Six seconds. That’s the average time an employer spends looking at your resume. That’s not nearly the time your resume deserves, but it’s the reality of the situation, so you must make those seconds count. With just six seconds to work with, you need to know exactly what the employer is looking for – and how to beat technology. And the best way to do that is to hire a professional resume writer.

5 Reasons to Hire a Professional Resume Writer
  1. They know the parameters of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and search engines.

More than 70% of companies across all industries now use ATS rather than people to screen resumes. They can set parameters for their ideal candidates, which means they can use dates, zip codes, keywords, etc., and if a resume doesn’t match those parameters, it gets tossed out. For instance, some companies don’t want to hire anyone over the age of 50. That’s not ethical (or even legal), But by looking at a college graduation date and the number of years of experience, it’s a calculation that can be made by a system to reduce the applicant pool. A professional resume writer will know never to list college graduation dates or more than 20 years of experience on a resume.

If you were writing your own resume, you would likely start with an objective statement at the beginning. A professional resume writer knows this is wasted space and in fact, doesn’t use objective statements at all. Instead, you need to have the exact title for the job you are applying for at the top of the resume. You also need to include enough keywords from the job posting in your resume. These are just two of the many factors the ATS will use to score your resume.

  1. They know how to format a resume for both humans and computers.

Formatting is what professionals concentrate on because they know that it is valuable for the ATS; but also for the person who will eventually read the resume. A good writer will use capitalization, underlining, bolding, italics, borders, shading and bullet points to draw the reader’s eye to the important facts. They also know that ATS cannot read anything in a header/footer, graph, table or a text box. One client I had put his entire resume in individual text boxes and while the content wasn’t bad, no one was ever going to see it because it registers as a blank page to ATS.

  1. They are able to draw valuable content out of their clients.

When people write their own resumes, they tend to focus on a laundry list of their responsibilities, rather than their accomplishments in a position. My job is to help draw out the information that they may not even understand themselves. For example, a lot of times a client will say one of their accomplishments is managing a budget and a certain number of team members. But that’s actually a responsibility, and one an employer would already be aware of based on the job title. What makes it an accomplishment is if the client managed a complex project and came in under budget with fewer team members. A professional resume writer would be able to gather this information during questionnaires and interviews while getting to know the client.

I often hear clients exclaim that they never knew they contributed that much in their job because they are looking at their job as what they had to do, not how they impacted the business.

  1. They know the proper length for resumes.

A lot of people think that they need to condense their resume into one page, but that’s not true. New research released late last year suggests that recruiters and employers were more than twice as likely to prefer two-page resumes over one-page resumes, even in the case of entry-level workers. Three pages is even necessary for some executives with a lot of high-level experience. Additionally, for scientists, researchers or academics, there is no limit to the number of pages in their CVs.

  1. They know how to frame content well.

Professional resume writers are able to concisely express the most important pieces of information for employers. I always include a short paragraph of the client’s leadership style as well as an elevator pitch at the top so it can be quickly skimmed. Again, instead of focusing on responsibilities, I would bullet accomplishments for each position, making the resume easy to read and vital information easy to find.

A professional would know to translate numbers into what is most relevant and relatable for employers. For example, if you saved $5 million in one year, it may seem like a huge savings to one company but not much of an impact to another. Using percentages instead of real dollar amounts gives the reader a frame of reference.

Related: Should You Update Your Existing Resume – Or Start From Scratch?

How to choose the right professional resume writer

There are a lot of different options available for professional writing services. So how do you know what is the best fit for you? Here is a list of questions to ask.

  1. What is the experience level of the person writing my resume?

Some writers will claim to have 20 years of experience but have only written 100 resumes. With 17 years of experience and over 7000 resumes under my belt, I know that simply a certain number of years of experience won’t cut it. You need someone with diverse, well-rounded experience that stays up to date with current trends by attending yearly conferences. Yes, yearly. Resume protocols change that rapidly these days. Many writers claim that they know how to write resumes because they worked in Human Resources or recruiting for a long time, but that doesn’t mean as much as you think might think if they’re not familiar with current resume writing best practices.

  1. What are the credentials of the writer or firm?

Be wary of resume writing firms who use templates or outsource their work cheaply, as evidenced by the amount of grammar errors found in resumes. In fact, a recent study found that 77 percent of resumes reviewed by hiring managers include some form of typos or grammar mistakes. Now that’s a red flag for employers!

Ask for the credentials of the specific person who will write your resume. You want a writer who is certified by one of the many credentialing organizations, such as the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches, Career Thought Leaders, or the National Resume Writers Association.  A large percentage of resume services use subcontracted individuals who are simply good writers and the public is never suspect because they are not adequately educated about the common practices of resume firms and who is actually writing your resume.

As one of just 25 Master Resume Writers in the country, I meet a lot of people who consider themselves good writers supporting that assessment with degrees in English Literature, Journalism or Marketing. It’s true that all of these professions require good writing skills, but that skill alone isn’t the same as resume writing skills.

  1. What is the price for a resume writing package?

If someone is charging less than $350 for a package, you should never engage them to write your resume. Chances are, they are either using a template or outsourcing it cheaply. Price can be an indicating factor in the amount of customization involved in the service and level of expertise.

  1. What is entailed with a free critique?

Beware. A lot of resume writing firms offer a free critique of your current resume. If you submit your resume and get it back within an hour, you know no one really looked at it, and it’s just a form letter that says the exact same thing to everyone. I once had a client test this with a resume he had written and then the version I wrote after he hired me. He received the exact same form letter even though the revised resume was completely different!

  1. What do you know about ATS and search engines?

A lot of resume writing firms are not qualified in these areas and may even tell you that you don’t need to worry about them or laugh them off. Run, don’t walk, away from these firms! On the other hand, some writers only write for machines and not real people. You need someone who is skilled at both. High level resume writing involves a high level of synthesis and expertise.

Once you have navigated the DIY resume temptation, you will understand that a professional resume writer can help you carefully craft your resume as if your career depended on it. Those pieces of paper should be your own personal value proposition and help you stand out and land the interview. With just six seconds, can you afford to waste them?

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