, Target stores, on college campuses and several at Disneyland. There are no shortage of locations to grab a cup of morning Joe or Chai tea. While it works wonderfully for them, it’s not a strategy that every company can pull off.

The company has managed to make coffee drinking cool, making it somewhat of a status brand. It’s not your grandpa’s coffee though it might be his favorite place to buy it. You may hear “I have to get my Starbucks” since the brand has become synonymous with the beverage and the logo is identifiable to nearly everyone.

4) Employee Investment – I can’t talk about Starbucks without speaking of their contributions to their employees. I believe it’s important that a company as big as Starbucks give back to those who give so much of their time + energy to move the brand along.

One of the biggest benefits Starbucks offers is paying tuition for part-time and full-time employees.They most recently teamed up with Arizona State University to pay either partial or full tuition for online programs. Read more about that here. The best thing about it is that there are no strings attached (that I know of). The employees don’t have to continue to work for Starbucks after graduation. Did I mention you get free coffee helping you to study? Win/Win.

That’s a huge financial investment to make in your employee’s future considering the cost of tuition. Starbucks said “throw that degree in the bag. We got this” and they defintely can afford it at the rate they’ve grown. As I mentioned in Part 1, customer service is directly tied back to employee satisfaction.

I’m a fan of the Starbucks brand as you can tell but I realize that no company is perfect and none of us knows what happens in the “kitchen” (aka: behind the scenes) but they have a huge following so they must be doing something right.

I have many friends and associates who feel even stronger about the company than I do. We all have reasons why we think Starbucks is killing it and those were mine. I hope you enjoyed this post!

Are you a Starbucks loyalist? If so, why do you think they are as popular as they are?

If you like these posts, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter here or in the sidebar.

I’ll be highlighting my final brand next week. No hints this time! If you have any suggestions or guesses drop it below.






Star Wars Mania: Can You Say Cha-Ching?


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the newest release in the Star Wars series has hit the big screen. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is literally everywhere and has been for weeks.

It’s a proverbial dream come true for every company/product to be incorporated into mainstream America like Star Wars has. I’ve never seen anything quite like it so I’d be remiss not to blog about it.

Star Wars paraphanelia has been spotted at NBA games, fast food chains and more. There’s even a toaster in the likeness of Darth Vader that dispenses the Star Wars logo on bread. Now that’s dedication!

They’ve all found a way to buy into the craze that is Star Wars. I’ve never been a fan of the movie series so I was naive about how far the appeal stretched.

I felt compelled to see what all the hype was about so off I went to the movies armed with an attention span the size of a gnat and a nice amount of cynicism. Isn’t it amazing what great marketing can do?

I was impressed with the beautiful imagery and captivated by the storyline. I would highly recommend the movie just because of the amazing graphics.

According to “The Wrap”, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is on pace to beat Avatar as the highest grossing film of all time. To date the movie has made $765.9 million dollars and is expected to gross $1 billion (with a “B”) by the end of the holiday weekend.

Are you a Star Wars fanatic? Were you shocked to see Star Wars everywhere you turned?

How Our Favorite Brands Have Gained A Cult-Like Following

Branding Breakdown Series (Part 1: Chick Fil A)

chick fila

I’m going inside some of our favorite brands to identify what makes them a branding success in my 3 Part #brandingbreakdown series.

I’m a big consumer of these companies/products and have often wondered what kind of sorcery they’ve cast to keep me coming back for more with my hard-earned dollars in hand.

You can rest assured that it’s not dumb luck and these behemoths have poured considerable time and money into studying their customers and perfecting their image.

In a previous post ,“Are You Striking The Right Tone For Your Brand?”, I included a downloadable PDF Exercise to help you identify companies that are doing it right and how you can find your own distinct voice.

In Part 1, we’ll be breaking down Chick Fil A. The home of the chicken sandwich that will make you bite your own finger. I’m not so secretly hoping that I will be rewarded with a lifetime supply of free food and sweet tea. If you can make that happen, hit me up.

While the delicious food is an important part of the equation, there are a multitude of reasons why Chick Fil A is winning in business. Let’s dig in shall we?

1). Customer Service – It’s consistent. It’s welcoming. It’s fast. It’s everything we’ve come to know and love about our experience at Chick Fil A.

As a matter of fact, if someone told you they had a bad experience at Chick Fil A, you may not believe them choosing to count it as an off day for your companion and not the establishment itself.

That’s how you know they’re doing something right. Sure the food is yummy, but let’s be honest, there are other places you can pick up a more moderately priced meal. Chick Fil A just goes that extra mile.

When you leave and the employee says “my pleasure” you actually believe them and that, my friend, is worth $7.00.

2). Employee Investment –You’re probably thinking, “What does this have to do with anything and why do I care?” Let me explain.

Several studies have shown that employee satisfaction has a major impact on the quality of service. Great customer service is a direct result of satisfied employees.

Chick Fil A believes in promoting their loyal employees by rewarding them with franchise opportunities. Ashley Derby started with Chick Fil A in high school and continued through college working her way up the ladder. Now she owns her own franchise. Read her story here.

Bottom-line: it pays to be kind to your employees and include them on the buy-in of the larger goal. Click To Tweet

3). They Stand For Something –While many may not agree with their Christian religious beliefs, it’s a breath of fresh air that a company still stands for something in a time where big companies are selling their souls in exchange for a higher stock price.

Chick Fil A is privately held allowing them to make decisions that align with their values. They believe so strongly in these principles that the restaurants are closed on Sundays so their employees may attend church service and spend valuable time with family.

This also lends itself to the scarcity theory. We’ve all seen a social media post of a friend who’s dying because they couldn’t get their fix on a Sunday.

Absence does make the heart grow fonder and the cravings grow more intense. Kind and genius!

4). Steady growth – Chick Fil A is growing slow yet steadily. The company is not oversaturated like McDonald’s which means it’s not as easily accessible. You won’t find one on every corner.

Chick Fil A has a very selective franchising process making sure that every owner has the proper capital and same core values just as the founders intended.

How is this helpful for the growing brand?

Well, making sure the company is on solid footing and all franchise owners have bought into the larger goal on the front end is key to staying power.

Is there anything I’m missing? Are you a fan of Chick Fil A? If so, what do you love about them?

Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter so you can get the #brandingbreakdown of 2 more popular companies.

Here’s a hint: you may have a beverage with the logo on it in your hand right now!










Are You Striking the Right Tone For Your Brand? (plus Free Downloadable Exercise in PDF)


If you think about your circle of friends or family and their personality style, you could  likely come up with a minimum of 3 keywords to describe them.

Maybe your dad is quirky, dry and sarcastic while mom is silly, goofy and fun. The same thing applies when you think of some of your favorite successful brands and the way they market to their audience.

It’s important as a business owner to decide what the tone of your business will be early on. If you’re a real estate company with a high-end clientele, you may prefer to strike a tone across your brand that is refined, sharp and sophisticated.

On the other hand, if you are a hair salon known for edgy styles this could get boring  fast, therefore, the content you share should correlate well with what your customers have come to expect from your business.

The key is to be genuine so it appears effortless.

Also, keep in mind that if you lean one way, you can always fuse in  the opposing style. As a matter of fact, this is suggested where appropriate just to keep your followers on their toes.

If you are unsure of what the tone of your brand is or are unclear of how to go about crafting your tone and style, I’ve developed a small exercise to help you clarify the tone of your business.

Download PDF here: How to Strike the Right Tone For Your Brand

Of course,  it’s always a great idea to test if the tone you’re conveying and content you’re sharing is right for your business and that is by keeping a keen eye on what gets the most likes, comments and shares.

If you have any questions about the tone of your brand and would like assistance in clarifying which tone works best for your business don’t hesitate to call me at 602-761-0885 or reach me by email at niaonsocial@yahoo.com.