A reader writes:
I have been out off work for three years. I have sent out a lot of resumes and filled out a bunch of job applications, but I have not received any calls back. I was talking to a friend about it and they suggested that I get my resume done professionally. I’ve checked the price for this and it is not cheap. So I was wondering, will having my resume professional done worth the price or will it be waste of money that I honestly don’t really have?
If your resume is in horrible shape and you don’t feel at all equipped to fix it with any of the free resources available online (and there are many), then sure, paying someone to help you might be worth it.
However, you should be aware that many, many professional resume writers aren’t very good at what they do. I see a lot of resumes that were professionally done that are pretty awful and need lots of help.
I also see a lot that have recognizable hallmarks of “a professional resume writer was here,” and those hallmarks are not good ones. (For example, you do not want the words “core competencies” on your resume.)
So you really need to vet whoever you hire — you can’t just assume that because someone hung out a shingle, they’re good at it. And to vet effectively, you need to have some basis for judging, which means you need to put in the work to educate yourself about what a good resume looks like … which might get you to the point where you can do it yourself anyway. (For example, see the advice here.)
But if you try that and you’re still feeling lost, then sure — working with someone who’s good at this could help. Just be sure that you truly check for that, which means:
- Make sure it’s someone who will spend significant time talking to you and drawing accomplishments out of you. If someone is just going to take your resume and rewrite it, that’s a bad sign.
- Ask to see before and after samples of real resumes they’ve done. This is hugely important; so often when I’ve looked at the example resumes that most of these services have online, they’ve been pretty weak.
- Don’t put any weight on professional certifications for this work (like someone being certified Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches), because they’re not a guarantee of quality. There are people who are great at this with no formal training or certification, and people with formal certifications who suck. Look at their actual work.
- And stay away from these folks.