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Side Gig Thursdays: Mary Klaebel, Resume & Interview Prep

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Welcome to another Side Gig Thursdays! This is a series where I pinged Bargaineering readers about their side gigs and they agreed to talk about them. :)

Today we are chatting with Mary Klaebel, a freelance copywriter who decided to expand her work to include career services, such as resume preparation and interview preparation. She got her start in copywriting by taking a course and when a resume writing course was offered as an add-on, she took that as well. The two classes spawned her current life as a freelancer and one that has let her help people get the jobs they want.

What is your day job?
My day job is full-time freelance copywriter.

What is your side gig?
My side gig is Flat Fee Career Services, in which I offer resume, cover letter and interview preparation each for the same flat fee.

How much does it make each month?
This is relatively new and makes me between $100 and $300 per week.

How did you start doing your side business?
When I took the copywriting course, a resume writing course was offered as an add-on, so I took it, too. Living in Louisiana, with a 8% unemployment rate, it seemed a valuable service to offer in my community.

How do you find new clients? Is it based on advertising or some other way?
With regard to my side business, I primarily find work through newspaper ads and word of mouth. Eventually, I expect my blog will also bring in some business, but right now, it is simply a place I can point prospects who wish to know more.

What does resume, cover letter, and interview preparation include?
Resume, cover letter and interview preparation include a number of things. One, it includes crafting a resume that highlights the strengths a person brings to the prospective employer by showing what they have previously accomplished and are capable of. Cover letters, similarly, give the hiring person a glimpse of the prospect’s personality, as well as offer additional information about what that person can do for the employer. I have found cover letters tend to be the most challenging for my clients. Interview preparation is essentially practice for job interviews, from tips on how to present oneself to how best to answer tricky questions (i.e. “What is your greatest weakness?”), and what questions to and not to ask of the interviewer.

Do you have a plan to try to turn it into your full time gig?
No, I do not. That’s part of why I chose a flat fee structure. Keeping it simple for myself and customers.

Do you have any success stories from your current/former clients?
I do have a few success stories. I am in the process of compiling them as testimonials and case studies to put up on the blog. Within my family, I have assisted both my sister and my father with finding jobs. My dad faced two challenges: his age and the fact that he had been out of his chosen field for a few years. However, with my help, he ended up securing a position similar to what he’d previously held. In fact, his resume had so impressed an HR professional at one company, that this person passed it on to another company who was looking for someone like my father. Outside of my family, I have helped one client secure a good position at a law firm after being out of work for more than a year.

What resources did you rely on in starting the business?
I relied on the Internet, first and foremost as a research and learning tool. Secondly, I rely on my cell provider, as I purchased a Go Phone for my business line. Finally, I rely on the local paper for advertising.

Do you find it challenging to be a freelancer?
Being a freelancer is very challenging, but that is part of why I like it so much. Endless variety, flexibility of both my time and the type of work I do, as well as the portability of it all are perks no regular job can offer. The hardest part has been learning to live with uncertain income. Unlike a regular job, the pay varies greatly from week to week, month to month. As such, I have to keep my expenses down and expectations reasonable. When the money is good, I save as much of the extra as I can so that I have it when money is not so good.

Do you have any advice for people looking to start something on the side?
My advice would be to first list all that you enjoy doing, then try to match one of those things with a need in your area. Love to teach? Maybe you could tutor. Love to paint? House painting could be a good side job.

As always, we hope you enjoyed the interview and if you know someone who would like to talk about their side gig, let us know!

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