Shopping for a new resume is not like shopping for a new car. There’s no ‘blue book’ to tell you what you should be paying and it’s hard to find even a ballpark figure.
This results in confusion. As someone who writes a lot of executive resumes, I’ve found that client expectations are all over the map. Some expect a resume to cost $100-$200. Some are expecting something over $1,000. And with this much uncertainty, it can be hard to evaluate the price you’re being given.
So What Should an Executive Resume Cost?
First, understand that the resume writing industry is highly fragmented. Most resume writers are individuals, often working from home. They set their own hours, rules, policies and pricing. This results in a great range of pricing. Generally, the most skilled and well-known writers and resume services will charge higher fees than those who are new to the profession or whose services are less in demand.
Pricing can also depend on location. A writer who lives in a low-cost area may charge less than someone living in the middle of an expensive city, even if their skills are exactly the same.
Not being much help, am I? Well, never fear! I do have some guidelines for you.
My own personal view is that a strong executive resume (without extras such as cover letters or bios) should cost somewhere between $600 to $900.
It’s important to note that pricing isn’t everything when it comes to choosing an executive resume writer. If you find a great writer who can jump start your job search and he/she is charging more than $900, I think you’d be nuts to walk away and shop around. After all, how many days of employment would it take for you to cover the cost of that new resume?
How to Calculate Your Resume ROI
Here’s a very rough ballpark way to estimate that payback time for your resume.
An average work year, taking into account holidays, weekends and vacations, is 2,000 hours (yes, I know you work a lot more than that! But let’s start there). So to calculate your hourly rate, just divide your salary by 2,000.
Now multiply that by 8 and you have your base daily salary.
So, an executive making $150,000 is making $75/hour or $600 per day.
At that rate, a $1,200 resume has paid for itself in just 2 days of employment. (And that doesn’t take into account bonuses, benefits, equity and other employment perks).
So How Should You Choose?
In the end, an executive resume is an investment like any other major purchase. You generally get what you pay for and choosing the lowest-priced service may well leave you with a very poor ROI. On the other hand, the highest price does not necessarily mean the highest quality. For this reason, I recommend taking a well-rounded approach to the choice, evaluating experience, work quality, fit, process etc. along with price.
If you’re currently trying to pick a resume writer, I wrote an article that is niftily titled ‘How to Choose a Professional Resume Writer.’ You’ll find a list of some of my personal favorite services at the end of the article.
If you’re struggling to write a resume, you might find our free resume writing course helpful. You can also find out how you’re doing in your overall job search by taking our Job Search IQ quiz (no sign-up needed).