In theory, writing a resume should be easy. After all, it’s technically just a list of all the cool stuff you’ve done, and how well you’ve done it, right?
Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. A poorly written resume doesn’t effectively demonstrate why you’re the best person for the position and increases the likelihood that your application will be tossed in the trash and you won’t score the interview — even if you really are the strongest candidate.
Many people struggle with resume writing because trends and expectations change all the time. The objectives that were so important a decade ago are now passé, while accomplishments and successes have replaced responsibilities as the most important descriptions. In short, resumes are no longer simple listings of what you’ve done, but serve as evidence of what you can do, and what you bring to the table at a new job, an internship, or in graduate school.
Because there are so many resources on resume writing out there, most people try to tackle the job themselves. Some succeed. However, many fail to get the results they want — or even face criticism of their credentials — because their resumes aren’t up to par. If you’re facing such difficulties, or you just don’t know where to start, a professional resume writer is worth the investment.
Professional Resume Writer Job Description
Professional resume writers do just that: they help others construct strong resumes that get results and improve their marketability. Most have a background in writing or human resources, career counseling, or other related field. They have impeccable grammar and proofreading skills, and the best ones can find ways to turn even the most menial experience into a valuable skill.
Of course, this experience comes with a cost. Packages vary, but you can usually expect to shell out a few hundred bucks for the service. Prices will differ depending on the length and complexity of your background — developing a resume for an experienced CEO will cost more than someone just out of school, for example — as well as the formats you need, whether you work together on cover letters, and how much time goes into research.
In fact, research is often what sets great resume writers apart from mediocre ones. The best resume writers take time to actually talk with their clients and learn more about their goals, experiences, and achievements instead of simply relying on a questionnaire or online form. It might take several conversations to elicit all of the information needed to develop a top-notch document, but the result is a resume that more accurately reflects your personality and style, and not a generic, fill-in-the-blank document that looks and sounds just like everyone else’s.
When Should You Call in the Pros?
Hiring a pro isn’t a way to get out of writing a resume, as you still need to work closely with the writer. Still, outsourcing your resume can save some time and frustration, especially if you’re in one of these situations:
- You are changing careers, and need to tailor your resume to the language and style of the new field.
- You’re applying to graduate school and need to develop a resume highlighting your educational achievement and passion for the field.
- You have significant gaps in your experience that need to be explained, or you’ve been fired from a previous job and need help downplaying it.
- You are shy or feel uncomfortable tooting your own horn.
- You aren’t a strong writer or have difficulty describing your achievements effectively.
- You haven’t updated your resume in over a decade.
Hiring the Right Person
Not all professional resume writers are created equal, so do your due diligence before you hand over your hard-earned cash to someone who claims they can write you a killer resume. Unfortunately, the tight job market and desperation for any sort of competitive advantage has led to the growth of “resume mills,” where jobseekers fill out standardized questionnaires and receive generic, standardized resumes in return. While these resumes are better than nothing, and tend to be less expensive, most recruiters can easily spot them and aren’t generally impressed.
Instead, look for a writer who has experience creating resumes for your field, and a documented history of success — check references! In fact, it’s best to work with a certified resume writer (there are several certifying organizations; look for the PARW or NARW seal) who has the credentials and training to develop excellent resumes.
Hiring a professional resume writer is an investment in yourself and your career. In some cases, it might even be tax deductible, so if your credentials need refreshing or you want to start rebranding yourself in a new field, consider bringing in some help. It will be well worth the expense.