You are confident that you have all the qualifications for the job you've applied for, but the translation of your talents, skills and accomplishments may not have been well represented on your resume. Showcasing why you are the best candidate for the position is the first impression a potential employer may have of you. Resume writers can help you find a balance between being too humble and bragging. They are skilled at making resumes stand out from the pile stacked on the employer's desk, which could mean the difference between snagging an interview or getting the cold shoulder.

The key to using a resume writer is finding a good one. Read on to find out how to grab the best scribe for your job search. (To read more about job searches, see Top Job-Search Mistakes For Finance Grads, Business Grads, Land Your Dream Job and How To Land A Finance Job Straight Out Of Undergrad.)

How They Can Help
Most resume writers act as your personal ad agency. They look at your resume as a "marketing" document. They are polished writers that use marketing strategies on a daily basis. They "sell" a candidate by smoothing employment gaps and changes, translating skills and highlighting key qualifications and achievements.

Specifically, these writers create a good resume by ensuring it has the following:

  • A high level of readability
  • An adequate amount of white space
  • A well-edited and error-free document
  • A view that your resume is written for the reader
  • Answers to future employers' problems and needs

Costs can range between $50 and $1,000, depending on where you go. Most resume writers operate their own businesses and prefer to charge hourly fees. Entry-level job seekers and college grads with limited experience won't have to worry about high fees because it will take less time to complete the document compared to other job seekers who have between 30 and 40 years experience as career executives. (To keep reading on this subject, see Finding Your Place In The Financial Industry and Financial Career Options For Professionals.)

The amount of time it takes to turnaround a resume will depend on your accomplishments and the length of your career. According to Frank Fox, executive director of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARW), it can take around two hours for a person with a limited experience: 45 minutes to interview, another 45 minutes to write the resume and 30 minutes to review for changes.

In addition, the typical turnaround time for a resume draft is five to 10 business days, especially if the resume writer is more established, according to Robyn Feldberg, the president of the National Association of Resume Writers (NRWA).

How to Find a Qualified Writer
Find out whether the resume writer is certified. They need to achieve certification through a series of classes, tests and evaluations. For instance, the PARW's certification process involves a test that has a multiple-choice section for general information, an area for proofreading, an essay, and a section where a resume and cover letter is written based on a hypothetical client profile. The test is then evaluated by a certification committee.

Also, many resume writers have college degrees in journalism, advertising, English and marketing.

NARW's President Robyn Feldberg also recommends that a job seeker look for a resume writer who conducts an interview, because a resume will only be as good as the information articulated. Call two or three resume writers as you shop around and make sure to find out how the final product will be delivered. Watch out for resume writers who don't listen to you, can't provide references and show you resumes that have been produced on the same resume template, Feldberg adds.

Let's take a look at some great interview questions for your prospective scribe:

Questions to Ask a Resume Writer:
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Have you done resumes in my career field?
  • Can I see examples of a final resume?
  • What\'s the price and delivery date?
  • Can you provide testimonials?
  • What\'s your process?
  • How do you gather the information?
  • How many revisions am I allowed?
  • Do you do updates?
  • Will you personally write it or do use contractors?
  • What is your satisfaction policy?

Necessary Preparations
Prepare yourself when visiting or talking with a resume writer by bringing the following items in both digital and printed forms:

  • old resumes
  • references
  • performance evaluations
  • training programs
  • materials that show your accomplishments and awards

Some resume writers may start from scratch, while others may send you off on a mission to get more letters of recommendation from vendors, customers, bosses and colleagues who have or will praise your work. (To learn more, see Top Job-Search Mistakes For Finance Grads.)

From Elephant Trainers to Physicists
Reputable writers can be found on the websites directory for both the PARW and the NRWA; however, while it's possible to find someone who has written resumes in your industry, don't get too concerned if they haven't. Feldberg says she once wrote a resume for a nuclear physicist and an elephant trainer in the same week, and believes that the process is all about asking the right questions to identify the client's value.

Additional Resources
Resume writers provide more one-on-one experience and can act as a coach, but other additional resources and alternatives are available. Members of the resume writers' organizations are located at college career services and military institutions. Check with your state's labor department for centers that offer free services, such as resume templates, free use of computers and/or printers, in addition to available seminars and workshops. However, if time is of the essence and your budget is tight, libraries and resume software may be the best options for you. (To find out how to secure the job once you've landed an interview, see Tips To Beat Tough Interviews and Taking the Lead In The Interview Dance.)

Resume writers treat your resume as a "marketing" document. The experience you have dictates the cost and how soon you'll get the finished product. Look for resume writers that are certified, ask questions as you shop around and once you've found a good writer make sure you're prepared by presenting documents that provide the best and most up-to-date information about your career and successes.

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