How to Choose a Professional Resume Writer

Who You Hire to Do Your Resume Can Make a World of Difference in Your Job Search
Your resume is one of the most important elements of your job search. Its ability to attract interest, generate interviews, and propel your efforts toward a new position is unequaled among job search tools. For this reason, you should definitely consider having a professional writer create your resume. It’s a small investment for what could yield huge results.

But which resume writer should you choose? It can be daunting when you first consider the choices. So break it down into these basic criteria to pick the best one for your needs.

Resume writers vary enormously in their abilities, background, and training. Quite frankly, they also differ quite a bit in their scruples too. Don’t assume just because they have a nice office and a great looking Website that they have the foggiest bit of talent or ability to write an effective resume. Ask for references. Look at their credentials. Request to see samples they’ve done in your profession or similar ones. And ask if the writer is certified (there are several organizations that train and certify resume writers.) It’s not necessarily a deal breaker if a particular resume writer isn’t certified. But ones who are certified tend to be more experienced and more committed to the profession.

Fees for resume writers vary widely. There are online firms that do them for less than $50.00. On the other extreme, one highly prominent career coach on the Internet charges around $1000.00. Obviously you can expect a tremendous difference in the service, quality, and results you’ll get from these two firms. There is no “standard” price for resumes, but in general a high quality writer with solid career expertise will charge between $150.00 and $300.00 for a typical white collar professional, or about half that for students and blue collar workers.

Working Methods
How will you and your writer be working? Many resume firms give you a lengthy form to fill out, from which they base your resume. Conversely, some writers work using only face-to-face interviewing. Others operate via email and Web. Choose the system that you’re most comfortable with. It can make a big difference in the results. As a rule of thumb, the more complicated your job history is or the more radical of a move you’re trying to make, the more interaction and collaboration you’re going to need with your resume writer.

Most resume writers now work primarily in electronic form, typically emailing you a Microsoft Word file that you can edit on your own as you need. This is ideal, since that’s the format most recruiters and human resources departments request. But some unscrupulous resume firms intentionally work in obscure computer file formats that no one else uses. This forces you to come back and pay them every time you want to modify so much as a phone number. Run from such goons before shelling out a single penny. Over the long run they’ll only leave you deeply dissatisfied and lighter in the wallet.

Turnaround Time
The amount of time it takes to complete your resume varies from firm to firm, with some taking as long as a week or more. And it can also vary depending on the workload the writer has at the time. Some will speed up the process if you pay an expedite fee. Planning ahead can make this a less critical point, but you should still ask about it before starting the process.

Chemistry and Collaboration
A resume is a personal, highly individual document. To get it right you’re going to need to work very closely with your writer, even if you’re communicating via email. So your writer needs to be someone you feel comfortable with. Trust your gut on this one. If you cannot imagine a particular writer cheerfully making adjustments based on what you ask for, then cheerfully find another writer.

Whatever resume writing firm you choose, you should pick carefully. This is after all, a document that could shorten or lengthen your job search by months, adding or subtracting thousands of dollars in salary.