Resume writing is ideal for any economic climate. In a hot economy, prospective clients are seeking jobs that will sell their skills and experience and help them advance their careers. In a recession, job searchers need a quality resume that will give them a competitive edge in landing scarce jobs.
Jobseekers search out resume writers to help them land their dream job. They may not have time to put together a resume themselves, or they may lack the writing skills necessary to accurately describe their current responsibilities and why they are qualified for a particular position. Others find it hard to "sell themselves" — describing their own skills and qualifications is hard for modest people.
In addition, a resume writing business can be operated in your spare time — early mornings, daytimes, evenings, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Jan Melnik, a Certified Professional Resume Writer and author of "How to Start a Home-Based Resume Service," started her resume career at home in her spare time.
"I worked in a traditional office environment from 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.," she says. "I scheduled my own client appointments from 7:30 p.m. until 9 or 9:30 p.m."
Melnik also met with clients on Saturdays and Sundays, which made her services popular with clients who were unable to get away from work during the day to have their resumes written.
Sue (Nowacki) Campbell, of 1st-writer.com in St. Augustine, Fla., agrees that after-hour services are popular, but cautions spare-timers that they may prefer not to accept walk-in clients, particularly if you are home-based. (Many spare-time resume writers nowadays choose to work with clients virtually and/or meet with clients in public places, like libraries and coffee shops.)
My clients know that I am willing to work weekends," Campbell says. "It's a selling point for many who are currently employed and job searching on the side, but I never see clients without appointments. Never."
Appointment-only scheduling allows the spare time resume writer to work precisely those days, and hours, desired.
Getting Started in Resume Writing
According to Melnik, a successful resume writer will have:
- Excellent writing skills
- Strong communication and speaking abilities
- Ability to compose original documents with ease
- Good word-processing abilities
- Excellent eye for design and layout of documents
- Ability to develop rapport with clients
Business management skills are also essential for success.
The largest expense for the resume writer is equipment. Any computer system, using any word processing program, will do — but you must use a laser printer for developing the final copies of a client's resume. Inkjet printers, even the very best ones, simply don't provide the quality of a laser printer. (However, many resume writers don't provide hard copies of resumes anymore; they simply provide a digital document that the client will print on their own.)
Services you can offer include anything from basic retypes of resumes already handwritten by clients to the complete development of a resume from scratch. Add-on services can include writing cover letters, developing materials for use during the interview process (including documentation of key accomplishments, salary history, and references), interview follow-up correspondence, and LinkedIn profile updates.
Marketing Your Services
When you are first getting started, it's not necessary to have a large ad in the Yellow Pages. A simple listing (your company name and telephone number) is helpful, but it is not always possible to start your spare-time business at the exact time the Yellow Page advertising representatives are selling ad space. (Nowadays, most resume writers acquire clients through through website and online marketing efforts as well as offline marketing methods that aren't centered on the Yellow Pages as they once were.)
To market your services, consider:
- Offering to write resumes for friends and family members for free or for a reduced price, if they will help your marketing efforts. When you finish with their resume, give them business cards and informational brochures to pass along to people they know. Practicing on friends will also help make you more comfortable with the interviewing and resume writing process.
- Taking out ads in local college newspapers and in weekly community newspapers. One ad a week in a large-circulation newspaper is sufficient and may be all you can afford. Sundays are usually your best bet.
- Posting fliers on student bulletin boards at university campuses or at local community sports (bulletin boards at laundromats, grocery stores, and libraries) to increase awareness of your services.
- Distributing brochures to local employment agencies, college counselors and mental health therapists who provide career counseling.
- Placing neon fliers advertising your services on the windshields of cars at shopping malls and office complexes to prompt telephone calls from prospects wanting to know more about your services or schedule an appointment.
- Writing and distributing news releases announcing the creation of your company to appropriate media.
- In 2013, market your services online using your website, blog, social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), write articles, and using paid online advertising (Facebook ads, LinkedIn ads, AdWords, etc.).
Your client base will also provide leads. Resume services have an excellent potential for repeat and referral business. The job search process truly never ends, and clients that start with a high dollar initial package ($100-$600) can be followed with annual updates at an hourly rate (bringing an additional $50-$200 in revenue per client per year).
Referrals also help the spare-time resume writer develop a steady, profitable business. One resume client can lead to referrals of friends, family members, co-workers, roommates, and classmates.
What To Charge
Setting a fee schedule is a critical component for success in your spare-time resume writing business. Fees generally vary by geographical regions (with higher fees charged on the East and West Coasts), and new resume writers generally charge less than experienced writers.
According to the 2011 Resume Writers' Digest Annual Industry Survey, hourly rates charged for resume production range from $50 to $250. Calling your prospective competitors will also give you an idea of the range of fees charged in your area. But make sure you are comparing apples to apples — resume providers typically charge less for straightforward updates versus resume writing and editorial consultation.
The rewards of establishing your own spare-time resume writing business — having clients come to you, pay you, to do what you enjoy, on your own terms — are apparent.