Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Resume Writer

The scenario is pretty clear.  Sam gets laid off, after working for the same company for over 5 years.  He hasn’t been keeping his resume up-to-date.  He reads how today’s job market is “different,” and it can easily take 6 months to a year to find something else.  He knows he needs to take action, now.  But he’s feeling spun around by the lay-offs, unprepared.  He sits down to update his resume and doesn’t know what to do.

Plus, he wants to give himself an edge.  So he does some quick online searches and decides to hire a resume writer.  But how does he know he is going to get a good, effective resume out of the deal?  

In my workshops and with my clients, I see a disproportionate number of badly crafted resumes, prepared by “professional resume writers.”  It breaks my heart and makes me angry.  

If you don’t know what a good and effective resume is, how do you evaluate the resume writers so you can find a good one? 

First, do some online research or ask your friends for recommendations.  Make a list of 3-5 candidates, and call them up.  Here are some questions you should ask.

1.) Ask for examples of their work, resumes they have written, and for references. Then call those references.  Find out about the results of working with this resume writer, as well as the overall experience.

2.) Ask about the effectiveness of the resumes they have created. (“Are people getting more interviews with your resume?”)  You are hiring a resume writer to get results. If they don’t know their effectiveness, how can they know their resumes are any good? 

3.) Find out what their process is.  How do they work?  How many conversations will you have? Some resume writers never even speak to you. Some only communicate online.  Some limit the number of conversations. Will you get to review a draft?  My own process includes a first conversation, then a first draft, then a 2nd conversation to review that draft, and a final copy – which you can maintain going forward.  There is also typically homework for you during this process.  Sometimes a 3rd round of edits is required (very rarely).

4.) Are you the writer?  If not, who is? I was surprised to find that sometimes the person you speak with is not the resume writer!  Do you really want someone writing your resume you don’t ever connect with?  Keep in mind that a good resume needs to reflect your personality and your voice. 

5.) What is the final product?  Is it a MS Word document you can edit and maintain? Or will you have to go back to the resume writer for updates?

6.) What’s the time frame? How long will it take for you to get a resume you can send?

7.) What is their experience writing for the industry you are in?  E.g. IT professionals need someone who understands how to write a technical resume.  Acting resumes are a completely different format all together.  Do they have experience writing for your field, your industry?

8.) What is their experience writing for individuals in your situation?  Do you have gaps in your work history? Are you changing fields? or careers?  Ask them how they handle these situations.

9.) What will they need from you?  What is your role in this process? 

10.) Last but not least, ask about the cost.  Get specifics.  Do you pay it all up front, or after you receive a draft, or after your final copy? Do they offer any sort of guarantee?  If you are unhappy with the results, what are your options?  Will they offer you a refund (full or partial)?  Is there a contract involved?  Find out what the commitment is on their part and yours.  This is all part of the cost.

You’ll note I omitted certification from this list.  Certification isn’t a bad thing, I just haven’t found certification to be an indicator of competence. 

Ultimately, the key to hiring a good resume writer is to interview them, ask questions, be an informed consumer. Even if you have access to resume services as part of an outplacement package provided by your employer, I still recommend you ask these questions.

1 comment to Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Resume Writer

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




Client Stories

 I was looking to make large changes in my life, both job and city.  I was a happy midwestern resident for nearly 30 years but wanted to see what life on a coast was like and get a dream job.  This was a tall order and going into it I thought I would have to make large compromises on parts of my dreams to get any of it.  

I went to Lori to help me achieve these dreams.  It was the best decision I made.

She focused on two things right out of the gate:
  1. clarify my goals, both personal and professional
  2. get me to stop selling myself short

These twin achievements allowed me to approach my hunt with confidence, patience and focus.  My original dream job was to try and combine my technical joys with a personal one.  I enjoy large scale data processing with cutting edge tools, music and baseball.  Through the tools Lori taught me and helped me unearth in myself I got that gig that would have fallen into day dream territory before our work together.  

And yeah, there's platinum records on the walls of my lobby and I have tons of data to process.

Pat Christopher, Intelligence Engineer, Seattle, WA