What You Need To Know Before Hiring A Professional Resume Writer

Is hiring a resume writer worth it?

Imagine that you are introduced to the CEO of a company you really, really want to work for. It would be your dream to work for this company!

Now imagine that the CEO asks if she can see your resume.

Do you confidently tell her you’ll send it to her directly, tomorrow, confident that your resume represents you and your qualifications powerfully and in such a compelling way you feel certain you’ll be the obvious best choice for your dream job?

Or, do you immediately start trying to come up with some excuse because you know your resume is outdated and not that good even if it was updated?

Dream job opportunities don’t come up every day. In fact, they are very rare, and in today’s environment, they are rarer than ever.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

– Benjamin Franklin

But what to do? You aren’t an expert at resume writing, and even if you had a clue what to include in your resume or not include in your resume, you wouldn’t be at all confident once it was done.

If you are like most job seekers, you spend hours agonizing over it, but still feel unsure and insecure, certain that your competitors’ for your dream job have resumes that are WAY better than yours.

The solution to all this angst is simpler than it might first seem: hire a professional resume writer, get resume help, and have your resume professionally written.

Hiring a professional resume writer–assuming that person is a true professional writer with expertise, training, and talent in the field of resume writing–is often one of the best investments you will ever make in your career.

Having a professionally written resume ready to submit at a moment’s notice gives you an unbeatable professional edge.

So yes, hiring a professional resume writer is well worth the investment.

But, how do you hire a resume writer?

How do you find resume writing services, and once you do, how do you make your choice about which to work with?

After all, not all resume writers are equal in talent and experience. Some have far more experience and training than others.

Some resume writers work alone, providing resume writing services as a solopreneur. Others work on a team within a professional resume-writing services firm.

Which resume service is better? How do you make sure you are dealing with the best resume writers?

These are all important questions that you need to ask before you select a resume writing service to work with.

Here then, are a few guidelines to help you in answering these questions and more.

Review Resume Samples

Would you commission a custom painting without ever having seen the artist’s work?

Would you hire an advertising agency to promote a new product without having reviewed examples of past ad campaigns?

Of course not!

Resume writing is a craft that requires a very unique blend of creativity, writing skills, and current knowledge of the job market, hiring managers’ expectations, and constantly changing trends.

Truly professional resume-writing services, whether the service is provided by an independent resume writer or a larger resume-writing practice, are staffed by skilled, trained resume writers who specialize in the art of resume writing and career marketing (which is what resume writers do–they help you market yourself in your career).

Each and every resume the service creates should be as unique as the individual client. So reviewing examples of resumes they have produced won’t tell you exactly what your future resume will look like. But, you can still tell a lot about the quality of work produced by viewing examples of past projects.

Many resume writers publish examples of their resumes online, and a handful are contributors to published books on resume writing.

Some writers refuse to show examples of their work citing concerns about job seekers inappropriately copying their work. While this is a valid concern and can be a problem, our view is that it hurts the job seeker more than it hurts the resume writer.

The best resumes are written for individuals and tell the unique career story of that individual in relation to unique career goals. If a job seeker tries to copy a resume that they’ve found online all they’ll end up with is an ineffective resume because it was written for someone else and someone else’s career goals.

At Distinctive Career Services, we believe that it is important that you, our prospective client, review our resume examples. We want you to be comfortable with and feel confident about the quality, general style, and diversity of our work.

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What trainings have you completed and have you earned certifications?

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May I see some examples of your work?

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How long have you been in the business? Full-time or part-time?

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Are you involved in any professional associations for career pros and resume writers?

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What services do you provide besides resume writing?

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How do you stay up to date on current trends and expectations in the job market?

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Will the content be 100% original (many low-cost providers are “cookie-cutter”)?

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Do you have references from past clients?


Check Resume Writing Credentials

There are several national organizations devoted to the education and professional development of resume writers.

Each of these organizations offers training and certification programs.

While there are good writers who remain uncertified, choosing a certified resume writer ensures that you will be working with a trained and tested professional, usually with many years of experience.

Do be aware that some resume writing certifications are more rigorous than others. The best have prerequisites for writers, test various areas of competence, use a blind grading process, and have CEU requirements to maintain certification.

The Nationally Certified Resume Writer (NCRW) credential is a gold standard certification issued by the National Resume Writers’ Association (NRWA). This is the only nonprofit resume-writing association in the world, and they also offer the Nationally Certified Online Profile Expert (NCOPE) credential designating expertise in assisting job seekers in unleashing the power of LinkedIn for job searching and networking.

Career coaching skills can also be useful for resume writers to cultivate, and there are a number of career coaching certifications to watch for, as well. However, when hiring a resume writer we’d advise looking for resume writing certifications as a first priority, and viewing career coaching certifications as a bonus.

Check References

There is a very valid, honest reason that many professional resume writers will hesitate when asked to provide references. Professional ethics and client confidentiality concerns prevent those of us who care about such things from providing the names of past clients.

However, most resume professionals who are able to will provide resume service reviews and testimonial letters written by past clients, using just the clients’ initials, location, and job title or industry to help protect their clients’ identities. This is our solution at Distinctive Career Services, and in many cases, we use screenshots of real emails clients have sent us, with names and other identifying information blocked out.

LinkedIn profiles are another great place to look for references from past clients. If the writer you are thinking of working with has a LinkedIn presence, past clients may have voluntarily written references, and in these cases, the references are linked to a real person by name.

Be extremely wary of working with a professional resume writing service that is unable to provide you any references at all.

Have a Written Agreement and Understand What is Included

The agreement doesn’t need to be fancy or written in legalese, but it is always a good idea to have a written agreement. That way, you can be sure that you clearly understand the resume writer’s process and policies, and be sure that there are no misunderstandings about what is to be delivered and what the charges will be.

Does the writer offer other professional writing services?

Is he or she able to assist you with writing a cover letter or other career marketing documents such as executive biographies or your LinkedIn profile? Are they included in the fee or separate?

Will you be given access to the computer files so that you can send your resume via email or make minor updates or resume customizations yourself?

Are there any other value-add services bundled with the project?

Can the resume writer assist with future resume updates?

Does the resume writer offer any other career marketing services that you might need, such as resume distribution or job search coaching?

How does the resume writer gather information to write the resume?

What if corrections or changes are needed before you can use the resume?

What are the costs of having your resume professionally written? Will you be charged a flat fee or an hourly fee? Are there other fees associated with all of this and what is the payment schedule?

Make sure you know the answers to these questions before you hire a resume writer. At Distinctive Career Services our service terms are listed prominently on our website and we require new clients to certify they have read and understand them prior to booking a project.

Understand the Guarantee

Remember that a resume is a tool, and even the best tool in the world will be ineffective if it is used inappropriately.

Once a resume has left the resume writer’s office, it is completely out of that writer’s control how that resume will be used or not used.

If a writer claims to guarantee a job or even guarantee interviews, be wary and read the fine print closely. While some might try to offer this guarantee with good intentions, most know it isn’t a realistic guarantee and will make you jump through hoops to prove how you have used the resume before allowing you to collect.

Others more realistically guarantee that you will be satisfied with the quality of the service and the deliverables. Whatever the guarantee, if any, just be sure you understand it. Distinctive Career Services’ guarantee is explained in our service terms, and also detailed in our FAQs.

Think and Plan Ahead

Remember Benjamin Franklin’s advice. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail! It is not a good idea to procrastinate!

If you are currently in a job search or are expecting to conduct a job search soon, don’t put off hiring a resume-writing service until you have a job that you want to apply for or have a recruiter requesting your resume.

Quality takes time and the best resume writers are in demand and usually booked in advance. Give yourself time to research and select the best resume writer for the job and then plan for at least an additional two weeks or more for the turnaround of the finished project.

And finally…

Understand That You Will Get What You Pay For

In discussing certifications and the need to check resume and cover letter samples, along with samples of any other document types provided such as resume addendums or executive biographies, we alluded to this issue.

In most places, there are no licensing requirements for a resume writer.

Anyone with a computer can put up a website, and start calling himself a professional resume writer. Sadly, there are many examples of unqualified people doing this and unknowing job seekers who have been “burned” by these untrained and unskilled writers.

Does the resume service you are thinking of hiring have a credible web presence?

Does the resume services firm itself or do the individual resume writers belong to professional career and resume writing associations?

Does the resume service have writers who are experienced working with job seekers at your level. There is a big difference between writing a resume for an entry-level job candidate and writing a resume for an executive candidate.

(As an aside, you might be surprised to learn that finding a resume writer with industry specialization is not as important. A skilled and experienced resume writer is an expert in the craft of writing a powerful, compelling resume and this skill transcends industries. Resume writers have all sorts of resources for understanding the complexities of individual industries.)

Do the resume writers attend regular trainings and conferences? Writing a resume requires knowledge beyond “just” writing ability. Continuing education to remain up-to-date on things such as requirements for resume compatibility with applicant tracking systems (ATS), modern resume design trends, and expectations among hiring managers, are essential.

In short, not all resume writers are equal, and those who are the experienced, respected experts in the field charge appropriately for their craft.

The fee range is pretty broad, and it would be hard to provide an average cost of resume services. But it would not be uncommon to pay somewhere in the $750-$2500 range for professional resume writing.

Generally, the complexity of your resume project will have an impact on the fee charged. Some resume writers charge more and some charge less, but if it is significantly less, you might want to ask yourself why that is. Does the resume writer really have the experience he or she claims to have? Are they lowballing your quote because they are desperate for the work?

Be especially wary about working with some of the high-volume resume services companies. Most of them outsource all the work. While working with freelance writers is common in the industry, some of these high-volume firms outsource to inexperienced and sometimes even untrained writers to whom they usually pay ridiculously low wages to produce resumes of questionable quality. Some even outsource the projects overseas, to writers who do not speak English as a first language.

It is your career and all your career dreams at stake!

Your resume is not the place to cut corners. It is well worth the extra money to pay for the quality and experience and hire a proven resume-writing service like Distinctive Career Services. With a track record of success with job seekers worldwide, spanning more than a quarter-century, our resume-writing team and services are among the most highly respected in the industry.

If YOU are thinking of hiring a professional resume writer, we encourage you to schedule a free resume writing consultation during which we can learn more about your needs, determine if we are a good fit to work together and answer all of your questions.

Originally published on this blog December 15, 2010, this post has been significantly updated and refreshed to reflect 2022 standards.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I hire a professional resume writer?

A professional resume writer can help craft a resume that accurately and compellingly represents your skills and experiences. They understand what hiring managers are looking for and can format your resume to appeal to them. Having a professionally written resume on hand can give you an edge in the competitive job market.

How do I choose a good resume writer or resume writing service?

Good resume writers often have proven experience and credentials in resume writing. It can be helpful to check their resume samples, look for any certifications they have, and read testimonials or reviews from past clients. Some writers work as part of a team, while others work independently, but the quality of their work should be your primary concern.

What should I look for in a resume writing service agreement?

A service agreement should clearly outline the writer’s process, policies, deliverables, and charges. You may also want to check whether the service includes writing other documents like cover letters, or providing extra services like career coaching or job search assistance.

Can a resume writing service guarantee I'll get a job?

No service can guarantee you’ll get a job, because once the resume leaves the writer’s hands, it’s up to you to use it effectively. Some services might guarantee your satisfaction with the final product or offer revisions if needed, but be sure you understand the terms of any guarantee before you commit.

How much does a professional resume writing service usually cost?

The cost can vary widely based on the complexity of your resume and the experience of the writer. Prices typically range from $750-$2500. It’s important to remember that investing in a high-quality resume can be worth the cost, as it can help you stand out in the job market.

Should I prioritize hiring a resume writer with industry specialization?

While it can be a bonus, industry specialization is not as crucial as their expertise in crafting compelling resumes. A skilled resume writer can adapt their knowledge and resources to understand the nuances of different industries.

Are there any red flags I should look out for when choosing a resume writing service?

Be cautious of services that charge significantly lower fees as they may lack the necessary experience. Also, watch out for high-volume services that outsource their work to less experienced or non-native English speaking writers.

What is the process of working with a professional resume writer?

The process usually begins with a consultation where the writer learns about your career goals and background. Then, they’ll write your resume, often with your input or review at various stages. Turnaround time can vary, but quality work often takes at least a couple of weeks. It’s a good idea to start the process well in advance of when you’ll need the finished resume.

About the Author: Michelle Dumas

Michelle Dumas is the founder and CEO of Distinctive Career Services, one of the internet's longest-standing and most respected professional resume writing firms. Michelle is a 6X certified and 7X award-winning resume writer and career consultant. To learn more about the services offered by Distinctive Career Services visit https://www.distinctiveweb.com

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