Monday, January 7, 2008

Dissecting a "How to Choose a Resume Writing Service" Article

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:

Don writes:
...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.

My response:
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.

(He adds:)
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.

My response:
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.

My response:
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 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.

My response:
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.


  1. Hello, I enjoyed reading your response to Don Goodman's article about selecting a good resume writing service. Do you ever provide recommendations on a good company? I did a google search of firms and was swamped by hundreds of them.

    Thank you in advance for your response.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. That's understandable -- and it can be difficult to judge quality when simply looking at a list of firms.

    I'd start with one of the four professional resume writing organizations -- each offers a membership roster.

    Career Directors International --

    Career Management Alliance --

    National Resume Writers' Association --

    Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches:

    Check out the resume writers available in your geographic area. Certification (as a NCRW, CPRW, CRW, or MRW) is preferred. That shows that the accrediting organizations have evaluated the quality of the applicant's work.

    Next, contact the company. Some organizations work primarily by e-mail -- evaluate the timeliness of the response and the quality of the communication. If speaking with a prospective resume writer by phone, inquire about credentials and experience.

    I'm a big proponent of samples -- ask to see some (but don't be surprised if they're not for positions directly related to the type of job you're seeking). What you're looking for here is a visual appeal, good use of organization and white space, and a focus on accomplishments.

    Inquire about the process -- do they use a phone or in-person interview? Questionnaires? Online chat? What is *your* preferred style?

    Ask about fees. What is included? How do they charge (by the page? By the hour? By the project)? When do they want payment (a deposit up front, full payment up front), and what methods of payment do they offer (check? Mastercard? Visa? Paypal?).

    You're looking for a good "fit" -- so take your time and do some research. There are a LOT of resume writers out there. Some will charge less than $100 for a resume and cover letter -- be careful, as you will often get what you pay for.

    But don't be lured in by firms offering access to the "hidden" job market at a cost of $6,000 or more.

    Expect to pay somewhere between 2-5 days salary for the package -- and consider it an investment in your job search. A good resume will help open doors for interview opportunities, and provide talking points for the interview itself. And that kind of access is *priceless.*

  4. You're welcome! Thanks for visiting my blog.

  5. They obviously have a lot more skills than they did starting out in the job market and need to exhibit those qualities well. If you are in this boat, perhaps the services of a professional resume writer are your best bet.

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  7. I think your advice is a lot more sound than some of the others ive read. I hired last year, and (as far as i know) she doesnt have any professional certifications but it was by far the best resume ive ever purchased (and ive bought from several over my 20+ year long career). she also uses a questionnaire, but did call and email when she had questions or wanted clarification. what impressed me the most was the layout and that it was largely accomplishment/results based. Aside from that, I REALLY liked that the person who I spoke with and write to was the one who actually WROTE my resume. no middle-man confusion.

    the year before that, i had hired a BIG name resume firm (that claims to have every certification available) and never heard anything from them until i received my draft. Which would have been okay if it had been well written, but it wasn't. Even after asking them to revise it, I still had to go back and fix facts, grammar and phrasing myself.

  8. The blog and data is excellent and informative as well.
    quick resume builder

  9. A good resume writer is someone who you would partner or work with during the process of writing your resume. The resume services Edmonton is one of the best I heard. They give you tips and they make sure that you get the resume that speaks everything about you.

  10. I know of numerous outstanding resume writers who are neither certified nor published in books. write my accounting essay

  11. I'm not sure about hiring one. But for those who are looking for good resume writing service, you can read the reviews here:

  12. The Wife & I are thinking of having ( by Don Goodman write the wife's resume I read his articles I looked up reviews both good and bad I called him for the wife he answered I finally got the wife to call him because he said he does a phone interview but she did not feel it was no more then basic Q's and as far as the questionnaire he said when you pay and join you get the questionnaire. if Bridget and any one else can field that one please do my name is Ken I don't know how this works come back to this blog or what my e-mail is Thank You

  13. Hi, Ken!

    Don has been in the resume writing industry for many years, and although I have not reviewed his resume samples personally, I have heard numerous good things about him!

    You can find out more about his process here:

    Speaking of "process," this is probably one of the biggest factors when choosing a resume writer -- fit with his/her process. As most resume writers are self-employed, each one has his or her own style of working with clients. Some use questionnaires to gather your information; others use a phone interview -- some (like Don), use both. It depends on how YOU like to provide information as to which process will work best for you!

    Most resume writers also do a basic "screening intake" when you call for information -- asking a few questions about the work you do now, what kind of job you're looking for, sometimes how you've found your jobs in the past, how you'll be looking for your next job (networking? applying online? working with recruiters? LinkedIn?). This helps the resume writer ensure a fit from *their* viewpoint. You should also ask questions from *your* viewpoint:
    • How does the process work?
    • Do you have any samples of your work I can see? (some writers allow you to see samples of their work with other clients that has been "fictionalized" to remove any identifying information, but remember that YOUR documents will be customized for YOU)
    • What is the timeframe? (i.e., how soon after I provide you with my information will a draft be delivered?)
    • What will I receive from you? (Word file? PDF file? scannable/text resume?)
    • Have you worked with someone in my circumstance (and/or industry) before?

    The biggest issue I saw in your post was that you were calling for your wife. As a resume writer, that can be a red flag. We want to ensure that the person who we are writing the resume for actually *wants* to participate in the process. Sometimes, I get a call from a mom who is calling for their college student, or a wife calling for a husband. In those situations, I require the person whose resume I would be writing to contact me directly. Make no mistake about it -- the resume writer can't do the "work" of writing the resume alone. The jobseeker must invest the time to provide solid information!

    Resume writers are here to help you (your wife) secure interviews. But they generally won't start the process until you've made the commitment (in most cases, that involves upfront payment for services, since each resume service is customized for the individual client). So, if you've asked the questions and understand the process, I encourage you to move forward!

    I hope that helps.