Six Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Resume Writer

Question #1 – How many years of experience do you have as a full-time resume writer?

While tons of experience by no means guarantees that a resume writer has the “write stuff,” significant lack of experience (two years or less) generally indicates a lack of breadth in the types of knowledge that you would want to see in someone summarizing your career into a polished document. A less experienced writer who works closely with a more experienced mentor, however, should be just fine.

Question #2 – Are you a Certified Resume Writer?

There are at least four major organizations that certify resume writers. If a resume writer claims to be certified, you can confirm their status by visiting the websites of those credentialing organizations. The four main organizations are:
• Career Directors International (CDI)
• Career Masters Institute (CMI)
• Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches (PARW/CC)
• National Resume Writers’ Association (NRWA)
A resume certification means several things, all of which should be important to you as a potential client. First, it means the writer took the time, energy, and resources necessary to join a professional organization. That is, they see themselves as professionals and are serious about their craft. Second, they have passed an examination, submitted samples of their work, and passed the scrutiny of their peers. Many attend annual conferences where they are updated on the latest and most effective techniques in resume writing (ask your writer if he/she has attended a conference recently).

Are all Certified Resume Writers going to be excellent? No, just as all accountants or doctors are not at the top of their profession. But your search should definitely begin with verifying certification. Also, most credentialing organizations have a “mediation” process in the event you have a serious dispute with your writer.

Question #3 – Do you have experience in writing resumes for my field?

Since you are obviously an expert in your own profession, it should be fairly easy to engage the writer in a conversation that will reveal his or her knowledge. Unless your field is completely unusual, any good resume writer should be able to “talk the talk” and know much of the lingo of your profession. For example, if you are a medical office manager, the writer should be telling you they have experience in writing for clients who understand HIPAA compliance, ICD-9 and CPT codes, and Medicare / private insurance billing procedures. Writers are most effective when they have experience in the specific field involved in the resume.

Question #4 – How much will my resume cost?

First, you should distinguish between resume “typists,” who simply type and format the wording that you provide… and resume “writers,” who gather information from you and other sources, creating a unique, compelling resume that is likely to generate interest by decision-makers. Also, there are “resume mills” on the Internet that charge very low prices (kind of like getting your car painted “like new” for $99). A reputable firm with experienced, certified writers will generally charge anywhere from $300-$750 per resume, depending upon your career level and other factors. If the price is significantly below or above this range, alarm bells should go off.

Question #5 – Do you have a guarantee? If so, what is it?

Most resume writing organizations I have checked out offer, at the very minimum, a “rewrite” guarantee. That means that if you are dissatisfied with the first draft, they will take input from you on your concerns, and generate at least one rewrite. Some writers “guarantee” that your new resume will generate interviews, but again, their remedy is to rewrite your resume. If you can find one of the few resume firms that offer an unconditional money back guarantee in case of dissatisfaction, that is the best you can do. Some writers will maintain that they are so good or so professional, that no guarantee is necessary. If that is the case, you should make your own decision on how to proceed.

Question #6 – When will my order be completed?

Unless your background is extremely complex (I’m thinking of an internationally renowned scientific consultant who has made presentations on three continents and published 20 scientific papers, etc.), your resume should be ready in a week or less, preferably a few days, unless you do not need it quickly. Any longer than a week is generally not a good sign. I have seen resume writers who are great at taking in orders, only to let them gather dust and finally “crank them out” when pressed by the client. Of course, the timeline for completion only begins once you have furnished all of the information requested.

Grant Cooper is a Certified Advanced Resume Writer, author of numerous career-related articles published in journals, newspapers and online, and is the founder and president of Strategic Resumes, certified resume writers New Orleans. For more information visit

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