Should a Pro Write Your Resume

A note from a reader asks:

I’m unemployed and need advice.  What’s your opinion on having a professional write your resume?

Timing for this question couldn’t be better.  Seth Godin (aka a marketing guy) just wrote about it.  I figure when non-HR folks are talking about resume development, it’s a big deal.  If you listen to Seth, he puts out a pretty compelling argument for having a pro write your resume (or business plan for that matter).  You can check it out here.

I believe part of making the decision to have your resume written by the professional is understanding what they can do for you.  So I’ve tapped into my network and asked three of the best professional resume writers to offer up their thoughts.

Why should a person consider having a professional write their resume?

Erin Kennedy, president of Professional Resume Services, offers a full line of executive and professional resume services including resumes, cover letters, bio’s and social network profile development.  Erin explains how a professional resume can make a difference.  “A certified resume writer knows the ins and outs of resumes, what needs to be on there, what can be removed and how to position you to show off your strengths and accomplishments.

After I create it, I always tell my clients to send their NEW resume out to a place they had previously sent it but received no response. Nine times out of ten, they get a call for an interview.”

What’s involved in the process of having a pro write your resume?

Dawn Bugni, owner of The Write Solution, shared some insights regarding what to expect.  “As with most career-related questions, the response to that is, ‘It depends.’ Some professionals work strictly from questionnaires, some interview clients over the phone or in person, some use a combination of both. Regardless the information- gathering process, creating a resume is a collaborative process. When engaging with a professional, most likely, a client will be asked to provide existing career documents, if available. Additionally, they should gather any other career-related documents – performance appraisals, letters of recommendations, thank you notes – that help demonstrate expertise in the career path of choice. The resume writer will also need a clear picture of current industry vernacular and sought-after skills, so representative job postings are also helpful in the process. Depending on the writer, job seeker goals and industry standards, more information may be required. Bottom line: the better the information provided; the better the end document.”

Dawn’s expertise and company focus is on creating compelling career documents for her clients.  As such, she added that it was important to “locate a professional whose work style matches client preferences. Job seekers who enjoy deep introspection and writing will probably do better with questionnaires, where a talker probably does better with an interview-style writer. Going through the resume creation process with a trained professional brings an objective perspective to career accomplishments, boosts overall confidence and sheds light on current job market navigation.”

Are there situations when someone shouldn’t consider having a professional write their resume?  If so, what are they?

Dawn says there are two situations where it might not make sense.  “One is if someone truly couldn’t afford to invest in professional assistance. That said, there are many, many top-notch career professionals writing blogs, offering free resume writing courses and contributing samples to books. While one-on-one assistance may be out of reach, the wisdom of those providers is available for those willing to dig for it.

The second would be if the current resume was landing lots of interviews in the job seeker’s chosen field. If that’s the case, the resume has done its job.  Although, that doesn’t mean the individual wouldn’t benefit from the coaching and interview preparation inherent to the resume creation process. (Keep in mind, lots of interviews and no offers are usually a sign of difficulties while interviewing. Interview coaching may be order.)”

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, MRW , president of CareerTrend, who specializes in professional and executive resume writing and social media profiles, explains the distinction.  “The job hunter is the industry and/or functional expert; the resume writer is the resume writing and career strategy expert – a storyteller with a twist.”

Should a person’s LinkedIn profile look like their resume?

Jacqui’s take?  “The LinkedIn profile is not a mini-me resume. Though the resume will fuel the LinkedIn profile, the LI profile should include distinctive language and have its own style. For example, the Summary section is an opportunity for first-person narrative, akin to the tone of a professional biography that briefly and impactfully articulates one’s unique value proposition. As well, in the Experience section, though bullets and snippets of one’s resume may be woven in, it’s not a copy and paste process, but a selective development that includes highlights from the resume achievements and power statements. Moreover, the LinkedIn profile offers billboard space on which to display feeds from your professional blog and Twitter, SlideShare presentations and full recommendations. This multimedia venue is an adjunct to the resume, another vehicle in which to drive career and value proposition content in a unique way that complements the resume.”

Tell me your thoughts on VisualCVs.

Erin is a fan of VisualCVs and offers them to clients. “They are great for people in any industry or position because clients can upload images, charts, presentations, awards—essentially your whole portfolio. You can then get a customized URL that you can give to people if you are at a business luncheon, mixer, etc. and don’t have your resume on hand. Plus, it gives the reader a different perspective on YOU.”

Dawn agrees that a well-done VisualCV can be a solid addition to a job seeker career package.  But cautions job seekers not to use them as a first-point-of-contact document.  “The VisualCV (VCV) should be carefully crafted and continue to enhance the message and value established by the rest of the job seekers career information. Just as the resume and LinkedIn profile derives from a ’what does the reader want to know?’ perspective, so should the VisualCV. If information does not support the search, then it should not appear on the resume or the VCV.  Each piece of a job seeker’s toolkit needs to stand alone yet must also integrate with and enhance the rest of the information.”

(Editor’s Note:  For more info on VisualCVs, check out this video VisualCV in Plain English.)

If you could give one piece of advice to a job seeker today, what would it be?

Jacqui suggests taking a “slow down and think approach.  In addition to building relationships on- and offline, the most important aspect of an effective job search strategy is thoughtful introspection that elicits a sharp and compelling value proposition that resonates with the audience (hiring decision makers and influencers) you wish to attract. Make that goal the centerpiece of your activity.”

Erin recommends using social networking to your advantage.  “Develop contact relationships, build your network, and gain visibility for yourself online. Create a strong internet presence and maintain that. You will be amazed at how quickly you will be ‘found’. “

Many thanks to Dawn, Erin and Jacqui for sharing their expertise!  I know I’ve learned a lot.  I totally believe you should have a resume ready at all times so, if you’re interested in staying connected and learning more from these resume pros, be sure to check out their blogs at CareerTrend, Exclusive Executive Resumes, and The Write Solution.

Oh, and while we are on the subject of recruiting, if you’re interested in learning more about the emerging trends in recruitment strategy, join us for the webinar “5 Essential Bank Recruiting Strategies for 2011 and Beyond” on Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 12:00n EST/11:00a CST.  Whether you are in the banking industry or not, there’s something for you.  Additional details and registration information can be found at BankLawStuff website.  Look forward to seeing you there!

Image courtesy of SOCIALisBETTER


  1. says

    This is great – I’ll be passing this along to a few people!

    I have a friend who is going through the job search process now and one of the things I hear from her is that everyone gives different, and often conflicting, advice. It would be an interesting exercise to have a few different resume writers write a resume for the same person and see how they differ. Not that one would necessarily be right and another wrong, but it would be very interesting to see different takes on the same information.

  2. says

    Dawn, Erin, and Jacqui,

    GREAT article! You provided valuable information for those considering a professional resume writer.

    Thanks for sharing your insights-I’ll definitely be retweeting this!

    Charlotte Weeks
    President of The National Resume Writers’ Association

  3. says

    @Ginger – Thanks for the comment. That would be an interesting experiment. If anyone wants to take it on…they can use mine as the example. 😉

    @Charlotte – Many thanks for the comment!

  4. says

    While I’m a little hesitant on hiring someone to write my resume based off of just what I physically give or show them, I definitely like Seth’s idea of having someone else converse with you over the topics you would put on a resume and then try writing one. It can definitely give you a fresh look at what you’re conveying.

  5. says

    Thanks for the comment Pat. I agree having a pro write your resume is a personal decision. The important thing, as Dawn mentioned, is to find the right person and process for your situation.

  6. says

    I disagree a little bit on LinkedIn. It should be very similar to your resume, especially with the key words. As a recruiter, LinkedIn is where I go and the key words are critical to getting noticed.

  7. says

    Thanks for the comment Jeff. This was a surprise to me too. My LinkedIn profile is very similar to a resume…but I’m also trying to make it search friendly at the same time.

  8. says

    It all depends on the person who’s CV it is and the company you are going to opt to write the CV / Resume.

    There no better person if you feel comfortable and confident in writing your own CV but 90% aren’t either lack of writing skills or just time.

    My advice would be Google the CV / Resume Writing Company you are looking to use and find what there reviews are like from a 3rd party website and to be honest best way is give them a call and get a gut feeling on the service and see if you can speak to one of there CV Consultants.

    Hope this helps.