Hiring a Resume Writer? Ask These Questions First
More from WSJ.com:
A Career in Communications/Public Relations
The Keys to Unlocking Your Most Successful Career
A Career in Accounting
Weeks after Rosalyn Ray was laid off from her job as a medical health clerk last year, she decided to hire someone to revamp her résumé.
"I wasn't getting any hits," she says. Ms. Ray eventually hired a résumé writer she found online. Ms. Ray was initially wowed by the writer's website, which boasted dozens of résumé samples along with testimonials.
More than $100 and a week later, her résumé came back full of typos and misspellings. "I didn't do too much due diligence," admits Ms. Ray, 49, from Oakland, Calif.
With low barriers to entry, résumé-writing services have mushroomed as job seekers who've been out of work for a prolonged period compete for the attention of hiring managers. Out of more than 400 members of the National Résumé Writers Association, or NRWA, (one of two main trade associations for résumé writers), only 34 have attained the National Certified Résumé Writer Credential. That makes quality tough to discern. Résumé-writing services cost between $100 and $2,000 dollars, says Charlotte Weeks, president of NRWA, making it critical to know what you're getting before you pay up.
Five questions to ask a résumé writer before making the investment.
1. Do you know my industry?
While some résumé writers promote their array of knowledge, it's important to find someone who can also delve into your specific industry. A résumé for a finance role, for example, requires a deep understanding of quantitative skills. Recruiters reading a general, but well-written résumé, may be put off by what appears to be a lack of industry relevance.
This can be especially important for career switchers or others entering a new industry who don't yet know the ins and outs of their new field, says Stacey Rudnick, director of M.B.A. career services at the University of Texas Austin McCombs School of Business. "Make sure they speak that language," she says. Look for telltale signs like previous clients or industry affiliations to help gauge their industry acumen.
2. Can I see samples that aren't posted on your website, please?
After posting his résumé on a job board two years ago, James Wester, a Dallas-based marketing consultant, 41, says six résumé writers contacted him. He chose the one whose work samples he considered most impressive. "They were making résumés that looked different and stood out," says Mr. Wester, who took time to read several industry-related samples that were emailed to him.
That's an important step. Go beyond reading a résumé writer's website and request relevant samples of his or her prior work via email. Ask to speak to references directly – don't simply rely on written testimonials. While time consuming, talking to others who've used the service (and work in a similar field) can give you a good idea of what you'll be getting and help assuage fears about the finished product, says Ms. Weeks.
3. Are you skilled at working with people like me?
After her initial résumé blunder, Ms. Ray did find someone who was capable of improving her document. Besides being local and available for a face-to-face meeting, the writer also had experience working with candidates looking for mid-to-entry level positions in her industry, the same sort of jobs Ms. Ray was targeting, she says. "It's a whole different skill set than at the executive level. She needed to tailor it down," says Ms. Ray, who is still looking for an administrative assistant role.
4. How will you tackle writing my résumé?
Résumés edited or created from scratch by lackluster writers are easy to spot because they often read like the experience is too good to be true, says Richard Freeman, a principal recruitment consultant at recruiting firm Hays Plc. "It's almost always a series of amazing achievements and it looks like it's written by someone who is trying sell you," Mr. Freeman says.
To avoid a résumé that skims the surface and to get one that actually points out your skills and responsibilities, inquire about the professional's writing process and communication style. Look for résumé writers who do over-the-phone interviews or present job seekers with extensive questionnaires to really get at each person's experience. Be sure to ask whether the consultation includes any necessary résumé tweaks during the job-hunting process, says Ms. Rudnick.
Since candidates rarely have just one version of their résumé, it's also important to be sure a writer has the capacity to discuss different versions later on in the job-hunting process, she adds. If the writer promises an overly-speedy turnaround time, or doesn't ask for information beyond a copy of your current résumé, that's often a sign that you won't get a high-quality rewrite in return.
5. So, what did you do before you were a résumé writer?
Before signing over your résumé to a writer, it may be a good idea to ask for some insight into his or her background. While a résumé writer doesn't need a specific degree, experts point out that previous experience as an executive recruiter or human resources manager is a major asset.
"If someone owned a florist shop for 20 years and decided to go into résumé writing, I'd question how this person is qualified," says Tim Heard, founder of eSearch Associates, an information-technology recruiting firm based in Louisville, Ky.
To verify, don't be afraid to do some online snooping, such as by looking up the writer's name on a search engine or viewing their profile on a business-networking site like LinkedIn. And if the résumé writer claims to be part of a professional association, check the group's online directory for his or her name.
Read the original article on asia.WSJ.com at
Copyright Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Republishing and editing are forbidden without authorization from Dow Jones.