Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Which Resume Writing Certification Do You Recommend?

Which resume writing certification do you recommend: NCRW or CPRW?

Jennifer asked this question on LinkedIn, and I realized I should share my answer on this blog too.

When choosing a certification, it's really up to you to decide what you want out of certification (in other words, WHY do you want to get certified)?

I've written a couple of blog posts on the topic, and this is another reminder that I need to update my guide to resume writing certifications (mentioned in this blog post --, but I will tell you that the most common certification is the CPRW (it's also the easiest to obtain), but the CPRW won't "teach" you anything about resume writing. The NCRW and the ACRW are probably the two that are geared towards both assessing skill level AND teaching you concepts of resume writing. Gayle Howard also teaches a program for Career Directors International that leads to a CARW certification. (Gayle is amazing, by the way.)

Some questions to ask yourself:
1. Am I already a member of an association that offers a credential? (CPRW for PARW, NCRW for NRWA, CARW for CDI, etc.). If so, your cost of acquiring the credential is lower, as membership is required to apply for certification. PARW also requires ongoing membership to keep your credential "current."

2. Speaking of keeping your credential "current" -- look at what the standards are for renewing your credential. Does it require continuing education? How much? How likely am I to be able to achieve the continuing education standards and therefore renew my credential?

3. Do I just want to test my mastery of resume writing, or do I want to learn principles and concepts of great resumes along the way? Again, the CPRW would be a "minimum competency" credential, while the MRW (Master Resume Writer) offered by Career Thought Leaders would demonstrate an elite level of competency.

4. Why do I want to become certified? If, for example, you want to subcontract as a resume writer and certification is required by the contracting writer or organization, ASK which credential(s) they accept, and which they prefer. If you're getting certified as a way of attracting interest from resume prospects, be aware that the vast majority of consumers don't understand the difference between the credentials, so becoming a "certified resume writer" is good enough for them ... they can't tell them apart.

5. If you are looking for more clients, being listed in certain organizational directories as a certified writer can help you get business -- I don't have concrete figures, but I believe the PARW website gets more traffic than the NRWA or CDI websites, and therefore, being listed in their certification directory would probably yield more leads. And again, if you're using it for business development purposes, once you're certified, join and be listed in their directory too.

What do you think of these questions? Which certification do you have -- and what do you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!


  1. I am CPRW certified, and I am currently hesitant to take the NRWA certification. I recently read on a colleagues website that she is "one of only 35" NRWA certified writers. Now that seems an awful low number of certifications. I would really like to learn how many people per fail this exam (and I have raised a question relating to this on the NRWA LinkedIn Group).

    1. The number who do not pass initially is high, Tim. I know I've heard the number discussed at the NRWA conference -- I'll have to look through my notes and see if I can find it. It is definitely more rigorous than the CPRW!

  2. Bridget, when it comes to asking a question to answer a question, you have asked THE best question as your answer; "WHY do you want to get certified?"
    Decision-making becomes very easy when one refuses to compromise his/her values!
    Your additional list of "5 Questions to Ask Yourself" is the best list of questions to help in making an INFORMED decision.
    Bravo and thank you for sharing your research, observation, and wisdom. You are appreciated for your contributions in helping others reach their personal goals. Jane

  3. I took the prep modules for NRWA and performed excellent on the questions geared to resume writing regarding quantifying, creating powerful job tasks sentences etc. However when I proceeded to the grammar section, I wasn't so successful. I did not meet the mark on 4 of the grammar modules. If you fail the module, and would like to redo it, it is an extra charge. I had a colleague who is a university graduate in languages, and they failed the grammar modules too.

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