Review: “Be the Ultimate Assistant” Workshop

men and Vickie Sokol evansOn June 8 and 9, 2013, I attended the “Be the Ultimate Assistant” workshop hosted by Bonnie Low-Kramen and Vickie Sokol Evans at the Ritz-Carlton in Dallas, Texas. (See below for their full credentials.) The weekend workshop drew about 20 people from diverse locations, such as California, Colorado and Washington State.  Attendees varied from Executive Assistants, Personal Assistants and professionals who bridged the gap between the two roles.

It is important to note that Bonnie does contact each one of the students prior to the workshop to gauge not only their experience, but also their desired learning goals.  In this way, each workshop is tailored to meet the needs of the audience.  For this class, many of the students indicated that they struggle with the soft skills that make successful business relationships with their employers or principals.

When working closely with an employer, building a mutually beneficial professional relationship is critical.  Throughout the weekend, Bonnie shared many tools on how to build this type of trust and respect, while addressing such issues as conflict, communication and boundaries. Other assistants shared their experiences as well, which added to the conversation.  In future workshops, I hope that some role playing scenarios will be included to really practice this vital aspect of any top Assistant.

One of the underlying themes of the weekend was the importance of team work, especially in office environments.  From pulling out the talents of other team members to mentoring junior employees, the sharing of information is what makes each individual stronger, and creates a team that is more than the sum of its parts. For solo Personal Assistants, resources such as professional organizations were encouraged to make up for the lack of team environments.

As for tactical tools, The Accomplished Traveler provided a presentation on luxury travel.  For many of the students, this was eye-opening about the options, possibilities and unique problem-solving required for many High Net Worth (HNW) individuals.  Touring the Ritz-Carlton provided additional insight.

Personally, one of the things I look for in any workshop is the technical tools I gain.  Vickie Sokol-Evan’s “Tips in Minutes” for Microsoft Office was extremely impressive and helpful. Considering most of the students were already pretty advanced in these programs, even they learned tons of short cuts, formatting options and ways to streamline their productivity with better results.  The portion on social media privacy combined with MS Outlook was eye-opening; I consider myself pretty adept at the privacy issues, but I learned a lot of tactics and uncomfortable truths that I never suspected.

Bonnie provided tools for managing schedules, itineraries, inventories and other critical information that all top assistants should strive to maintain.  Additional materials provided made sure that the attendees would have more resources beyond the classroom.  The only real problem was that we ran out of time on Sunday to cover absolutely everything on the syllabus.

Overall, the “Be the Ultimate Assistant” workshop provided a solid launching point for anyone striving to be either a Personal Assistant or Executive Personal Assistant.  As Bonnie Low-Kramen and Vickie Sokol Evans continue to teach their classes, I am sure the content will continue to improve and evolve.


Bonnie Low-Kramen spent 25 years as the Personal Assistant to celebrity couple and Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis and Louis Zorich. Motivated by the lack of resources for assistants, she co-founded New York Celebrity Assistants (NYCA), a professional networking organization for assistants. Bonnie wrote the book on the subject – Be the Ultimate Assistant, A celebrity assistant’s secrets to working with any high-powered employer which is now a best-seller and her articles have been published around the world. Bonnie’s work with actress Olympia Dukakis included the Academy Award win for the film Moonstruck, the 1988 presidential campaign of Michael Dukakis, and travel around the world to places such as Sydney, London, Alaska and Prague. Because she has rarely chosen to do anything the easy way in her career, Bonnie is now passionately committed to effecting positive change in the American workplace – one assistant and one employer at a time. Visit her website:

Vickie Sokol Evans is the founder and President of RedCape, a highly-regarded technology training company focused on real world technology skills needed for small businesses, executives and their assistants, as well as any business user who wants to maximize the technology at their fingertips. Bestselling author of the series for both PC & Mac, Vickie is a Microsoft Certified Trainer and a Microsoft Office Master Instructor with over 15 years of classroom training experience, specializing in the productivity platform, such as Microsoft Office, OneNote, SharePoint, and Lync and includes Microsoft’s latest cloud offering, Office 365. Formerly a business/data analyst with Microsoft, she travels the globe delivering live Jerry Maguire-inspired “Tips in Minutes” keynote presentations to a variety of audiences; teaching engaging instructor-led courses; and facilitating Microsoft Experience Center events for many of Microsoft’s largest customers. Visit her website:

Yipes! We’re on Yelp!

… but it’s not a bad thing!  The Personal Touch Career Services is now listed on the social review site  Soon, you will be able to read reviews from our previous clients and students.

Please CLICK HERE to read our reviews.


“Job Seekers Guide” now available on Kindle

Job Seekers Guide cover 2013For those of you who prefer to use your Kindle instead of the free PDF download of my “Job Seeker’s Guide to Private Service Agencies,” it is now available for only $.99 – yep, that’s 99 cents, folks.

Featuring over 20 agencies in the United States, The Job Seeker’s Guide to Private Service Agencies answers some of the most common questions about the practices and desired candidates.  Not only that, contact information and instructions for finding their jobs and how to apply are included for each and every one.

Plus, I have included some tips for your job search as well, such as how to make the right impression.

CLICK HERE to order your Kindle copy on

New staff writers at The Personal Touch Career Services

2012 was a record-breaking year for The Personal Touch Career Services!  We literally had more business than we could handle.

To prepare for 2013, we have added new resume writers to our staff.  In addition to bringing their own considerable talents to the table, our writers have been trained in our trademarked resume creation system, the Key Element Detector.  Plus, all of them have received instruction on the unique demands of the private service industry.

In this competitive employment market, time is of the essence.  With our new writers, we will be able to meet the needs of our customers even faster – which can be the difference between an interview and a rejection letter.

 Meet Our New Staff:

 Latricia Friend:

With over 10 years of experience in resume writing, interview coaching, and self-marketing techniques, Latricia has worked with clients at all levels in a variety of fields, including management, professional, and administrative.  An active member in the Domestic Estate Managers Association (DEMA), she specializes in private service – she knows what Principals are looking for and will position you to stand out among a field of candidates.

Danielle Bilbruck:

With a background in the entertainment industry, Danielle understands the demanding nature of many non-traditional work environments.  Today, she is a freelance writer on a career site for women, the Career Girl Network.  Her strengths are social media, sales, recruitment and coaching.

Carrie Bunting:

A Career Services Advisor with Pima Medical Institute in Denver, Carrie is especially well-versed in job searching strategies for the medical industry.  In addition to her technical resume writing skills, she believes in helping the candidate discover their own personal strengths, interest and confidence in the job search.

Diana Cordova:

Diana spent many years working for a large Fortune 500 company in sales, marketing and promotions.  Recently, she ran the marketing for a large Denver Chamber of Commerce.  As a marketing professional,  she understands the importance of a professional presentation as well as the need to show off your individuality.  While she can write resumes for all industries, she has extensive experience with marketing, project management, sales, HR, banking, IT, management and events management.

Case Drury:

Case believes in the power of personal story as told through the resume.  As part of her work with the Denver Public Libraries, Case helps people from all walks of life with their resumes and resources for their job search.  Case has lived in France and Belgium and is fluent/near fluent in Spanish and French.

Delana Reilly:

For over 6 years, Delana provided Career Services to technical and creative careers.  In addition to working directly with job seekers, she has considerable experience in recruiting.  In other words, she knows what the employers are looking for as well as being able to guide her candidates through the hiring process.  Her expertise includes Commercial Design (graphic design, video production, industrial design, fashion, and media arts) and Technician/Skilled Trades.

Agency Spotlight: Las Vegas Nannies & Housekeepers USA

Nannies and housekeepers USA logoThe Las Vegas market has unique opportunities for nannies: in addition to permanent placements, Nannies & Housekeepers helps top hotels find nannies for their guests.

Nannies & Housekeepers USA stands committed to not only making quality placements, but in giving back to the community and encouraging professional development of their talent base.

Coming up this spring, Nannies & Housekeepers will be participating in the National Nanny Day of Training on April 28, 2012.  In addition to providing valuable workshops, they are using it as an opportunity to collect books for “Spread the Word Nevada,” a non-profit devoted to encouraging childhood literacy.

In this week’s Agency Spotlight, Nannies & Housekeepers tells us more about what makes their agency unique…

 1. How long have you been in business?

12 years – Lexy Capp opened the doors of Nannies & Housekeepers in February of 2000

 2. What makes your agency unique?

Nannies & Housekeepers is known for the highest standards in the industry.  Our candidates are the highest caliber able to meet the needs of our clientele.  We provide full time, part time, temporary and on call services for homes and hotels in Las Vegas.  One of our specialties is our HOTEL NANNY service – In Room Nanny and Event Childcare.

 3. What types of positions do you place?

Full time, part time, temporary and on call nannies, housekeepers, babysitters, newborn care specialists, personal chefs, household managers.

 4. What is your ideal candidate?

Our candidates all must be legal to work in the US – must have at least two years experience with reference.  We go the distance with meticulous background checks.  We seek candidates that are GREAT – there is a difference between good and great.  Excellence is our standard!

 5. Do you place across the country or locally?  If so where

We primarily place in Las Vegas, NV – we have done some out of state referrals.

 6. Do you look for any special training or certifications, such as college degrees, private service schools, etc

Over 70% of our nannies are college educated.  We require all candidates must have at least two years experience in the field they are applying.  All nannies are CPR Trained and First Aid Certified.

 7. Where do you announce your open jobs?

We have a JOB BOARD on our website- plus we promote our jobs on FACEBOOK & TWITTER, INA JOB BOARD, DOMESTIC HERALD and other areas.  Many of our candidates are referred to the agency from our current candidates.

 8. How should a candidate apply for a job?  Do you want an online application, resume or both?

Applicants can apply online at

 9. Do you belong to any professional associations?

Nannies & Housekeepers is a member of INA – International Nanny Association, APNA – Association of Premier Nanny Agencies… Household Staffing Alliance, LVEA – Las Vegas Executives Association, BBB, Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce.

 10. How can people contact you?

702- 451-0021 after hours press 7 to be connected to a Nanny Concierge 24 hours a day!

Would you like your agency featured in our Agency Spotlight?  There is no fee!  Contact Donna Shannon at 720-341-8229 to find out how you can be included.  Our Agency Spotlight is provided as a service to job seekers, and is not a statement of endorsement.  All information is  provided by the participating agency.

Donna Shannon speaks about LinkedIn on The Socialight Show on Mile Hi Radio

On Monday, March 12, 2012, I was privileged to be a guest of Deb Krier on her internet radio show “The Socialight.”  Deb is a master of social media, and it was lively conversation about specific strategies with LinkedIn that can help tap the hidden job market.

Fortunately, the entire show was recorded and is available on the website:


To listen to the recording, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the recording with my name, Donna Shannon, in it.



Today’s new economy and the growth of social networking present us with not only challenges but with opportunities for positive change. Let Deb Krier—a highly-skilled and inspiring speaker and presenter—help boost your organization’s morale, effectiveness and success by teaching you to make the most of social networking, leadership and volunteerism.

Deb uses real-world examples, humor, personal insights, and stories to inspire, educate, and entertain her audiences. Drawing on her experience working for small businesses, one of the largest corporations in the world, and the nonprofit realm, she now produces workshops and seminars in which she teaches strategic tools and skills that will enable you to improve your business or nonprofit organization, large or small. She also works one-on-one with people, providing personalized support for their social networking efforts.

Visit her website:

Donna Shannon interviewed on Denver’s KOA-AM radio

KOA-AM logoThis morning, January 23, 2012 I was interviewed by April Zesbaugh and Steffan Tubbs of the Colorado Morning News on Denver’s KOA 850AM.  We talked about common problems for the modern job search.  I also got to mention my book, “Get a Job Without Going Crazy” as well as the upcoming classes at the Colorado Free University.

Listen to the 3-minute interview here:

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10 resolutions every job seeker should have

I love New Year’s.  It’s a time to bring new focus, shred the ineffective practices and go in a new direction.  To make that happen, we all need some clear goals and resolutions that guide our efforts.  Consider this your roadmap to a new opportunity….

1. Kill your TV

Okay, you don’t have to take an ax into your living room, but be conscious of how much time you spend in front of the boob tube.  TV sucks – as in “sucking up your time.”  If you really want to accomplish something with your job search, don’t turn it on.

2. Step away from the computer…

Of course, your computer is your main source for job search activity.  But it is also your playground.  I know in my case, I will login to check my email, but then the Yahoo News has that compelling celebrity news… and before I know it, I just wasted 45 minutes reading about the ridiculousness.  If you want your computer time to be effective, plan times away from it.

3. Join live networking groups

So if you ‘re not in front of the TV or the computer, what are you supposed to do all day?  Get out of your house!  In Denver alone, there are tons of networking groups for job seekers, businesses, professional association and so on.  Make a commitment to  get out of the house and around other people at least once a week.  NOTE:  this includes groups you join for fun! is a great source for new groups meeting in your area.  Some groups, like the Brown Bag Job Search Group in Denver, have both a live meeting and a corresponding LinkedIn group to make the networking even easier.

4. Check your posted resumes – both for updates and for security

When was the last time you read through your resume posted on Monster, CareerBuilder or  Take a moment and make sure you’ve got your latest and greatest version loaded for easy use.


While you’re at it, check your visibility settings.  Resumes should be posted as “Private” – this will stop any annoying “job opportunities” like 100% sales commission job solicitations that are sent to every visible resume online.

5. Update your social media profile

While you’re at it, take a critical look at your LinkedIn profile.  Does your Summary start with “Results-oriented professional”?  If so, change it!  Social media is where people, not skill sets connect with others.  Write your summary in a compelling and natural way – when somebody says “you’re just like your profile!” You know you have it right.

6. Try a new job search website

Are you only using one site? Expand your view… specialty sites like for IT jobs or can bring promising leads.  Try, which pulls job postings from multiple sites, to reveal specialty sites in your industry.

7. Pick up the phone

Yes, people still do talk on the phone to do a job search.  Now is a great time to re-connect with old contacts, or to ask people for more information.  Want to know more about a particular company? Create a questionnaire and conduct 5-10 minute phone interviews – you may be surprised by how many people can spare 5 minutes.

8. Learn a new skill

This can be a job skill, or a skill for your job search itself.  For example, I will be teaching a class on “Build an Effective Job Search Strategy.”   Don’t just limit yourself to the “practical” skills; learn something that interests you, like cooking Indian food or knitting hats.  The point is to keep your brain active and   in “learning mode.”  When you get your next job, on-the-job training will be easier thanks to your regular mental work-outs.

9. Don’t screen yourself out

Is there an opening that you’d love to try, but are missing some of the criteria?  Apply anyway!  Make HR be the one to cut you – don’t cancel yourself out.  But at the same time, make sure to get your resume directly to the hiring manager.  After all, she knows exactly what she needs, and may be more understanding about a missing criteria than the HR department that is more literal.

10. Never give up

We all know the job market is tough and competitive.  Job searches are taking considerably longer than before.  However, treat each rejection for what it is – another step closer to the job offer.



Second Edition of “Get a Job Without Going Crazy” released on Kindle

book cover for how to get a job without going crazyDue to popular demand, my book, “How to Get a Job Without Going Crazy: A Practical Guide to your Employment Search” is now available on Amazon’s Kindle platform.  Barnes and Noble’s Nook version will be ready within the week.

Completely revised for 2012, How to Get a Job Without Going Crazy includes over 50 real-world samples, including resumes and cover letters for some of the most challenging employment situations.


Written by Donna Shannon, a former Human Resources professional, this book teaches the ins and outs of how companies select candidates.


  • 7 Tools HR Uses to Cut You
  • 8 Interviewer styles and how to handle them
  • How to write a compelling and key word rich resume
  • Strategies to reach the hiring manager

Paperback editions will be released in February 2012.

Price: $ 6.99

Get it at


Agency Spotlight: Mom’s Best Friend Agency

I am always getting asked about who are the best agencies to work with.  To help answer these questions, The Personal Touch Career Services is starting a series of Agency Spotlights to help job seekers find out more about placement agencies in the private service industry.

If you would like your agency featured, please contact Donna at or call 720-341-8229.

Our inaugural agency is Mom’s Best Friend Agency, and their president, Kathy Dupuy:

 1. How long have you been in business?

17 years (since August of 1994)

 2. What makes your agency unique?

  • Comprehensive household staffing for the needs of all generations
  • A 10-step screening process for candidates
  • Fantastic customer service and responsiveness from veteran, experienced staff
  • Professional employment tools and ongoing trainings
  • Post-placement support for reviews, industry advice and problem resolution

3. What types of positions do you place?

Nannies and babysitters, household staff (personal assistants, housekeepers, chefs, household managers, etc), and senior caregivers

4. What is your ideal candidate?

Our top quality we seek is that they are service-hearted. They must have a true desire to make their employer’s life easier, and find enjoyment in doing so. Beyond that, it is a combination of great experience (with verifiable, excellent references), relevant education (if required), professionalism, and a clear background check.

 5. Do you place across the country or locally? If so where?

We have offices (and place) in Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Vail/Aspen.

 6. Do you look for any special training or certifications, such as college degrees, private service schools, etc.

We feel that experience and stellar references are the true testimony to their abilities. Having an applicable education (such as a degree in Elementary Education, or a training through a private service industry school) is a bonus. Some clients will choose to provide us with minimum educational requirements. (Note: CPR / 1st Aid training is required for all child caregivers.)

 7. Where do you announce your open jobs?

Our website, Facebook, personal calls/emails to candidates available for placement

 8. How should a candidate apply for a job? Do you want an online application, resume or both?

We ask candidates to complete an online application, then come in for an in-person interview. A resume is helpful but not mandatory as most of the information is requested through the online application.

 9. Do you belong to any professional associations?

Yes, I am a member and serve on the board of directors for the Association of Premier Nanny Agencies, and we are a member of the International Nanny Association, the International Association for Private Service Professionals, and The Domestic Estate Managers Association. I am also on the board of advisors for the Priority Partner Program of Bright Horizons Back-Up Care Advantage Program.

 10. How can people contact you?

Candidates and clients can contact us by phone or email or through our website:


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