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What to look for when hiring a resume writer (Part 2 of 2)

How to choose the best resume writer for your job search
How to choose the best resume writer for your job search
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Seeking professional assistance with your resume? You're in luck, as the number of resume writers has expanded to an all-time high, with literally thousands of providers who can assist you during your job search.

So, how do you ensure you're choosing the best resume writer for your situation and career? What should you look for when hiring a resume writer? (Part 1) provides the first 3 of 7 total questions to ask when vetting a resume service.

In addition to finding a resource with the right background, volume of experience, and level of dedication, consider asking these queries to gauge the proficiency of each writer:

4 - Have you won industry awards or accolades?

Again, this is an area in which to be cognizant of resume industry practices. The only resume award competition worldwide is the Toast of the Resume Industry (TORI) Awards hosted by Career Directors International.

This contest, revered by resume writers for its intensity and the preparation required to win, is judged annually by recruiters, grammar experts, careers industry leaders, and past award-winning writers.

To get an idea of the caliber of entries and winners, review the TORI award-winning resumes.

If you find resume writers who have won other awards, be sure to ask questions to determine whether these achievements ensure quality and accuracy in the resume writing process. Some ratings sites contain “Best Resume Writer” lists of top writers, but these are often advertising tools.

5 - What do you know about my field?

While some resume writers are experts at pulling out your work history, there are some careers (such as IT) where you’ll fare best with an industry veteran.

As an example, some resume writers come from writing or liberal arts backgrounds, with limited experience in business or tech fields. These writers can struggle when trying to grasp the complexities of a career in a field requiring technical precision – and may not understand how to position you as a leader in your industry.

Particularly if your career is in finance, operations, or IT (or you’re seeking a federal position), you’ll benefit from asking industry-specific questions, such as:

  • Can you tell me the difference between a CTO and a CIO?
  • How would you describe the use of Lean Six Sigma practices?
  • What is your familiarity with credit swaps, derivatives, etc. (or other terms corresponding to your industry)?
  • How can you guide me through the federal job application process?

These may seem like questions for subject matter experts; however, a resume writer truly skilled in your field will be able to provide reasonable answers. Don’t be afraid to ask writers what strategy they would use for your field; the response can be quite telling.

6 - Where did you gain your writing expertise?

Here’s where you’ll get a glimpse into the writing ability of each professional. While it’s not unusual to have a knack for writing, the best writers have undergone university training (in addition to resume industry courses). You may find English majors, business writers, or journalists in your quest for an executive resume expert.

However, be cautious if a writer tells you that his or her only credentials include reading resumes all day (in HR or recruiting). The same way reading books doesn't make you a novelist, reviewing resumes is only part of a writer's preparation.

Creating a compelling executive resume requires hundreds, even thousands of hours of education, training, and devotion to painstaking detail and marketing strategy, with plenty of constructive feedback from other resume experts.

Again, this is a case where reviewing samples of a writer’s work will give you a solid picture of the quality you can expect.

7 – What credentials do you hold?

Resume writing certifications are not the only indicator of expertise. However, providers with credentials are required to follow stringent industry standards (in addition to a code of ethics)—and their skills have been independently tested and verified.

You can find credentialed writers and career coaches through the major careers industry organizations (Career Directors International, Career Coach Academy, National Resume Writers’ Association, Resume Writing Academy, and the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches).

Look for certifications beyond the CPRW, which has become the most common credential, to ascertain whether a writer has pursued ongoing professional training. If you’re unsure of the value behind a specific course of study, just ask! Most writers will be happy to describe the curriculum and requirements for gaining a specific certification, as they’ve often worked hard to get and maintain their credentials.

In summary, when hiring the best executive resume writer in 2014 and beyond, you’ll benefit from thorough due diligence to select the right provider for your needs.

Probing questions and careful assessment will help you find a competent, strategic partner for one of the most important transitions of your working life.