Fernando Pessagno

Founder of ResumeMaker.Online

Fernando Pessagno is an Argentinian product designer currently based in Sweden. He is the founder of ResumeMaker.Online, a resume maker tool that has helped more than one million non-tech-savvy users easily design an effective resume and, as a result, stand a better chance of getting the job they want.

Where did the idea for ResumeMaker.Online come from?

I used to run a small digital design studio and things were going well… for a while. But after more than ten years of working with clients day in and day out, I often found myself bogged down by the weight of responsibility and deadlines. I was burned out and feeling uninspired.

Back in the early days of Geocities (which, in today’s standards, is practically prehistoric), I would spend entire days and nights working on silly little websites, instead of playing video games like most kids my age. It was so much fun. I would spend hours building something, just because I thought it was cool. I wanted to get that feeling back by making more time for personal projects and experiments.

One day, while attempting to help my sister build her resume, I found myself floundering in a sea of online tools that were too complicated. I realized how difficult it is for anyone who isn’t tech-savvy to create a professional looking resume. So I thought, why not make one? And that’s how ResumeMaker.Online was born.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

For many years now, I’ve been working on https://www.resumemaker.online/ while holding down a full-time job.

I’ve been able to do this because I work from home and don’t have a commute. This saves me many hours per week. But even with a remote job, the most obvious challenge is being disciplined with your time.

I discovered that blocking out time is actually one of the best ways to maximize my productivity. When I have dedicated time for leisure, I am less likely to feel guilty about taking a break.

A typical week day starts with me waking up at around 6 AM, and then I work using the Pomodoro technique. I take a break for lunch at 2 PM and then go to the gym. This helps me to separate my regular full time job life from my personal business and personal life. Then I focus on my projects for 2–3 hours every day and then I make a rule to stop working at 6 PM.

This schedule gives me time to enjoy some of my hobbies and just relax with my GF after a long day. I have found that I am more productive and creative when I structure my time this way.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I am a designer by trade, so I try to take note of frustrating moments while I do design work, and brainstorm ways to make some things simpler and more automated. My ultimate goal is to create design tools that can be used by a wide range of people, not just those with technical expertise. So I guess you could say I start with trying to solve my own problems, and then see if there’s a way to simplify it in a way that helps many others with the same issue.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I’m excited and very optimistic about the trend of using AI to help design and write content. It’s amazing how much progress has been made and how many new and interesting projects are released every week.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

During the weekends, I try to plan the week ahead. When I’m working on my full time job, I’m in a certain mindset, 100% focused on certain tasks. But when I switch to working on my business, I have to shift gears and change the focus. This can be difficult and it can take me some time to get into the groove. By planning ahead, I just execute without getting stuck trying to decide what to do next, which can be taxing on the brain.

Of course, there will be times when things come up that are not part of my plan. But if I have a plan to fall back on, normally I handle those curveballs more easily and get back on track quickly.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to believe in myself a bit more. I was close to abandoning the project completely and many times I felt like a fraud during development (and even after!) launching because I thought, ‘I’m not a good developer. I am just a designer.’ It took some time to change my mindset and I can just wonder where I would be now if I would have been a bit more confident with my skills from the beginning.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

The startup scene is often romanticized as an all-or-nothing endeavor, where you either go all-in and burn the midnight oil or you don’t make it at all.

Well, I think that’s bullshit.

It’s important to remember that there’s no wrong way to go about it. Sure, going full-on indie and quitting your day job can be a great way to get things started — but it’s not the only way, and it’s not always the best option for everyone.

There’s nothing wrong with taking things slow, and working on your business on the side while you keep your day job.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Take breaks. If you feel like you’re starting to burn out, take it easy and unplug for a little while.

Sometimes, the most productive thing you can do is to take a break. It may seem counterintuitive, but if you feel like you’re starting to burn out, taking a break can really help you recharge and come back even more focused and productive.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

After the successful launch of ResumeMaker.Online, it became relatively easy to follow up. I wrote an UX case study, did multiple interviews and got featured on several indie hacker/Saas related websites and design blogs. However, it was always a struggle to get noticed outside the tech, design and indie hacker bubble.

I was trying to reach the average user, not tech-savvy early adopters, and my goal was to get press coverage on more mainstream channels. So I wrote a cold email template with a media kit attached and sent it to hundreds of journalists. Unfortunately, I had little success. I realized that it wasn’t time-effective to pursue both small, medium, and large publications. So, I decided to pursue only big publications and assumed that once a big online newspaper wrote about my product, the smaller ones would echo the story.

I was having a tough time getting any bites on my product pitches, and I was starting to get pretty frustrated watching my limited time go to waste. So, I decided to change my angle. Instead of making my pitch about the product, I made it about my personal journey. At the time, my home country of Argentina was suffering harshly from the economic effects of the pandemic and was under some of the strictest restrictions in the world. The story about an Argentinian that fled the country, landed a job overseas, and was helping others do the same was much more interesting to a mainstream audience than just talking about a website. And it worked! I managed to get an interview with Clarín, one of the most popular news sites in South America with more than 20 millions (!) unique visitors per month. And turns out my assumption was correct and a lot of other news websites did echo the story, resulting in even more back links — all without me having to lift a finger.

I’ll try to be on the lookout for any new opportunities to pitch journalists with the right angle, rather than just talk about the product itself. Hopefully that’ll result in a better return on investment of my time!

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I don’t see it as a failure, but rather a mistake to have stayed with my design studio for as long as I did. It held me back from personal growth. I was young and had no responsibilities, so I could have taken more risks. There was a period where I wasn’t learning anything new; I got too comfortable. Being too comfortable lowered my ambition and desire to do what I’ve always liked since I was a kid: design cool things online.

Nowadays, I find myself constantly struggling to catch up on wasted time, while also trying to take things slowly so I don’t bite off more than I can chew and end up burning out.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Anything AI-related that is based on people’s vanity. This includes everything from profile picture creators to AI-based shopping try-ons and AI make-up assistants.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I purchased a Samson Q9U microphone for my meetings, as well as for recording upcoming dev logs on a few new projects I want to build in public on Twitter (@Fer_Momento).

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Notion is a great way for me to keep everything organized, from notes to product management.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I highly recommend “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. Success is so much about showing up everyday and building the right habits.

What is your favorite quote?

“People Overestimate What They Can Do in a Day and Underestimate What They Can Do in a Year”. This is my favorite quote because it reminds me to take breaks, relax, and be consistent in my work to prevent burnout.

Key Learnings:

  • Look for moments when yourself or people are struggling or when they need help with something. Every time someone has to ask for help or feels frustrated, that’s a potential opportunity for a new product idea.
  • Coding can be intimidating, but don’t let that stop you from creating something awesome. You can index.php your way to the top.
  • It is possible to start a personal project while maintaining a full time job. Do not use this as an excuse not to do it. It does not have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Be strategic, take your time, and enjoy the ride!