Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in career and business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Joy Halfkenny, Founder of CV Boss, located in Thunder Bay, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business, CV Boss, is a professional resume, interview, and business coaching service. I help professionals, from newly graduated to seasoned executives, take the necessary steps to achieve their career goals. Through guided coaching sessions, I assist my clients in gaining professional clarity to develop their brand and value proposition, resulting in effective and targeted professional resume packages and consistent performance through diverse interview processes.
Tell us about yourself
The journey of starting my business has not been linear, and I'm sure I could write a novel on all the twists and turns. But, I will give you the CliffsNotes. My background is in executive administration and human resources. Over the last 20+ years, I primarily have held roles as a recruiter, HR advisor, and executive assistant with some exciting diversions, including being a court reporter and a flight attendant!
A pivotal point in starting my business was when I was a recruiter. I recall sitting in my office combing through a massive stack of resumes when I asked myself, "why do these all look the same?" No one stood out to me, it seemed like everyone was using the resume template feature in Word. I wondered why no one was going above and beyond to stand out from the candidate crowd - maybe people needed to learn what an employer is really looking for. Hmmmm. I know. This tagline and thought stuck with me and became my focal branding statement to begin building the first business concept of CV Boss. It has grown up quite a bit since then, but the tagline and resonating thoughts remain.
What motivates me to continue working on my business is my pure love for helping people realize their potential. Nothing is more rewarding than engaging with a client who isn't sure of their professional value and arriving at a destination where they have a clear idea of who they are, what they can offer, and how they will confidently express themselves to secure opportunity after opportunity.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Building a credible foundation. The resume consultation industry is a competitive one with a lot of options for the consumer. As a result, I often struggled with confidence. I would ask myself why anyone would choose my service over some well-established and strongly advertised providers with AI technology, history, and social media reach.
To overcome this, I have worked hard to focus on myself. I consistently push to make gains in professional development. I seek collaborative partnerships, and, most importantly, I stay humble and remember the "WHY" I do what I do by giving back to the industry. Since I have begun my business, I have partnered with leaders in the industry, such as Randstad RiseSmart, Monster, and CareerHD, to gain necessary training experiences and exposure to professionals in all industries.
This has been instrumental in building my skill set, which assisted me in earning my Certified Resume Strategist and Certified Interview Strategist designations, gaining a position on the Certification Assessment team with Career Professionals of Canada, where I guide and grant certifications to resume professionals, and receiving numerous awards in their Awards of Excellence program in 2022, including Outstanding Resume, Internationally Educated Professional.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Realizing that I couldn't be good at everything and that I needed to play to my strengths. In the early stages of building my business, I did everything myself. The business plan, web development, marketing, social media building, finances, and the ACTUAL thing I wanted to do - write resumes and coach professionals. It got very stressful, and there were days that I wanted to give up because my best-laid marketing plans were falling on deaf ears, I wasn't getting new clients, the bills were coming, and the most important thing – my promise to my clients was suffering because I was stretching myself too thin.
Initially, it was hard to admit, but I am not awesome at everything. Marketing is not a strong suit of mine, and I dread having to think up social engagement strategies and execute them week by week. So as I move forward, I will invest in outsourcing certain areas to people who love what they do so I can focus on what I love to do.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
No doubts about it, starting, growing, and maintaining your business is going to be one of the hardest things you will do, but it will be a rewarding experience if:
- You are following your passion. Think about why you are doing what you are doing. I have spoken to hundreds of professionals across diverse industries throughout my journey. A common thread for those who find success is - if you are doing something you are passionate about, it somehow doesn’t feel like WORK. Love for what you do will shine, and your accomplishments will find you through your dedication to your craft.
- With that said, remember you need a PLAN. Take the time to think about what sets you apart from your competitors, have a cohesive brand, and play to your strengths. Have a clear path on your short- and long-term goals. What will you do TODAY to move forward and secure what you want for TOMORROW? It is critical to connect the smaller steps you are taking to the long-range plans of your business.
- Don't give up. Life will get in the way, and obstacles will be abundant. There will be fantastic weeks and weeks that you want to throw in the towel. I certainly haven’t figured it all out, and I’m still learning, but I will always return to tip number one. This is my passion. I believe in what I do. Keep going, and success will find you.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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