The Internet is packed with articles for and against hiring professional resume writers. Some say you can do it yourself or that hiring a resume writer is too expensive. Others say professional resume writers are more up to date on keywords and formatting and are able to provide better focus and structure to the average resume.
The bottom line is if you’ve spent hours and hours updating your resume and are not getting responses from prospective employers, if you’re over 50 and haven’t updated your resume in years or if you have unusual circumstances such as career gaps, then it’s time to think about hiring a professional.
But How Do You Choose the Right One?
Google “professional resume writers” and you’ll get more than 10 million results, which can be a bit overwhelming. Never fear. There are ways to find the right agency/professional to meet your needs—and your budget. Here are a few ideas.
- Query your LinkedIn groups or connections. I belong to about a dozen groups on LinkedIn. They are great resources for learning more about your field of expertise. Choose a group that is active (i.e., with recent posts) and post a query like this: Have you ever used a professional resume writer? If so, do you have any recommendations? LinkedIn and personal referrals will always be your best bet as a starting place.
- Read Yelp reviews. Yelp is a great resource for finding everything local. Type “resume writer” into the search bar and select your location; you may get several hits worth reviewing.
- Get help from your alma mater. Most universities offer career services. Call yours and see if they either offer free resume writing services or can refer you to a reputable service. There is no statute of limitations on how long after graduating you can take advantage of the free services provided by your university.
- Check out professional resume writer associations. The two I know about are The National Resume Writers’ Association and the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches. They both offer rigorous certification programs for resume writers. If you conduct an “Easy Search” with the NRWA, you can get listings of resume writers in your field.
How Much Does It Cost?Certified professional resume writers are not cheap. Depending on your career level (recent grad vs. executive level), a professional rewrite of your resume can run anywhere from $250 to $1,000. High-level executives are even more. I checked the fees of six certified professionals and their fees were about $250 to $500 for professional, non-managerial resumes. Another service, which I did not include in my results, started at $1,295. Forget about that one.
It’s important to note that resumes are no longer just a listing of your responsibilities at each job. A well-written resume is an effective marketing tool that comes with a strong summary and includes just the right keywords for the position you’re seeking. They also need to pass the applicant tracking system (ATS) test. Most larger companies use ATS software to conduct an initial screen. A resume that doesn’t pass an ATS screening may never be seen by human eyeballs! Don’t let it be yours.
What Should You Get for What You Pay?
A standard resume writing package should include:
- An initial consultation
- A first draft within a reasonable amount of time (3 to 5 business days is reasonable)
- At least a couple of revisions (one company I looked at set a 1-week deadline for the revisions)
- The final product in Word so you can tweak it
When interviewing your prospective resume writer, be sure to get referrals. Make sure you check out samples of their work, and if they’re certified, double-check that it’s current.
I got lucky. I went with an online service called TopResume. (They have received mixed reviews. Therefore, I don’t feel comfortable recommending them even though I had a good experience.) Their rates are less than $200 for a professional-level rewrite with two revisions. Their turnaround time was about 2 days. I really liked the Summary they wrote and the Areas of Expertise section they added. So, a service such as Top Resume is another option, but you are taking your chances.
For me, the important thing was the results. Before getting my resume rewritten, I wasn’t getting any calls. After buying the service, I began to get calls the same week I uploaded the finished product to job board sites. In other words, if it works, just do it.