While there are many professional resume writers who do excellent work, there are also too many “resume mills” that churn out a resume within an hour for a temptingly low price, making it hard to find a professional resume writer who can meet your needs.
Resume mills offer low prices and quick turnaround, and If this sounds too good to be true, it is. These companies typically hand you off to a staff writer who just pops your specifics into a template instead of developing a resume that identifies the value proposition you offer an employer, and who establishes your professional brand.
Working with an actual professional resume writer isn’t an inexpensive proposition, but when you find the right one, it will be totally worth the investment. But first, I want to address what it means to be a “professional” resume writer. Does it mean that the person writes resumes for professionals? If so, do they accept as clients people in service industries, or creative artists? Or is the resume writers asserting that he or she is a professional? (one would hope, right?)
When you find a professional resume writer worthy of the investment of your time and money, expect that he or she will take the time to understand your goals as well as the industry you work in or hope to work in. The best resume writers are, in a sense, like actors; they “become” the client, using their skills as wordsmiths to express the passion clients have for their professions. I, for one, do this through a collaborative process that begins with – at minimum – these three questions:
What is your profession?
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? You’d be surprised how many resume writers don’t think it matters because they believe their job is just to describe what you do and where you’ve done it. But every profession has its own nomenclature and unique culture, and while no resume writer has equal insight into every industry, you’ll want whomever you’re considering working with to ask you a lot of questions to determine what is appropriate for your field.
What type of position are you looking for?
There’s no way to produce a resume that will take your career where you want it to go if your writer doesn’t understand the roles you’ll be applying for. I ask clients for two – four job postings from LinkedIn that interest them. That accomplishes two goals: it allows me to see if the job requirements sync with the client’s current and past experiences and skills; if they don’t, I can help better align the resume with more realistic opportunities.
How much of your experience can you quantify or qualify?
Regular readers are familiar with my often-stated imperative to show, not simply tell. I don’t believe in saying how good my client is; I show it by qualifying or quantifying achievements. This takes a lot of questioning on my part.
When trying to find a professional resume writer, ask these questions:
How many revisions can I request?
Of course, if you radically change your direction, you shouldn’t expect a resume writer to do a complete re-write free of charge. But a writer who wants you to succeed should have no trouble making numerous tweaks or iterations until you both feel that your new resume represents you well.
Does your fee include the cover letter?
Since you should never, ever have a generic or even customized generic cover letter that you send out with each resume, a “yes” answer to this question may be a red flag, as a good resume writer should be aware of this. When you interview a prospective resume writer, ask instead if he or she will model how to write a cover letter for you as part of the fee. To learn more about cover letters, read this.
Can you provide references or samples of your recent work?
It’s a good idea to talk to someone in your field who has worked with the writer you’re considering hiring. Also, ask to see anonymous samples of resumes that he or she has written for professionals in similar careers.
How Much Should I Expect to Pay?
This will vary depending on your location. Resume writing services in large metropolitan areas like NYC are often more expensive than in smaller cities. Let’s start out with some minimum fees. As I mentioned earlier, I’d steer clear of resume mills that charge less than $100 USD – and I’ve seen many that charge between $25 – $50. Either these services are using templates and just plugging in your personal information, or they employ staff writers who are minimum wage or per piece writers who have no experience in recruiting or human resources. If it sounds like a bargain; it’s probably not!
You can read more about the cost here.
One final thought: resume writing isn’t an exact science. Different resume writers have different styles, and so long as they achieve results for their clients, that is what ultimately matters. Find a professional resume writer with whom you feel comfortable, at a price that you can afford.
To learn about my process and pricing, read this.