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Interview With Professional Resume Writer, Nicole Coggan  

How did you get started in Resume Writing? 

When I was around 24 years old, I applied for a job as a Youth Employment Consultant with the JPET program for Darwin Skills Development Scheme, which I was successful in achieving. A big part of my role was to write resumes for my clients which is how I first learnt how to write a professional resume.

What came next in your career? After working for DSDS, I started work with ITEC Employment in Cairns and later MAX Employment in Toowoomba, where I was employed to assist some of Australia’s most disadvantaged job seekers find work. Again, the biggest part of this role was to create a really awesome resume which would grab the attention of the employers for my clients.

What was your favorite part of working as an Employment Consultant? 

My favorite part was helping my clients achieve their dream job despite their (often) multiple barriers to employment. This ranged from assisting older jobseekers who were coming up against age discrimination, to clients who had recently been released from prison and needed assistance to highlight the skills they could offer, despite being in detention for multiple years. I love a good challenge!

How did you start working for yourself? 

In 2012 when my first child was born, I really didn’t want to have to put her in day-care while she was still an infant and go back to the office so I went out on my own as a professional resume writer and originally worked from home so I had the flexibility to care for her at the same time.

Do you still work from home now? 

Very rarely. My children are both at school now so I have an office downtown that I work out of and I’m also part of various co-working spaces throughout Australia, so I can pack my laptop and work out of their office spaces when I’m not in my home city. This gives me the opportunity to work with people all over Australia which I love and also means I don’t become distracted by everything at home. I love my work office!

What’s one thing you have noticed when it comes to your resume clients? 

I have noticed that women are not as comfortable at selling themselves as men, especially older women. Men are naturally competitive and want their resume to highlight all their achievements and stand out. Women are terrible at maximising their achievements because they don’t want to sound ‘conceited’ or like they think too highly of themselves.

It’s a massive issue that I see over and over in the work I do. A man will sing his own praises from the rooftop and think nothing of it, but women and especially the older generations have been taught modesty is a virtue. The problem is that modesty doesn’t sell you as the best candidate for the role so women lose out to men all the time because they just don’t feel comfortable selling themselves even if they are more qualified for the role.

One thing I always tell my clients is that if you have done it, make sure the employer knows it!

What’s one piece of advice you would give to anyone doing a resume? 

I would say concentrate on the first page. It’s the first page which gets you out of the slush pile, so 80% of your resume effort should go into making that first page as wonderful as possible. Honestly, by the time they get to the second page, the employer has already decided. Your focus should always be on improving the first page.

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