The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot; it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you’re going to do that, you might as well pay for the higher quality product in the first place. ~ John Ruskin
When you’re looking for a job, you’re in sales, and the marketing brochure you use to sell yourself is your resume. A good resume by itself isn’t likely to get you a job, but it can get you interviews that can lead to an offer. If you’ve read the books about how to write a resume and you’ve made the effort but aren’t happy with the results, you may decide it’s time to call a professional resume writing firm. But there are several listed in the phone book, and thousands on the Internet. How do you know which one to contact?
First, it helps to know that in most states, anyone can hang out a sign and call him- or herself a professional resume writer, so you need to ask questions, and although cost is an important factor, it should by no means be your primary consideration. You are not calling hardware stores to get the cheapest price on a power drill. All resume services are not created equal.
An accomplished resume consultant spends a fair amount of time with a client before preparing and revising a draft, either in person or over the phone. The advantages to you include the expertise of the writer, as well as her or his objectivity. A good writer will be able to pull things out of you that you might never have thought of putting on a resume, sift out irrelevant or redundant information, and focus the resume to achieve the highest impact based on your background and career goals.
Begin by asking to speak to the writer who will be working with you, not an assistant or one of several writers (who may or may not be working with you), and then ask the following questions to find the right resume professional for you:
1. What is the educational background of the writer? A degree in journalism, English, communication, marketing, or business can be a big plus.
2. Ask about the writer’s professional writing experience. Has he or she written any articles or books for publication? Remember that you’re hiring a writer, not just a typist, so proficient writing skills are critical. You can also gauge a person’s writing skills by their insight and articulation during your initial phone or e-mail contact. It’s also entirely reasonable to ask to see a sample of the writer’s work.
3. Ask about the writer’s professional business experience, aside from resume writing. Education? Health care? Business? Marketing? Public Relations? Management? Executive? A well rounded professional background is a huge asset in writing resumes for people in all fields.
4. Ask how long they’ve been writing resumes, and how much time they generally spend with a client prior to preparing a professional resume. Answers will range from little to no initial consultation for typing services, to an hour or more for professional writing services.
5. Ask about professional affiliations, including membership in the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARW/CC). Also ask if the writer has earned certification as a resume writer from a professional association, and how long he or she has had those credentials. And take the time to verify. This is very important. There are several recognized certifications from legitimate professional career associations, but a person can claim to be a “certified” writer without having legitimate credentials. (Sad to say, it happens.) Ask what the credentials are and from what organization he or she earned the credentials. Then contact the organization to confirm the person is a member in good standing and has, in fact, earned and maintained a legitimate certification. In most cases, you can search the organization and quickly make a confirmation online.
6. Ask not only what a service charges, but how it charges. It’s to be expected that a resume for a biochemist with a PhD and twenty years of experience as an R&D executive will cost more than a resume for a recent high school graduate. Some writers charge by the hour and can give you an estimate before they begin the work. Others use various criteria, including length, years of experience, and the career track of the applicant to determine cost. If you talk to a service that charges one flat fee for everyone, it’s a good indication that your resume will be of the one-size-fits-all variety.
7. Ask about updating services (usually there’s a fee, but at a reduced rate), and also ask how long the company has been in business. If you think you’ll want future updating (and these days most people do), make sure the company will be there when you need them.
8. Ask if the writer does many resumes in your field, and don’t just take “yes” for an answer. During your initial contact, determine if the consultant sounds knowledgeable in your particular field, or if she or he asks you questions relevant to your line of work. Also, does the consultant ask you any questions about your background, qualifications, and career goals, or just quote prices? A good resume writer acts in collaboration with clients, and that collaboration usually begins with the first contact.
~ Anne Follis, CPRW
© Copyright 2007, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.
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