Elizabeth C. Searcy is a professional search consultant and recruiter, employment specialist, resume writer, and speaker. Her articles, written on a variety of subjects, are published internationally, and in national, regional, and local magazines and newspapers.
Read on to see how this single mom started a professional resume writing business from home.
Tell us a little bit about your entrepreneurial journey.
It’s quite a fascinating journey! In the 80’s I worked as a job coordinator for a staffing company and then was promoted into management. Working in staffing made me realize how much I loved seeing unemployed individuals land good jobs and be able to provide for their families. Eventually, this became one of my passions. I had wonderful mentors, and I truly believe that’s one reason I’m in my own business today.
Writing was my hobby
During the ’90s, I worked full-time in operations for a roofing company and raised three children with my husband. One of my sons has autism and a seizure disorder. As a hobby, I had a desire to write children’s books. I thought if I could gain experience and get published, I could start a second career in writing—so I could write at home as my special needs son and I became older.
Three times a week after a long day at work, I began typing on my computer at 10 pm and wrote manuscripts, learning how to submit to editors and market my writing. It was vigorous work, but a labor of love, and a ‘college’ of sorts. I felt I was investing in my future.
After seven long years of late-night writing, I sold my first children’s magazine piece, and subsequent pieces of writing sold here and there. I landed two significant positions—a branch manager at a résumé writing company, followed by a staff copywriter for an ad agency/publisher. Both these positions directly contributed to my career today.
Major life changes
I went through a divorce and became a single mom. Years later, the father of my children passed away, and now I was the ‘only’ parent. I felt I had to work harder than ever.
In 2007, my mother became very ill, and I became her caregiver. I gave up my full-time position at the ad agency/publisher, and became a part-time contractor, working for them at home. Now, instead of the traditional nine to five workday, I could make my own hours. I loved the freedom!
After my mother passed away, I struggled with two scenarios—starting my own business or working for an employer again. I prayed and began Celebration Career & Business Support in 2009. Now, the second career I began in the ’90s has come to fruition! I’m able to take care of my son and write résumés for my clients. Also, I give career counseling and conduct interview coaching. My business has grown to include corporate writing, and some recruiting and speaking as well.
I’m in my late 50’s. Being a single mom and caring for a special needs adult, plus balancing working at home is a joy and a challenge, but one that’s worthy of my discipline. I couldn’t be happier!
What did you do before launching your resume writing business?
That’s a great question. I was in a dual role as a professional copywriter and advertising account executive for a marketing communications and publishing company in Houston. My previous position was a branch sales manager for a career/staffing company in their resume division. My previous positions within companies served as a foundation for my own business.
Where do you find new resume clients?
I get some responses from LinkedIn, LinkedIn Groups, and my website. My website doubles as a place for prospects to come and get educated about their job search, as well as read about my services—so the website is critical. In addition, I pass out business cards wherever I go, also leaving them in public places on tables or bulletin boards. I also network with individuals and love to talk to people about their careers. After a conversation, I’ll invite them to my website. Many times, they call me.
How are you currently growing your resume writing business?
Honesty and integrity are paramount. Also, I believe that my business grows from my knowledge in my industry experience, and the quality of résumé writing from an employer’s perspective, combined with offering a professional and caring approach.
I am grateful to God that my business is 96% referrals. I believe this is due to an unwavering commitment to every individual who reaches out to me for help and displays honesty and integrity in all aspects of the client relationship.
Careers are so personal and necessary to people. They want to confide in a professional who is trained in the area of résumé writing and also coaching because they need much guidance along the way. A résumé and career professional must be willing to really listen to their story, whether the job seekers’ experience has resulted in victory, agony, or defeat. Also, they must be trustworthy and offer them solutions they can’t resolve for themselves.
Referrals are the primary way I receive leads, and I attribute that to the following reasons, resulting in the growth of my business in three ways:
First, I offer a free 30-minute telephone consultation, by appointment, to anyone inquiring about my services. This tool is the first step of showing people I care, as I invest in the prospect before they invest in me.
Secondly, I offer existing clients the opportunity to earn rewards. It’s a highly successful program I call Celebration Rewards. I attribute this program to a significant part of the growth of my business.
Lastly, in 2010, I created a pro bono ministry in my church for unemployed members called Sonrise Employment Ministry. Giving back to the community is a priority for me. God has blessed this ministry, with all participants finding employment.
What advice do you have for other women who want to start their own resume writing business?
Ask yourself—why do I want to start a résumé writing business? Do you have professional experience in writing, or in the staffing industry or human resource department? Clients will want to know that you have the experience and credentials to lead and guide them.
If you’re unsure if it’s the right business for you—seek professional guidance. An alternative may be turning a hobby at which you excel, into your next business.
If you’re positive this is the business for you, do what I did—first—determine your core services and how you will manage and deliver those services. Write out your goals and refer to them often.
File your DBA, order business cards and letterhead, and hire a professional graphic designer to create a dynamic website. Please don’t hire a cousin in high school or a good friend to create your site—hire a professional.
The professionalism of your site will determine if a prospect perceives your business and YOU as professional. Make certain all content is letter-perfect—after all if you’re in the writing business; there must be no mistakes on your website. Tell everyone you know and meet that you’re in business. Then you’re on your way!
Thanks to Liz Searcy for sharing her story!