Updated: Mar 24
If you Google "resume writer", you'll get about 1.92 million results. Even if you assume only 1% of those searches lead to actual companies, that's still 19,200 options - too many for any person to choose from.
So how does one choose a top resume writer? In this article, I'm going to take you through the questions you should be asking and qualifications you should be looking for.
Taking the time to consider these questions is important for finding someone that knows what they're doing - if you don't, you'll end up wasting your hard-earned money and time.
I'm going to cover these questions:
1) Do professional resume writers help?
Yes, qualified resume writers with the right credentials and experience can help. They see things that you may not and can spot useful insights that you might miss.
The most common situations that resume writers help with include:
Busy executives that simply don't have the time to research and prepare their own resumes.
Professionals that thought they had a good resume but aren't getting the interviews they want.
2) Why should I hire a professional resume writer?
You may be wondering why you shouldn't just write your own resume and save the money - any rational person would consider the same. However, hiring a writer has advantages that a DIY approach may not be able to match.
You benefit from the writer's industry expertise
Look for writers with backgrounds in recruiting, as they'll have insight into the hiring process:
How to present and organize information on your resume
Which information to include and which to leave out
How to tailor your resume without rewriting it every time
You offload the stress of the process onto someone else
Doing your own industry and keyword research, determining what's in demand for your field, and figuring out how to market yourself are challenging tasks, especially if you're still employed and don't have a lot of time to spare.
You avoid common resume writing mistakes
There's a lot of conflicting information out there on resume writing and sorting through it all can be tough for someone that's not in the business.
Established resume writers with strong track records didn't get to where they are overnight. The process involves a scientific attitude, trial and error, and applying a combination of experience and best judgement to arrive at good results.
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3) How much does hiring a resume writer cost?
There's a lot of variation when it comes to how much resume writers charge and it isn't unheard of to see ranges between $20 to $2,000+.
There are a few factors that feed into that cost. They are:
The writer's experience level
Your experience level
Business expenses like overhead, payroll, and marketing
When you factor all three in, you'll arrive at an average rate of about $75 per hour, which is in the ball park of what other professionals charge (think marketing specialists, SEO specialists, attorneys, or accountants).
Assuming a typical resume takes around eight hours of work across the consultation, research, writing, and revision stages, you arrive at a fee of $600. This is just an estimate and will vary some; however, beware of unusually low rates that seem too good to be true. They can be indicative of low quality work or offshore writers in countries with lower standards of living.
4) How do you know a professional resume writer is qualified?
Use these three indicators to gauge whether a writer is a good fit:
Education: Qualified writers typically come from academic backgrounds in human resources, business communications, or marketing.
Experience: Look for writers that have been previously involved in roles as HR professional, hiring manager, or recruiter. This means they've been on the hiring end of the job search process and bring an insiders' perspective to the resume writing process.
Customer Reviews: These will give you an indication of what it's like working with the writer or agency. Watch for too many negative reviews, or no reviews at all.
5) How do I find a good resume writer in my industry?
Every industry is unique and has its own terminology, buzzwords, catch phrases, and technical jargon.
If you're on the market for a new job, one of the key competencies to demonstrate is an understanding of industry speak. If you're hiring a resume writer, it's important they understand that as well.
They'll have this understanding in one of two ways:
They were previously involved in your industry.
They've worked with professionals in your industry.
To ensure a writer understands your industry, your best bet is to ask them. Reputable services will offer free discovery calls to allow their clients to better understand their services, pricing, and areas of expertise.
Be wary of companies that don't allow you to speak to the writer beforehand, or writers that don't engage with you at all, such as those whose processes are entirely form-based.
At Final Draft Resumes, we've worked with professionals across a wide range of industries, including:
6) What does the resume writing process look like?
Below is what a typical resume writing process should look like. Beware of services that skip any of these steps.
7) Are professional resume writing services worth the cost?
The answer is, it depends. The value in hiring a resume writer is affected by several factors such as your experience level, industry, and wage. However, to illustrate purely from a financial perspective, consider the following scenario:
Suppose you're a professional that makes $70,000 per year.
Every month you're out of work is approximately $5,833 in lost wages.
The average job search is around six months or more, equivalent to $35,000 in lost wages.
The cost of a professional resume (as I mentioned earlier) is around $600, or 0.8% of your annual salary.
If the professional resume reduces your job search time by even just two weeks (a conservative estimate based on Final Draft Resumes post-service client feedback surveys), you've still saved $2,316.
In this hypothetical scenario, hiring a writer would seem like the right choice, but there are many folks in different circumstances. For that reason, it's always a good idea to assess value on a case-by-case basis, considering the following:
The cost of the resume
The urgency of your situation
Your ability to write your own resume (i.e., do you have the time, do you understand the needs of your industry, are you able to effectively communicate your skills on paper etc.)
The expected salary at your next role
8) Why don't resume writers offer guarantees?
There are little to no reputable resume writing services that'll guarantee you'll land a land a job with your professionally written resume. That may seem odd, but there are several reasons to consider that are outside of the control of the writer, including:
The quality of your competition
How well you do during the interview process
Your job search and networking strategy
The types of jobs you apply for and how well you meet their qualification requirements
For these reasons, it's simply not realistic for a writer to offer you a guarantee and for those that do, further scrutiny will almost always reveal a guarantee to rewrite your resume and not to refund your money.
9) What are some industry practices I should be aware of?
In an effort to offer their clients ultra low rates, some companies will engage in certain practices to keep costs down, som of which involve:
Outsourcing their work to ghostwriters in other countries. Oftentimes, these writers will have a poor command of the English language and little to no understanding of North American hiring practices.
Using a form-based rather than a telephone-based consultation process.
10) Should I go with a local writer?
With the advent of remote work technologies and practices, there's no longer a need for in-person consultations. Because of that, you're not limited by geographic area and can prioritize fitness of the writer over location.
What can Final Draft Resumes do for you?
We offer tailor-made resume and LinkedIn profile writing services to align with your unique mix of work history and career goals and help you bolster your professional brand.
Check out the full suite of services we offer:
Entry to midlevel professionals with less than 10 years of experience
Established professionals with over 10 years of experience
Executive professionals such as CEOs, VPs, and directors
About the Author
James Cooper is a Professional Resume Writer, member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches (PARWCC) and has been in the recruiting, career coaching, and writing business for almost 14 years. He began his career recruiting for AECOM, a Canadian engineering firm, and he's gone on to work with and help professionals land roles at top Fortune 500 companies.
Have questions about resume writing? Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Haven't been getting the results you want with your current resume? Check out the Resume Writer's Handbook, an A to Z guide to writing a compelling resume.
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