Are professional resume writing services, and professional resume writers, worth the money?
The phrase “where’s the beef” was first introduced in a Wendy’s television commercial in early 1984. It referred to the amount of beef that was between the two sides of the competition’s hamburger bun, and it has become a universal phrase that questions the value of a product or service. And, professional resume writing services, most of which are now web-based, certainly fall in the category of services the value of which many people would question.
So, let’s spend a few minutes exploring the question of the value of professional resume writers and professional resume writing services. Let’s find out if there is any beef.
First, from my perspective as an Executive Recruiter, I can assure you that most people have no clue how to write an effective resume, much less an impact resume. Over the course of my career which includes several “C”-level accounting and finance roles, I would speculate that less than 10% of the resumes I saw were at least of a “B” quality. And, now that I have been in Executive Recruiting since 2005, the percentage of at least good resumes is even less than 10%. So, from that perspective alone, I conclude that people need help writing resumes. As a result, even a small amount of “beef” produced by a professional resume writer is better than just air between the two sides of the bun.
Second, no resume writer can write a resume that will overcome “fatal” candidate issues. What would constitute fatal candidate issues? Fatal in this context might be a person applying for a safety or security position that has a criminal theft record. Or, it may be a person applying for a driving position that has already had his license suspended for driving infractions. No matter how good the resume, even a minimum background check will highlight these fatal issues. So, do not expect your professional resume writer to overcome these issues.
As an aside, as a recruiter I do not, for the most part, consider age to be a fatal candidate issue. That does not mean that age is not relevant – but it does mean that the resume for that person absolutely has to be an impact resume. Look for an article from me on this in the near future.
Third, even the best professional resume writer cannot overcome what I call systemic candidate weaknesses. What would those be? Job-hopping is a systemic candidate weakness. Continued poor performance is a systemic candidate weakness. Work ethic and attitude issues are systemic candidate weaknesses. Keep in mind, especially for a professional resume service that is internet based, systemic candidate weaknesses often are not disclosed by the candidate. And it is not the responsibility of the resume service or the professional resume writer to work to uncover those issues. But, if you, as a candidate, know that your work history contains one or more systemic candidate weaknesses, do not expect a professionally-written resume to overcome those on your behalf.
Fourth, for what I describe as the “viable” candidate (i.e., no fatal issues or systemic candidate weaknesses) , I believe that a professional resume writer who is working within a set of consistently applied processes put in place by a professional resume writing service can absolutely “find the beef” for that candidate. Why? As I note above, most candidates simply cannot put together a good resume, much less an impact resume. Candidates are good – maybe great – at doing their jobs. But their jobs are not writing resumes. Most resume writers are good – maybe great – at doing their jobs. But their jobs are not being accountants, or analysts, or engineers, or craftsmen. Their job is to professionally write resumes. So, the clear expectation is that professional resume writers can “find the beef” for almost all viable candidates.
Fifth, there are exceptions to every rule. I have a candidate who has a highly specialized skill in the area of
federal taxation. In her high school and college years she wrote and scripted plays. She is a highly skilled
writer in addition to being a highly skilled tax professional and those are complementary skills to each other. And, she has written a powerful resume for herself. I gave her three tips for her resume to bulk up the “beef” and the result is an outstanding impact resume. When the time is right for her to move out of her current employment situation, she will be a great candidate to work with.
Likewise, there are exceptions on the side of resume writers. Most importantly in my opinion is that the best
professional resume writers should possess complementary skills. I believe strongly that the best professional resume writers are people who either have been involved in, or are currently involved in, executive recruiting activities. These are professionals who talk with hiring mangers every day. They know what hiring managers want to see in a resume. They are also skilled at learning how resumes presented to a hiring manger in one industry should perhaps be different than resumes presented to a hiring manger in another. And, every successful executive recruiter spends hours weekly to work with his or her candidates to clean up and “find the beef’ in those candidates’ resumes. So, in order to become successful recruiters, they must be successful resume writers as well. In my opinion, the combined skill of executive recruiting and resume writing is too powerful to ignore when it comes to selecting a professional resume writer.