Scott Nichols – Certified Graphic Resume Architect!

Scott Nichols, Certified Graphic Resume Architect

In late 2019 Career Directors International offered a new certification opportunity. I quickly pounced, taking advantage of the promotion, knowing this was something I wanted to pursue. I wanted the challenge for 2 reasons. To push myself to learn and improve so I can offer the best product and service possible. And, to differentiate myself in an evergrowing industry of career development professionals.

The decision was unanimous. Here is an excerpt from the congratulatory email I received yesterday notifying me of my new designation:

” The certification committee unanimously passed your beautiful documents—commenting on the innovation you exhibited in writing and formatting and your solid understanding of incorporating personal branding, colors, designs, graphical elements and more, to suit a range of industries. Your feature piece disseminating your design choices for your selected document, rounded out what was a strong and competent portfolio of work. “

I look forward to continuing to learn and develop my craft. Currently, I am actively studying to become a Certified Career Strategist through the Career Professionals of Canada.

Up with growth!

Easy New Year’s Resolution for Your Career

Career Resolutions

Easy New Year’s Resolution for Your Career

It’s that time of year to reflect on the last 365 days of our lives, whether good or bad and make a list of changes we’d like ourselves to make. For most, this may be personal goals, such as spend less, exercise more, learn how to salsa dance, etc. But how many of us are considering our careers? I have one simple idea I would like you to consider for this new year, which can have a significant impact on your career.

What I’ve observed as a resume writer is that most people don’t take time to reflect on their career until it’s time to update their resume. Even then, many of the resumes I’ve reviewed lack accomplishments and favor job descriptions. Giving a description of your work is important, but that’s not all a potential employer wants to read. They want to know that you make things happen. They want to see the results of your work. I believe a resume that focuses on results will attract more attention, which will lead to greater career opportunities.

For many, as time goes on, the details of career wins and successes become blurred or forgotten altogether. So, here is my recommendation for a career-oriented new year’s resolution that is easy to implement.

The Periodic Career Reflection Resolution

Create a recurring event on your calendar for 30 minutes at the end of each month or quarter. During this time, Isolate yourself from all distractions so you can dedicate this time to reflecting on the recent past.

Open a Word or Excel document. On it, you will capture your most significant challenges and biggest successes of your recent time. Save it and add to it each time you get your calendar reminder. It is helpful to use the CAR method, which stands for Challenge, Action, Result. When considering accomplishments, try to think of ways that you can quantify your actions. You can think in terms of dollar amount ($) or percentage (%). 

Consider the impact you’ve made on your team, department, or the organization as a whole when thinking about your success. Areas in which you can explore may be process improvements and resulting efficiencies, revenue generation, cost savings, turnover and attrition, customer satisfaction, etc. 

Don’t overthink it! Before you even begin close your eyes, take three deep breaths, and set an intention to relax and reflect. There is no right or wrong way to do this. You cannot fail by doing this. Start by writing down the first few things that come to mind. This process will evolve over time. At first, you may have a challenging time thinking of ideas, this is natural. But don’t get frustrated if you get stuck. The brain works in mysterious ways, and if for nothing else, you are planting seeds for future ideas.

At the end of this exercise, you will have created a list of ideas that you can draw upon when it comes time to update your resume. A good resume writer will work with the information to help refine it. Imagine your resume compared to someone who didn’t take the time to do this! It is evident, at least to me, that you are giving yourself a definite competitive advantage!

Beyond the Resume

Since I’m writing this as a resume writer, with the intent of empowering you to capture content that that can help make a standout resume, there are some other unintended benefits, I think.

Working through this exercise may prompt you to consider setting some new goals. You may find yourself re-evaluating your priorities at work to focus on broader challenges that have quantifiable results.

When it comes time for job interviews, you can go back and review everything you’ve documented to give you some stellar talking points.


By giving yourself time to reflect on your career at regular, periodic intervals, you are empowering yourself to document the results of your work, consider new goals, and develop content that can be used to create a great resume and help propel your career to new heights. Happy New Year!

By Scott Nichols, MBA, CERM, CPRW, CEIC, CEIP

What does it take to become a certified resume writer?

Certified Resume Writer

There’s more to writing resumes than most people realize. And, there’s far more to operating a successful resume writing business, even as a one-person show, beyond just writing resumes. It was apparent to me from the get-go that in order for me to develop a level of trust with potential clients, demonstrate my ability to write a compelling resume, and perhaps most importantly, differentiate myself in the market, that I would need some credentials. So, I set out to become a certified resume writer.

After some research, I learned that there exist multiple professional associations that offer resume writing professionals platforms in which to learn, communicate with peers, and earn credentials. I chose to earn my first certification from The Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches, better known as PARW/CC.

My first certification in resume writing, which I earned from PARW/CC is called the Certified Professional Resume Writer, CPRW for short. The CPRW designation has been the golden standard for many years, and is often a requisite for other certifications offered by Career Directors International, CDI.

In order to earn my CPRW through PARW/CC, I had to have some foundations for how to write a resume. I was tested on different types of resume structures (reverse chronological vs. functional). I was also tested on my ability to decipher a large amount of information and put together a complete resume. It was challenging yet rewarding. Earning my CPRW certification would pave the way for more.

After gaining exposure working with senior and executive-level clients as a contract writer, I was ready to step my resume writing game up. I wanted to really differentiate myself and give potential clients even more reason to work with me. CDI offers a lot of different certifications. So, I set forth to become a Certified Executive Resume Master, CERM, for short. This was a certification held by less than 4 dozen people WORLDWIDE!

In order to earn the CERM designation, I had to compile and submit a portfolio of the work I had completed for my executive clients and submit to a blind panel of the industry’s best and brightest resume writers. Additionally, I had to pass an exam that tested my overall business acumen. Not only did my portfolio pass unanimously during the first submission, but I completed the exam as 1 of the top 10 to achieve above 99%!

The hard work has paid off in many ways. I have learned a tremendous amount about my craft (which I continue to do), and have provided my clients with the confidence they need that they are working with one of the best. As I’ll touch on in another article, I have also earned multiple certifications in job interview preparation coaching. This includes my CEIP (Certified Employment Interview Professional) from PARW/CC and my CEIC (Certified Employment Interview Consultant) from CDI.

This is big! Your Certified Executive Resume Master!

Certified Executive Resume Master

I am excited to announce that as of this week I have earned the designation of Certified Executive Resume Master. I thank Career Directors International to facilitate such a designation and am honored to be one of a select few (less than 30) worldwide to hold this designation!

A note from CDI:

Scott Nichols, Owner of Advanced Career Services/Next Level Resume, has been awarded an international designation as a Certified Executive Résumé Master. Evaluated and awarded by the Career Directors International Board of Certification, his work demonstrates an exceptional grasp of the discrete personal and business aspirations pertaining to astute, top-tier executives. This knowledge includes use of the appropriate key words and competencies, position responsibilities and challenges, and effective resume presentation styles for the ‘best and the brightest’ in business. CDI President, Laura DeCarlo, states that, “When selecting a resume writer a job seeker should always look for an individual who is certified and who has experience working with job seekers in their industry. Selecting a skilled professional with a Certified Executive Résumé Master designation is the natural choice to confidently put your career in the hands of a qualified expert who has made the effort to specialize in this highly competitive population.”