How to Choose a Professional Resume Writer

A resume is the critical marketing tool for any job search; it brands you, makes you visible to recruiters, and opens the doors of opportunity. If it works, you work; if it doesn’t work, you don’t work. Quite simply, it’s the most financially important document you will ever own.

This means that writing a resume is serious business that

  • Requires an understanding of how recruitment and hiring strategies affect resumes
  • Demands the clarity of objective analysis to decide how best to package the commercial commodity that is the professional you
  • Insists on unique writing skills, because resumes abide by their own rules

When you’ve done the best you can and see that resume writing is never going to be your strength, you begin to realize that with your personal stability and professional future at stake, maybe you should think about a professionally written resume.

A professionally written resume takes time and thought to determine how best to package the professional you, then more time to write, edit, edit again with your input, then layout and polish the final document. Resume writing is a labor-intensive process for a marketing tool that is mission-critical to your job search; and like most things in life, you usually get what you pay for.

Working with a professional resume writer you get the writing skills, and the objectivity to determine the right focus for your situation, skills that come with writing resumes every day for a living.

The result, when you choose wisely, is a resume that opens the doors to more and better job opportunities, in less time, and with potentially higher earnings; assuming of course you have good professional skills to begin with and that you learn to use the resume effectively in your job search.

In addition you’ll receive an education in self-awareness, personal branding and career management issues that you can leverage through the years.

What do professionally prepared resumes cost? Prices vary greatly, but the following accurately reflects the competitive mid-point you are likely to pay for resumes prepared by professionally credentialed and experienced resume writers:

Entry Level Resume $295
Students, New Grads, Professional Trades (non-management), Customer Service (non management), Administrative (non management) and Professionals with up to 3 years experience

Professional Resume $395
Professionals with 3+ years experience, not in management and not in IT or other Science/Technical careers

Mid-Career/Mid-Management Resume $450
Managers, Career Changers, IT and other Science/Technical careers

Senior Management/Executive Resume $550
VP, SVP, EVP, Director-Level, C-Level, Entrepreneurs

Now before you faint, take a look this chart and do the math to grasp what it costs you every day, week and month you are looking for that job:

When money is tight you have to spend it wisely, but a professionally prepared resume shouldn’t “cost” anything, it is a marketing investment that can earn you money with every day it saves you in landing your next position. As you can see, for most people it’s the equivalent of two or three days pay.

Seven Considerations for choosing the right resume writer. Anyone can, and many do, hang out a shingle claiming to be a professional resume writer. Right now I know of a lifetime GM executive who got laid off six months ago, he only ever had one job and had never written a resume in his life, but with the help of a slick little website, has magically become a resume writer.

So clearly, you need to exercise caution and move forward with the street smarts that will help you make an informed choice:

  1. Always ask about resume association membership. The leading professional resume writing associations all have codes of ethics; provide education through annual conventions and ongoing professional accreditation programs.
  2. Always ask about professional credentials. Only those who belong to professional associations and are committed to professional development take the time to earn professional credentials.
  3. Don’t get impressed by credentials, unless you know what they mean and see they actually relate to resume writing.
  4. Learn what the alphabet soup of credentials all mean. There’s a comprehensive list of resume writing credentials at the end of this article. The credentials that apply to resume writing are in the first section, coaching credentials, which have nothing to do with resume writing are in the second.
  5. Beware quick-buck artists. Confirm your resume writer of choice has authentic resume writing credentials; if resume and coaching credentials, that’s even better. Just be sure that your choice isn’t someone qualified in a related but very different area of expertise, trying to make a quick buck as a sideline.
  6. Mysterious credentials. If you are told of credentials that do not appear in this list, ask which association awarded them and take the time to check that they do actually exist, it could save you time, money and anguish. If you come across bogus credentials let me know and we’ll investigate.
  7. Ask to see resume samples and ask about the resume writer’s involvement with, and contributions to the profession.

Questions to ask yourself. Finally, use your common sense. Ask yourself, do these people sound competent or are they just throwing buzzwords at me? Have they asked me intelligent questions? Do I have confidence in their ability to distil what is most marketable about me? Do they seem to care or is this just about being pushy and making a quick sale?

Here at Knock em Dead, we provide Premium Resume Services at sensible prices and proudly boast a team exclusively composed of senior credentialed resume writers. Each writer on our team has been personally selected by Martin Yate CPC, that’s me and I’ve been at this for 34 years and I know everyone worth knowing.


Offered through the Professional Association of Résumé Writers and Career Coaches
CPRW-Certified Professional Résumé Writer

Requirements For Certification

  • Pass a 4-part examination testing a candidates:
  • Industry knowledge
  • Command of grammar, spelling, punctuation and proofreading
  • Strategic thinking skills through essay questions relevant to the résumé writing field
  • Develop a written résumé and cover letter based on provided client information

Offered through the National Résumé Writers Association (NRWA).
NCRW-Nationally Certified Résumé Writer

Requirements For Certification

  • Meet continuing education requirements prior to and following the examination
  • Pass the 2-part examination consisting of a written exam and résumé / cover letter writing exercise.

Offered through the Career Directors Institute (CDI)
CRW-Certified Résumé Writer / CERW-Certified Expert Résumé Writer / CMRW-Certified Master Résumé Writer

Requirements For Certification

  • CRW-All résumé writers are good candidates for this credential
  • CERW-Experienced résumé writers and career developers should apply for this certification
  • CMRW-Experienced résumé writers, career developers and industry leaders who are active participants in CDI egroups and chats and who demonstrate commitment to service through community work may choose to apply for this credential.


These certifications have nothing to do with resume writing.

Offered through the Professional Association of Résumé Writers and Career Coaches (PARW/CC).
CEIP – Certified Employment Interview Professional

Offered through the Career Planning and Adult Development Network
JCTC (IJCTC)- Job and Career Transition Coach (International Job and Career Transition Coach)

Offered through Career Coach University
CCMC-Certified Career Management Coach™

Offered through Career Coach Institute
CCC – Certified Career Coach™

Offered through the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE).
NCC – Nationally Certified Counselor
GCDF – Global Career Development Facilitator

Offered in association with Career Directors Institute (CDI)
CECC-Certified Electronic Career Coach


This certification is pursued by HR and T&D professionals and has nothing to do with resume writing.

Offered through the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals (NAWDP).
CWDP – Certified Workplace Development Professional.


These certifications have nothing to do with resume writing or career coaching. However because of the work they do these people can be assumed to know a lot about both resume writing, job search, interviewing and career management.

Offered through National Association of Personnel Services
CPC – Certified Personnel Counselor
CTS – Certified Temporary Services Counselor


These certifications have nothing to do with resume writing or career coaching.

Offered through the International Coach Federation (ICF).
ACC – Associate Certified Coach
MCC – Master Certified Coach
PCC – Professional Certified Coach


These certifications have nothing to do with resume writing or career coaching.

Offered through the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
SPHR – Senior Professional in Human Resources
PHR – Professional in Human Resources

Join Martin every week to learn more about writing a killer resume, getting more job interviews and turning job interviews into job offers at his free weekly webcast, Mondays at noon central. Details:

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