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Seeking help from a professional resume writer? Here are 5 things to watch out for

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Even with a stellar work record and solid references, resume writing can still be daunting. How can you really know if what you’re sending out to employers is the sort of thing they’re looking for? Fortunately, there are professionals devoted to providing this service.

Hiring a professional resume writer potentially takes out much of the frustration and confusion related to building a quality resume that will stand out from the rest. However, as is true of most things on the internet, not every resume writer is reputable. Making the wrong choice can cost you in the end.

Here are five potential red flags when seeking help from a professional.

  1. Prices are too good to be true.

The old adage “you get what you pay for” holds true here. Low cost resume services yield low quality results. If you’re only willing to spend $50 to $100, you can’t expect a highly polished, industry-tailored resume. Resume services at such low prices likely don’t offer more than a cut-and-paste job.

In fact, there has been a proliferation of resume mills on the internet. These are websites that offer a resume service for a very low fee and usually a short turnaround time. While tempting, they likely promise more than they will deliver. They usually don’t offer much in the way of service or quality.

Expect quality resume services online to go between $150 and $400. If the writer or service you go with provides a unique one-on-one service and carefully crafts your resume to industry specifications, you will easily be getting your money’s worth once you land your new job.

While writers out there who offer their services for $500 can also do a stellar job with your resume, this is definitely on the higher end of the pricing spectrum when it comes to hiring professional resume help. There’s a good chance you can find similarly qualified and skilled writers for far less.

  1. Generic or poor-quality work samples.

Expect resume writers to showcase examples of past work. This is how they demonstrate their abilities and sell their services. Try to find writers with highly detailed, well-written sample resumes. These are an indicator of a writer who knows what they are doing. However, if the provided samples seem cookie-cutter, the writer is likely not going to be able to do a better job than your average Joe Schmoe.

Be wary of buzzword-laden resumes that seem generic or lackluster. In addition, things like inappropriate fonts, excessive images, and plain or unusual formats are clear signals of the writer’s lack of ability.

Instead, seek out samples that are unique but professional at the same itme. The best resumes use strong, active language and often highlight achievements or quantifiable results.

If resume samples aren’t provided, ask for them. After all, it’d be nonsensical to hire a resume writer without reviewing their work beforehand.

  1. Lack of relevant experience.

When considering resume writers, pay attention to their previous experience. What makes them qualified to prepare such a critically important document for you? Are they able to offer recruiting tips and job search advice beyond simply resume writing? Remember that just about anybody can create a website and sell their services as a resume writer.

However, the most legitimate resume writers often have direct experience in resume evaluation. Writers with valuable recruiting tips coming out of corporate recruitment, human resources, career counseling, or any related field will do more than offering typing services. With their unique insight into the hiring process, they can craft exactly the kind of resume that hiring managers want to see.

Special certifications are another measure of a writer’s worth. While not strictly necessary, an endorsement from organizations like the National Resume Writers’ Association boosts a writer’s credibility. Think of it as a stamp of approval.

  1. Doesn’t offer a full-service consultation.

When searching for a resume writer, choose one with a robust consultation service. Some websites only ask you to fill out a simple questionnaire, which the writer will simply draw upon to fill out a generic resume template. If a resume writer isn’t going to engage you or spend a fair amount of time on your project, this is a serious red flag.

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with a questionnaire or a little back-and-forth with email, but a resume writer wanting to do a professional job will want to do more. They will want to have an actual conversation with you to learn more about your work experience and career goals. In addition, they are prepared to hear your feedback and make adjustments until you’re satisfied with the results.

They aren’t looking for a quick buck. These writers are managing an actual business and have real expertise.

  1. Poor online reviews.

Part of your vetting process should involve getting outside, unbiased information about the writer. Resume writers and businesses with poor reviews aren’t going to help you land an interview. Resume mills which turn out cut-and-paste resumes likely won’t create many satisfied clients and thus generate many complaints. This will drive down their better business bureau scores.

Before reaching out to any writer or resume service, take the time to research them. Look for reviews or personal testimonials. A caveat about online reviews is that they can be skewed by difficult clients. There are even some fake review sites that you should be avoiding entirely! So be careful when browsing through the web looking at reviews. Look on reputable sites like Yelp and Google Reviews, which are review sites much harder to fake or bot than most.

Bottom line

If you’re going to spend money on a resume writing service, be careful not to waste it. Before hiring an online resume writer, vet them carefully and pay attention to the kind of service they’re providing. Building a resume on your own may be frustrating but feeling like you’ve wasted your money is even worse.