Your resume should be carefully crafted, as if your career depended on it — because, often, it does.

It needs to be strong. It needs to be compelling. And it needs to be done right. Your resume can be the reason you get in the door for an interview — or the reason that door remains closed.

An effective resume chronicles your career story, highlighting important milestones not as static tactics, but as business outcomes that changed, improved, streamlined, or basically bettered, the bottom line at organizations where you were employed.

Think of a resume as a business document, an initial introduction or pitch, to a potential employer. Rather than a vanilla, stagnant list of job responsibilities, your resume should be your own personal value proposition.

Because hiring a professional resume writer is an investment in your career, it’s critical to make a prudent decision about the person to whom you’ll entrust the task.

good resumes get you in the door

If you’re considering hiring a professional resume writer, consider these factors:

  1. Timing

It’s easy to become complacent about updating your resume when you’re employed — especially if you like your job, your boss and your company. Changes in corporate structure, including mergers and layoffs, could change your employment status with little notice. The last thing you want is to be blindsided.

Likewise, you never know when a coveted job opportunity will arise — when you least expect it. You might meet someone at a dinner meeting who thinks your background is perfect for a position that was just posted in their department. Or, one day while browsing through your LinkedIn feed, your dream job appears as “recommended for you.”

Because a professional resume writer may need two to three weeks to revise a resume, thinking ahead will give you a competitive edge. With a resume ready to go, you can be one of the first to apply.

To be even better prepared, I recommend keeping an ongoing log of responsibilities or promotions at your current job — and remembering to update that list every time you start a new position. Whenever possible, include metrics, improvements and achievements improved the bottom line, work flow or other business processes.

Having your resume ready when you (might!) need it is one of the most proactive ways to drive your career with intention.

have your resume ready

  1. Credentials

A professional resume writer is a career development specialist who focuses on you — the job seeker — to highlight your career history in a way that aligns with the requirements of and overall goals for your next ideal position.

Part art and part science, it’s a task too important to entrust to just anyone.

Knowledge of current business hiring practices and trends, experience targeting resume design to job categories, hands-on use of resume review software and a solid command of the English language are basic requirements for any qualified resume writer. But that’s just the beginning.

At a bare minimum, a professional resume writer is credentialed as a NCRW (National Certified Resume Writer) or a CRW (Certified Resume Writer), both issued by the National Resume Writers’ Association (NRWA) — or as a CPRW (Certified Professional in Resume Writing), issued by the Professional Association of Resume Writer and Career Coaches.

Both of these organizations require resume writing professionals to apply for credentialing, meet experience requirements and pass the qualifying exam. However, passing the exam is only the first step. Maintaining that certification requires ongoing and relevant education.

Expert resume writers understand and use all tactics of writing a professional resume, including English language and grammar, formatting and page design. They have succeeded in positioning their clients to achieve their career goals. In other words, they have experience and success in developing a professional resume that achieved results their clients wanted.

Related: Writing Your Own Resume? Make Sure You Know the Rules

A Master Resume Writer (MRW) is credentialed by the Career Thought Leaders Consortium. MRWs demonstrate a true mastery of the resume writing field with proven expertise in the strategies and tactics that position clients to achieve their career goals.

meet with professional to tell your story

  1. Process

A quality resume requires research by the professional resume writer, a process that involves getting to know more about you and your career. Some services work from the current resume and a short form; others will interview the client to develop the new resume.

At JMA, we prefer a combination of existing documentation, a comprehensive questionnaire and an interview. This method ensures that your writer gets to know you and what you can offer a potential employer, so that your resume will demonstrate the unique value you add.

While the resume writer collaborates with you on how best to present your expertise and qualifications, you are the expert on your career history and play an integral role throughout the process.

When hiring a professional resume writer, it’s always a good idea to ask about when and how you’ll be able to make changes to any drafts. Some firms want all changes at one time and may charge an additional fee for changes beyond that initial request. Others will let you submit multiple requests within a set timeframe.

Understanding the protocol upfront will mitigate the chances of any misunderstandings once the process is underway. Don’t be shy about correcting misinterpreted information from the interview or an incorrect use of industry language in the document.

reputable resume service gets results

  1. Cost

Does price matter when selecting a resume writer? When hiring a professional resume writer, “you get what you pay for,” often applies.

Be highly suspicious of a firm that offers an entire package (resume, cover letter, thank-you letter, LinkedIn profile) for less than $300. At this price point, it’s highly unlikely that a credentialed resume writer will be creating your package. Spend the money on a reputable resume service with credentialed, experienced writers who are doing the work themselves — not farming it out to underqualified staff.

Your level of experience can also affect pricing. If you’re changing careers, expect to pay more than an entry-level candidate or recent college graduate. Even if you may have little experience in the field you’re trying to enter, your years of prior experience could be transferrable, and will be woven into your resume accordingly.

Resume + LinkedIn Profile = A Collective First Impression

Today’s hiring managers are often reading LinkedIn profiles before they read resumes. At JMA, we offer LinkedIn profile writing services in conjunction with the resume writing service. Executing both services at the same time ensures that the documents are cohesive and will work together to help you land that next position.

In addition, recruiters and employers are also using LinkedIn to find qualified candidates. If a recruiter or employer likes what they see on your LinkedIn page, they will reach out and ask you for your resume.

Having your resume ready to go allows you to make a good impression from the start, opening the doors of opportunity.

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