I’ve had a lot of job seekers ask me, “How do I find a good resume writer?”
It’s a great question, because some writers are fantastic… while others aren’t worth the money.
So I’m going to share 10 key things to look for before hiring a professional resume writer, and 7 questions you should ALWAYS ask.
After reading this article, you’ll know how to choose a resume writing service that’s best for you.
Let’s start with the 10 most important factors in terms of what to look for in a resume writer…
The first thing to look for in a resume writer is someone who knows your industry and role.
If you’re paying hundreds of dollars, you want someone who’s written resumes for your exact type of background! Not just a generalist who knows the basics.
This is a particularly important thing to look for in a resume writer if you work in a technical field, like software engineering, scientific research, data science, etc.
The next thing to look for in a resume writer is recommendations/testimonials. Check their website, their LinkedIn, and any other online presence they have.
You should see testimonials from past clients in most cases. If not, ask them about this and ask if they can supply recommendations/testimonials of their work.
Pay close attention to which industries these testimonials are from, too. This is another step that can help you identify whether the resume writer knows your particular line of work and has succeeded in writing great resumes for people like you!
The next step in choosing a resume writing service is possibly even more important than reading their testimonials and reviews. Here’s what to do: Ask resume writers for a few samples of real resumes they’ve written.
While they shouldn’t be disclosing private information of past clients, they should be able to provide a couple of examples with personal details “scrubbed out”.
Ideally, you’d want to see past work examples from your industry or for your type of position! If they have lots of samples but none are close to your background, that could be another warning sign that they haven’t done much work in your industry.
Before making your decision, it’s always a good idea to ask what type of guarantee they have in place. While it’s not common, I’ve seen some professional resume writing services guarantee that you’ll get interviews within 60-90 days.
More often, they’ll at least offer edits/rewriting (with limitations) if you’re not satisfied with the first version that they provide.
Either way, know what you’re getting with the money you’re paying them, and what safety net you’ll have in place if you don’t love the resume they provide or if it doesn’t get results!
In fact, just getting on the phone with a resume writing service and asking them this question will tell you a lot about their confidence! Listen to the person’s tone of voice when they answer this. Do they sound confident that you’ll be satisfied, and that the guarantee likely won’t even come into play? Or do they seem hesitant and nervous when discussing what will happen if you’re not satisfied?
This next step is optional, but highly recommended if you have industry peers that have paid to have their resume written.
If you know someone who’s done this, then ask them who they used and whether they recommend that person.
Getting a direct recommendation from someone who’s used a service first-hand in their own job search is one of the best ways to be sure you’re choosing a good provider.
One word of caution, though: Don’t choose a resume writer with no expertise in your industry just because they were recommended by a friend. You should still stick to rule #1: “Find someone who knows your industry.”
There’s a formal certification you can look for called CPRW (short for Certified Professional Resume Writer) which will help ensure that you’re hiring someone with the required knowledge and fundamentals that all resume writers should have.
Unfortunately, there are some freelancers out there who offer resume services and aren’t qualified, so this is one more way to protect yourself.
One exception: If you’re using a large company, you likely won’t see this, and it’s not necessary in my opinion.
For example, our top recommendation for affordable resume writers, TopResume, doesn’t mention this on their website, because they have a large team of writers and a thorough, in-house training and writing process that they’ve developed while writing thousands of resumes.
In this case, the overall company’s experience and well-defined procedures ensure that you’re getting a good, standardized resume that fits what hiring managers look for.
So the CPRW certification is a good way to protect yourself if you’re unsure who to choose, but it’s most important when hiring an individual or small writing agency.
If you’re going to hire a larger company to write your resume, then there’s a good chance you can find reviews from other customers who used them in their job search.
You can simply search Google for “Company Name Reviews” (fill in the company name).
If you hire an individual resume writer or a very small company, you may not be able to find reviews of them online. That’s fine and isn’t necessarily a bad sign. Smaller companies don’t get reviewed on large sites and might not have reviews appearing in Google.
In that case, just focus on the criteria above, like examples of past resume projects, testimonials on their website/LinkedIn, etc.
I’d encourage you to talk to a few providers when choosing a resume writer, and think about who you feel most comfortable working with.
You can search for all the reviews/credentials/certifications in the world, but if you get a bad vibe from a service provider and just aren’t comfortable, then find someone else.
There are plenty of choices out there! Don’t rush it, and don’t feel pressure to hire a professional before speaking to a few options!
Next, choose a budget and your budget and type of job you want.
You don’t need to hire a $1,200 executive resume writer if you’re in the first few years of your career or looking for your first job.
So don’t feel pressure to pay more than you want to.
We conducted a study recently and found that the average cost of resume writing is $527. You don’t need to pay that much if you can’t afford it, though.
There are great writers out there that have reasonable prices, and some expensive writers who aren’t very good. Most service industries are like this, in fact. That’s why it’s important to go through the steps/criteria above and ask lots of questions, too (we’ll talk about which questions to ask coming up!)
The bottom line is: When you go out to choose a resume writing service for your needs, it’s okay to look at pricing and narrow down the choices based on what you can afford. You can still get a great, professional resume this way.
FYI – the most budget-friendly resume writing service we recommend is TopResume.
And if you already have a resume, they have a free resume review tool that will tell you how strong it is before you decide on anything.
Finally, it’s worth looking at any extras you’ll be getting for the price paid. For example, do you get help with your cover letter? Is LinkedIn included? (This is typically an additional cost, so I wouldn’t expect LinkedIn to be included, but it’s an example of something to ask about).
The focus should be on the resume itself, but anything else they offer to help you find a job and advance your career is a plus!
After assessing the areas above, you should also ask some questions before you choose a resume writing service.
This will get you important answers and info, but will also help you gauge their professionalism, confidence, and how they work and communicate overall. You don’t want to hire someone who you don’t communicate well with or trust, so asking questions is part of how to identify this.
Hiring a professional resume writer can speed up your job search and boost your career, but you need to be careful when choosing a service.
As discussed above, the key things to Look for past results and examples, knowledge of your industry, and a price you’re comfortable with before deciding. If friends have paid for a resume previously, ask who they recommend, too.
Finally, ask questions and make sure you’re choosing someone who seems confident, communicates well, and who you feel you’ll work well with.
Some links on this page go to external resume services. Career Sidekick may earn a small commission on orders made through links to some of these sites (at no extra cost to you). We work hard to only recommend services that are high-quality and that we would use ourselves.