Kimberly Cook - Blue Pen Resumes
About a year and a half ago, Kimberly Cook decided to take a break from her demanding career as a health administrator to care for her two young sons.
Her tenure as a full-time stay-at-home parent didn’t last very long. After some downtime and soul-searching, her entrepreneurial spark emerged from its slumber, and she launched Blue Pen Resumes. “I had quiet time to sit, think, and really strategize,” says Kimberly. “And as starting my own business has been a dream of mine, I figured why not pursue it? It was the perfect time.”
A resume writing service to help those in the health field — think administrators, IT professionals, nurses and physicians, and medical staff — Blue Pen Resumes has seen a bump in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond resumes, Blue Pen provides expertise in crafting cover letters and LinkedIn profiles.
Azlo sat down with Kimberly—virtually —to talk to her about how taking a break from a demanding career provided a gateway to entrepreneurship, juggling two sons and a spouse who also works from home.
The Azlo Moment
Kimberly realized she should strike out on her own a year and a half ago when she decided to take a break from her demanding career in health administration. After talking to her husband, they decided she would stay home with their two young sons.
At the time, she was managing two clinics with 20 staff members and physicians. She was shuttling back and forth between offices, not to mention a long daily commute. After she regained some of her time, that’s when business ownership became a reality.
“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial desire,” says Kimberly, who is based in Southern California. “But there were many reasons I didn’t pursue it—going back to school, working on my career, and starting a family. But when I decided to take a break, all those excuses became non-existent.”
Homing in on Your Strengths
What kind of business Kimberly wanted to launch wasn’t apparent right away. She did her research and thought about what she could contribute and what she was good at. Thinking back on her career at world-class organizations, Kimberly had a knack at consistently landing interviews and jobs without having any inside connections. There were times when she would apply for a position on a Friday and have a first interview scheduled the following Monday.
For many years, she would volunteer to help friends and family with their resumes. "I didn’t even know that resume writing was a service that people offered,” she laughs. “It seemed like something I could easily transition to help other job seekers have the same success.”
And as a premed student with a solid science background and a master’s degree in Health Administration, she’s able to work with many different medical and health professionals in varying roles and capacities.
Helping Others Showcase Their Strengths
Through her business, Kimberly finds that many healthcare professionals, despite being highly skilled, experienced, and educated, fumble when it comes to packaging and presenting their strengths and accomplishments on paper. Here are a few common mistakes Kimberly sees:
Being too general in your resume. A lot of people write general resumes in the hopes of casting a wide net. “Tailored and targeted resumes are most effective because, at the end of the day, when a hiring manager comes across someone’s resume, they’re looking for someone to fill a specific job,” Kimberly says. “And if you’re giving them a general resume, you’re not a perfect fit for this job.”
Listing responsibilities instead of achievements. Highlighting all your duties in your past jobs instead of listing your accomplishments. “You don’t want to just put down everything that you’ve done,” says Kimberly. “For instance, that’s great that you answered the phone, but what did you achieve with customer service? What did you accomplish? What did you do that went above and beyond what was required of you.”
The need to maintain productivity while working remotely. And with many people now working from home, Kimberly explains that it’s essential for healthcare professionals to show that they’re able to maintain a certain level of productivity, and still hit specific metrics in a remote environment. “How can you show that you can replicate these results?” says Kimberly. “For example, you've been able [to be productive while working from home] the past three to four months.”
Balancing Home Life and Running a Business
Due to the pandemic, Kimberly’s husband has since transitioned to working remotely. Running her business out of her home while caring for her two kids has been a juggling act, to say the least.
Coordinating with your partner. The couple has set boundaries in scheduling and designated physical spaces in their home. On a given workday, her husband will care for one son, and Kimberly will care for the other. And should one of them have a busy day filled with virtual meetings, the other will care for both sons. Communication is key. “We have to communicate daily,” she says. “That way, no one feels overwhelmed and stressed.”
Staying in the present. To spend quality time with her family, Kimberly keeps a Monday to Friday work schedule. But maintaining a separation between her home and work life has been challenging. “I have to be intentional about creating that separation,” says Kimberly. “So whether it’s turning off my computer or putting down my phone, I’ll take my kids for a walk, which I like to do daily. That way, they have me in the moment. We can go to the park and just breathe.”
Adjusting to a Spike in Demand
As the pandemic has displaced millions of Americans in the workplace, many are looking for their next opportunity. Or they might be currently employed, and got word of impending changes and want to be ready with their resumes to make the switch. If they’re already healthcare professionals or want to get their foot in the door with a job in the healthcare industry, they’ve sought help from Kimberly.
To help her business scale, she’s since switched to a new project management system to easily manage multiple clients, keep track of everyone’s information, and what stage they’re in as they move through the onboarding process. As she’s survived running multiple businesses in the past, she has a knack for systemizing operations.
“I’ve always set up a structure in the business and can handle high volumes,” says Kimberly. “This was just switching over to a different system to manage the capacity, even though the process was the same.”
Serving as a Model For Aspiring Black Business Owners
As a female Black business owner, Kimberly hopes she can help those systematically marginalized in the U.S. see a path toward launching their own businesses.
"Representation of Black business owners is critical and shows that although Black [folks] have had to navigate racism on different fronts, they’ve been able to thrive,” she says. “They can really serve as a source of pride and hope for other Black people, who may not have thought that entrepreneurship was even accessible to them.”
Hi there! This post exists to offer you (hopefully) useful information and insights, but it cannot take the place of personalized professional advice. Please consult a qualified expert if you have questions about your business. Also, Azlo doesn’t endorse any third-party sites that are linked here.
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