Updated: Aug 27
If you've been shopping around for a resume writer, you may have noticed a fairly large variation in fees from one service to the next. For example, a website like Fiverr has writers that charge under $10 ($6.47 to be exact of the issuance of this post), while some other service providers may charge over $1,000.
Deciding which service to give your hard-earned money to can be daunting, so in this article, I'm going to guide you by breaking down the fee structure of a legitimate writing agency and provide some pointers when you're on the market for one.
What do legitimate resume writers charge?
Most resume agencies in North America charge anywhere from $150 to $800 depending on a number of factors including the agency's years of experience, geographic location, client years of experience, and add-ons (i.e. cover letters, LinkedIn profiles etc.). While these may seem like exorbitant prices to some, keep in mind that you're expecting the writer to spend 6 to 10 hours of their time (typical time required to complete a resume) to prepare a document that actually works, as in, interests the employer to invite you to interview. To view it from another perspective: your next position, hire date, and salary will be dependent to some degree on how well your resume presents your career history. The poorer the resume, the longer you may wait to get called and eventually get hired - that's money you're losing out on!
So what goes into writing a resume?
Consultation - the writer will discuss your career history with you and ask you questions to extract relevant information they need to prepare a compelling resume. This step is commonly done through a mix of telephone and electronic correspondence.
Synthesis - during this stage, the writer will assess the information available and choose which information best suited to put forward based on your stated goals.
Drafting - they'll write your resume based on the information you've provided.
Review and revisions - you'll typically have the chance to provide input into how the final version turns out. However, expect any good writer to push back if your suggestions are not in your best interest.
As mentioned, this entire process can take up to 10 hours. When you factor in other business expenses like overhead, advertising costs, and taxes, you'll quickly see that a service that charges less than $150 is either not making minimum wage (obviously this depends on where they're located) or is offshoring your work to other places where standards of living are much less (I see this a lot!). And while I have nothing against professionals from other parts of the world, I'm against businesses passing off work as local when it clearly isn't.
What to look for when choosing a resume writer.
There are a number of factors to consider when trying to decide on a writer. A few of the key factors are:
Experience and education: Does the writer possess a combination of education and experience that would qualify them for the role? Have they spent any time in Human Resources or talent acquisition? Do they at least have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution? These are items you should confirm when shopping around.
Client Reviews: Does the writer and/or agency have published positive client reviews on Google or Trustpilot?
Process: Is the writer transparent about their process? Is the process logical? Does it involve consulting with you and collecting detailed information that may not be available on your existing resume?
Online Presence: Does the writer have an established presence online, such as on LinkedIn or website? If not, how can you be assured of their legitimacy?
Beware of the following red flags
Very low rates: A writer that charges very low rates is either unqualified, delivers low quality work, or is passing off your resume to an international writer.
A series of of negative reviews: Every business receives negatives reviews every once in a while. However, if you see negative reviews from past clients that complain about similar issues, then it may be a sign to pass on the writer.
No samples available, or worse, poor quality samples: Most writers will provide a few samples of work, either on their website or available by request, to give prospective customers an idea of their workmanship. If a writer does not provide samples, it may be a sign that they're not very good. If they do have samples, make sure they're neat, well-structured, and are written with appropriate grammar and sentence structure. Beware of samples that use too much color or extravagant graphics (i.e. charts, pictures, etc.) - remember that recruiters aren't stupid and your goal isn't to bedazzle them, it should be to impress them with well-written content.
About the Author
James Cooper is a Certified Professional Resume Writer 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 email@example.com.