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.
Finding The Right Keywords
Feldberg says certified resume writers know what keywords will make your resume stand out when employers are scanning applications. Keywords are simply buzzwords, often industry specific, that employers will tend to include in their want ads. Including words such as leadership, communication, team-building and new media in your resume will show your prospective employer why you are exactly what they are looking for. Feldberg will often bold these words in a resume to make them pop.
A Foot In The Door
No legitimate resume writer will promise his or her services will end in employment. A resume cannot get a client a job, Feldberg says. A resume writer’s primary goal is make sure there’s something in the resume which compels prospective employers take a closer look at the applicant. A resume writer really needs to get to know you in order to do this, and that’s why they’re getting the big bucks.
In theory, job seekers who know themselves well should be able to follow these examples and create a stellar resume.
But for some, all the tips and templates in the world won't help.
"If an individual is hiring a professional resume writer, it's because they are having trouble articulating their value on paper. If they are told to put it on a form, they are still not going to be able to do it," Feldberg says.
Only you can decide if hiring a resume writer is worth it for you. If you decide to take the leap, a complete list of certified resume writers can be found at the National Resume Writers Association web site.