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Written by Debbie BrideDebbie Bride

When should you use a professional resume writer?

14 min read
When should you use a professional resume writer?
Artwork by:Olga Aleksandrova
We think nothing of hiring professionals all the time for things we’d rather not do ourselves, even if we’re quite capable. So why not hire a professional to write your resume? But it’s not one for any job seeker to take lightly. Here, we look at when it makes sense to seek professional resume help, and when a DIY resume is still your best bet.

There are times in life when you need to hire a professional, like if a meteorite crashes through your roof. But writing a resume is not usually one of those times. That isn’t to say you must — or should —always go it alone. 

Reaching out for professional resume help sometimes makes sense for some job seekers, while the downsides cause others to think twice. Either way, it’s no trivial consideration.

So, when should you hire a professional resume writer? 

We’ll unpack the question from different sides as we discuss:

  • The uptrend in resume writing services
  • Reasons for hiring professional resume help
  • How much resume services cost, and variables affecting prices
  • Why you might not need a professional resume writer
  • Buyer-beware pitfalls

No scarcity of options

If you haven’t already Googled something along the lines of “pay someone to write my resume” or “cost of resume service,” check it out now. The landslide of search results is astounding, with no end of “look before you leap” advice.

Few job seekers today will remember the pre-internet ancestors of professional resume-writing services. Online incarnations have been around for quite some time. Then came the staggering proliferation of online resume writing services in recent years as a post-pandemic phenomenon. Thousands of 9-to-5ers across all occupations and industries decided there was no turning back. Instead of returning to their reopened workplaces, some opted to work remotely in a similar job or hang up an e-entrepreneur shingle. Others steered their careers in a brand new direction. Either way, a vastly wider job search market was ripe for the growing crop of online resume writers.

Why should I pay someone to write my resume?

Maybe you’ve been job hunting unsuccessfully for a while and getting seriously discouraged. Could the problem be a deficient or lackluster resume? Or perhaps you’re psyched up for a fresh work quest after a lengthy lapse but have no resume-revamping strategy mapped out. Being out of touch with hiring trends finds you stalled at the starting gate.

Has the idea of professional resume help crossed your mind? Would the financial investment be worthwhile? Here are some common reasons to ponder the possibilities.

  • You’re gunning for a pay hike or promotion. The higher the stakes, the more superb your resume must be to secure a competitive edge.
  • Writing a resume takes time and energy. You’d prefer to stay firmly focused on finding good leads and brushing up on transferable skills.
  • You find resume preparation not only grueling but downright distressing. You’re afraid the “how-to” uncertainties and “dos vs. don’ts” confusion will wear you down.
  • You’re new at this or out of practice. Not all resumes are simple and straightforward, especially when there are employment gaps to deal with or you’re shifting career gears. Figuring out what employers are looking for is one thing, but marketing your transferable talents through that lens requires a special strategic knack.
  • You’re not sure what to add or subtract from your skills and job experience list. Whether your work history is on the thin side or the details could fill a book, it can be tricky to contend with not enough or too much to fit on a resume page.
  • You’re aware of the resume “black hole” but have no clue how to avoid it. Knowing how to “beat the bot” — that is, bypass an applicant tracking system (ATS) screening filter — is outside your wheelhouse.
  • Writing isn’t your strong suit … or you’d just rather not. Either way is quite okay in your everyday life, but not when you need a head-turning resume.
  • Blowing your own horn isn’t second nature. Even self-confident job seekers can struggle with self-promotion in a resume. The hard part is future-framing your past accomplishments as “why hire me” value propositions.

How much does resume writing cost? 

Typically, the cost of hiring a professional resume writer falls somewhere in the ballpark range of $100 to $800. You’re sure to come across lower and higher rates too. Discrepancy criteria are not always obvious or clear-cut, nor can apples-to-apples comparisons be drawn superficially.

Resume writing rates are definitely in the realm of “it all depends.” Prices are generally tied to the deliverables promised and how much you give the writer to work with. As with any kind of fee-for-service agreement, the expectations on both sides should be clear and mutually agreeable upfront.

Some variables — insist on clarity

  • What will the work entail — rewriting your old resume or starting fresh? Either way, you can count on the resume writer needing input from you. Something from nothing isn’t going to happen.
  • What terms and conditions apply? Insist that every detail be spelled out.
  • Are the timelines for each resume writing stage well-defined and mutually acceptable? If the process takes longer, is there an extra fee?
  • How many revisions can you request in the fine-tuning stages?
  • What about the visual details? Does the price cover document layout, design, and formatting? Will you have any say? Will you get an editable version along with a PDF?
Expert tip

It’s your turn to play hiring manager

In theory, it makes sense that a resume writer’s caliber of expertise and experience factors into the cost/quality equation. Higher resume price tags elevate your expectations for top-notch results from a highly proficient writer with a finger on the pulse of hiring trends. You trust that pro to aim the spotlight on your shiniest hiring attributes from the right angles.  

In reality, this doesn’t always hold true. Now’s the time to wear your own hiring hat. Take nothing for granted about a resume writer’s competence on any “get what you pay for” level. Investigate everything you can, digging as deep as you can.

Writing vs. reviewing — there’s a difference

Resume writing and resume reviewing are not one and the same. 

Resume writers need something to build on, and it’s your “job” to provide the raw material — your existing resume and usually a completed questionnaire or worksheet. Expect to have more than a few conversations with your resume writer during the process.

Resume reviewing is often a matter of submitting your existing resume for professional feedback. Then you apply any suggested revisions yourself. Some resume review services might enable you to schedule a career coach consultation. Then you take it from there.

When should you pass on using a professional resume writer?

Exploring and weighing the options might find you rethinking the idea of paying for professional resume help. It’s not for everyone. Concluding it’s not right for you — at least not right now — can be a smart call in some circumstances. 

These can be reasons to decide that a DIY resume is just fine after all:

  • You’ll automatically save money, which you can reallocate — maybe to your interview wardrobe. It costs nothing to write your own resume, and abundant free advice online is yours for the taking.
  • It might prove easier than you think if that free writing advice comes with adaptable resume examples and templates like the ones you’ll find at Resume.io.
  • You’ve determined that a paid resume writer won’t save you much time or sweat in the long run. The best writing pros won’t promise anything they can’t deliver in a time crunch.  And there’s still that obligation to collaborate with the writer.
Expert tip

Fast or flawless? 

Rarely can you have it both ways. Hiring professional resume help requires a tradeoff mindset — willingness to sacrifice quickness for quality. 

  • For all its awesomeness, a professionally produced resume still can’t be used more than once. Custom-fitting each job application to fit the specific hiring requirements is crucial. Paying for every new version of your resume hardly seems practical or affordable.
  • Your writing skills are decent and you’re willing to tackle the task yourself. You’ll persist patiently towards perfection draft by draft, knowing there are no error-proofing shortcuts or workarounds.
  • You’re in a relatively early career stage. With less on the line than someone with years of senior-level experience vying for a C-suite role, then your financial investment in hiring a pro doesn’t seem worthwhile or wise. DIY resume preparation tends to be more straightforward for workforce newcomers, including recent grads, or anyone else lacking work experience.
  • Admittedly, you're not qualified for any dream job yet or your career goals are murky. No resume writer can change that.

Pitfall precautions when paying a pro

If you do decide to use a professional resume writer, the expert advice is consistent, even coming from service providers themselves: tread carefully. 

Here are some common pitfalls, with sidestepping tips.

  • Not all resume writers are qualified to do their job. It’s not unheard of for resume services to employ inexperienced writers — sometimes straight out of college — willing to work for less. And there’s nothing to stop any freelancer from getting in the game, however deficient in resume writing expertise. To avoid disappointment, go to any lengths possible when vetting your shortlisted resume-writing contenders. Research the company or individual on LinkedIn, websites, blogs, and social media. Search for credible reviews and testimonials from happy clients. Ask for product samples.
  • Curb your bargain hunter instincts. Cheaper may not always be better. Shopping for the best resume bang for your buck doesn’t work. Be wary of any rock-bottom resume-writing rates that catch your eye. They’re often red flags, posing the risk of unqualified writers or otherwise subpar work. Again, do your homework.
  • Be leery of 24-hour turnaround pitches. Even the promise of delivery within 48 or 36 hours is the wrong incentive for choosing a resume service.
Expert tip

The worst time to employ a resume writer is when job application deadlines loom. The best time is when you’re in proactive planning mode — the same way you’d consult with contractors about a kitchen remodeling project. Allow at least the number of days or weeks stipulated in your resume writing agreement to get the job done, plus a contingency cushion for unforeseen delays. 

  • Be skeptical of success guarantees. You might be promised unlimited revisions or even a refund if your resume fails to generate a certain number of interviews. Such guarantees can be misleading and are seldom the best reason for choosing one professional resume service over another. Closely scrutinize the fine print and ask questions.
80 of the best resume adjectives for 2024 and examples of how to use them
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80 of the best resume adjectives for 2024 and examples of how to use them

Describing yourself and your achievements can be a daunting task, especially when you really want the interview. The list of adjectives and writing guidance below is designed to inspire confidence and creativity.

Key takeaways

  • There is no all-purpose answer to the question of when to use a professional resume writer, only considerations for making your own decision. It’s equally important to think about when it might not be advantageous.
  • There’s no rule of thumb for comparing resume writing service costs, which depend on many variables. What matters most is to clearly understand what deliverables are included and how much collaboration is required.
  • Vetting professional resume writers based on expertise and experience involves thorough research and quality evidence in favorable reviews and work samples.
  • It takes time for professional resume writers to create a high-caliber product. An “overnight sensation” attitude is counterproductive.
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