How to Choose a Good Professional Resume Writer

You’re thinking about hiring a professional resume writer to get your resume done. But how do you know if the writer you choose is a good one?

Here’s what Yana Parker, author of The Damn Good Resume Guide, advises.

How to Find a Professional Resume Writer… a Good One!

The best route to finding a good resume writer is to speak with a satisfied customer. Ask around and see if any of your friends have had a good experience with a resume writer. Ask why your friend liked the service and take a look at her resume. Another way is to ask for a referral from a local career center or a career counselor — they tend to know who is doing the best resume work.

If you can’t find someone who has received good service from a resume writer, and you can’t get a good referral, then you have to do a little sleuthing on your own. A quick internet search or browse through your Yellow Pages should do the trick. Once you find some resume services that look good, your next step is to ask some sharp questions. Look beyond your local area as most resume writers work by phone and email, so it really doesn’t matter if they live in your neck of the woods.

Questions to Ask a Professional Resume Writer BEFORE You Hire Her

Here are some questions I would ask a resume writer or writing service, to help figure out which one offers the best service:

1. May I speak with the resume writer who will actually be writing my resume? (You don’t want to speak to a salesman, you want to speak to the actual resume writer.)

2. What strategy will you use for dealing with my particular problem? (If they aren’t willing to discuss your problem, or they don’t have a good strategy for handling it, keep on looking.)

3. How much time will I be spending face-to-face or on the phone with my resume writer? (If all they offer is a minimal interview and they do all the writing without your input, the results won’t be as good as if you were there to consult with the writer during the writing process.)

Being the smart job-hunter that you are, call ALL the resume writers on your list, asking each of them the same questions so you compare them fairly. Also inquire about the turn-around time, method of payment, policy on correcting typos, and other related services they offer such as writing cover letters.

One more thing: Use your gut feeling! Try to assess the chemistry you feel between you and each of the resume writers you speak with. Do you feel safe talking to her about your career? Does the writer treat you with respect? Is she friendly and professional? Do you think it would be comfortable to have her asking you probing questions about your work history?

The Good Guys — Resume Writers You Want to Find

A good resume writer knows that an effective resume is a marketing piece, not a “career obituary.” She knows that it should be targeted as sharply as possible to a specific career field.

A good resume professional also knows that she’ll have to interview a job hunter carefully to discover her client’s unique experience and strengths. That’s the only way she can produce a resume of serious interest to a potential employer — one that meets the needs of BOTH the job hunter and the employer.

Superior resume writing takes time and doesn’t come cheap. But it CAN be an excellent investment. What should it cost? It will cost more than word processing (check out those rates for comparison) IF you get more service than just word processing. It will cost something close to career counseling rates (again, check those rates so you know what to expect) IF skill-assessment and extensive interviewing are combined with the resume writing.

The Bad Guys — Resume Writers To Stay Away From

Be wary of companies that rely solely or primarily on YOU filling out a long form with your work history and job duties. Chances are that all you’ll get back are your own words typed into a standardized format with perhaps a few bits of jargon thrown into the bargain. This is really no more than word processing and any professional typist can do this for you a lot cheaper.

Do not hire any resume writer who promotes a fancy presentation. For example, she printing resumes on 11 x 17 parchment paper, folded into a brochure! Avoid ANY company that makes a big deal out of the kind of paper they print on. This is an almost sure sign of misplaced priorities. The resume CONTENT, not the paper, is what matters. Printing on decent paper costs pennies, not dollars, so paper is not even an issue. Bad resume companies try to impress clients with fancy paper. Most employers don’t like fold-over parchment resumes because they don’t scan well into today’s electronic resume systems.

Don’t hire a resume writer who charges by-the-page. An outstanding one-page resume is worth far more than a rambling three-page resume, and possibly more than a two-page resume. So charging by the page makes no sense at all UNLESS they are doing primarily word processing, not resume writing! Higher prices are justified by more work involved in WRITING and EDITING, not by a greater quantity of TYPING. An excessively long resume, in fact, could do you harm by sending a message to the employer that you’re a motor-mouth who can’t prioritize and get to the point!

Having done “thousands of resumes” or having been in business a long time is not necessarily a measure of competence. I have seen terrible resumes done by people who claim to have done thousands of them. God help those thousands of job hunters!

Being affiliated with a particular organization or franchise is not necessarily a measure of competence. But at least these folks have joined a professional association of their peers, and some have taken a test for competence. And that makes them worth checking out.

A Damn Good Resume Writing Service

Be sure to check out The Damn Good Resume Team to see what we offer. We work with folks in a collaborative style via phone and email. We’re not cheap… but we’re damn good!