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Resume and Interview Tips

Professional Resume Writers - Everything You Must Know Before Hiring One
By:Michelle Dumas

When the economy is in the dumper, unemployment is elevated, and you see your emergency savings dwindling while you try to find a new job, it may seem counter to your instincts to actually pay for assistance with your job search. This is true whether you are employed or unemployed, whether you are a new grad looking for your first job or a seasoned C-level executive: If you are looking for a new employer your competition is stiff! You're likely competing against many other job hunters for far fewer job opportunities. The longer you are in the job market, the more it costs you. Someone who is used to making $50,000 per year is losing $950 every single week that he remains without a job. From that point of view, could it be foolish to refuse help and keep struggling on your own, needlessly making your job search longer than it needs to be? Could it actually be a wise investment in yourself to work with a professional who knows how to get you noticed among the masses, can help you win interviews against the competition, and can help you negotiate a salary higher than before? Of course!

Many people maintain that they can cut costs by developing their own resume. It's only a piece of paper after all! Then they spend week after week, month after month in a unsuccessful job search, hardly ever getting a call for an interview. In the end, their thriftiness costs them a great deal of money, even more time, many lost opportunities, and more stress than it was all worth.

Professional resume writers -- those who take their expertise seriously, attend regular trainings, pursue certifications, and make a real effort to keep their skills cutting edge -- can make an astonishingly positive difference in your job search. Whatever they charge you for their services, which may have originally seemed like an expense, will clearly become an investment. And unlike many investments, this is one that could pay you back over and over. The truth is that a truly excellent professionally created resume will almost always SAVE you money and MAKE you money by getting your resume noticed and winning you interviews ahead of the crowd helping you land a job FAR FASTER and usually at a HIGHER SALARY than you would have achieved on your own.

Once you have come to the conclusion that a professionally written resume isn't a luxury, but a necessity, how do you go about finding a expert to help you? How do you make your selection? Here are a few guidelines to help you.

*** Ask if they have a portfolio of sample resumes you can review

Resume writing is a professional service that requires a very unique combination of strategic thinking abilities, strong creativity and writing skills, and up-to-date knowledge of the employment market and resume trends. You should look for professionals who write from "scratch" and create unique resumes for each and every client. Templates are a no-no as they give your resume a "cookie-cutter" look that just makes you blend in rather than stand out. By viewing past work, you can gain a sense of the professional's style and their attention to detail. Showing you actual unedited samples would be a red flag to avoid that provider as they would be violating client confidentiality. However, most firms have at least a few projects which they have "neutralized," removing or changing all identifying data so that they can show them to prospects. Many resume writers actually publish samples on the web and contribute to books on resume writing. You should never hire a writer without first reviewing their portfolio of sample projects and being certain you are comfortable with their style and quality.

*** Check out the credentials of the writer

Certifications illustrate that the writer takes her expertise seriously and is committed to professional excellence. It is surprising for many people to hear that there are professional associations for resume writers, but there are! Two of the best known include NRWA and PARW/CC, and many professional resume writers belong to these and other associations that serve the career coaching and employment services profession in general. Most of these associations offer their own version of continuing education and certification programs. It is possible to find a good writer who has not attained certification, but choosing a certified professional ensures that you are working with a writer whose work has passed the scrupulous examination of her peers and whose knowledge of the industry has been tested. Some of the tests and programs are more demanding than others. The most significant certifications have experience requirements, test various areas of competence, use a blind evaluation process, and have CEU requirements to maintain the writer's skill and certification.

*** Ask for testimonial letters

You wouldn't want your resume writer just handing out your name and phone number to prospective new clients. You should be considerate of the fact that professional ethics and confidentiality agreements will prevent resume writers from giving you the actual names of past clients. In fact, you may want to be wary of writers who DO offer up names of past clients! But, the top professionals will have gathered letters of references from past clients that they will be happy to provide to you anonymously. You could also check LinkedIn. Ask to connect with the writer and then review their references on LinkedIn. If a writer claims to have no references it should be a red flag!

*** Make sure you understand any written contract the writer uses

Even a straightforward written contract is smart to have. It doesn't have to be fancy or written in confusing legal language. A written agreement ensures that expectations are clear, and that policies and procedures have been explained and agreed upon. What services are included? Will the writer be writing a resume only or will they help with letters? Will you be provided with the actual document files at the end? What if you aren't satisfied? What are the guarantees? How many revisions are included? How and when does the writer expect to receive compensation? What will the turnaround be?

And last but not least...

** Understand that having your resume professionally written is an investment and that a bargain isn't always a bargain

Particularly in today's economy in which we are seeing rising unemployment, there are a number of "fly by night" resume writing firms that are suddenly appearing on the premise of cashing in on the increased number of people in the job market. Many of these firms have little-to-no experience or knowledge in the industry. Does the person you are considering have an established and trustworthy web presence? Do they belong to professional associations? Do they have connections in the industry? Do they have proof of trainings and workshops they've attended? Have articles or example resumes they have written been published, either on the web or in books?

Just remember that just going into business as a resume writer doesn't make you an expert and that everyone marketing their services do not have equal skills. Further, the most experienced, respected professionals in the field charge appropriately for their services. The fee range is pretty broad, but it would not be uncommon to pay somewhere in the $400-$1200 range to have a professional resume written. Generally, the complexity of your project will have an influence on the fee charged. Some charge more and some charge less, but if it is significantly less, you might want to ask yourself why that is. Does the writer really have the experience he or she claims to have? Be especially wary about working with some of the high-volume companies that outsource all the work to inexperienced writers to whom they usually pay ridiculously low wages to produce resumes of questionable quality. Some even outsource the projects overseas, to writers who do not speak English as a first language. It is your career and all your career dreams at stake! Your resume is not the place to cut corners. It is well worth the extra money to pay for the quality and proven expertise of a true professional resume writer.

Michelle Dumas runs of one of the longest-standing and most respected professional resume writing firms on the internet. Since 1996, Michelle has empowered thousands of people with resumes that get results fast. Get resume writing tips that you won't find anywhere else, example resumes, and more articles at her website. Go now to www.distinctiveweb.com

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