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 The NRWA 2017 Annual Conference

was held

October 4-6, 2017
Celebrating 20 Years of Résumé Writing Excellence!

at The Westin Lombard Yorktown Center in Lombard, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago


By Jean Austin, 2017 NRWA Conference Chair

The NRWA conferences are known for their programming excellence, networking opportunities, and fun, and last year’s event was no exception! On October 4-6, 2017, resume writers from coast to coast gathered in Chicago to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the National Resume Writers’ Association and to take part in an extraordinary lineup of speakers and events.


Present on this special occasion were several NRWA founders, as well as early members who were instrumental in developing our association’s structure, policies, and procedures. Marty Weitzman, the first president of the NRWA, addressed attendees during the Founder’s Banquet. His description of the founders’ vision for the association and how they worked together to make that dream a reality was inspiring. He said it never occurred to him that the association would be stronger than ever after 20 years, saying “Tonight, as I looked out at the audience, I thought — we did something good. We did something good!” Marty’s standing ovation showed that his audience agreed. The National Resume Writers’ Association remains the only national nonprofit organization specifically for resume writers, with the only comprehensive certification program that has withstood the test of time.


The annual awards ceremony followed the Founder’s Banquet, with the Vivian Belen Award being presented to Jean Austin, 2018 Conference Program Planning Chair. Norine Dagliano, who has been a passionate advocate for correct grammar as well as developer and instructor for The NRWA’s “Writing Excellence” program, was awarded the Industry Hero award — a well-deserved companion to the Vivian Belen Award she received in 2016.

One of the most enthusiastically received events of the 2018 conference was the ROAR Reveal. Winning ROAR resumes were blown up to poster size and individually revealed as the writers’ names were announced. Conference attendees spent time following the awards ceremony — and during the rest of the conference — studying, discussing, and learning from each document.


In keeping with the conference theme of “Celebrating 20 Years of Resume Writing Excellence,” the NRWA was fortunate to be able to bring together three keynote speakers with ties to the founding or the very early years of the association. Louise Kursmark, in her opening keynote address, “Celebrating the Past, Predicting the Future,” discussed changes in the resume writing industry and the workplace during the past 20 years and shared her predictions for the future and the challenges we will be facing. In her presentation “Ditch the pitch! Dance on the edge of vulnerability — and connect more than ever before!” Deb Dib, an NRWA founder and editor/publisher of the initial NRWA newsletters, talked about the brand authenticity and the power of embracing and revealing one’s own vulnerabilities to engage and assist clients. Pat Criscito covered an immense amount of material in her “ATS Update 2017.” Susan Britton Whitcomb’s closing keynote, “Who Do You Long to Be…Today, Tomorrow, in 20 Years?” was philosophical and inspiring, as she touched upon not only the NRWA’s history and future but that of attendees.


From the Welcome Reception to the final keynote speaker, the NRWA’s 2017 conference was a success, paving the way for this year’s conference, to be held October 4-6, 2018, at the W Hotel in Seattle, Washington, with a theme of “Forging the Future.” Adam Zajac, Conference Program Planning Chair, and the NRWA Conference Committee have been hard at work planning this year’s conference event. More than 50 speakers have submitted complete proposals on topics that will help attendees grow as writers, business owners, and industry experts. General registration will open the end of March, so be sure to check the NRWA website at If you have any questions about the conference, please contact

Please Click Here to download the Full Conference Program with detailed Session Descriptions.  The Schedule-at-a-Glance is on pages 7-9.

Thank you to The NRWA 2017 Conference Sponsors:

Founders’ Banquet Sponsor

For generations, people have been relying on Southworth® papers to provide greater impact to their ideas. In fact, President Lincoln chose Southworth paper to accept Stephen Douglas’s invitation to debate, documenting the seriousness and historic nature of the event. Your own milestones – a new job, an important proposal, a 50th anniversary – deserve nothing less. Put the feel of Southworth paper in people’s hands and make an instant impression. Timeless quality at first touch.

Lunch with the Experts Sponsor

Career Thought Leaders and Resume Writing Academy convene career service professionals to share best practices, deliver innovative educational and research programs, and promote the credibility, visibility, and professionalism of the careers industry. Our resources and leading-edge training supports your professional development – from staying on top of personal branding and job search trends to starting or growing your business and building coaching skills. CEO Marie Zimenoff is a Past President of The NRWA and dedicated to serving colleagues in the career industry. For resources and information on upcoming events – including Hidden Job Search Coach and Social Branding certifications visit

Coffee Break Sponsor

Career Directors International is a membership-based organization where resume writers and career coaches achieve six-figure-plus business success. Our members typically earn 2-3 times the rates of their colleagues. Membership includes: 

  • Tools and training to expand income, create free time, and boost confidence.
  • Sales scripts that aren’t salesy with 94-97% close rates. 
  • Winning strategies for business growth. * Done-for-you presentations that book consultations. 
  • Master-level certifications that enhance credibility. 
  • Coaching programs that boost skills and profitability. 
  • Best practice tools, lessons, expert support, and programs for expertise. Stop reinventing the wheel and fly higher with CDI.
Visit CDI at

The Ultimate Job Interview Preparation Course is a comprehensive online course that helps job seekers prepare for interviews in a self-study format. Featuring 4+ hours of video content, 6 modules, 27 lessons, 20+ worksheets and handouts, a comprehensive question library, and animations to enhance learning. Course creator Nelly Grinfeld MBA, NCRW, CEIC, owner and head writer of Top of the Stack Resume in Cincinnati, is now offering affiliate partnerships to NRWA members. Add this course to your service offering and help your clients succeed at their next job interview! Be sure to stop by Nelly’s sponsor table to learn more.

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