For most unemployed people trying to navigate an increasingly crowded job market, the idea of spending $500 on anything is probably unappealing. So, is it worth shelling out that kind of cash to hire a professional to write your resume?
Elizabeth Carpenter says yes.
She had been a police officer for 13 years when she decided to change her profession to nursing. She'd never written a resume and hadn't been on a job interview in more than a decade.
"I was so out of touch with the current format and really how to get out there and sell yourself," Carpenter says.
She scoured the internet and found Robyn Feldberg, the president of the National Resume Writers Association. Carpenter hired Feldberg as her resume writer and job coach. One thing Carpenter learned was how to show prospective employers how her skills as a police officer carried over to her new field. Within two weeks of sending out her resume, she had interviewed for and landed the job of her dreams.
"Her resume really brought out my strengths...You look at it on paper and think wow, I'm better than I thought I was," Carpenter says. "I really am marketable."
Feldberg says that in addition to creating an eye-catching design and writing with impeccable grammar, there are several things a resume writer can do for you.
A resume writer will use their client's resume as an advertising tool—creating a brand that aligns with employer’s goals. This means focusing on what the client can bring to the table and using those attributes to show a prospective employer what the client can do for them. Feldberg says she does this by finding out what her clients want out of their job and creating a focused statement to put at the top of their resume. For example, a resume for a sales management executive might begin with the phrase, "A Turn-Around Specialist with Proven Ability to Drive Revenues & Build Top-Ranking Organizations."
Making The Most of What You Got
"You work with what you have, you don't exaggerate," Feldberg says. "Most importantly though, you need to know what [the employer’s] target is. The entire resume strategy is going to come directly from what they have to work with and what their target is."
"Typically, when people are competing for jobs, they're competing with people with a similar background and level of education. You can't sell what is the same you need to sell what is different," she adds.
Maybe you've had a unique experience on the job (or off it) that makes you stand out. A stay-at-home mom returning to the workforce might include her extensive background managing a Boy Scout troop, to demonstrate her ability to supervise strong-willed subordinates in challenging environments.
One thing you definitely don’t want to do is lie about or exaggerate your background. The risks far outweigh the potential upside.