How to Find the Very Best Résumé Writer for Your Job Search

There are thousands of résumé writers out there with varying skills and experience levels, and you’ll want to find the best possible match for your project. After all, the relationship you form with a résumé writer or firm can last for years, since most résumé companies charge their existing customers considerably less for future updates.

It’s also imperative that you don’t get ripped off by making a substantial monetary investment in a substandard résumé that is incapable of opening any doors.

1. Scrutinize the Samples

Regardless of the résumé writer’s experience and credentials, the proof is always in the pudding. This is the surest way to know the quality of work you’ll be paying for. Be sure to review samples of everything you need, including résumés, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles. If the résumé writer does not feature samples on their website, simply request them via email.

Never do business with a résumé writer who cannot offer you any samples to review.

2. Check the Credentials

This is an industry full of credentials, including Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW), Nationally Certified Résumé Writer (NCRW), Certified Advanced Résumé Writer (CARW), Certified Expert Résumé Writer (CERW), Certified Federal Résumé Writer (CFRW), Certified Master Résumé Writer (CMRW), and Certified Executive Résumé Master (CERM).

These certifications span a wide range of difficulty, but guarantee that the résumé writer has proven their skill and wish to be taken seriously in their industry. Perhaps the easiest certification to obtain is the CPRW, which requires résumé writers to pass a comprehensive exam and then quickly assemble an impressive résumé out of pages of rambling, poorly-organized information.

On the other end of the spectrum are the master credentials. Those who complete the CMRW and CERM exams have to prove their skills across a wide variety of industries and submit robust résumé portfolios to a highly discerning judging panel of résumé experts. To keep their master credentials, résumé writers have to resubmit all new, exceptional portfolios every few years. Master résumé writers normally have at least 5 years of full-time experience, the respect of their peers, and the career longevity to ensure you can get future updates at discounted prices. They also have broad experience across industries, so if you are in a niche profession, chances are a master résumé writer will be a better fit.

Résumé writers with absolutely no credentials can still be extremely talented, but chances are if they have yet to pass even the most basic résumé writing exam, they’re not very serious about being successful résumé writers for the long term. This can pose a problem if your résumé is failing and the writer you hired is suddenly too busy editing a romance novel to help you.

3. Check the Awards

Again, there are many gifted résumé writers out there who consistently produce tremendous work, yet have never pursued or won any awards.

However, the industry’s most legendary résumé writers tend to regularly compete, and win, Toast of the Résumé Industry (TORI) Awards, the most coveted honor for a résumé writer. These awards are granted annually in an international competition in which contestants submit their best work in 8 different categories. Winners are selected by a blind panel of global industry experts. You can view the winning masterpieces here:ésumé-industry-awards-tori/résumé-award-winners/.

The samples featured through this link represent the greatest examples of résumé writing as recognized on a global scale. So even if your chosen résumé writer has never entered the competition, make sure that their featured samples are at least on par with the industry’s very best.

4. Have a Conversation

It’s incredibly important that you vibe with your résumé writer. Phone conversations are often the easiest way to determine the chemistry, or lack thereof, you will share with your chosen writer.

The best résumé writers are highly experienced, strategic, and encouraging. A phone consultation should leave you feeling excited about your drafts and energized for your job search. Most importantly, you should feel heard, perfectly understood, and completely confident that your résumé writer will produce top-quality work because they genuinely care about the success of your job search.

Ideally, the relationship you share with your résumé writer should feel like a strategic partnership with a trusted advisor. If, at any point, you feel like you are paying a glorified typist to regurgitate the content they require you to provide though a lengthy questionnaire – run away!!!!

Beware of any résumé writer or company that won’t even engage in a conversation with you until payment is made in full. Chances are, they are only interested in taking your money and accommodating as many customers as possible, so you won’t experience first-class service.

Once you get someone on the phone, you can ask them all the necessary questions to determine if this writer will be the best fit.

Learn about their process: For example, how will they gather your information? Will they make you fill out lengthy forms, or will they collect your information through personal phone conversations – or will they tailor their approach to meet your schedule, needs, or comfort level? How long does it take to get your drafts developed?

Understand their vision for your project: What do they envision for your personal résumé presentation? Based on your unique job search situation, what products do they recommend? For example, would an executive biography or networking letters make sense for your case? Do they create fully unique LinkedIn profiles, or do they simply copy/paste your résumé into LinkedIn? Can they design logos, create LinkedIn background images, or change the colors in your profile picture as needed to create a consistent branded look across all documents/platforms?

Get to know the writer: Ask about their experience in writing for your industry/profession. How long has the writer been in business? How much do the services cost? What is their success rate? Do they guarantee the success of their résumés?

Then of course, be sure to ALWAYS ask them this ever-important, fundamental question:

“Of the many résumé writers there are to choose from, why are you the one I absolutely have to hire?”

In other words: What is their value proposition? If they can’t promote a clear value proposition for themselves, how can they do so for you?

5. If It Doesn’t Feel Right, Shop Around

First instincts are normally correct. Trust your gut and only hire a résumé writer you are personally excited to work with.

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