Most business professionals will tell you that keeping your resume updated is one of the best things you can do for your career. As a career readiness teacher who has invited industry experts as guest speakers into my classroom, I can tell you first-hand that this practice, along with strategic interviewing, is critical for competitive career advancement. The secret that no one mentions, however, is the value of a resume writer.
Everyone needs a resume. It is considered the number one self-marketing tool across industries. But let me tell you, people struggle to write about themselves. I’ve spent years helping students, friends, and clients put together top-notch resumes—I’ve seen it all—and I’m here to tell you that a resume writer is the absolute best investment you can make in your professional growth.
Not convinced? I wasn’t either. No way people would pay me to write their resumes. Everyone has one, so the logic follows that everyone knows how to write one, right? Allow me to highlight three key reasons you really do need a resume writer.
Anatomy of a Resume
The simple truth is that a resume is both simple and complex. Helpful, I know. What I mean is that there isn’t anything highly technical about a resume—it isn’t code writing or some secret language that only a resume writer knows. But there is a finesse to it that, if not done properly, can knock even the most qualified of candidates out of the running. Most resumes have a few key components: summary/profile, skills or accomplishments, work history, and education. But within each of those components, every word has to be precise. There’s no margin for error.
Sometimes a quick scan can help point out major errors, but it often takes a bit of finesse to turn around a problematic resume.
As a resume writer and teacher, here are some of the most common mistakes I see in personal resumes: personal pronouns, superfluous language, general/overused action words, too specific dates, too much information, resume length, and incorrect use of bullet points. Add to that the possibility of even a single misspelled word or formatting that gets improperly parsed through a company’s application software, there’s a lot that can go wrong.
But it doesn’t have to be a problem.
Read More: How Navigating the 2021 Digital World Can Create Tough Career Challenges
Why You Need a Resume Writer
When I learned everything above, I thought to myself, how does anyone get hired? No wonder it often feels like the best person didn’t get the job—their resume may not have even made it to human eyes. That’s where a resume writer steps in. As a resume writer, it’s my job (any resume writer’s job, actually), to help you navigate everything I mentioned above paired with these next heavy hitters.
- Writing about yourself isn’t easy. I find this true to two major reasons: 1) the average person isn’t an expert writer, so when they talk about themselves they default to beginning every sentence with “I”, which is a huge no-no in resume writing (the document is about you, so the “I” is assumed and never needs to be stated), and 2) it’s very difficult for people to competently describe what they do without massively underselling their skills and talents or using overused words and phrases to do so.
- Resume writers know the tricks of the trade, and there are a lot of them. A resume writer crafts your resume strategically so that it can survive an applicant tracking system (ATS) scan. These scans parse documents based on keywords and headings, so if your document is formatted to survive this, the scan muddles your information, and very likely your application gets rejected before a human ever lays eyes on it. (Fun fact, ATS scans are used to sort through the thousands of applicants companies receive for a single job posting to help reduce that number to one that is manageable for a hiring manager to review, so they are quite literally designed to find any problem with your resume and reject you as a candidate.)
Part of that scan also includes searching for keywords from the job description that indicate you may be qualified for the job. But because job descriptions are not the language most people use to describe themselves or their work, they undersell their abilities. That is, perhaps, the number one concern I see from clients when asked what they think is holding them back with their current resume—they know they are underselling their abilities, but they don’t know how to fix it.
Your resume writer will also help ensure your resume avoids common screen-out factors. The biggest two offenders here are resume length (one to three pages is common, but more than four requires extensive expertise and carries a heavy risk of being eliminated purely based on length) and agism (a high risk when more than only the most current ten to fifteen years of experience are displayed on your resume).
Read More: 5 Ways To Turn Your Dream Job Into An Exciting Career
Personal Writers VS. Contracted Companies
Now that I’ve convinced you that you need a resume writer, let’s talk about finding the right one. I might be biased, but I cannot advocate enough that you find a personal resume writer, someone who is their own business or freelances, to work with instead of using an umbrella company that contracts with writers on behalf of their clients, and here’s why.
- Companies pay their writers a fraction of what you pay for the finished product. For example, if you pay $150 for a standard resume and cover letter, your writer is probably only making $30 on your whole order. That breaks down to less than minimum wage by the time your order is closed.
- You get a blanket guarantee of an expert writer, but your writer may not really be an expert in your industry. Orders are often made available based on seniority. With a private and personal writer, they can decide if they are a good fit for your needs before starting work, and if it’s not a good match, they can refer you to someone with more expertise in your industry so that you get the best possible service.
- More relationship with your writer equals a better overall product. I can vouch first-hand, having worked as a contracted writer and a private personal writer, that with my contracted clients I had to follow company policy and language, which often left our relationship flat and made it difficult to extract helpful information from clients to best serve them. With a personal resume writer, you get someone who is looking to build a good working relationship because they want you to be happy with their work and they want you to refer your friends. It’s deeply personal.
Read More: Career Planning: Everything You Need to Know
Finding a Resume Writer
This part is easier than it sounds. My top three recommendations for finding a resume writer are to 1) ask friends for referrals—your immediate network has connections, and small businesses, like resume writers, rely heavily on referrals; 2) utilize your network on LinkedIn and search for resume writers—their connections, links to personal sites, and ratings should be enough transparency to let you know if they meet your needs; and 3) find and join social networks, like Facebook groups, where writers hang out—if possible, you may even be able to submit a post soliciting specific services to get exactly what you need.
Read More: 10 Profitable Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree
Resume writers are out there, and it’s their job (and passion) to help you land your next best job and move forward in your career. Whether you’re looking to make a significant career change, make a vertical move, get back in the market, or land your first job, the value of a resume writer cannot be overstated. So many clients report that this is one of the best investments in their careers. I know it’s a lot to trust something so big and personal to a seeming stranger, but if you research your writer or they come recommended from a trusted source, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
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