How to Choose a Resume Writer

I published a version of this article last year before I moved my blog, but given the current situation I wanted to reiterate my advice about choosing a professional resume writer.

Too often I take on clients who are unhappy with the writer they originally chose, couldn’t get a refund and now have to pay me to rewrite the resume that already cost them money. That situation could be avoided with some careful vetting upfront.

I understand how it happens. There are so many resume writers advertising their services, and if you can’t get a personal referral, it can be hard to sort through the sales copy, which is why I’m offering my best advice on making the choice.  

How to Choose a Resume Writer

1) Compare services. Don’t just choose the first resume service you find – even if it’s mine! It’s important to contact a couple of other services just to be sure that you made the right choice.

2) Examine resume samples. All good writers should display samples on their site – preferably in ‘before’ and ‘after’ format so that you can see what changed. Look for quality, but also look for variation. Does each resume have a different structure? Does each one use different words? Or are they all the same, as though a template was used. And finally, do they impress you personally?

3) Ask about guarantees. Personally, I think all writers should offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee. But most are not willing to go quite that far so you may have to settle for less – at the very least, your writer should promise to rework your resume as many times as possible to ensure your satisfaction. Don’t accept limits on the number of revisions – that is just unacceptable – although you can expect some limit on the amount of time it’s OK to come back for revisions (you can’t really come back after 2 years and ask for changes!)

4) Check qualifications. Why are they qualified to write your resume? Have they ever recruited or worked in HR? If not, do they have other expertise in those areas that gives you a sense of comfort? (Perhaps they have written books, or have lots of certifications, or come highly recommended by other people in your field).

5) Ask what they DON’T do. We turn away clients who want to work for the federal government or academia because none of our writers have expertise in these areas. Any good writer should be turning away clients – it proves their honesty.

6) Assess their web presence? Is their website modern and well maintained? Have they conveyed their brand well? Do they blog? Do they have a Linked In, Facebook or MySpace page? Do they use Twitter? You are hiring someone to help market you – make sure they know how to market themselves effectively in today’s world.

7) Check testimonials on LinkedIn. LinkedIn testimonials can’t be fudged because the site allows you to click through as see who wrote the reference. To see them, you must be a member but it’s quick and easy to sign up. Don’t hire a writer who doesn’t have glowing testimonials.

8) Ask who else refers their services. If you’re still unsure, ask who refers clients to them. Do they have affiliations with career counselors, recruiters or other websites? Such relationships – especially with recruiters – are indications that their work is respected by the people who count.

9) Learn how they work. Resume services have different approaches to writing a resume. Some require the completion of worksheets to develop a career history and value proposition. Some utilize phone interviews. Some do a combination of both. I personally prefer worksheets and we’ve developed a very specific proprietary worksheet that helps us develop a truly compelling resume- but not every client is comfortable with this process and it’s important to know that upfront.

10) Don’t make the decision about price. I know that price has to be a consideration, but don’t make it the be-all and end-all. Those cheap services advertising on the web are cheap for a reason – in most cases they will outsource your work to underpaid writers who have to work quickly just to make a living. In other cases, the fee is low because the person is in no way qualified to do this but saw a chance to make some money from home. If you can’t afford to hire a good resume writer, take the time to learn about resume writing from books or articles and do it yourself. You’ll get better results, believe me.

Choosing the right resume writer can make all the difference to your job search, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t make the decision without some research. If you have any questions, feel free free to ask in the comments. Or shoot me an email (lfletcher at blueskyresumes dot com). If I think the answer will be helpful to others, I’d be happy to address it in a future post.

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