In today’s job market, employers may receive hundreds of applications for a single role, which is why it’s essential to stand out.
Resume writers use their talent and experience to help professionals tell their stories, reinvent, restructure, and optimize their resumes. In turn, the updated resume provides a greater chance of making it through the screening processes and ultimately catches the eye of hiring managers.
We spoke with two professional resume writers to get their tips on what to consider when hiring a writer and how you can best work with one to reach your career goals.
Lauren Charbonneau is the Founder and an Executive Career Storyteller at Protagonist Career Solutions. She prides herself in empowering high performers to clarify their vision and communicate their value so they can thrive at work. Anna Kondratenok is the CEO and a Professional Resume Writer at Same Day Resume. She provides targeted and personalized resume writing services to job seekers at all stages in their careers.
According to a survey conducted by The Ladders, recruiters spend approximately six seconds per resume before they decide whether or not to call you back. So, that first impression has become ever more critical to moving forward in the hiring process.
Additionally, many companies and organizations now leverage an applicant tracking system (ATS). This software automates parts of the hiring process by filtering resumes using keywords. Ensuring you have ATS-friendly formatting and the right keywords may be another reason to consider seeking professional help.
Lauren Charbonneau: Resume writers can be particularly helpful for people who have complex stories and wear a lot of hats in their roles, as it can be tough to capture all that information in a way that is concise and thorough. Mission-driven and nonprofit settings also present a particular challenge, as results and outcomes of initiatives sometimes aren’t tracked the same way that corporate business roles are. A well-trained writer can help define those accomplishments and present them in an impressive way. They can also bring to life the passion and deep commitment to social change that drives people who do mission-driven work!
Anna Kondratenok: Ideally, you would work with a resume writer before you have a specific job you are applying for to take additional stress out of the process and provide sufficient time for writing and editing. People also have a hard time being objective when writing and editing their resumes. They can’t always think of all the details that a resume writer can. I’m a firm believer in giving tasks to experts. If you have a plumbing issue, call a plumber. The same goes for writing a quality resume.
If you decide to hire a professional resume writer, do your research. Learn about the company, its ownership, and even understand who you will be working with directly. Remember that just being a writer doesn’t qualify someone to write your resume. You will also want to understand their capacity, schedule, and timing to ensure it fits your application needs.
Lauren Charbonneau: Always assess the writer’s credentials and experience. What certifications do they hold? What kind of clients do they usually work with? Ask if they have experience writing for clients within mission-driven or nonprofit settings, as those industries have their own nuances that differ from corporate settings.
Anna Kondratenok: Look for someone with longevity in resume writing and who has 5-star online reviews. Don’t go to an individual or a company that is new to the field or is inexperienced. They may not have the best resume writers on staff, backup writers, or supplemental resume editors to help in the process or fill in when the primary resume writers are not available. Check out their online reviews and pick the resume writer who is mentioned. Are they going to put their best foot forward to help you? Please be aware of inexperienced writers or firms that just outsource their work.
Like in all industries, there can be bad actors who won’t deliver a polished, quality resume that will help you on your career journey. Look for red flags to ensure you know what you’re getting if you decide to employ a resume writer.
Lauren Charbonneau: Watch out for a lack of clarity about the process. The writer should be able to provide a definitive turnaround time for your project. This typically ranges anywhere from one to four weeks. Ask what the process is for editing the document or making changes – you want to make sure there is room to have your voice heard in the process!
Be wary of services that are priced very low. It takes many hours to craft a strong resume, and competent writers price their services accordingly. Executive resumes are typically priced higher because they are more complex.
Anna Kondratenok: Make sure they have the expertise for the level of resume you need. There is a vast difference between an entry-level and a management resume and the expertise it takes to write them. If they specialize in writing management-level resume content, they can write an entry-level resume, but the reverse isn’t necessarily the case.
A good resume writer will interview you and ask the right questions to understand what you bring to the table. This person will help you mine your experience for meaningful skills and examples highlighting those skills, often helping you see something you hadn’t before or thinking about your experiences in a different way.
Lauren Charbonneau: To get the most out of working with your writer, approach the process prepared to discuss your accomplishments. What impact did you make in your roles? How did you change or influence things? These are the stories that your writer will be looking to hear.
Anna Kondratenok: You should be prepared to provide the scope of work you had for each previous job and accomplishments vs. simply responsibilities. What budgets, people, and projects did you manage? How can you quantify them? Those resumes which only list responsibilities fall short. While you don’t have to have a specific job in mind when working with a resume writer, it is helpful to provide detailed examples of your goals for the position you may be interested in. Collect a few job descriptions that are examples of the types of jobs you are planning to apply to. This will give the writer a clear understanding of where you are looking to go and the roles that interest you to cater to your resume more precisely.
Hiring a professional resume writer is an investment in yourself and your career. It can be a benefit both now, and in the future, as long as you take steps to ensure you’re working with the right professional for your needs and you come prepared to get the most out of your time and money.
Impact Opportunity would like to thank our contributors to this article:
Lauren Charbonneau, Founder + Executive Career Storyteller at Protagonist Career Solutions. Lauren is a career coach and resume writer who empowers high performers to clarify their vision and communicate their value so they can thrive at work.
Anna Kondratenok, CEO & Professional Resume Writer at Same Day Resume. Anna is a professional resume writer who provides targeted and personalized resume writing services.
Kristin Curtis and Karen Butterfield with KE Butterfield, LLC., a communications firm, for their work in researching and writing this article.