Hiring a professional resume writing service can be a daunting and expensive endeavor when you are struggling through a difficult job search. Ideally, you should invest in your resume updates while you are still gainfully employed. Avoid the fate of far too many job seekers who wait until their most desperate hour and use the last of their savings to buy a resume that scores ANY kind of job interview.
Even when your back is against the wall, it can be tempting to go cheap. Unfortunately when it comes to the resume writing profession, you normally get what you pay for. Before you spend money on a professionally written resume, you should consider the following options:
OVERSEAS WRITING HOUSES: This is definitely going to be your most affordable choice, but quite frankly, you may as well throw your money out the window. Be very careful if you have to convert your dollars into foreign currency while making a purchase. Most of these overseas resume mills rely on unskilled writers who have inferior English communication skills and a limited knowledge of American resume requirements. Their websites tend to hide information about the writers involved, and if you have a problem with the work, you will be hard-pressed to speak to a skilled writer directly. Still, thousands of jobseekers throw hundreds of dollars to these companies every month, even when there are usually better domestic alternatives.
TYPING, SECRETARIAL, AND ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES: You can always use the Yellow Pages (yes, they still exist) or go online to find some local secretarial service or nice lady working out of her home who would just love to develop your resume for a reasonable fee. In fact, doing so normally won’t cost you any more than $175 – and that’s pretty steep for this option. What jobseekers normally get is a very clean and grammatically correct document. However, these kinds of services don’t have any professional knowledge regarding strategy. They have no idea on how to best sell you to employers in your industry. If you are already confident about your content, but just need some professional polish, this will be a great route for you to take. If you need marketing, strategy, or industry expertise, this option will normally result in a very low success rate.
RESUME MILLS RELYING ON TEMPLATES: These online resume vendors normally appeal to customers with low price points, often using taglines such as “Resumes for Just $69.95.” Firms that rely on entry-level writers and cookie-cutter templates normally charge less for their services, but can be as expensive as $400 per project. Luckily, these companies are easy to spot. Just look at their sample page. Do all the samples look alike? Is the writing pedestrian? Then you see what your money is going to. If you select this option, you will most likely work with a writer charged with banging out as many resumes as possible every day, and in many cases, you won’t have direct access to your writer. Do not expect personal service. Statistically speaking, your success rate will be 10% – 15%. Your writer will have basic knowledge about how to best showcase your talents, but your resume probably won’t be a major inspiration to an employer. If you opt for a cheap resume mill, be sure to check out their refund policy and BBB rating first.
EXPERIENCED, CERTIFIED RESUME WRITERS: Usually, these writers own their own business, (such as TheResumeClinic or A Vita Career Management), possess at least 5-10 years of full-time resume writing experience, have outstanding work ethics, and are members of reputable career organizations. Certified Resume Writers such as these boast an average 85+% success rate in getting you interviews within 3-6 months. The more skilled the writer, the more interviews you will get. It’s not uncommon to get immediate interviews when hiring a qualified writer. In fact, some of these companies guarantee results in as little as 30 days. This is a great way to cut a substantial amount of time off your job search. Normally, services like these will go for $200-$600 per project. Bigger resume firms that strictly employ certified writers are a very good bet, because it you don’t like your resume writer, you can usually get reassigned.
EXECUTIVE RESUME FIRMS / PERSONAL BRANDING STRATEGISTS: These firms are top notch and generally meant for top executives. They normally include every possible type of job seeker service, such as career counseling, interview coaching, biography development, and social networking profiles. With this help, you can easily be positioned within the top 5% of job seekers, but all of this personal attention will come with a hefty price tag, with prices ranging from $700 to $3,000+.
Obviously, all figures presented here are estimates and can vary based on the skillset of individual resume writers and effectiveness of job search strategies.
When selecting a resume service, you need to consider how much you may lose while you are not working to determine the best way to invest your job search funds. I always recommend paying for value in order to land your next job quickly with a potentially higher salary.
Yes. But let me tell you why:
There are many resume writers out there who are credentialed through reputable organizations such as Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARW/CC), the National Resume Writers’ Association (NRWA), and Career Directors International (CDI). Some of these credentials are easier to obtain than others, but all of them require their members to successfully complete at least one major exam to determine worthiness. These organizations do not want their credentials to be associated with shoddy workmanship, so they make the test difficult. However credentialed resume writers aren’t always requested to complete ongoing training or exams as years pass and industry trends change. Normally, all that’s required of resume writers to renew their credentials is to pay an annual fee.
In my years as a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW as credentialed by PARW, thank you very much), I have witnessed the portfolios of many, many inferior writers bearing my same credential. To wit, I always sigh, shake my head, and wonder how they even passed the exam. I passed it in 2005 with flying colors after working as a resume writer for several years. I’ve been a full-time resume writer ever since and can tell you that my resume writing skills get exponentially better with each passing year. Every day, I work hard to perfect my craft. I was a decent resume writer when I earned my certification, but I was not great.
I think what matters here most is dedication to the craft. Are all credentialed writers master resume artists? No. But most all of them want to be. They are willing to put in the time, money, and effort necessary to propel their careers. Throughout my history, I have come to meet at least 100 credentialed resume writers, and nearly all of them work continuously to be the best in their field. To be a resume writer is a truly magnificent thing because you have the chance to help people shape or even invent their careers every day. You get to meet exciting and inspirational clients and you begin to develop broad expertise about all sorts of occupations, some of which are absolutely fascinating.
But I digress to discuss the other kind of writer. The resume writer who has not bothered to become certified.
Most of your uncredentialed resume writers are fairly new to the game, because it can be difficult to forge a substantial career in this field without certification. Many copywriters, proofreaders, or administrative secretaries dabble in resume writing for supplemental income, and simply aren’t willing to study for a tough exam or pay the high testing/membership fees. Full-time resume writers always have to compete. They either compete with each other for contract work, or they compete online through their own businesses. Either way, it’s not long before they realize the cache and professional advantage that comes with certification.
If you opt for an uncredentialed writer, find out what their writing history is and get verification through their resume, references, or LinkedIn profile. And just to be sure, find out what their refund policy is like.
One of the most frustrating things about a job search is that you often don’t know if you are making any mistakes. Most of the feedback you’ll receive from employers will be silence or the occasional “Thank you for your interest.”
When things aren’t going well, you can revamp your résumé and start over, or stay the course and blame a tough job market. Unfortunately, neither of those options will likely be effective. Especially if you don’t know how to develop a high-impact résumé. In times like these, your best bet is to take a closer look at your job search.
Ask a Friend:
When you are too close to the situation to notice any red flags, a second opinion can be helpful. If possible, sit down with a colleague who’s familiar with your industry and career. Together, you’ll do a better job of evaluating your professional network, job search documents, interviewing skills, and career goals. In doing so, you’ll want to review the following:
- Professional Network: Make a list of the opportunities you’ve pursued, and describe how you found each of them. Did you simply answer online job listings? Or did you have a personal connection that might have given you an advantage? Do you take advantage of LinkedIn or other social networking channels? Have you kept in touch with former colleagues, and if so, what are they up to now? How have you assisted members of your network to advance in their own careers?
- Job Search Documents: It’s very easy to gauge the quality and effectiveness of your résumé and cover letter. If you’ve landed plenty of interviews, your documents are doing their job. However, if your phone has remained silent even after one hundred submissions, it’s time to review your application materials. Have you customized your résumé to match each opportunity? Does your cover letter entice the reader into granting you an interview? Are your documents cluttered with information that is weak, unclear, or even completely unnecessary? Go through every page line by line.
- Interviewing Skills: Have you been invited to multiple interviews but didn’t receive any job offers? If so, it’s probably due to your interviewing skills. When evaluating your performance in this area, a knowledgeable friend or colleague can be extremely helpful. Describe your recent interviews, discuss the questions you were asked and describe the answers you gave. Get your friend’s opinion and a better idea of the impression you made.
- Career Goals: Are you targeting the right positions? Your job search will never get off the ground if you are strictly pursuing opportunities that aren’t an appropriate match to your skills, experience, or education level. Are the main responsibilities featured in job descriptions you’ve applied to at least within the realm of your expertise? Make sure that you’re not under- or overqualified for the positions you’ve applied to.
As you audit your job search, don’t overlook your daily activities. How consistent are your efforts? Do you work on it every day? Or do you keep putting important tasks aside? How much time do you invest in your job search and how focused are you? Remember, momentum is important. To produce the best results, you need to maximize the quality and consistency of the hours you put into seeking new employment.
Develop an Action Plan:
Once you’ve identified the weaknesses, get out of your comfort zone and work hard to fix the problem areas. Produce a strategy that addresses all of your liabilities. Be specific in charting the steps you’ll take and the time it will take to complete each task.
Now that you’ve audited your job search and designed a plan – work your plan. There will always be elements of your job search that are beyond your control, but in identifying opportunities for improvement, you can make your job search smarter. And shorter.
Through the course of this recession, I often encountered job seekers who were fleeing their fields in search of entirely new careers without knowing what new paths to pursue. Although it’s good to explore all possibilities, your resume must always be clearly focused toward a specific goal.
Unfortunately, too many job seekers make the mistake of relying on one, single resume to garner interviews for different position types throughout several industries. This is a losing strategy, because it only serves the purpose of being convenient to the job seeker and does not take the employer’s interests into consideration.
Each resume you send must be focused on the job you are applying to. On average, employers will only give your resume an initial 10-second glance to see if you are more qualified for the job than your fellow applicants.
Statistically speaking, HR offices are accepting hundreds (these days, even thousands) of applications from other candidates who are hungry for the available position. If you are vague or unimpassioned, your resume will not normally pass the initial screening.
Your resume must be targeted in keywords as well. Most employers rely on scanning devices to locate your resume through online job sites or their own databases. Let’s say you are sending your resume to a sales position for a shoe manufacturer. The resume screener may search keywords such as “manufacturers’ representative,” “manufacturing sales,” or “shoes” if they want to find candidates who have experience with their products or selling on behalf of manufacturing firms. When they conduct these searches, they will end up with two types of candidates, those who have a lot of manufacturing sales experience and those who don’t but are still selling themselves specifically to this opportunity.
So be smart. If you just load up your resume with a bunch of strengths, it will impress few employers, bore the reader, and come across as “white noise” when compared with the hundreds of resumes that are currently following the same failing strategy. If you don’t sell yourself towards a clear goal, then your resume may realistically be a waste of any time or effort that you put in.
Moral of the story: If you have multiple career goals, use multiple resumes.
When it comes to finding the perfect resume writing service to meet your needs, you need to perform your due diligence. Here are some tips to assist you in determining which resume service will best cater to your needs.
Think Big: Most of the resume services featured on this site are larger companies that employ numerous resume writers who specialize in different fields. This is a good thing, because it means that you will usually be able to find a resume writer who has significant experience in developing resumes for profession. Also, if you are not pleased with your assigned resume writer, most larger companies can reassign your resume to a writer who can better meet your needs.
Check the Credentials: Ideally, you should be seeking resume writing services that offer at least a high rating from the Better Business Bureau. In addition, you should use a writer who has at least one resume writing credential from a major resume writing associations such as the Professional Association of Resume Writers (PARW) or the National Resume Writers’ Association (NRWA). In this economy, a lot of jobless and completely inexperienced professionals decided resume writing would be an easy way to make money without even attempting to learn the art of resume writing They may try to convince you that credentials don’t mean anything, and that professional resume writing associations only act as unions to writers, but that is completely false. These associations exist to train, examine, merit, and continually educate resume writers. They do not offer union benefits.
Evaluate the Samples: Free resume samples will give you a good idea as to the quality of work you can expect from resume writing service. Beware of any resume writing service that refuses to show you samples of their work.
Review the Guarantee: Never go with a resume writing service that will not back up their claims with an iron-clad guarantee. While most services will not guarantee a full refund, most will ensure you get free rewrites until you are fully satisfied.