[ A few thoughts on putting your best foot forward vis-à-vis career coaching, executive coaching, resume writing + professional development ]
It's all about ROI. Whatever the price, the resume writing service can be either a wasted expense or a wise investment.
The internet is like the wild, wild west. You can find cheap resume services for $99 or engage high-end, white-glove resume writers for thousands of dollars a pop. It's not unheard of for a busy senior-level executive (think Fortune 500 C-Suite) to shell out $2K-$3K for a professionally crafted resume. Then again, most of us aren't CEOs. So, for the mid-level professionals among us, is shelling out $1,000 or even $500 for a one-to-two-page resume really worth the investment?
If you are currently earning $120K a year, and you pay $900 for a service that jazzes up your resume and now, armed with a shiny new document, you land a job that pays $170K, was it worth it? You invest just under $1K and you essentially get a $50K raise. The ROI is well over 50x. Not too shabby, right? That's a pretty great investment.
Of course, if you are currently unemployed, barely making ends meet, and struggling to put food on the table, spending $1000 or even $300 on a resume service may be inappropriate, and certainly feels excessive.
I never recommend that anyone dig themselves more deeply into debt. Being in debt is not fun, and it can cause incredible stress and compromise your decision making abilities, especially around your job search (e.g. you might take a job well below your target salary). More importantly, how else will you dig yourself out of this life predicament? What are you doing to upskill yourself? Are you investing in any online classes or certificates that are valuable in your target industry? Are you networking as if your life depends on it?
If money is tight, and you need a better-paying job, ask yourself the following:
Are you perhaps still spending money on other non-essentials (e.g. entertainment, random thingamajigs on Amazon, clothes that you'll rarely wear), and is that money working for you? Or can you allocate a portion of your income toward self-development?
Note that sometimes you can find resume writing, career counseling and skill development services for free or at a low/affordable cost in your local neighborhood (do the research). Their quality may vary from decent to crappy (I've seen resumes with dated formats that scream 1995 -- not a great look). Of course, many of the highest-quality services are not at all free -- some cost a lot of money, but again, they may be worth every dollar spent. Use your judgment. Conduct the research.
At the end of the day, only you can decide what is most important for you.
While most of my clients are mid- and senior-level professionals, I do occasionally have low-earning clients who have historically made, say, $40K a year, and they view a polished resume as a worthwhile investment in their own professional development. Sometimes, the new resume helps them land higher-paying gigs. Other times, they just want a pretty resume for bragging rights, or to use for extracurricular purposes (e.g. conferences, industry associations, Board of Directors membership). And, on occasion, they just hate rewriting their own resume so much that they really don't care about the price -- they'll happily outsource it to a professional, the same way we outsource so many of our tasks and life decisions to other people.
If you do decide to invest your hard-earned money on a resume rewrite, make sure to spend it wisely. Do your due diligence. Research the writer / company.
The onus is on you to find a good fit. You don't just need a strong writer who can create a pretty and grammatically correct document -- you need someone who understands your target industry and your job function, and who can highlight the most relevant or transferable skills on the resume. You need a good storyteller who pens a strong and compelling narrative about your career arc (especially if your career is all over the place). You need someone who is aware of resume best practices, modern formats, and keyword optimization (ATS-friendly resumes are all the rage these days). Most of the resume writers who fit the bill and can deliver all of that (and more), well, they charge a pretty penny.
You often get what you pay for.
I have had numerous occasions where clients have come to me complaining of a botched-up resume from a cheap $150 service. A bad resume writing experience can be a massive headache and can dramatically slow down your job search. You might feel deflated. You might lose out on great job opportunities. There is clearly a risk in hiring an un-proven resume writer, no matter how low the price.
On rare occasion, you might get an exceptional resume writer who is under-charging for their services (i.e. their rates are well below the industry average), but most resume writers should know their worth. They should be experts at confidence and self-worth -- after all, they're promoting and "selling" you on paper. The resume is absolutely a branding and promotional tool, and if the resume writer isn't great at selling themselves, chances are they won't be great at selling you, either.
I repeat: always do your research.
Yes, it helps if your resume writer is formally certified, but resume writing credentials alone aren't the best predictor of great work or success. There are plenty of wonderful writers out there who don't have formal certificates, but are still incredible in their resume writing craft, and their clients land plenty of job interviews.
Review testimonials and inquire about results.
Look through reviews, not just on their website, but on LinkedIn and Yelp (provided the person has a Yelp company page). Ask to speak with folks who have used their services in the past. Inquire about samples. You know the drill.
Other scenarios where high-end services may be useful:
If you are switching careers, or feel deflated and without direction in your career, working with a top-tier resume writer can make a real difference in your job search. It can give you clarity, can help jumpstart or recalibrate your mindset, can get you excited about the road ahead, and get you moving forward. armed with your brand spankin' new resume -- applying for jobs, networking, etc.
Much of resume writing lead generation is done through word-of-mouth referrals.
Many of my clients are friends, relatives, or colleagues of former clients. I make it my mission to take great care of every client. I write strong, modern, and compelling resumes that help folks find better-paying, more meaningful jobs. In numerous cases, clients have increased their salary more dramatically than they otherwise would have expected. Or they tell me they're convinced they landed a job interview in a much shorter timespan than they would have if they went it alone. Because their old resume was not getting any responses.
I have been blessed with the world's best clients.
As a resume writer, I have been blessed with amazing clients. Often, these are high achievers, intelligent professionals, leaders in their respective fields -- folks who simply can't be bothered to write their own resumes. Just like many of us can't be bothered to dry clean our own business suits. Or cut our own hair. The resume is an important reflection of your professional brand. Make sure it's fresh, clean and compelling. If you outsource it, do it right.
Poly-creative and complex human who fills up his days as a career coach, executive coach, resume writer, and personal brand / communications specialist. Conqueror of excuses and doubts. Bakes a mean éclair and snaps thought-provoking photos, but is best known for helping clients achieve personal + professional growth and fulfillment.