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.

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