I like Don Goodman, but I have to disagree with some of his points in his article, "How to Choose a Resume Writing Service" on his website.
While I agree with some of his points ("The resume writing firm should have some credentials") and "Look at their samples," I have to disagree with him in particular on at least a couple of points:
...Look for credentials beyond the CPRW designation. Do the people have impressive backgrounds? Many sites won’t tell you anything beyond their CPRW designation. Great writers have great accomplishments so look to see if they have been published in books and, most importantly, find out about their business background. Did they attend a good school – did they rise through the business ranks? Being in HR is good and being an executive is even better as they have been the decision makers behind the hiring process and have demonstrated the skills to excel.
I know of numerous outstanding resume writers who are neither certified nor published in books. And I also know of several resume writers who "went to good schools" and "rose through the business ranks" but the resumes they write aren't nearly as good -- or effective -- as other writers who went to a state school and went into the field from a technical career or journalism. If you're looking for an objective measure of a good resume writer, certification can be good, but samples and the ability to draw information out of the client are more important than a fancy degree or the fact that you were once a Director of HR.
Second, he writes:
Check out their resume writing process and make sure you get to speak to someone. A good resume cannot be written just from a questionnaire, and a good resume writing firm will insist on speaking to you. This way they can ask you insightful questions that highlight the skills and achievements that impress an employer. If they don’t interview you, this means that their writers are not strong enough to have an intelligent conversation with you.
The best resume writing firms will use both a questionnaire and a phone interview. The questionnaire will jog your memory and make you think a bit about things that you haven’t thought about in a while. In fact, it not only helps you get a better resume, it helps you prepare for a job interview. High level executives would insist on a questionnaire and a phone interview and there is no reason that you shouldn’t be able to get the same VIP treatment.
According to the preliminary data from the 2007 Resume Writers' Digest Industry Survey, more than 70% of resume writers use questionnaires -- many of them exclusively. In the early days of my business, I conducted the client interview in person. Since July 2004, I have exclusively used questionnaires (occasionally supplementing them with a phone call to collect 1-2 missing items). I don't think you can judge the quality of a resume writing service by how they choose to collect their information from the client. Now if you want to talk about preferences (how clients prefer to share information), that's something else entirely.
Do they offer a guarantee? A good service will stand behind their work and offer to revise your resume for free if it is not working. You’ll want to choose a resume writing service that stands behind their product.
Some resume writers offer a guarantee -- but most see it as a marketing tactic. Lots of great resume writers will provide top-quality work and ensure their client's total satisfaction, without touting a "guarantee." And most guarantees are that they will "rewrite it for free" -- if it's not any good the first time, will it really get better? And will the client "guarantee" that they will follow the resume writer's advice and not just post their resume on Monster.com and expect the job offers to roll in?
Is there some seal of approval? Look for the BBB Online Reliability seal that shows they are a safe and reliable site.
While the BBB Online Reliability seal is nice, the fact is that the Better Business Bureau exists not only to help customers achieve trust in the businesses that serve them, but also to make money. "Buying" BBB approval isn't a guarantee of a good resume writing service. There are plenty of great resume writing services that don't have this seal.
Finally, Don and I absolutely agree on this point: "(The resume) is one of the most important documents in your career, so it makes sense to spend what it takes to get a resume that you know will work."
Feel free to e-mail me to share your tips on "How to Choose a Resume Writing Service" for a consumer-oriented article I'm writing.