You’ve decided you want to hire a professional to help write your resume. After some googling you're overwhelmed and feel like there are lots of shady websites offering resume services.
Unfortunately, there are.
But not to worry! Resume Workshop makes it super easy to zero-in on the perfect resume writer from among our catalog of vetted, experienced pros.
This article explains what you should look for when shopping for a resume writer, whether or not you use Resume Workshop to help you do so.
What You Will Pay (Avoid the Cheap Stuff!)
People often experience sticker shock when they see the cost of resume writers, which can be $300, $400, $500 and more.
But if a professionally written resume enables you to get hired faster, it’s usually a positive investment.
Let’s say you earn $100,000 per year.
Assuming the average of 2,000 hours worked per year, your salary equates to compensation of roughly $50 per hour ($100,000 divided by 2,000) or $400 per day ($50 times 8).
Therefore, for every day that you are unemployed from a $100,000 per year job, you’re losing $400.
So if a professionally written resume gets you a new job just a few days sooner than you would have otherwise, it is a very worthwhile investment.
Resume Specialist or Generalist?
Some resume writers specialize in particular industries or career levels — executives for example, or recent graduates.
If your industry has particular conventions with resumes — federal employees or academic CVs are examples — then hiring a resume writer with a focus or at least history in this area might be important to you.
Note, however, that accomplished resume writers will have produced resumes across many industries, career levels, and job functions and will likely be able to produce a solid document for you.
Part of the job of a good resume writer is to do the research about your industry and job function to effectively communicate industry-specific concepts and vocabulary on the page.
Try Before You Buy — Here’s How
Free resume reviews and consultations allow you to “try before you buy.”
Many resume writers and boutique resume writing services will, at no cost, schedule a call with you to walk through your resume and discuss how it can be improved.
The value of this is tremendous: you get an actual, valuable free review of your resume, not to mention a strong sense of the writer and their approach, enough to decide whether you'd like to work with them.
We’ve made this super easy on Resume Workshop, where you can submit your resume to any of the writers who have indicated that they offer free reviews (most of them) and connect with them very easily to get that review!
Warning: Free Resume Reviews (the Bad Kind)
As a job seeker looking at job boards or large resume writing companies, you’ll see lots of offers to review your resume for free.
But not all of these reviews are the high-touch, personalized phone call described above. Instead, you might receive a written “review” that is really no more than a template — generic, impersonal, and possibly even produced by a bot.
These are useless.
Only engage with a free resume review offer when it’s clear that your resume will receive real human attention.
Avoid “Resume Mills”
Resume mills are resume writing companies whose business model depends on volume, so they treat resumes like widgets and churn out as many as possible.
They may offer low prices, but only because their writers are underpaid and overworked.
You want to work with successful, committed resume writers who will craft your resume to best represent your professional story on the page.
All the resume writers on Resume Workshop fit this description. They are individuals whose premium services mean that they’ll give your resume the attention it deserves.
Understand the Process (Especially “Intake”)
Resume writers have different processes, so make sure you understand exactly what a writer’s process is before you hire them.
The biggest thing to watch for is the intake. That is, how will the resume writer get information from you?
Many will have you fill out a long form that explains your professional history; such a form can be a lot of work.
Others will have a call with you, where they ask you a series of questions to gather your professional history verbally and in real time rather than you having to type it out.
Ask: How Many Revisions?
Revision policy. The number of drafts that your resume might need depends on a lot of factors, including how effective your resume writer is and how much work your existing resume needs.
Be sure to understand in advance what your writer’s revision policy is because you don’t want to get stuck in a situation where you have exhausted the number of revisions offered by your writer but still aren’t happy with the resume.
Look at Their Portfolio
Request to see resume samples from any resume writer you’re considering working with.
Of course they’ll just show you their best work, but this can still be valuable because you’ll get a sense for their approach to resumes, how they format them, and, most importantly, how they write. Once again we’ve made this easy on Resume Workshop with many of the writers featuring samples right on their profiles.
Credentials on Your Resume Writer’s…Resume
There are two professional certifications available to professional resume writers: one from the Professional Association of Résumé Writers & Career Coaches called the Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW) credential, the other from the National Résumé Writers’ Association (NRWA).
The CPRW is known to be pretty easy to get.
The NRWA, on the other hand, is quite rigorous. Our understanding is that only a few dozen resume writers have actually done so.
That said, having one or both of these credentials does not ensure that your resume writer will be good.
And vice versa: plenty of resume writers forgo these credentials but are still awesome at what they do.
So don’t treat the possession of these credentials with too much weight since they aren’t strong indicators of your writer’s talents and abilities.
They are indicators that a writer has invested at least some time and effort getting certified. That might signal a commitment to the craft, but again, it’s not the most reliable heuristic.
Resume writers vary in how quickly they deliver a completed resume.
Make sure you learn what this time is in advance, particularly if you’ve got a pressing need.
If someone in your network is requesting a copy of your resume before introducing you to a hiring manager, for example, or you need it to apply to a competitive position as soon as possible, then obviously you’ll want to hire a resume writer who can work within your tight time constraints.
Some writers also offer rush fees, guaranteeing a faster turnaround but at a higher price.
Following are the criteria you should consider before hiring a resume writer:
- How much they cost, and how that number maps to the value of you getting a job sooner.
- Many resume writers are generalists, which is fine in most cases. But if you really need your writer to understand your industry and/or the resume format expected by your industry, then you may need to hire a specialist with this knowledge.
- Take advantage of free resume reviews as way to familiarize yourself with the writer AND get some valuable feedback on your existing resume. (Resume Workshop makes this super easy)
- Avoid resume mills!
- Make sure to understand the resume writer’s process, especially the intake process.
- How many revisions do they offer?
- Ask to see examples of recent resumes they’ve delivered to clients.
- Consider — lightly — whether the writer has secured either of the industry certifications, the CPRW and the NRWA.
- Do you need your resume ASAP? Make absolutely sure the resume writer can deliver within your timeframe.