Coming Soon: The 2015 Guide to Private Service Agencies and Educators

job seeker guide.After several months of development, The Personal Touch Career Services will be releasing the “2015 Guide to Private Service Agencies and Educators” within the next week.

The 2015 Guide to Private Service Agencies is a lists over 20 of the most recognized firms in the United States.  Since 2012, we have been contacting agencies and asking them the same core questions to highlight their target candidates and standard procedures.

Wondering which agencies are willing to work with new household managers? Want to know more about the best local sources for nannies, housekeepers, and support staff?  Interested in the different geographical placement territories that each agency covers?  Then this eBook is for you!

New for 2015: we have added a section specifically for the Educators, including traditional schools like Starkey International and the Charles MacPherson Academy as well as the workshop-based intensive studies offered by Bonnie Low-Kramer, Peter Van Ryder, and others.

In addition to the schools and agencies, editor and career coach Donna Shannon shares valuable information on best practices when working with agencies on your next placement.

COST: FREE – just sign up for our free e-newsletter to receive your copy!

Already own the 2012 Guide?  Email us at  for a free copy of the 2015 edition

Meyer Suite – Upcoming classes

We’ve spoken before on an educator for our private service professionals called the Meyer Suite here and what sets them apart from other educators in the industry. With a focus around personal assistants, they offer a course called “Personal Assistant 101,” which primarily is held in Seattle.  When we last spoke with them, a lot of talk was thrown around about different venues upcoming in 2015, and they did not disappoint.

“You will not find this type of workshop elsewhere. If you’re curious about what it means to be a personal assistant, if you’ve wondered how people get these kinds of jobs, if you know you’d be really, really good at it, but can’t seem to land the jobs you apply for, you will find nothing else like this workshop, which is run by someone who has insider knowledge of both the employer and employee side of private service. . . someone who had zero industry connections, landed several high-profile PA positions, and now works with clients who seek top talent for personal service positions.

This workshop is not your ticket to a job as a personal assistant; you will have some work to do on your end. But it will give you an overview of the profession, answer questions you have, provide some advice on how to make yourself an attractive candidate for the role, and allow you to network with someone who works with clients who hire PAs. You will walk away with something you can add to the “education/training” section of your resume that night!”

–          Elizabeth Meyer, Founder of The Meyer Suite

Elizabeth will be teaching her esteemed Personal Assistant 101 two-hour workshop and info session designed by herself.  Elizabeth will talk about the profession, what it is and what it is not, and what it takes to make yourself an attractive candidate for this type of position.

Elizabeth works with clients who seek highly qualified Personal Assistants throughout the country, so this is not only a chance to learn about the profession, but to network with someone who seeks PAs for open roles.

The workshop will be taking place on Monday, March 9, 2015 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM in Chicago, IL. Purchase your tickets here:

How to become the Van Helsing of the Modern Job Search

van helsingIf you are creeping through this Halloween hunting the ever-elusive job monster, it is important to arm yourself with more than just a simple resume. You never see vampire hunters without their whole toolkit of stakes, garlic, holy symbols and a vast repertoire of knowledge on how to hunt the undead – at least not ones that make it to the credits of the movie. Like Van Helsing, you ought to familiarize yourself with your query and its environment if you want to survive.


That environment has changed and will continue to do so with advancements in technology and the development of more sophisticated social networking techniques.


Below are six scary facts of the modern job search. Familiarize yourself with them and become an expert “Job Search Slayer” This Halloween.


1.  HR witches and how to get past them

In almost every company, the lowest level HR people do the majority of the screening – or worse, they rely on computer screening programs to eliminate a majority of the candidates. Because of this, if you aren’t using the right key words, your resume will not make it far enough in the process to reach a decision-maker or even a human being.  Think of these key words as your “Magic Passwords” To get closer to your target job. Without them, you won’t make it past the coven and their screening hexes.


2. HR departments use tricks – not treats – to cut candidates

Ever wonder why a company would use a complex set of instructions to just apply to the job?  They are using those instructions to screen people out.  If you can’t follow the written instructions, they deem that you are not worthy of an interview.  Unfortunately, this tactic often cuts qualified candidates. Pay attention to the rules in any job posting to survive this cut.


These tricks are a lot like traps in a dungeon that kill nonobservant Slayers with pitfalls in the floor. If there is an instruction to only step on red tiles on the floor, you would be best served to follow those instructions, least you fall into a pit-trap yourself.


3. Competition is vicious – just like a zombie hoard

It’s no secret that unemployment is high.  To give you perspective, your competition for any job out there is around 300-500 for any posted job.  Yipes!  Trying to break away from the hoard can be tough… and all the more reason why you want to get your resume to the hiring manager, not just the HR department.  They are getting overrun from people trying to pick their braaaiiinnnssss…


4. Ghosts of your past can haunt future chances

If you have been laid off or fired in the past, be prepared to answer these questions in the interview. It doesn’t mean that it is impossible to get another job. You must reconcile your own personal feelings about the event in order to talk about it in a constructive manner.  Let those emotions of bitterness, resentment, sorrow and shock “walk into the light.”


Many Slayers have a haunted past, it is up to you to learn from that past to make yourself better equipped to get the Job Monster.

5. Employment websites are a “Monster”

While CareerBuilder does have more jobs posted in general, any of the major employment websites are not the be-all, end-all for job leads.  In fact, this is where the competition is fiercest.  Consider looking in creative places for job postings.  For example, in most LinkedIn Groups, there is a tab for “Jobs.”  Look for the “Job Discussions,” not just the posted jobs. This is where recruiters are posting their jobs for free!  Plus, they are more likely to take a closer look at your resume and LinkedIn Profile- after all, they are trying to judge the effectiveness of posting jobs this way.


6. Don’t suck your network dry

Like a vampire latching on to the neck of its victim, you can ask too much from your network.  Networking is important, but you must build a relationship before asking for favors.  One common scenario is making a connection with someone on LinkedIn, just to ask them to forward your resume to a hiring manager.  No new acquaintance is going to do this!  Instead, ask them about their job and their opinions about the company.


Another draining activity is spamming your network with too many messages.  It’s ok to send a reminder every month that you are still looking; it is not acceptable to send a message every 3-5 days.  Don’t be spam – build genuine relationships, be helpful to others, share meaningful information and be a friend before asking favors.


Your network ought to be familiar with you, like a team of Slayers that help each other professionally to get their own Monsters. You can’t be a burden on your team, or they will stop helping you. When they stop helping you, you become a lone Slayer where your success becomes more and more difficult to obtain.

Have You Noticed That There Have Been More Job Postings Lately?

Because of the time of year it is, there are more job postings. Summer is almost officially over, the kids are back in school and employers are ready to hire. September always sees a surge in posted jobs that last into October. When you take that into account, it becomes absolutely critical if you are looking for a job to make sure that your resume and other important factors are up to snuff.


Hiring Season

Whenever hiring season comes around, many applicants are using tired old resume formats and strategies that simply do not work. As a job seeker, you owe it to yourself to learn more how employers interpret resumes and applications. Plus, your social media presence should portray you as a strong candidate.

Hiring Season Survival Tools

♦ Clean, Professional Resume ♦ Cover Letters
♦ LinkedIn Profile ♦ Strong Networking
♦ Job Board Accounts ♦ Understanding of New Hiring Processes



Your Resume

Obviously, your resume is the most important factor to any job search, it needs to be clean and professional to optimize results. You should have a strong summary that attracts the attention of the Hiring Manager and a work history that highlights your achievements as well as relevant duties and responsibilities. Your resume should be loaded with keywords for your industry. Key words are used to cut most candidates by the HR department. If you do not have the right ones, the screening computers could cut you before a human being even has the chance to read your resume.

Even when you get your resume to a person, you need to make sure it is engaging for the reader in the first 30 seconds. If you do not get their attention fast enough, you will be rejected. (For more information on how to write your resume, check out our article on Fluffy Resumes.)


LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn is one of the greatest tools available to the modern job seeker. The HR department and managers often look up a candidate on LinkedIn before calling them for the interview. On LinkedIn, you can attain a strong and powerful network of coworkers and friends that can endorse your skills. This gives the HR department additional information that helps a candidates chances. For example, most recruiters won’t consider a candidate with less than 3 recommendations

All of that amounts to exactly zero if you do not have a profile or if your current profile does not look clean and professional. Fixing this is easy, when you know how.

LinkedIn profile checklist

♦ Professional photo
♦ Relevant and intriguing headline
♦ Engaging summary
♦ Clear work history (Simple with a good resume!)
♦ Relevant skills (With endorsements)
♦ Education
♦ Volunteer
♦ Interests/ Keywords


You can also access these following articles for some helpful tips on constructing the ideal profile:



Other Stuff

Now that you have a tailored resume and profile it is important to note other survival tools available to you. Cover letters, job board accounts, a strong network and an understanding on how the modern hiring process works are all critical elements to add to your toolkit.

A cover letter is one of the more important elements to have. Without one, you miss out on an opportunity to highlight specific skills crucial to the job. It’s important to do a little bit of research into the company and reference specific details about them in the cover letter. You should walk into an interview as if you have known the company for years, and a cover letter is your chance to demonstrate that knowledge of the company itself right off the bat. It’s also your chance to tell them why you are the best person for the job. Like your resume, your cover letter is not about you, it is about the employer’s needs.

Having a strong network is the next important element. Without it, you miss out on job leads, endorsements and even recommendations. LinkedIn is a great place to build a strong network by connecting to people in your industry and being able to be found by employers more easily.

Lastly, you want to have an understanding of the new hiring process in use these days. First, you submit your resume. Then you are screened by computers that cut 50-70% of the candidates. Then, you might have a simple read through by a person in the HR department – one that lasts about 30 seconds. Lastly, your resume ends up in the hands of the Hiring Manager after you have been checked out online and researched. This means out of 100 applicants, only 1-5 people make it through the process to get called in for interviews. That is a pretty high cut rate. Without keywords in your resume, cover letter and profile, you will be screened out before a person even reads your resume. After that cut, you only have 30 seconds to impress a stranger.

Many employers are still relying on employment websites to advertise their jobs. You want to manage your account to make sure it is accurate and up to date. Indeed Monster, Jobing, HelpWanted and other sites are great resources, but people rarely update their basic profile information. This is not the same as uploading a new resume. Look for the profile settings to make sure that you aren’t sending detrimental old information.

Other Helpful Links

Fluffy Resumes: Why they are terrible and what you can do instead

Are you prepared for the fall hiring season?

Overcoming job interview anxiety

Benchmarks of success in every job search

Dealing with Discrepancies

Networking – Does It Really Work?

How Your Goals Affect Your Strategy

Safety Tips For Your Job Search

(Almost) Everything You Need to Know About Resumes

What Really Happens in the HR Department


Checklist: Getting Ready For the DEMA Convention

At the end of September, the Domestic Estate Managers Association (DEMA) will be holding its 3rd annual convention in Orlando, FL.  While most people are figuring out their travel details, it is just as important to prepare your professional image from resumes to business cards. To help you get ready, I’ve put together this simple checklist to make sure you make the best impression before, during and after the event:

1. Update your resume

Be sure that your resume is up-to-date and truly represents not only your skills and experience, but your unique personality as well.

2. Get a professional picture

In private service, pictures are critical.  Almost every single agency will request a picture, which is then forwarded on to the employers.  Plus, LinkedIn profiles that have a professional picture generate a much higher percentage of traffic from recruiters.

Spend the money and have a professional take your picture.  A digital headshot can cost between $75-$150, but it is one of the most cost-effective ways to invest in your job search.  Make sure that the photographer gives you the digital rights; this allows you to publish the picture on the web (for LinkedIn) or in print (for your resume).

3. Update your LinkedIn profile

This is an excellent time to update your LinkedIn profile.  Make sure it is clear, professional, key word rich and personable.  On the other side, be sure to mask details that would indicate who your principal is.  Instead, always refer to them as “Confidential Private Estate.”  Don’t use the business name, even if you have the owner’s permission.  This is seen by others in the industry as a breach of confidentiality.  Similarly, don’t list specific aspects of their estate.  For example, the resume may say: “manage a fleet of 50 luxury vehicles,” however, the LinkedIn profile should read “manage a substantial collection of luxury vehicles.”

4. Create professional business cards

Be sure to have plenty of business cards with you.  Include all your contact information, including the link to your LinkedIn profile. Some people choose to put their picture on the business card as well.  When meeting 200+ people over the course of 3 days, pictures will help jog memories.

5. Plan out your attire

Review the conference website.  What are their suggestions for attire?  Note that some of the events are business casual, while others are more formal.  Plan for flexibility.  Plus, don’t forget a sweater or some other warm option. Convention rooms in hotels are notorious for being chilly.

6. Preview the schedule

DEMA has done an excellent job of updating their schedules and speaker lists on their website.  Start planning now on what you want to see and do:


7. Contact agencies ahead of time and set appointments

Looking to make friends with agencies?  Start the relationship now.  When you email these agencies, point out that you will be at the convention.  Considering that most agencies place across the country, this is a rare opportunity for you to meet them in person.  Many people will schedule time to meet with individuals.  Plus, this year DEMA is hosting a job fair on Friday.  Get your name on the recruiters’ minds beforehand to have a more productive face-to-face meeting.

Fluffy Resumes: Why they are terrible and what you can do instead

FLUFFYWriting a resume can be a rough business. Obviously you want to impress the employers, but how do you do that? In an attempt to look impressive, many applicants submit “Fluffy Resumes.” A fluffy resume is filled with extra adjectives that don’t add real value. Many HR departments won’t even really read them thoroughly. In a 30-second read, clarity is more important than fluff.


What is a fluffy resume?

Fluffy resumes are verbose and filled with excessive language. Let’s start with this example:

Innovative, resourceful and results-driven Executive Sales Director with hands-on experience in dynamic business development, motivational team management, reliable training programs, aggressive revenue growth, highly accurate forecasting and genuine program management. Delivers outstanding human relations, excellent communication, reliable change management and keen procedural development skills. Designs super-effective strategies and innovative procedures to effectively lead, educate and develop stakeholders at all levels. Demonstrates outstanding abilities in talent recognition, team building, individual development, and success strategies. Delivers effective communication and positive mentoring to realize team achievements.

Fluffy resumes are, at first glance, very long-winded. In the past, these were actually considered the best way to write resumes, as they added descriptors to the key thoughts.  However, modern resumes are more streamlined and to-the-point to convey a message quickly. Fluffy resumes water-down your skills and achievements with words like outstanding, amazing, keen and so on. Employers want to see the meat of your resume.

Let’s look at an edited version of that example, with all of these problems removed:

Innovative and resourceful senior executive with over 20 years of progressive experience in the Healthcare industry.  Known for assuming implementing the corporate vision throughout the organization while attracting, developing and retaining top performing sales teams.  Designs strategies and innovative procedures to effectively lead, educate and develop stakeholders at all levels. Personally driven to make a significant, positive impact on American healthcare through the launch, sale and implementation of innovative products and services that improve patient care while controlling the run-away costs plaguing the industry.

The essence of the important info and keywords are still there.  This time, we make sure the key words are used in a way that actually describes the candidate instead of just packing in general terms with fluffy adjectives.

Follow the tips below, and you can be sure to avoid falling into the fluffy resume trap.

Get to the point

The best way you can help yourself is to get to the point. Lengthy descriptions feel like a waste of time to the HR department. HR sees these kinds of resumes every day, and the odds of them reading or caring about your resume over others becomes drastically reduced. Many make this mistake in their summary, which is supposed to highlight certain skills and abilities you have. If you do not get to the point, those skills and abilities are lost to excessive word use. Speaking of word use….

Action Verbs and Repetition

You may remember in high school English the importance of action verbs. They should be playing a pivotal role in your resume as they make your resume more interesting and intriguing.

When you ignore action in your writing, you create something very passive and boring to read. If you want to generate interest, write interestingly.

It is also important to note repetition in a resume. When it is unnecessary, you ought to avoid it (unless it is a keyword.) When you repeat yourself over and over again, you end up with the same issue of blandness. Try to avoid reusing those good action verbs as much as you can; even using a thesaurus when necessary if you must. Most word processing programs have thesaurus features built-in (Just hit shift + f7 to pull it up in Word.)

The Meat

One of the most critical things to remember is making sure that the actual meat of your resume is easy to see, follow and digest for the reader. When I say meat I mean actual metrics, achievements and other quantifiable figures that are easy to understand. For many jobs, the HR department does not have expertise on your desired position, but rather a list of desirable qualities from the Hiring Manager.  When you start talking about responsibilities and duties, often times you end up using jargon that may not be understood. If you put actual numbers on paper, the HR department can understand them more easily. Highlight your achievements. Your resume should be a flavorful entre, not some microwave dinner.


Clichés and when to use them

“Head them off at the pass? I hate that Cliché!” –Blazing Saddles

Clichés are awful. Really you should avoid them at all costs unless they are included in the job description. Everyone who submits a resume is a fast learner, has good communication skills and team-oriented. If you can quantify a cliché with metrics and achievements then by all means use it. If it is there for filler, then there is no reason for it to be there in the first place. The goal here is to get you to stand out above the competition, not join them in a sea of similar resumes where you can be easily forgotten.

If the cliché is in the job description, you should use it, but don’t draw unnecessary attention to it. You should be focusing your attention on the actual meat of the resume, action terms and the point of why you are the best fit to the company’s needs over anyone else. Using the skills section of your resume is a good opportunity to pack in some of the key word clichés without damaging your resume quality (See our sample resumes for examples.)

Follow these steps, and you will see better results than you ever thought possible with your old resume.


Benchmarks of success in every job search

We all know how hard it can be to find a job, and sometimes the task seems simply too daunting to take on. With the following guide, your milestones can be easier to track and you can see just how much time and effort goes into every job search. This content (and much more) is also available in Donna Shannon’s book, “How to Get a Job Without Going Crazy.”

benchmark job search infographic




How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter- on

The following article was posted to the career advice page on We have the sincere pleasure of being quoted in the posting, and would like to share that whole article with you, our dedicated readers. You can also read the article here.

How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter

By Catherine Conlan
Monster Contributing Writer
Your cover letter is typically the first impression you make with the hiring manager, so you’ll want to put in the effort necessary to get it right. We spoke to some job search experts to find out what you need to know to write the perfect cover letter.

Pick your purpose

Of course your goal is to get the job, but there are several kinds of cover letters that can help you achieve that goal — and knowing the kind you want to write will help you get yours right. “They all have a purpose,” says Brenda Collard-Mills, owner of Robust Resumes and Resources. “There is the traditional cover letter to reply to an advertised job, a networking cover letter, a cover letter targeted to recruiters, the direct mail cover letter and the pain cover letter,” which addresses a specific pain point the company may have and how you would be able to solve it. “Research when to use each type and incorporate as many as possible when conducting an active job search.”

Reflect the company’s culture

Go beyond using keywords from the ad and find a way to make your cover letter reflect what the company is all about. “For example, if applying to a data analysis, statistically focused company, your cover letter should be equally quantified and appealing to data-thirsty readers,” says Erik Bowitz, senior resume expert at Resume Genius. “If you are applying for a position in a young, creative company then your cover letter should be more casual and fluid, using words like active, social or even organic to better reflect the ideals of the individuals you are hoping to work with.”

Focus on the organization’s needs


You want a job, but you need to focus on what the employer wants if you hope to succeed, says Lynne Sarikas, director of the MBA Career Center at the D’Amore McKim School of Business. “Be very specific in addressing their needs outlined in the job description and show them how you can address their specific needs.” Presenting yourself as a solution to a hiring manager’s problem can help your cover letter take the right tone.
Donna Shannon, president of Personal Touch Career Services and author of “How to Get a Job Without Going Crazy,” recommends providing specific examples of how you can help the company. “A salesperson can discuss how they will increase the revenue of the company. An executive assistant can speak about the problems they solve on a daily basis. The IT professional can write about how they can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the systems, thereby saving the company money. Always think: how can I help this company?”

Sublimate your ego

As you focus on the company’s needs, use the word “I” sparingly, says Sarikas. “The cover is letter is about meeting their needs, so be very careful not to overuse ‘I.’ Do not start every paragraph or multiple sentences with ‘I.’ Think about different ways to get your message across.”

4th of July Resume Service Sale!


10% OffCelebrate your Fourth of July this year with a new resume! Mention this post in an email or phone call to our office and you will receive 10% off any resume service that we offer; including our full service packages! Valid through July 11th, 2014.


We know you have a busy schedule with vacations and summer plans. Let us worry about the writing stress so you can get back to your summer events!

Email James at or or call us in the office at (720) 452-3400.


*Offer valid on all Resume Packages, LinkedIn Profiles, Express Resumes, Editing, and Private Service Resumes. Not valid on coaching, training or classes. Other exclusions may apply, call or email for details. Expires 7/11/14.



Dealing with Discrepancies

I lack experience and work ethic but have energyYou may have less-than-ideal situations in your past or current employment situations.  How do you deal with issues such as gaps in your employment, switching fields or a lack of experience?

The first thing to change is your attitude.  Conducting an empowered job search means reconciling your feelings about the past.  Don’t ignore an issue and then hope it won’t be addressed in the interview.  If you acknowledge the stumbling blocks, you can deal with them in an effective way.  You have to accept a situation before you can solve it.

HR people are trained to spot the discrepancies in a resume.  However, that does not mean a ripple in your experience will kill your chances. It is possible to get HR and hiring managers beyond the knee-jerk reaction of cutting any candidate that has a less-than-perfect work history. To do that, you need to look at the problem from the employers’ point of view.  What are their objections or concerns?  If you can address the objection right from the start, you can move past it.


Three Steps to Reframing a Discrepancy

Every situation can be dealt with, if you have the courage to face it.  To reframe a problem, follow these crucial steps:


  1. Honestly state what the issue is
  2. Consider it from the employer’s point-of-view
  3. Discover the positive in the situation


To reframe a discrepancy, take a moment to write down what you think may be holding you back. Be honest and thorough, writing down what the real issue is.  Some possible problems could be a spotty work history, breaking into a new industry or even leaving a distressed industry (like mortgages).

Next, think of this problem from the employer’s point-of-view.  An unstable work history makes them nervous that you will not stay for a long term job.  Switching industries has a number of risks; can they afford to take a chance on you?  Even when they intellectually recognize a distress industry such as mortgages, there is a doubt in the back on their mind: is that really why you left a job?

Finally, think about how the event could be considered a positive.  Write down your answer to those objections.  It needs to be clear, specific and positive.  For example, short-term jobs help you adapt quickly to new situations.  Breaking into an industry means you are highly motivated to make a good impression on the job, not to mention bringing new ideas to the table.  Leaving a troublesome industry is a smart move, plus you come to the table with transferable skills.

Sometimes the answer will require more work on your part.  Did your Key Element Detector™ reveal some skills you are missing?  Or a required education level?  Now is a perfect time to take some classes.  Since you’ve done your research, you know exactly what you need.  Taking classes or workshops relating to your career shows your commitment to the job.

Don’t wait around for someone else to solve your problem.  Employers rarely stick their neck out for candidates anymore.  However, when you are realistic about your own strengths and weaknesses, you become a confident candidate – and a real commodity in the job market.

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