Showing posts with label Pricing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pricing. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Resume Writers: Five Ways to Avoid Burnout

Burnout is a very real thing. I’ve talked to several resume writers over the past few weeks who are struggling with being overwhelmed. 

It can happen slowly.

You procrastinate about starting projects. You suffer from writer’s block when it’s time to write the resume or LinkedIn profile. You don’t look forward to following up with prospects who have inquired about your services.

There are easy-to-miss signs that start slowly and snowball until you question if you still want to continue to be a resume writer.

No one is immune to this dilemma, but there are ways you can prevent it from happening.
Interview prospects carefully. The interview process is crucial for weeding out high-maintenance clients and to eliminate those who don’t want to do the work. I like to call them vampire clients: they suck the energy right out of you with their constant complaints, excuses, and questions. One particular type of client who can burn you out is one who won’t follow through. Or they can’t provide you with any tangible information to use to actually write the resume. 

Trying to get a handle on this type of client in an interview process allows you to reject their business up front or to express your boundaries and expectations right away, allowing them to decide if working with you is the right decision for them. One source for helping you ask the right questions whien interviewing prospects is “First Call Questions: Questions for Resume Writers to Ask Prospective Clients."

Another source of burnout is trying to wear too many hats.

Automate, delegate, or eliminate time-consuming tasks. Running your own business alone is time consuming and stressful. Not only are you writing resumes, but you’re in charge of your billing, your social media marketing, your real life networking events, and (hopefully) creating information products that can provide you with passive income. This isn’t even a full list of all the background tasks you probably do! 

Taking some of these tasks off your daily to do list will free up time and eliminate some stress. For example, allow your clients to schedule their calls online with an online scheduling program. If you have the budget to do so, hire a virtual assistant and/or a bookkeeper. A virtual assistant can also help you streamline your processes so you might be able to combine or eliminate some tasks that are unnecessary.  

Another area to automate is your interactions with prospects and clients. Check out “Three Systems for Six-Figure Success in Your Resume Writing Business" for ideas on this.

Plan your days. Use time blocking or the Pomodoro method to focus on your projects during each day. At the end of each day, create a list for the following day. Write in a journal about any negative events that happened and how you can handle these situations better in the future. Knowing exactly what you have to do the following day allows you to leave work in the office (even if it’s just closing the door of your home office) and enjoy the evening with your family and friends.

One of the biggest sources of burnout is feeling like you’re not being appropriately compensated for your work. Calculate your prices carefully. When you pull random numbers out of thin air because they “sound good to you,” chances are you’re underpricing your time and devaluing your services. And if you happen to let one of those energy vampires slip through onto your client calendar, you’ll quickly start to resent them because they underpaid and you’ll feel like you’re losing money every time you talk to them.  Check out the Pricing Bundle for resources to make sure you’re charging the right prices for your business.

Take care of yourself. Self-care is very important when running a business because if you’re out sick, there’s no one else to take over. A simple thing like going to bed an hour earlier can help you wake up feeling refreshed. Unplug from electronics two hours before bed to allow your brain to slow down. Daily exercise and water intake is also important to flush out any germs and to keep your body healthy and flexible.

Burnout doesn’t have to be inevitable. Get proactive by following these steps and learn how to relax and enjoy the special moments in life.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Answering the Pricing Question

Ask any new resume writer what's their biggest question and the answer is likely to be related to pricing their services. The most common question I get is: How much should I charge?

You want to make sure you charge enough to be profitable, but you don't want to charge so much that clients can't afford to work with you.

You’ve got the competition to consider, your own skill set, what you perceive to be your skills (yes, this is different from the former for most of us), what your market will pay, your location (not as big of a factor as it was 10 years ago, but still relevant), and a host of other variables. Working it out can feel like a hurdle you can’t quite get past.

One simple calculation is to determine an hourly rate. 

STEP ONE: Estimating Expenses and Income
The first step is to take a look at your estimated expenses. Remember to include your marketing expenses, supplies, rent, utilities, etc. Add your estimated expenses to what you want to make in income. For example, if you want to earn $100,000 a year in your business and you estimate $20,000 in annual expenses, then your income target will be $120,000.

Annual Expenses (Estimate): _____
(plus) Desired Annual Income: _____
(equals) Income Target: _____

STEP TWO: Your Billable Hours and Schedule
Consider how many billable hours you can work each week. This information will help you determine how many clients you can work with each week, and then you can calculate your annual billable hours. (Don't forget to include vacation time into your estimate. For example, if you normally vacation two weeks of the year, then your billable hours will be multiplied by 50 weeks, not 52 weeks.)

Here's an example:
If you have 25 hours available for billing each week, then multiply that by 50 to give you 1,250 billable hours each year. Also consider how much non-billable time you need to spend on your business. (If you're having a hard time estimating billable vs. non-billable time, keep track for a week and then extrapolate it.) You can make adjustments to your plan as you go along, and you can consider outsourcing some of your non-billable tasks as your profits increase.

Billable Hours Per Week _____
(times) Number of Weeks You're Expecting To Work _____
(equals) Total Number of Billable Hours Per Year _____

STEP THREE: Calculating Your Hourly Rate
Business owners charging for their services use several different methods. You might bill by the hour or by the project (but the quote is often based on the anticipated number of hours the project will take, multiplied by the hourly rate).

Calculating your hourly rate is easy, because you have the information you need. Simply divide your "Income Target" (STEP ONE) by the "Total Number of Billable Hours Per Year" (STEP TWO). For example, $120,000 divided by 1,250 billable hours gives you an hourly rate of $96/hour

Income Target _____
(divided by) Total Annual Billable Hours _____
(equals) Hourly Rate _____

Creating a solid pricing structure requires you to do a little more digging. So with your starting number in line, take a look at:

Your Competition. This might take a little detective work, since a lot of resume writers don’t publish their rates online. But if you pay attention to their websites and social media, ask a few discreet questions, and get on their mailing list, you can figure it out.

Be realistic about who, exactly, your competition is, though. Don’t undervalue or over-sell yourself. In other words, make sure you’re comparing yourself to another provider who shares the same skills, market, and track record, rather than simply looking at who you strive to become. 

You can also take a look at statistics from the resume writing industry as a whole. Career industry professionals -- sign up here to receive the current edition of the "Profile of Professional Resume Writers: Who We Are, What We Charge, How We Work."

Your Skills. In some fields, this is easy. There are certifications and educational programs that allow you — by virtue of having achieved them — to charge a certain rate. If you’ve followed this path, then pricing will be easy for you. If not, take a solid look at what you can legitimately claim as a skill.

Look, too, at your track record. Have you proven yourself by helping former clients (and do you have the testimonials and case studies to show for it)? If you do, consider a higher price range than you might have first thought.

Your Market. In the game of setting rates, it’s your market that has the final say. As any first year economy student can tell you, the price of anything lies where what the buyer is willing to pay meets what the seller is willing to accept.

If your goal is to give new college graduates a helping hand and lead them down the path to success, that unfortunately means you can look forward to low paying gigs (unless their parents are paying for your services!). That’s not a bad thing — everyone needs help in a job search — but it does need to be acknowledged. If, on the other hand, your target market is executives, then a higher fee isn’t just warranted — it’s a must. They will expect a higher price, and will not find value in the lowest-cost provider of anything, whether it’s coffee beans or business coaching.

Finally, don’t forget that pricing is never set in stone. It’s flexible. If you find you’re attracting the wrong market (or no market at all) you can always change your rates. Working too hard for not enough return? Raise your rates.

It’s your business. You get to call the shots. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

"How much does a resume cost?"

As a resume writer for more than 20 years now, this is a question I'm asked quite often. Back in the days when most resume inquiries originated from a phone call in response to my Yellow Pages ad, "How much does it cost for a resume?" was often the first question I was asked!

Now, with many resume writing colleagues posting pricing information on their websites (I'd estimate about 30% of resume writing businesses provide pricing data online), the question has evolved somewhat into:
“How much should I spend to get a resume written?”

The main reason for that question is because jobseekers will find rates anywhere from $5 (on to more than $5,000+ (from some of my excellent colleagues) for resume writing services. Friends who know I'm a resume writer ask me, "What's the difference?" and "How do I choose?"

I like to use a "car analogy" to explain the disparity in pricing. You can buy a car from anywhere from $200 (on Craigslist) to $2 million+. Pretty much all of them over $500 will get you from Point A to Point B. (If you're closer to the $500 price range, I hope that's within about 200 miles!) 

In some cases, it's not about transportation at all, but about status. HOW you get there (rich Corinthian leather seats, or cloth?) and the status of the vehicle (Mercedes Benz or Miata) that can explain the pricing difference with car prices, for the most part. But even then, the exact same model, with the exact same features and mileage, can vary by several hundred dollars, depending on whether you're buying via private sale or through a dealer. (So sometimes the sales channel has an impact too.)

Because the vast majority of resume writers are self-employed, we set our own prices. There's no requirement for certification as a resume writer (and, in fact, there are dozens of certifications offered within the resume writing industry), and no specific training or qualifications to hang out a shingle as a resume writing professional. I get questions from resume writing colleagues about pricing all the time -- they wonder how much they should be charging too!

According to my research -- in the Resume Writers' Digest Annual Industry Survey -- the "average" cost for a resume and cover letter is right around $500.

So why are some resume writing "mills" only charging $149 for a resume and cover letter -- and why do some top industry pros charge $5,000?

Here's some possible reasons for pricing differences:
  • Customization/personal service. It's not always the case, but generally, the more personal service and customization with the resume services, the higher the price. Resume mills can make money off a $149 resume by standardizing the client intake process (generally, a questionnaire form that doesn't change) and fitting the client into one of a set number of design templates. (There's nothing WRONG with this approach per se, but it's the difference between buying a package of Chips Ahoy off the shelf versus ordering a dozen personalized cookies from a bakery.)
  • How information is gathered. Relating to the level of customization, individuals and firms at the lower end of the pricing scale are likely to use worksheets, forms, and questionnaires for information gathering versus a phone intake interview. (I personally use questionnaires instead of phone consultations and there is nothing wrong with a written approach versus a verbal approach UNLESS the jobseeker prefers talking through their history. In that case, it's a matter of personal preference for the client.) But how information is collected can impact pricing -- in general, resume writers who use phone intakes charge anywhere from 20-50% more than those who work from questionnaires. (Although there are some VERY high end firms who use questionnaires exclusively, so it's not always true that you'll pay less when providing information in writing.)
  • Volume. Aligning with the level of personal service is the volume of clients that an individual resume writer can work with. If you're conducting in-depth personal consultations or lengthy personalized questionnaires and spending 10+ hours on the writing of the resume, you BETTER be charging more than $500 for your services. Otherwise, you'd be better off getting a job at McDonalds because you're probably making close to minimum wage anyway!
  • Experience/credentials. Although no certification or experience is required, resume writers who have one -- or both -- generally charge more. Many of the larger resume writing firms (mills) have a minimum requirement for their writers -- an "easy" certification like the CPRW (which requires a single test and no ongoing continuing education) is often the bar for application. In contrast, the cost to obtain an ACRW (Academy Certified Resume Writer) certification is $1895, plus five weeks of training and portfolio development. Choosing a resume writer who invests in her OWN career development is a good idea -- and is likely going to be at a higher price point.
  • Resume only versus a one-stop shop. Resume writing professionals who provide a "single source" approach for jobseekers tend to charge more than individuals who only write resumes. Some career industry colleagues provide career assessments/testing, personal brand development, the full spectrum of writing services (not just resumes and cover letters, but bios, CVs, thank you letters, networking letters, etc.) plus LinkedIn profile development, and into coaching services -- interview coaching, salary negotiation coaching, career change strategy development, and more. Because they tend to have a deeper well of knowledge, information, and resources, they tend to charge more even just for the resume writing piece of it, if that's all you need.

With so many possible resume writers to choose from (my research indicates there are about 4,000 professional resume writers worldwide), how does a jobseeker choose? That's a topic for another blog post. But in general, look at these factors:
  • What do you need? Do you need JUST the resume and cover letter, or are you looking for someone who can help you navigate the job search process?
  • How do you prefer to work? Do you want to have a high level of hand-holding, or are you comfortable working with your resume writer virtually (email/questionnaires)?
  • How complex is your career? Someone just coming out of college is an easy project for most resume writers -- mid-level professionals and early executives need someone with more experience -- and I'd ONLY recommend someone who works with federal resumes if you're looking for a government job.
  • How much are you willing to spend?

That final question is important. The other question jobseekers need to ask themselves is: "How much do I want to invest in my career?" Going back to that car analogy, what do you need? What do you want?

There is a general guideline that jobseekers can use:
In  general, you should spend 1-3% of your annual salary on your career development. 

According to the Census Bureau, the median household income in America (across all jobs) was $51,939 (as of September 2014*). Using the 1 to 3% figure, that would mean spending between $519 and $1557 on career development annually. Now, that could include more than just a resume/cover letter -- that can include continuing education/training, career-related clothing and personal items, and even something like a subscription to LinkedIn Premium membership. But if that $52,000 was a single jobseeker (let's say a single parent), the $519 amount is right in line with that "average" fee for a resume and cover letter that I mentioned before.

The advantages of a professionally written resume are numerous -- many jobseekers find it hard to know what to write about themselves (much less design a resume that meets modern job search standards and Applicant Tracking System-friendly formats). Professionally written resumes are more likely to generate interview requests than do-it-yourself documents, meaning a potentially shorter job search. (You can calculate how much it costs every week you are unemployed -- for example, if you're making that hypothetical $52,000 a year, that's almost $1,000 a week.)

Back to the car analogy, your income is your greatest wealth-building tool. (The average person makes over $1.4 million in income throughout their lifetime.**) 

The average monthly new vehicle lease payment in the U.S. in 2015 was $412/month***. You'd spend $400 each MONTH to drive something that gets you where you want to go -- why not spend a couple hundred dollars more for a document that can drive your CAREER where you want it to go?

So instead of asking "How much does a resume cost?" jobseekers should probably instead be asking themselves, "How much do I want to make?" and what is the cost of NOT investing in their job search, and their career path.


Monday, December 28, 2015

How Do You Compare? 2015 Resume Writers' Digest Annual Industry Survey

The Resume Writers' Digest Annual Industry Survey is an opportunity for resume writers to benchmark their progress compared to their peers. The survey was first conducted in 2001. The 2015 edition of the survey was conducted from May 2015 into June 2015 and the results were reported in December 2015.

One hundred six resume writers contributed to the survey data. They spent an average of 11 minutes answering 21 questions in the survey.*

The results were compiled into the "Profile of Professional Resume Writers: Who We Are, What We Charge, How We Work" report. Career industry professionals interested in receiving a complimentary copy of the report can opt-in to receive it here.

Who Are Survey Respondents?
More than fifty percent of survey respondents are full-time, self-employed resume writers, including subcontract work. Twenty-two percent are self-employed part-time. Anecdotal evidence suggests many of those working part-time have full-time jobs in university career offices, as a recruiter, or working in human resources.

Ninety-one percent of those who took the survey are located in the United States.

The survey respondents are not "newbies." Only six percent of survey respondents have been in business for fewer than two years.

The pricing data reflects the "veteran" nature of survey respondents. Generally, resume writers who have been in business charge the most. (Those who don't charge enough to support themselves in their resume writing business generally leave the industry.)

Where We Work
Seventy-five percent of survey respondents report they work from a home office, with another 14 percent having both a home office and a business office. Only eight percent work from a business office (not located in a home), which is a stark contrast from the early years of the Resume Writers' Digest Annual Industry Survey, when a home-based resume writer was the rarity.

The number of resume writers who work with clients virtually has steadily increased over the past few years. In this year's survey, 31 percent of resume writers say they only work with clients virtually. Forty-five percent say they work with clients in person and/or virtually, with another 13 percent who say they meet with clients in person, either at the resume writer's home or office.

The number of resume writers who use a combination of a phone consultation and questionnaire to gather information from clients has risen slightly from the previous survey. Thirty-five percent of survey respondents report using this combination (up from 33% in 2012), while 21 percent only use questionnaires (up from 16 percent in 2012).

The survey revealed that participants write an average of three resumes a week -- a number that has been fairly consistent over the past few years in the survey. Writers reported spending an average of 24 hours a week on resume development (including client consultations, research, writing, and finalization) -- the same number as in the previous survey.

The busiest month, according to the survey, is January, followed by September. In the previous survey, February was the second-busiest, with February, March, and April tied for third.

Let's Talk Pricing
The most common hourly rate cited was $150 in this year's survey, double the number in the previous year's survey ($75 in 2012 data, compared to $50 in 2010 and 2011). The hourly average this year is $105.64, a 14 percent increase from $90.87 reported in 2012, and up from $83 an hour average in 2011.

The average reported price for a resume and cover letter in 2015's survey is $603.82, which is up almost 20 percent over 2012's figure ($478 in 2012, which was down slightly from 2011's figure of $11). The most frequently-cited amount charged for a resume and cover letter was $350, which was up from $300 in 2012's survey data.

LinkedIn profile development services are becoming a bigger part of the "average" resume writer's typical sale, followed by preparing additional resume formats (ASCII and PDF), creating references pages and other supporting documents (thank you letters), and brand development services. Social media profile development (outside of LinkedIn) has declined since the 2012 survey.

How Resume Writers Attract Clients
Marketing is often listed as one of the top challenges of resume writers, so it can be useful to learn how other resume writers secure their clients:

  • Referrals – 17% (18% in 2012)
  • Website – 13% (16% in 2012)
  • Social Media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) – 13% (7% in 2012)
  • Directory of Professional Resume Writers on Professional Association Websites – 7% (same as 2012)
  • Networking – 7%
  • Organic Search (not paid ads) – 6%
  • Community Outreach/Unpaid Speaking Gigs – 3%
  • Strategic Alliances – 3% (5% in 2012)
  • Recruiters – 3% (5% in 2012)
  • Public Relations/Being Interviewed – 2%
  • Blog – 2% (4% in 2012)
  • Yellow Pages – 2% (5% in 2012)

The percentage of resume writers reporting they get new clients via their website is down three percent from the previous survey, while LinkedIn (and other social media) is up six percent. Yellow Pages advertising, not unexpectedly, has declined from five percent to two percent. Strategic alliances are down from five percent to three percent. Recruiter referrals also dropped three percent from 2012's figures. Blog traffic as a source of new clients also dropped from four percent to two percent.

Networking -- not surprisingly -- is a good source of business, generating seven percent of business. Unpaid speaking engagements and community outreach account for three percent of new clients, and public relations/publicity generated another two percent.

Certification and Training
Most resume writers surveyed are a member of at least one professional association. Memberships included:

  • The National Resume Writer's Association – 14% (15% in 2012)
  • Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches – 13% (14% in 2012)
  • – 13%  (same as 2012)
  • Career Thought Leaders – 13% (8% in 2012)
  • Career Directors International – 9% (11% in 2012)
  • Resume Writing Academy – 8% (6% in 2012)
  • The Academies – 5% (4% in 2012)
  • National Career Development Association – 4%
  • – 3% (4% in 2012)

Membership figures have stayed pretty consistent from the 2012 survey. (We consider the "traditional professional associations" to include the NRWA, PARW/CC and CDI, while the other organizations listed provide training and other membership benefits, but are not traditional professional associations.)

Forty-four percent of survey respondents report they are certified as resume writers, with another 10 percent saying they have a coaching certification. Twenty-five percent report they are dually certified in resume writing and career coaching, while 20 percent are not certified.

Resume writers: Like the information you've read so far? Opt-in to receive the full report here. 
The full report also includes a "Profile of the 'Average' Resume Writer" and additional resources for career services professionals.

* Note: The survey is a voluntary report from participating resume writers and is not considered statistically valid.


Read these blog posts about previous Resume Writers' Digest Annual Industry Survey results:

Monday, April 6, 2015

Why Are You Quoting Me More For My Resume Than (This Other Company)?

Every so often, I provide a quote for a resume to a prospective clients, and the client comes back and asks why my quote is so much higher than another firm they've contacted. Or, when I follow up with them, they tell me that they've chosen a lower-priced provider.

Here's what I write back:

I'm glad you found someone to assist you with your resume update!

As you might imagine, with more than 4,000 resume writers worldwide, fees very considerably. In fact, I've done quite a bit of research on this topic as the editor of a trade magazine for resume writers. While it's true you might find someone competent who will charge very little for their services, the majority of professional resume writers -- that is, individuals who do this for a living -- invest quite a bit of time and money in keeping abreast of the latest trends in resume writing (especially about things like keyword summaries for companies who use applicant tracking systems). The national average for a resume is $478, according to my latest research.

You'll also find a wide variety of credentials among professionals. As a member of three national professional resume writing associations, and as a Certified Professional Resume Writer with a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations, I have more than 17 years of experience writing interview-winning resumes. My clients rely on my expertise to get them an interview in a highly competitive job market. 

For example, I had a client recently who paid around $400 for his new resume and cover letter -- but he landed six interview from 10 resumes he sent out, and ended up accepting a new position that will pay him $25,000 more than his current position, with the potential for $15,000 more in bonus. In essence, his $400 investment landed him a 30% raise. His situation isn't typical, but many of my clients have landed more modest increases -- along the lines of $8,000-$10,000 -- through development of an accomplishment-focused resume that helps them not only get the interview, but helps the interviewer establish the areas of value that he/she can bring to the company -- by saving money, saving time, attracting new clients, etc.

I share this information with you not to impress upon you the results I've achieved with my clients, but to let you know that your investment in your career can make a big difference over time. Finding a job faster (being out of work for a shorter period of time), being able to quantify why you're worth a $3,000 higher salary than you were initially offered … these are things that an effective resume can do for you.

I hope that you are able to achieve the results that you are seeing from the service provider that you selected. Good luck in your job search!

Bridget (Weide) Brooks, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Image Building Communications

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Q&A: Help, I'm Spending Too Much Time on the Information-Gathering Process for Client Resumes

This is the latest in a series of Q&A posts. Every day, I get questions from resume writers -- and I share my answers publicly with you!

I’m finding that I’m spending way too much time on the interview process (I sort of knew that already), and I’d like to figure out a way to streamline that. Do you have any good resources for the client interview process?
What I’m doing is creating and emailing them a customized word document (from a template I’ve created) with questions specific to their career, taken from their resume (to add detail to good bullet points), and job posts that they send me (I require that they send at least one – I create questions to fill in missing information on their resume which the job post specifically calls for), questions lifted from Resume Writer’s Secret Room, as well as information about their technical proficiencies, leadership skills, employment gaps, etc. etc.
The customized interview definitely works very well in terms of getting the info for an exceptionally good resume, and clients have repeatedly told me that the interview has made a significant difference in their job interview preparation. It’s an awesome service for my clients. However, it takes me up to 2 hours to prepare the interview, and some clients come back to me wanting to deliver their responses via phone or in person, which can take up to an additional 2 hours for complex projects. Four hours spent on the interview alone is NOT a profitable process!
I’d like to cut back on the amount of time I spend on this process, but I don’t want to lose the value of what I’m providing. I put my clients through what more than a few have called a “grueling” resume development interview, and they come back and thank me for it and refer their friends.
I’m constantly tweaking my interview template document, removing standard questions that don’t work or adding standard questions which can streamline the customization process. When I customize the document for a client project, I delete the questions or sections that don’t apply and add questions specific to their resume/career. That’s helped a little, but not enough.
Here's my response!

I have a couple of resources and suggestions to offer.

The first is already included in your Bronze membership. 
Log into your account and go to the Expert Interviews Series page 2, teleseminar #9:
(non-members can buy the recording and transcript for just $5)

You'll learn how getting better at the pre-writing process will help you save time on the resumes you write.

It's also about collecting the RIGHT information.

You can also purchase my teleseminar that I did for the NRWA last year:

This one specifically addresses the information-gathering process.

A related issue that I see is that you don't feel like the time you're spending is "valuable" (you said "profitable") -- which usually suggests that you're not charging enough!

(I looked at your website and see that your "average" resume is around $409 for a resume/cover letter. You're below the industry average of ~$500, so there is room to grow there.)

One way to direct clients to do things YOUR WAY is to give them the option, but CHARGE MORE for the way you LEAST prefer.

For example, if they provide information via custom questionnaire (which is the strategy I use with clients, and I do it just like you do!), the cost is "x."

If they don't want to do a form and they want me to interview them to collect the data, the cost is "x-plus" -- with the "plus" being the value you place on your time (your billable hour rate x the number of hours to conduct the phone interview -- i.e, x1 or x1.5, etc.).

You can use this worksheet to calculate your hourly rate:

Or, alternatively, refer out clients who want to do a phone consultation (partner with a colleague who prefers to work that way, and negotiate a referral agreement for a 15% referral fee).

So... two possible ways for you to go:
1) Do the same thing, but charge more (and I love the feedback from clients that your process helps get them interview-ready too -- I'd add testimonials to that effect on the website, and make that a key BENEFIT of working with you! ... and a justification for why you charge more than the $99 resume writer)


2) Use the principles in the teleseminars above to streamline your information-gathering process so that you're only collecting the information you need (believe me, I'm an information junkie! But I sometimes find myself collecting information I won't need/use, which takes time!!)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Pricing and Payments: Packages vs. A la Carte

Here's another one from the Resume Writers' Digest mailbag!

Question from Alison:
I just recently listened to your presentation on Ask Better Questions and found it to be most informative — especially to a newbie such as myself just starting the process of develpment of my resume business.  

I would like your feedback on just how you went about structuring your fee schedule.  

What do clients seem to be drawn to: a fee set for each step of the process or an all inclusive package and most importantly which form provides you the best revenue source?

And finally, in what methods do you accept payment? And at what point during the crafting process is payment expected?

Here's my response!

Hi, Alison!

All great questions!

I collect a lot of data from colleagues to get a "big picture" about the industry, and I'll direct you to some of those resources on my blog that address your specific questions:

I had a link to this worksheet for Determining Your Resume Writing Rates in one of the blog posts, but I wanted to draw your attention to it specifically:

If you want to see the survey data and get a profile of an "average" resume writer (including pricing info), sign up here:

As for me, here's how I handle pricing:

I ask the client a series of initial questions — including whether they're updating an existing resume or starting from scratch, how long ago their existing resume was updated (if applicable), what their job target is, how soon they need the resume, how they plan to use the resume, etc. I also ask for their email address and tell them I'll send them information about my services, samples (sometimes!), and a custom quote.

Based on the information they gave me, I quote them an individual project price (usually as a range — i.e., $349-$399, plus Omaha/Nebraska sales tax if it's a local client) for a resume and cover letter. I also look at their LinkedIn profile (if they have one) and provide an additional quote for LinkedIn profile development (which includes my 8-day "Leveraging LinkedIn For Your Job Search" program). 

I base my pricing on a $55/hour rate, but I don't include that information in the quote — instead, I might calculate that I'll spend 1.5 hours on information gathering, 4 hours on writing/draft development, and 1 hour on project finalization. That would be 6.5 hours @ $55/hour or $357.50. So my $349-$399 quote covers me if it takes as long as I expect ... and a little bit of wiggle room if it takes longer.

Because I've been in business writing resumes for almost 20 years, I have a pretty good idea of how long it will take me to write that client's resume, based on the existing information I have from them, what I think I'll need, what they already have (existing resume vs. starting from scratch) and their job target.

I collect a $100 deposit up front (via check or PayPal) and the balance is due when I deliver the resume draft. Some resume writers do a deposit like I do, some collect 50% up front, and some collect full payment up front. I like the $100 deposit approach because it covers my time to put together their custom questionnaire, but if they don't get back to me with the completed questionnaire for a while (or at all!), I'm not having to worry about me owing them services. (In Nebraska at least, services that are paid for but not rendered are technically considered to be "unclaimed property" and should be turned over to the state after a certain period of time.) I send the questionnaire via email when I receive the deposit (I don't wait for the check to clear the bank before sending the questionnaire).

You can certainly offer a la carte options (i.e., resume for this price; resume and cover letter for this price) but I find that the package approach is attractive to the customers I work with. They get a resume, cover letter, reference page, and letterhead template for one price. As I said, LinkedIn profile development (headline + summary usually) for an extra fee. 

The most important thing is for YOU to decide what YOU want to do and then take ownership of it. It doesn't matter what "every other resume writer" is doing, or even what other resume writers charge. There have been a couple of folks who have jumped right into the resume writing industry and started charging $1000 for a resume and cover letter within their first year. It's your business... it's up to you!

Hope that helps!


PS -- Be sure to sign up for at least a Free Level membership on so I can share additional resources/ideas with you. I also offer a Bronze membership for $10/month with LOTS of great benefits (special reports to help you be more effective in your work and in your work with clients, ready-to-go content you can use with your clients, access to recordings/transcripts of previous teleseminars I've done, etc.). Sign up for either here:

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

How Much Do Resume Writers Charge?

I received this question via email yesterday from a career professional:

"Bridget, do you have any information -- or from your own experience -- about the average price charged by resume writers? I think in one of your programs you mentioned something like $500? I think this is probably high. I have been looking at some websites, and they charge $179-$199 for a professional resume. $500 probably is for a resume writer who is well known in the industry. Can you forward me pricing information? Thanks."

Here's my response:

I do have current statistics on pricing for resume writing services in the U.S. 
The figures for an average resume and cover letter have been pretty steady for the last 3 years -- around $500. The average number of resumes written by professional resume writers is 2-4 per week, according to the 2011 survey data.
  • 29% of resume writers charge $100-$299 for a resume and cover letter
  • 35% charge $300-$499
  • 12% charge $500-$699

"Resume mills" -- with multiple writers -- tend to charge less than a single writer web site. 
Certified writers generally charge more than non-certified writers. Resume writers who charge more than $1,000 per project tend not to put their prices on their website -- they quote client projects individually.

I pulled up five random websites from for illustration:
-- (Alabama) - $199 to $399
-- (Arizona) - $299 to $1199
-- (California) - $200 to $750
-- (Colorado) - $297 (resume re-write)
-- (Connecticut) - $299+

All are substantially above the $179-$199 rate ... but again, none of these are "resume mills."

Here is a profile of the "average" resume writer -- 
excerpted from the "Profile of a Professional Resume Writer" special report, which you can get free here by putting in your name and email address. (Offer is for professional resume writers and career coaches -- not for jobseekers, please!)
Get the Profile of Professional Resume Writers Report Here

Profile of the "Average" Resume Writer
Based on the survey information collected, here is the profile of the "average" resume writer:

She is a female in her mid-50s, a self-employed resume writer who has been writing for 11-15 years. She is certified as a resume writer who belongs to one professional association (either the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARW/CC) or Career Directors International (CDI).

Our average resume writer works from a home office primarily, but occasionally meets with clients in person -- usually in a public place, like a coffee shop (not a separate business office). She spends 24 hours a week writing, and another 15-20 hours a week on administrative and marketing activities. She writes 2-4 resumes each week, and her average package - for which she charges $350 - includes a resume, cover letter, and references document. She collects the full payment upfront for her work and uses a combination of a questionnaire and phone interview/phone consultation to gather information from the client.

As for income, she brings in gross revenues of $3,600-$5,600 each month, and she nets around $55,200 per year after taxes.

Although she has her own profile on LinkedIn, she's not actively soliciting clients on LinkedIn, nor does she do very many LinkedIn profile development/overhaul projects -- primarily because she's unsure of how to market this service and what to charge. She gets most of her clients from her website or referrals. She has a personal Facebook account, but not a Facebook Business Page (if she does have a Facebook page for her business, it has fewer than 100 "Likes" or "fans.") She doesn't have a Twitter account, or if she does, she's not using it very often.

When it comes to keeping up with trends and information in the industry, she relies on her professional association, resume books, and teleseminars (mostly free, but 1-2 paid ones a year) for information. She doesn't attend professional conferences (either in-person, or virtual ones).

Her biggest frustrations revolve around getting new clients (especially educating them about the value of a professionally written resume), and the hassles of being self-employed (recordkeeping and taxes, managing the processes and paperwork associated with client management, and having to wear "all the hats, all the time"). She's not in this just for the paycheck -- she'll often spend an average of an hour of her time with her clients to help them with other aspects of their job search (answering their questions about job searching or preparing for the interview), and won't charge them extra for this assistance. She loves the work that she does, especially when clients let her know her work has helped them land their dream job.

Notice that the "average" resume writer charges $350 for a resume and cover letter, but the survey data found that $500 is the "average" across all survey respondents. In profiling the "typical" resume writer, I used the most commonly provided answers, not the "average" calculated. Note too that the survey is based on self-reported responses. 

Want to learn more about who resume writers are, and what we charge? If you're a resume writer, career coach --  or are interested in becoming one -- enter your name and email address in this form and you'll immediately receive access to the "Profile of Professional Resume Writers" special report, and emails with resources that will help you become more effective in your work and in your work with clients.

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Clients Are Less Concerned About Price If They Get Value

Many resume writers tell me that their clients are price-sensitive. But they may not actually be price-sensitive … they may be value-sensitive.

Why can some resume writers charge $2,000 for a resume, when you have a hard time getting $350? The answer isn't necessarily in the skill of you as a resume writer, or the financial situation of the client.

More likely, the difference is the value that the client perceives from his or her investment.

What is the first question people often ask when they want to purchase something? "How much does it cost?" And, that's only after we've turned the object over and over looking for the price tag.

Price is simply a dollar amount assigned to an item or service. You may have even set your resume writing prices arbitrarily — lots of other people are basing their resume writing services on an hourly rate of $50/hour, and according to the 2011 Resume Writers' Digest Annual Industry survey, and nearly a third of resume writers charging $300-$499 for a resume, so (you think to yourself), I'm going to charge $350.

As a business owner, you want to stay competitive without alienating your resume clients. It's a matter of profit as well. If you come in too low, then you're leaving money on the table. (And, some clients may actually be turned off if you charge too little!)

While the concepts of price and value have gotten trapped together, they are not synonymous. Two resume prospects may initially seem very similar. Both are account executives in their mid-30s, making a salary of $45,000 a year. Their personal situations are similar — both married, with a young child at home. But when you quote a price of $600 for a resume to both of them, and one books, and the other one doesn't.

One values the impact that a professionally written resume can have on his ability to meet his career goals. Therefore, value must appeal to a prospect's needs.

Value refers to the significance that we apply to a good or service. It is tied into the perception of your business brand. Honda has built a reputation as a solidly made car. As such, people will invest more in one because it will keep their families safe and they can drive it for a long time. The decision, to buy, moves beyond mere price to what is perceived as the additional benefit that comes along with purchasing this kind of car. 

Translating Value
As you work to present your services to the prospective resume clients, consider how you will translate the value of your brand as well as the price. Time and time again, business owners who reach their customers on a more personal level with their marketing strategies are delivering value along with their price. If a customer feels that they will get value from your services (beyond the price they pay), they will buy — and continue to buy — from you.

So, how do you do that? Look at your services and ask yourself a few questions. What can you do for your clients that they can't do for themselves? In many instances, it's write an interview-winning resume. And the "interview-winning" part is the key. Lots of people can write a resume. Fewer of them can write one that engages the hiring manager or recruiter to call immediately.

What It Comes Down To
Is price or value more important? They are not the same, but communicating the value of your services to customers can keep them buying, even if the price is higher than the competition.

Loyalty may also run deeper when you build your brand on value rather than just price.

Monday, November 11, 2013

How to Decide What to Charge Resume Clients

Deciding how much to charge is one of the biggest challenges for resume writers. The vast majority of resume writers charge based on the project, not by the hour. That's because jobseekers may be reluctant to commit to having their resume developed without having a specific price quote. 

Another factor to consider is how your clients feel about hourly rates versus project rates. If you're just getting started, you can do a few tests to see how your clients respond. I can tell you that, after 17 years as a resume writer, clients prefer flat rates, not hourly pricing. And remember, if you can get most of your work down to flat project rates, you'll actually end up earning more money in the long run. The reason is that the more you do something, the faster you get at it.

With an hourly rate you're often being punished for being fast. But, you can get into trouble with flat rates too, if you underestimate the time required for the project. 

There's also the question of whether you should you offer pre-set packages, or quote project individually? It's up to you. If you have pre-set levels (like "Professional" and "Executive,") sometimes you'll run into clients who get a package rate who will suck every single hour of every single day out of you for a small package rate. Don't allow that to happen. Keep your contracts very tight, and your duties very clear when you create a package rate. Make sure clients "fit" in the level they're choosing. 

Also, in order to create a solid package rate you need to understand how to write a good contract and properly price packages. 

If you quote each project individually, you'll also be estimating the amount of time you'll spend on a project. Package rates are really based on hourly rates. Don't have an hourly rate? You should. You can use this worksheet to calculate your hourly rate.

If you know what you want to earn hourly, then you simply estimate how long the project will take you if all goes perfectly, multiply by your hourly rate and that is your base project rate. But you're not done yet. Nothing ever goes perfectly, right? Take that fee and multiply it by 1.5. You now have your project rate. 

Then add in some conditions to the contract, such as how many times you're willing to edit the project (most resume writers include one revision), or how many hours you're willing to put into the project. Be very specific about what your responsibility is to the project and the client's responsibility to the project. Be very clear on when deliverables are due from a client and from you. Your contract cannot be too specific; leave no ambiguity. A sentence such as "Any work outside the scope of this project will be billed at my normal hourly rate of $50 per hour" can help alleviate many problems.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ask Bridget: Should I Charge Less If I Use a Questionnaire?

In today's "Ask Bridget" segment, Milly asks:
"You mentioned during your "Ask Better Questions; Write Better Resumes" teleseminar that you offer a more affordable price if clients are willing to just answer questions by email through a questionnaire. I have been debating on what price structure I should use, since my method of information gathering is mainly through email as well. For a mid-level professional, I've seen resume writers charge over $500, which I assume includes the phone consultation. What is the appropriate price range, in your opinion, for the email method of information gathering -- without phone discussions?"

Here's what I told Milly:
I use questionnaires primarily with my clients -- it's just my preferred workstyle. But I ask prospective clients how they're most comfortable providing their information, and if they want a phone consultation, then I just quote them a higher price than I would if they were agreeable to working via questionnaire. 

So, if I was going to quote them $299 for the resume, I'd quote $375, for example (the extra $76 would be for a 60-to-75-minute phone consultation). Usually, I don't tell the client the two different prices, because I've already asked the question about how they want to do it, so I'm giving them a quote that reflects that. I have, though, on occasion, given them an "Option A" or "Option B" quote -- i.e., "The cost to develop your new resume package will be $299 if we conduct your information gathering via email questionnaire or $375 if you would prefer we schedule a phone consultation to gather your information.

You mentioned that other resume writers charge over $500. You asked, "What is the appropriate price range in your opinion for the email method of information gathering without phone discussions." There are actually some resume writers who charge over $1,000 and work via questionnaire exclusively, so you don't have to do phone consultations to charge more. *smile*

But you're coming at this from the wrong direction. There will be some clients who are unwilling to pay $50 for a resume even if that included a 3-hour phone consultation ... and there are some clients who would gladly pay $2000 for a resume even if you only collected information via questionnaire.

That's not the issue. There are clients out there in all price ranges. How you choose to work -- and what you charge -- are entirely up to you!

The first resource I want to share with you is the "Determining Your Resume Writing Rates Worksheet." This is a step-by-step approach to help you determine the right rates to charge.

But you should also compare that information to the 2011 Resume Writers' Digest Annual Industry Survey results. This will help you see the hourly rate charged by other resume writers, and average prices charged. You can get a copy of the "Profile of Professional Resume Writers: Who We Are, What We Charge, How We Work" here:

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Also, keep in mind some of the factors that might influence you to charge higher rates. These include:
  • A valuable certification (ACRW, federal job search certification, etc.) - note: a CPRW or CRW certification may command more than an uncertified writer, but generally does not command premium pricing.
  • Experience in the industry (those who have been in the industry longer tend to charge more)
  • If you work with a specific niche audience -- specialists tend to charge more than generalist resume writers/career coaches

Do you have a question for "Ask Bridget?"
Send a message on the Resume Writers' Digest Facebook page!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Alternative Payment Options

I've been thinking about this topic for quite some time -- and I'm going to have to do some research into the subject.

I wonder if any resume writers charge like the recruiters do -- a percentage of their client's future income. Only, instead of the recruiting firm receiving payment from the employer (usually 30-35% of the candidate's first year salary), the resume writer would be paid by the client.

Debra Feldman wrote about Executive Job Agents in Resume Writers' Digest, so I know there are some innovative resume writers out there ... I'm just wondering if any writers would be willing to share their insight into this strategy.

I was thinking maybe 1-5% of a client's salary, paid over the course of several months (or maybe even a year). It wouldn't have to be limited to executive clients -- I've thought of offering out-of-work professionals this kind of arrangement ... no money up front; pay only upon getting the new job. Maybe a sliding scale depending on the work found -- 2.5% of first year salary if they're making the same or less as before; 5% if they're making more (even if it's $100 more).

Thoughts, ideas? E-mail me.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Timeless Advice for Handling Price Shoppers

I'm compiling an index of the first 10 years of Resume Writers' Digest and came across this timeless tip in the March/April 2000 issue. Reprinted with permission of Jan Melnik, CPRW, from her book, "How to Operate a Home-Based Resume Service" (now out of print):

"Over the recent years, I've used a variation of the phrase, "I didn't realize price was your only concern," when speaking with prospective clients who focus solely on price.

If the caller seems totally uninterested in any value-added service and is even grumbling about the price of a basic retype, you can add to the above comment, "In that case, you might try the quick-stop copy shop. They'll add no value to your resume, but they'll do it for a very low price, if that's your primary concern."

Nowadays, I get very few requests for resume retypes (most need at least an update or a rewrite), but the advice would be similar... "Well, if price is your only concern, you can find some resume mills online that will update your resume for as little as $29, but I can't guarantee their quality, of course."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Option Paralysis

I'm re-reading a great book, "What Clients Love: A Field Guide To Growing Your Business," by Harry Beckwith (who is probably best known for his first book, "Selling the Invisible.")

On page 47, he talks about "Option Overload":

"Knowing they cannot know and understand all their options, they increasingly choose the most trustworthy and seemingly competent person -- or choose no one at all."

He adds, "Today's clients cannot chose among services and products -- they cannot gather all the information. So they choose among people."

Researchers at Stanford University found that we suffer from "option paralysis" with even simple products. Faced with a few varieties of jams and jellies to choose from, most people will buy at least one jar. When given more options, however, they usually leave empty-handed."

How does this apply to your resume writing service? One popular pricing method throughout the years has been to offer clients "levels" of service -- usually bronze, silver, and gold packages. But offering clients too many choices may keep them from deciding at all.

You might consider offering:
  • Resume Only (digital files)
  • Resume and Cover Letter (digital files)
  • Resume Only (with laserprints and CD)
  • Resume and Cover Letter (with laserprints and CD)
But go too much beyond those four options, and you're likely to induce "option paralysis." Just something to consider...

Friday, September 7, 2007

Pricing Strategies

Wondering about your payment policies? Here are my thoughts on the subject.

Most payment policies are actually more about pricing and branding. If you are targeting an audience that needs your services, and (collectively) can afford your services (i.e., your target market is not homeless veterans, and you charge $250 for a resume), your pricing and payment issues should not be as much of an issue as it apparently is for some resume writers.

For clients, it comes down to "trust, but verify." If I'm paying you $500 for a resume, how do I know that I'll get my money's worth? If I pay you 100% up front, I'm taking a leap of faith that I'll get what I'm promised. If I put down a deposit ($50 or 50% or more), we both have something invested in the process, but there's still a finalization process. If you don't collect anything up front, the resume writer takes on the risk of not getting paid. So there's a balance.

How do you alleviate your prospect's concerns? Relationship building is a key part of the process of turning a prospect into a client. (But remember, not every prospect will become a client -- nor should you want all of them!) Create a comfort level with prospects through testimonials, articles, samples on your site, success stories, e-mail newsletters, and certifications.

Allow clients to pre-qualify themselves -- if you don't do $45 resumes, put a range of prices on your site or in your materials so they won't waste their time -- or yours! Your clients should not be surprised when you finally quote a price -- they should have a general idea based on your marketing and positioning of your services. Don't spend 1/2 an hour on the phone talking with someone who doesn't have the ability to pay anywhere near what you charge. At least make sure they're in the ballpark before you make your "pitch," so to speak.

Pricing and payment policies are very much tied into your overall branding and positioning statements. I did marketing for a travel agency for four years. We sold cruises by Carnival ($199/day per person) and those by Crystal Cruises ($599/day per person). We didn't market all our cruises the same way to buyers. Domain names are cheap, and so are websites -- use different websites to target different kinds of clients so you build your credibility with the specific type of audience you're pursuing. We did websites (or specific web pages) just for brides, just for couples without kids, and promoting cruises for those who wanted to put together a group to go with friends, You can also provide specific links to different resources that tie into the target audience.

No matter *how* you handle your payment policies, it should be something that YOU are comfortable with, because if you don't believe in it, your prospective clients aren't going to buy into it. How you phrase things can have an impact, so develop a script that you can refer to during the prospect call.

Communication is the key to happy clients. Communicate what the terms and expectations are up front, so that there are no surprises. This should all be in your Client Service Agreement.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The $45 Resume

I had another call today from someone looking for a "cheap resume."

"I need you to help me with a one page resume," the voice mail message said, "And I just need you to type the information. I listed my jobs as a colorist, beautician's aid, and also my experience in art promotion and music promotion. How much do you charge?"

By the time I called her back, she had arranged for another "service" in town to create the resume, for $45. "Just so I know," she said, "How much do you charge?"

I won't even get into the discussion where I asked her, not in so many words, about "what she wanted to be when she grew up." ("Because you do have a diverse background," I explained, "it's important to target the resume towards the type of position you're seeking.")

"But how much would it cost?" is all she wanted to know.
Sigh. That's all right -- I don't want -- or need -- every client who calls. Some of them don't make the correlation between investing in themselves as part of their job search, and the return on investment they'll get from a faster job search and higher starting offer, as a result of demonstrating their value to a prospective employer.

It reminded me of another client, and the e-mail response I sent back after being told, "You charge too much."

Here's what I wrote:
I'm glad you found someone to assist you with your resume update!

As you might imagine, with more than 4,000 resume writers nationwide, fees vary considerably. In fact, I've done quite a bit of research on this topic as the editor of a trade journal for resume writers. While it's true you might find someone competent who will charge very little for their services, the majority of professional resume writers -- that is, individuals who do this for a living -- invest quite a bit of time and money in keeping abreast of the latest trends in resume writing (especially about things like keyword summaries for companies who use applicant tracking systems). The national average for a resume is $279 (and that was from Dec. 2004 research).

You'll also find a wide variety of credentials among professionals. As a member of four national professional resume writing associations, and as a Certified Professional Resume Writer with a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations, I have more than 12 years of experience writing interview-winning resumes. My clients rely on my expertise to get them an interview in a highly competitive job market. I had a client recently who paid around $200 for his new resume and cover letter -- but he landed six interviews from 10 resumes he sent out, and ended up accepting a new position that will pay him $25,000 more than his current position, with the potential for $15,000 more in bonus. In essence, his $200 investment landed him a 30% raise. His situation isn't typical, but many of my clients have landed more modest increases -- along the lines of $8,000-$10,000 -- through development of an accomplishment-focused resume that helps them not only get the interview, but help the interviewer establish the areas of value that he/she can bring to the company -- by saving money, saving time, attracting new clients, etc.

I share this information with you not to impress upon you the results I've achieved with my clients, but to let you know that your investment in your career can make a big difference over time. Finding a job faster (being out of work for a shorter period of time), being able to quantify why you're worth a $3,000 higher salary than initially offered ... these are things that an effective resume can do for you. I hope that you are able to achieve the results that you are seeking from the service provider that you selected.

Good luck in your job search!

Bridget Brooks, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Image Building Communications

It probably didn't make a bit of difference to that prospective client (I never heard anything back), but it sure made
me feel better.