A killer resume is a ticket to a great job, yet writing a good one is one of the hardest tasks on a job seeker’s to-do list. Some people spend hours dithering over comma placement and job descriptions, but others take a more efficient approach: They hire someone to do the heavy lifting.
In exchange for a fee (usually a few hundred dollars, though prices vary widely), professional resume writers will work with you to turn your generic CV into a marketing tool that will not only catch the eye of employers, but will also help you sell yourself once you’re meeting with a potential employer face-to-face.
“Certified resume writers are trained to develop career communications that get interviews and help job seekers be well-prepared for interviews,” executive career coach and resume writer Anne-Marie Ditta said.
That sounds great, but will hiring someone to finesse your resume really help you get hired faster? Evidence suggests that it might.
Career website The Ladders looked at how recruiters viewed both candidate-created and professionally-written written resumes and found that they overwhelmingly preferred the latter, ranking them as better organized and easier to read.
“For an investment of less then a week’s pay, I have helped my clients cut months and even years off their job search,” Ditta said.
Professional resume writing services aren’t just for mid-career professionals and executives. Younger workers can benefit as well, especially if they’re new to the job market and aren’t sure how to best sell their skills.
“Résumés for those just starting off would benefit the most from the help of a professional,” Steve Gibson, a director at JotForm who oversees staffing for the company’s San Francisco office, said. “The reason is that people don’t have the work experience to understand what the hiring manager is looking for.” A good resume writer can help less-experienced job hunters highlight skills and experiences that they might not even realize are valuable to employers.
Gibson has seen the value of getting a resume helping hand from both an employer’s and a job seeker’s perspective. He used a resume writing service provided by a recruiting firm and said the investment was well worth it. “I’ve been a writer for many years, but they put my résumé together in a way that made it look amazing. Sure, we can all cut our own hair, but that’s best left to going to a stylist. Résumés, for some reason, are similar to that.”
Not everyone is sold on the value of professionally written resume. Career coach Angela Copeland actually advises against it, saying she’s worked with people who’ve hired resume writers only to later discover errors, like incorrect employment dates and erroneous job duties, in the document. Those mistakes aren’t just embarrassing, she said, but could get someone fired if they’re discovered after a person is hired.
Copeland prefers to coach candidates on their resumes rather than doing all the writing herself. That forces a job seeker to “think through their personal brand and how they present themselves,” she said. “They think through the experiences they want to share with employers. It helps to prepare them for interviews and assures they send a consistent and accurate message.”
Marketing yourself online is also an increasingly part of the many people’s job search, and some experts suggest that spending time polishing your social media profiles might be more important than nit-picking over the finer points of your resume.
“Instead of paying for and spending time with a résumé writer, you should be spending time searching for yourself on Google, and going through your social media accounts to be sure there aren’t any red flags,” Bill Fish, the founder of ReputationManagement.com, said.
Yet even in an increasingly digital world, an old-fashioned resume is still a must for more people looking for a new job. For those who do want to get a little extra help in the resume writing department, it’s important to realize that not all writers are created equal, and that hiring a bad or sloppy one can do more harm than good.
“Many résumé writers — though not all — rely on canned templates and résumé jargon which can be very cliché,” executive career coach Michele Jennae, the owner of Perpetual Career Management and Perpetual Career Institute, said. She suggests working with someone who focuses on the applicant and their career goals, not just the resume product.
Avoiding low-cost resume mills is key, according to Ditta, since these places may just sell you a boilerplate resume that won’t help you stand out from other job seekers. Working with a professionally trained resume writer who has a demonstrated track record of success and is up-to-day on the latest recruitment and hiring trends will likely yield better results. Those services may not come cheap, but for some, spending the money may be worth it.
“The investment to work with certified writer may cause sticker shock,” Ditta said. “However, being unemployed for months or even years is much more costly.”
Follow Megan on Twitter @MeganE_CS