Professional Resume Writers: Everything You Need to Know
If you’re thinking about hiring a professional resume writer, or maybe just researching resume writers to understand more about the pluses and minuses, this article is for you.
As a professional resume writer myself, I’m often asked by potential clients whether they really need a rewrite. You might think I’d always say yes, but actually that’s not the case. The truth is that, while many people benefit from the work of professional resume writers, not everyone needs our help.
In this article, I’m going to sort through the facts about resume writers, and hopefully help you decide a) whether you need the help of a professional and b) if you do, how to find one that’s right for you.
What do professional resume writers do?
Let’s start with this. What do these guys actually do?
A professional resume writer’s job is to craft a compelling marketing document, rather than just writing a factual history of your career. The best resume writers are either experienced in hiring, have specialty industry knowledge or have formal training in resume writing.
Most people find writing their own resume a daunting and confusing prospect. A good resume writer takes all this stress away. She develops an in-depth understanding of your career history and your goals for your next position. She then crafts a resume that is carefully designed to appeal to your target employers.
She understands the messages that will resonate within your field or industry, she makes sure that important keywords are included throughout the document, and she designs a layout that is attractive, easy-to-read and suitable for submitting to online resume screening systems.
In other words, she gives her clients a much better chance of having their resume read and of receiving a call for interviews. What’s more, if she’s done her job well, the interviewer will be so impressed with the resume that he will feel positive about the applicant before that person even walks in the door.
Do you need a professional resume writer?
That said, professional resume writers are not the best option for everyone. Here are the questions to ask yourself in order to determine whether you should outsource this important task.
- Do you have a clear sense of the type of position you want next? Without a clear target, a professional writer can’t make you shine. That’s because their skill is in positioning your experience so that it appeals to a specific audience. If your goal is simply to get a job – any job – then a professional rewrite would be a waste of money. You should focus instead of being resourceful about finding opportunities and on customizing your own resume to suit each one.
- Do you have some work experience in your target field? If you’re making a complete career change, or just starting out, a professional rewrite would probably not be of much help. That’s because the resume writer is skilled in presenting your work experience in the best light. If you don’t have any, you should concentrate your efforts on gaining some before investing in a writer.
- Do you earn at least $30,000 a year? Others may disagree with me on this, but I think that it’s important to have your investment pay off in a reasonable time frame, and that depends on how much your new job will pay. If it’s less than $30,000, I’d suggest writing your own resume.
- Are you talented at writing about yourself? Some people do an excellent job of writing their own resume and do not need the help of a professional. If this is you, go for it! You can invest the money you save in a spiffy new outfit for the job you’re destined to get soon. (Not sure whether your resume is already good enough? Send it to us for a free no-obligation quote and we’ll give you our honest opinion).
- Are you seeking a pay raise, increased responsibility or a promotion? If so, a professional rewrite is a must. You’ll be competing with lots of other people, some of whom may have more suitable experience and putting your best foot forward is absolutely critical.
How to find a resume writer
If you decide you want professional help, it’s time to find writers.
Most resume writers work virtually so you don’t need to restrict your search by geography.
I recommend starting your search by asking friends, family, colleagues or recruiters you know. A personal recommendation is always valuable.
But if no one has a good recommendation for you, it’s time to hit Google. Try searching for the term resume writer + your industry or field. For example, “resume writer + automotive” or “resume writer + marketing.” This may bring up writers who specialize in your field, but if not, at least it will bring up writers who have mentioned that industry or field on their website.
Note: It isn’t necessary that your writer have extensive expertise in your field or industry – good writers can write for anyone – but this is one way of narrowing your search down, because you will find an enormous number of results if your simply search for ‘resume writer,’ and being on the first few pages of Google is no indicator of quality.
How to choose the resume writer that’s right for you
- Assess qualifications. Anyone can type up a career history, but you’re looking for much more than that. You need a writer who can create a strategic marketing document – one that will resonate with the people in charge of hiring. In order to do that, they need to truly understand the hiring process. So look for writers/company owners who have worked in recruiting or HR. And ask about their process – how do they come up with your unique value proposition? How do they develop your resume strategy? If the person you talk to can’t discuss resume strategy in detail, don’t hire the firm.
- Review resume samples. A good resume service will display samples on their website – preferably in ‘before’ and ‘after’ format. Check for quality but also look for variation. If every resume looks similar, it’s likely that a template was used, which means your new resume will be far from unique. Also, make sure the samples impress you personally. If you don’t like them, you probably won’t be pleased with the resume you get at the end of the process.
- How effective is their marketing? When hiring a resume writer, you’re paying someone to market you. If they can’t do that for themselves, chances are they can’t do it for you. This means the resume service you choose should have a compelling brand, a good website and a strong social media presence. After all, if they’re not using the latest technologies to market their own business, why should you believe that they’re staying up-to-date with hiring trends?
- What do they guarantee? At Blue Sky, we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee. We think everyone should do the same, but very few writing services will go that far. At the very least, look for a company who promises to make as many revisions as necessary to ensure you love your new resume. Beware of firms who restrict you to one or two rounds of revisions as this could leave you frustrated and out of pocket.
- Be sure the process works for you. Some resume writers will want you to complete a questionnaire. Some will gather the information by phone. Others will use a combination. There is no right or wrong way to do this – there is only the way that suits you best. We have our own proprietary tool (“The Explorer”) which we think is great. For the right person, completing The Explorer is a revelation. It forms the basis not just for a great resume, but for in-depth interview preparation. (In some cases, it even changes the entire direction of their search!) But even though we love it, The Explorer isn’t for everyone. It takes a little work and some people don’t have the time. That’s OK. There are lots of other writers who use a different process.
- What about professional certifications? In my opinion, professional certifications are not a reliable indicator of quality. They definitely don’t hurt, but don’t skip the other things listed above just because you see letters after a person’s name.
How much should a resume writer cost?
Resume writing fees vary greatly and it can be tempting to look for the cheapest option. But please be careful with this. Cheap rarely means anything good when it comes to resume writing.
The truth is that cheap resume writers are cheap for a reason. Writing a great resume takes skill and experience and those things will always cost money.
In general, a good professional-level resume should cost between $350 and $700. An executive resume from a well-qualified writer is more likely to start at $600 and fees can go as high as $1,200 depending on length of experience, complexity, seniority etc.
This may sound like a lot, but consider the value. A good resume writer will spend many hours developing the messaging, strategy and copy for your resume. He or she will be applying their years of experience and their extensive specialist knowledge, and as a result, you will likely shave weeks or even months off your job search. Looked at this way, the fee you pay becomes a smart investment.
If you can’t afford to hire a good resume writer, don’t hurt your job search chances by hiring someone offering unrealistic cheap fees. Instead, take the time to learn about resume writing from books or articles and do it yourself. You’ll get better results, believe me. (Check out our free resume writing course, or our low-cost DIY option for more help).
Hiring a professional resume writer can be an excellent investment, provided you meet one of the criteria I laid out earlier. But it’s important to take your time to shop around and to choose wisely, because cutting corners or trying to save money may cost you valuable opportunities.
Read more about Resume Writing.