Hiring a professional resume writer would prove invaluable to most people in the midst (or beginning) of a job search. However, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with people who had previous bad experiences with resume writing services. A professionally written resume is a product like any other. You can purchase a quality resume, or you can buy one that is subpar. In order to help consumers in their buying decision, this article provides several suggestions on what you should expect when you hire a professional resume writer.
First, you should look for a resume writer who is certified through one of several professional organizations. Examples of certifying bodies include the Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches, the National Resume Writers’ Association, and Career Directors International. There may be other certifications worth considering, just make sure your writer can explain their background and training.
As you review your resume writer’s credentials, try to remember that resume writers are experts in writing resumes, not experts in banking, IT, business development, or engineering. People often want to hire a resume writer who is an “expert in their field.” While some writers might spend more time working with specific fields than others, you still might need to review some of the more industry-specific aspects of your work with him/her.
Free Pre-Hire Interview / Resume Review
Once you feel comfortable with your writer’s background, the next thing you expect before making a hiring decision is a brief phone consultation or resume review. The writer you hire should be able to give you feedback on your existing resume and what changes they would suggest. They should also ask you questions about your goals for the resume, your strengths, and greatest achievements. Some writers might prefer to have you fill out a questionnaire than to go over things by phone, but they will still ask about the same information.
You Provide the Content
Once you make the decision to hire a resume writer, one of the things you must understand is that you provide the content. In some cases, I’ve worked with clients who do a certain kind of work so much that I can make assumptions about what they do. I can also help my clients brainstorm and come up with work details they might not have originally thought to include on their resume. However, ultimately, I must rely on my client to tell me what they have done and achieved.
The job of a professional resume writer is to take as much information as they can gather from the client and present it in the most compelling way possible. We can’t make up content or state things we know are not true. At the end of the day, we are expert writers, but you are the expert on your career. If you can’t think of information to give us, consult with co-workers or your supervisor or provide us copies of your performance reviews. The more information your can provide us, the better resume we can build you.
I might get some flack over this from fellow writers, but you should expect multiple revisions with your resume service. Some writers might set a limit (perhaps three rounds of revisions), but a resume is often a work-in-progress. Once you see the first draft, you might think of additional information to include. Or you could show the draft to a supervisor or colleague and they could suggest edits. Either way, expect an editing process where you provide feedback and your writer uses that feedback to build an even better document.
In addition to expecting your writer to be willing to do multiple rounds of revisions, you should also anticipate to be an intrinsic part of the review process yourself. The end goal for your resume is an error-free document, but your first draft might not accomplish that. At the very least, you should expect to check your resume for accuracy regarding contact information, company names, titles, dates of employment, school names, degrees, credentials, and technical skills. If any changes are needed, be sure to let your writer know.
Resume Writing Best Practices
You should expect your resume writer to follow certain best practices while still customizing the resume specifically to your needs. Most resumes should be no longer than two pages, but your experience and achievements will determine if one or two-pages is a better fit.
A resume writer should also work to align your resume with applicant tracking software standards. For that reason, if you can provide your writer with a specific job title/advertisement, that will be helpful in building your new document. Your writer might also recommend against certain formatting options because keyword scanner applications don’t like them.
If you have any questions about why your writer has made certain suggestions, feel free to ask them. They should be able to provide you reasons why and you can decide based on the recommendations they supply.
Most resume services will ask for either complete or partial upfront payment. Before you make a purchase, you should discuss all aspects of pricing and payment with your writer. You should understand what is included as part of your purchase (resume only or resume and cover letter), when you can ask for a refund, and what options you have if you are unhappy with the final product.
Because a resume is a product that once delivered cannot be “returned” as if you never had it, writers are reluctant to issue full refunds after they send you the first draft. On the other hand, you can never know if you will like the results of your purchase until you see it for the first time. This part of the resume writing transaction is probably the most nerve-wracking for consumer and provider.
I recommend letting your writer know immediately if you are not happy with your first draft, but also to have a detailed conversation with your writer so you can both assess if the document can be fixed. Try to have reasonable expectations for the writing and revision process while still demanding the high-quality product you deserve.