An internet search for résumé writer these days will turn up one million or more results. Spend a little time researching these services, and you’ll see price ranges from less than $100 to several thousand dollars. Maybe you’re asking, “Why do prices vary so much?” Perhaps you’re thinking, “It’s just a résumé. Why should I pay more?”
In my 17 years of working with job seekers as a professional credentialed résumé writer and career coach, and thanks to careers industry associations, careers industry training providers, and annual conferences offered through our professional associations, I am privileged to be connected to hundreds of credentialed, scrupulous, and conscientious résumé writers around the world who respond to emails and phone calls daily from job seekers who used cut rate résumé writing services and are now willing to pay a “real professional” to fix the bargain basement résumé.
I surveyed some of my colleagues, and in hopes of educating consumers about our industry, practice, and services, we collectively developed a list of 10 reasons why you should not use a cut-rate résumé writing service:
1) They use standardized templates
Standardized templates may look good, but this one-size fits all approach does not allow you to demonstrate your most impressive accomplishments, skills, qualities, and strengths. What if you’re looking for a career change and want to highlight accomplishments from 15 years ago? The standardized template does not provide a way for you to customize your résumé to your specific needs, and worse; you may not even receive it in a Word document where it can easily be edited or corrected.
2) They use standardized phrases
Recruiters are tired of seeing the same old words and phrases like overachiever, self-driven, accomplished, proven results, etc. These canned phrases rarely address your unique selling features or worse yet, may inaccurately represent your role altogether. If these phrases are outdated, overused, or contain clichés, a recruiter will immediately move on to the next candidate.
3) Outsourced to non-native English speakers
Gayle Howard of Top Margin in Melbourne, Australia shared that résumé mills routinely outsource projects to non-native English speakers, who misspell words, don’t use proper punctuation, and use words and phrases out of context throughout the résumé. Ms. Howard stated, “When there are issues with plurals or words used out of context and found throughout the résumé, this could deter recruiters and hiring managers from contacting you for an interview, especially if a strong command of written and verbal English is a job requirement.”
4) There is no continuing education mandate or certification requirements, or even degree requirements to write your résumé.
Hiring a non-credentialed résumé writer is like seeking medical treatment from a barber or legal advice from a bar tender. A credentialed professional résumé writer has made the investment in that certification and is required to maintain his/her certification by earning continuing education credits, and in some cases, submitting a portfolio of work to a certifying review board every few years. These professional associations are dedicated to training and developing independent writers, and preserving the quality and integrity of the résumé writing service industry. The National Résumé Writers Association even has an ethics committee that will investigate writers who are reported for unethical practices.
5) The writer is instructed to spend less than 2 hours working on your project.
I recently read a job advertisement for a résumé mill recruiting writers. The advertisement indicated that the writer would earn up to $40 per project and spend a maximum of 2 hours per project. Fast writing does not equal good writing, and it’s highly likely that the résumé you receive back will contain major mistakes and not say anything significantly different than what you wrote yourself. These résumé factories are strictly concerned with high-volume workflow rather than your success. Someone instructed to a maximum of two hours working on your project is working at a rate of diminishing return if they go beyond the allotted time.
6) Accuracy and customer satisfaction is not a concern.
A credentialed professional résumé writer that is a small business will consistently strive for customer satisfaction and will go above and beyond to provide you with the best service possible. The writers with résumé mills are faceless and nameless. They don’t have to please you. Dawn Rasmussen of Pathfinder Careers states, “Those who don’t care are sloppy and don’t strive to build a solid standing or reputation within their industry and client base. So, if they make mistakes, and have unhappy customers, they don’t care.”
7) It’s a volume-based market; not quality-driven
Résumé factories are strictly concerned with high-volume sales and workflow rather than your success. Amy Adler of Five Strengths Career Transition Experts states, “Résumé mills are designed to be factories. So whatever in = whatever out.” Adler stated that the résumé mill model, “makes me think of drawing names out of a fishbowl and assigning the project to a writer.” At best, you may end up with a writer who knows a little something about your industry, but the product they produce is not service-driven; it’s volume-driven and time is money.
8) Limited or no personal interaction your writer
In a high-volume market, there’s no time for a conversation with your writer. Low priced and cut-rate résumé writing services don’t care about getting the information right; they just care about getting it done. If you have the luxury of a 15-minute phone consult, it’s more likely that you’re speaking with a sales person rather than a writer. Annette Richmond of Career Intelligence Résumé Writing stated that she’s happy to hop on a phone call with a client and ask/answer questions if needed regarding the résumé or even job search process. She stated, “I’ve worked with people who’ve had cheap résumés done, and one of the things they complain about is not being able to talk to the résumé writer EVER.”
9) Lack of key words and understanding of Applicant Tracking Systems/modern formatting requirements
The application and job search process has changed drastically over the last 20 years due to advances in technology. Many mid-sized and large companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to manage and store applicants’ résumés. A credentialed professional résumé writing expert should have some knowledge and training on how to incorporate the right format, strategy, and key words into the résumé. Beth Colley of Chesapeake Career Management Services stated, “I tell my clients that it’s like playing chess against a computer. The job seeker’s success is literally based upon a mathematical algorithm, and we have to know how to play within the computer’s rules.”
10) They provide a product; not a service
High-volume, low cost résumé mills have no skin in the game. How successful the résumé is for you is not their concern. In fact, they are providing a product; not a service. When you pay a credentialed professional résumé writer, you are directly paying someone’s salary for that project. That expert is rooting for you, cheering you on, and needs/wants you to succeed. Amy Adler of Five Strengths Career Transition Experts stated, that many credentialed expert résumé writers offer value-add information from the initial phone call. “An expert is not as concerned with the sale as he/she is in helping a client to succeed.”
In conclusion, all résumé writing services are NOT created equal. When comparing résumé writing services, don’t be afraid to ask about industry credentials, continuing education, in-person or phone interviews, client satisfaction, specialized industry expertise, average amount of time spent working on your project, additional coaching services, or years of experience in their field. This is your career. Using a cut-rate résumé service could significantly extend your job search by several months and further drain your financial resources. If obtaining the right job with the right pay in the shortest amount of time possible is important, then do your homework and make the right choice for your career.
Beth Colley is a Certified Master Résumé Writer and holds numerous other career coaching credentials. She is the owner and Chief Career Strategist of Chesapeake Career Management Services
, located in Maryland and possesses 17 years of career management experience. She is also on the Board of Directors for the National Résumé Writers Association.