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What you NEED to Know BEFORE Investing in a Resume Writer

By July 30, 2019August 1st, 2019Career Tips, Job Search Tips, Resumes

Looking to hire someone to write your resume? Not sure how to find a good resume writer?

To help you hire a resume writer, we outline how to review resume writer’s skills and credentials to find the best resume writing service for you.

Can I presume you’ve never worked with a professional resume writer before?

If you’re new to professional writers, here’s what we’ll cover to make your selection easier.


  • What credentials your resume writer should have
  • What cost can you expect from a skilled writer
  • What questions should you ask before hiring anyone (++ a few example questions are below)
  • Find out whether working with a professional writer is worth the time/effort
  • Are you cheating when hiring someone to write your resume

Right now, you’re probably asking yourself…

What certifications should you be looking for? Did you know there was such a thing?

Should the resume writer that you hire have experience in your career field?

What does the average resume writer cost? 

These are all valid questions. So, let’s focus on each of these:

Should your resume writer have certifications? This is always a sticky question that may not have a clear answer.

If you ask a certified resume writer, he/she will likely tell you to ONLY use a certified writer.

If you ask someone without certification, he/she will likely give you an opposite opinion.

Yes. Resume writing certifications have their place in the resume industry.

A certification offers some measure of skills of the writer against a recognised benchmark.

However, the sheer ownership of certification doesn’t QUALIFY someone to write resumes for job seekers … especially not yours.

To help you hire a quality resume writer review, there are a few career credentials to look out for. Below I’ve summarised the key resume credentials and what is involved for a writer to have earned these.

Certified Advanced Resume Writer (CARW) – This is a credential certified by Career Directors International (CDI) as their first level of certification. In July 2019, there are 15 CARWs in Australia. To be awarded this certification a new writer needs to:

  • Provide a blind sample of work to be reviewed by a panel;
  • Develop resumes and cover letters for fictional candidates;
  • Answer short essay questions on resume information gathering techniques; and
  • Pass a final exam assessing their mastery of spelling and grammar, and skills around client information gathering and interpretation, and writing and design strategy.

Certified Master Resume Writer (CMRW) is a Master-level qualification offered by Career Directors International (CDI). In July 2019, there are 8 CMRWs in Australia. To be awarded this credential, candidates must submit a portfolio of resume samples that are judged by an expert panel of CMRW peers. This includes seven professional resumes, one ASCII resume conversion, two cover letter samples and a professional essay.

Certified Executive Resume Master (CERM) is a specialised credential offered by CDI for executive resume writers. In July 2019, there are 4 CERMs in Australia. To be awarded this credential a writer must submit a portfolio of four resume samples at executive level plus a competency review.  These resumes are assessed by a panel against set criteria.

Certified Resume Specialist (CRS+X) – this CDI credential designates a resume writer as an expert in a field. To achieve this a writer must provide four sample resumes for different positions within the industry to showcase versatility which are then assessed by an expert panel.  There are currently 19 areas of specialisation available.

Nationally Certified Resume Writer (NCRW) – this credential requires submission of a resume and cover letter sample, proof of 10 continuing education units, and a 2-part NCRW exam that includes a proofreading exam and a resume and cover letter writing exam.  This is certified through the National Resume Writers Association.

Master Resumes Writer (MRW) – this credential requires each writer to have a minimum of 5 years of paid resume writing experience. To be awarded this credential the writer must submit a portfolio of work (5 for already certified writers, 10 for non-certified writers) that demonstrates their expertise in resume strategy development, resume content writing, resume formatting and design and sit an English language and grammar test. This is certified through Career Thought Leaders Consortium.

Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) – This credential requires the completion of four modules:

  • a multiple-choice test of industry knowledge,
  • a grammar, spelling, punctuation and proofreading test,
  • essay questions,
  • the development of a résumé and cover letter based upon background information provided on a hypothetical client.

Academy Certified Resume Writers – ACRW – to be awarded this credential a writer is required to undertake a training program incorporating progressive assignments covering resume strategy, writing, and design; English language and grammar skills; and cover letter and thank-you letter writing. Writers must then complete three independent learning programs (ILPs) incorporating a resume and cover letter writing assignment. This credential is offered by the Resume Writing Academy.

Follow this link to search for CDI certified career pros all over the world. YES, you’ll find my name on this list!!

Should the writer have experience in your career field?

It would be nice, but not necessary.

New and seasoned resume writers worth their weight in salt will perform a fair amount of research BEFORE writing any resume.

If your career role is unique, finding the best resume writer for your career experience can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Though, there are some job seekers who believe they’re as unique as unicorns. And, will resist the advice of the most experienced resume writer. If you’re one of these, you’ll want to avoid a resume writer altogether.

What should you expect to pay for a resume?

You wouldn’t expect the cost of a resume to be such a deep subject.

But, it is.

Pay $100 for a resume, and your finished resume will likely look more generic and most likely based on a template. Time is money. Expect a resume writer to spend less time on your project when the investment is smaller.

If you expect a resume writer to spend a decent amount of time on the writing of your project, then you can’t expect to make such a small investment.

Of course, there are professional resume writers are the far end of the spectrum too.

For example, fees for an executive resume can be $1000. Sometimes more.

There are a few variables that affect the cost.

For example:

  • Certifications the resume writer holds
  • Years of experience of the writer
  • Industry best resume writing awards (e.g. Toast of the Resume Industry (TORI) Awards)

You don’t need to hire a writer with any of the above. However, a writer holding 1 or 2 from this list should be your goal.

What to ask BEFORE hiring a resume writer

You’ll want to ask the right prescreening questions to ensure you “click” with the person you’re about to hire to write something as important as your resume.

So, here are a few questions for job seekers to use to help identify the best resume writer:

  1. Are you a certified resume writer?
  2. How long have you been writing resumes?
  3. Do you take part in any professional resume writing associations?
  4. Do you have a few resume examples I could review?
  5. Any client testimonials I could read?
  6. Do you offer other services after you’re done with my resume; e.g. online profile writing?

You might have specific resume writing needs too.

For example, these questions might apply to you:

  1. What do you know about ATS resume compliance?
  2. Do you write resumes for Australian Jobs? Government employees?
  3. What results have you had with your clients?

Despite asking the right questions, there’s more you should know.

For example, who will be writing your resume?

Yes, you must ask this question.

Unfortunately, there are many resume writing mills online these days.

For those who don’t know, resume mills are companies who offer affordable resume writing services (e.g. $100 to $200+), and then, hire low-cost resume writers to complete the projects.

These writers have never been trained or been to a writing academy.

They’re prone to using resume templates and using outdated techniques, such as including objective statements, soft skills, inaccurate keywords, too much white space, the wrong resume format, and so on.

Resume mills are the “discount stores” of the resume writing industry.

Companies like these get the lion’s share of the profit from each project … and the resume writer is all-too-often paid the least.

This is the main reason most experienced career professionals dislike these companies. 

Did you get an automated resume writer review?

Another reason for dislike is that the “resume review” that prospects receive in most cases wasn’t completed by a real person.

These companies sometimes “trick” the job seeker into thinking there’s something wrong with their resume. When, in fact, this might not always be true.

A resume writer review is nice. But, there’s rarely real ACTIONABLE VALUE in them.

Lastly, the person who “reviewed your resume” is likely in sales and not a resume writer at all.

You should be able to speak with WHO will be writing your resume.

Be sure to know your resume writer’s track record with clients.

Some claim to be “Best 10 Resume Writers” or a “Best Resume Writing Service.” Yet, these claims may be inaccurate.

You can learn a bit about your resume writer’s track record by asking for client testimonials.

We recommend staying away from Yelp.

Yelp has been hit with multiple lawsuits in the past year over false negative reviews and the validity of their algorithm that some say favours negative reviews and ignores the favourable ones.

Some small businesses have also stated that Yelp uses “extortion tactics” to strongarm small businesses into paid advertising through the portal as a way of overshadowing unearned negative reviews.

Consider using Google Reviews and LinkedIn Recommendations instead.

Pros of Hiring a Professional Writer

At this point, you want to know whether hiring a professional resume writer is right for you.

So, let’s look at some of the pros of hiring a resume writer.

First, a professional writer can help you avoid some of the biggest resume mistakes. A skilled writer is knowledgeable about hiring practices and knows about some of the advanced writing techniques affecting today’s resumes.

For example, resume writers know that complying with ATS software is a mandatory requirement for anyone conducting a job search.

There’s a lot that’s been written about ATS resumes.

In simple terms, ATS software is an internal CRM/hiring system for a company’s HR department.

That’s it!

Not too complicated right?

Yet, the sophistication of each company’s software plays a key role in what the HR department sees/controls when hiring. For example, the ATS software used at Google headquarters would be vastly more powerful than the software used by your local bank.

ATS software has become a go-to marketing tool because it offers time-saving functionality.

For example, this software can prepopulate job postings, manage job interviews, automate communications with hiring candidates, and so on.

Second, resume writers can resolve a burden.

If you’re someone who despises writing a resume, then look no further than a professional writer to help get you to your dream job.

This is especially important when you have career issues that you just don’t know how to address when writing your resume.

A resume writer can be impartial. And, sometimes, individuals need a “fresh set of eyes” that a resume writer review offers.

For example, the best resume writers know how to handle:

  • Gaps in employment
  • Irrelevant work history
  • Changes in career focus
  • Challenging career/resume objectives

Third, quality resume writers are experienced at writing strong brand-driven, achievement-focused resumes that help to position you above other candidates.

Most job seekers who prepare their own résumés just list their job functions under each employer. That’s what job descriptions are for. Your résumé, on the other hand, must showcase how well you accomplished these job functions in order to demonstrate to prospective employers that you are a qualified candidate for their position, or it will not generate many interviews. Achievements are by far the most important part of your résumé (and when done correctly, will target the position you seek, include all relative keywords, and showcase measurable employer benefits).

Unfortunately, the average job seeker who creates his or her own résumé is totally unaware of this and falls short drastically in this area. That’s unfortunate, because achievements sell you. You may be far more qualified than the next job seeker, but if his/her résumé includes achievements and yours does not, you will be passed over for the less qualified candidate who has a better résumé.

Need help with landing your dream job? We can help! Contact Carolyn from Total Resumes today at

Author Carolyn Whitfield

6X TORI-Winning, Multi-Certified Resume Master & Coach ★ 12+ Yrs Expertise ★ 98% Client Interview-Winning Success Rate. As an executive resume expert who has carved a strong reputation in the resume industry, I’ve helped thousands of rising stars and executives worldwide ascend to the next step on the career ladder.

More posts by Carolyn Whitfield

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