Resume Writers – One Business That’s Up in a Bad Economy, And You Thought Wall Street Was Unregulated…

Kris Dunn Interviewing, Kris Dunn, Recruiting

My buddy Peggy Andrews over at The Career Encouragement Blog dropped me a note late last week wondering how I felt about resume shops that charge one or two thousand large to rework someone's resume.  Great question. My response is pretty consistent with how I feel – I can't claim to be a resume expert, but I see a lot of resumes, and I'm not sure you have to pay 1-2K for executive level advice.

Does anyone else get that slightly creepy feeling when you look at the sites of some of the folks who claim to be experts at creating resumes for candidates?  I know there are some good ones out there, but every time I go to a cut and paste, lame web site and see someone claiming to be an expert, I get that sinking feeling in my stomach, for some of the folks who are probably grabbing at the services.

Apparently, my instincts are correct.  From the Wall Street Journal Careers Section:

"Hoping to find an Internet marketing spot fast, Christopher Cicero hired a professional résumé Resume writerswriter last winter. He paid her about $500 and completed her 20-page worksheet. She promised to polish his résumé soon.  The revamped document didn't arrive for nearly four months, however. And Mr. Cicero disliked the result. He believes the résumé failed to describe his accomplishments because the writer never interviewed him. "She didn't know who I was or what I was looking for," the Westchester, N.Y., resident complains. So he switched writers.

Anxious applicants increasingly use professionals to assemble impressive-looking résumés, forking over as much as $2,000. expects its 100 writers will prepare more than 20,000 résumés this year — quadruple the number in 2006, the year its service began, reports Marc Cenedella, president of the Web site for high-paid candidates.

To say the quality varies widely is an understatement," says Louise Kursmark, a veteran résumé writer in Reading, Mass., and co-founder of a writer-training academy.

Careful shopping will help you dodge rip-offs by résumé writers. It's wise to review their work, making sure samples look customized, and not like cookie-cutter templates. Then, contact satisfied customers and verify claims of professional prowess. Five U.S. associations certify résumé writers, but "some are more rigorous than others," notes Ms. Kursmark in her 2008 directory of writers.

She earned the "master résumé writer" title from Career Management Alliance, for instance, by showing she had five years of paid résumé-writing experience, submitting a diverse portfolio of résumés and completing an exam. Every two years, she must be re-certified, which includes submitting a two-page essay and five résumé client presentations.

OK.  I know there are some good ones out there, and I guess my choice would be that they have some type of experience in the industry (recruiter, HR pro, power manager who has hired), rather than the only credential being a masters in English.

Another tipping point for me regarding identifying resume writers who can't help you?  Ask them for pro bono advice in terms of a career marketing strategy. If they tell you that they only do resumes, run like hell.  They either don't care or don't have the experience to help you customize the resume in a meaningful way.

God help the folks who do an internet search and secure these services randomly.  I need to carve out some time to pay it forward and volunteer somewhere based on the economy.