Creating a resume from scratch isn’t the easiest job assignment — but it’s a necessary one. It not only details your professional experience, but it also should be done in a way that engages and entices hiring managers.
If you’re not confident in your own skills, you may want to enlist the help of a professional.
“Many of us were never taught how to sell ourselves on paper,” said Melanie Denny, certified resume expert and the president of . “If you struggle to articulate your value, a good resume writer will be able to do this for you.”
But finding a good resume writer may be harder with millions of Americans on the job hunt during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. If you want the extra help, make sure it’s worth it first by avoiding these pitfalls.
Beware of frauds
Just because someone claims they’re an expert doesn’t mean they really are.
“Not everyone has taken the time to master this craft and immerse themselves in this industry,” Denny said. “Make sure at the very least they are certified, but also consider their notoriety, industry association affiliations, training, and background.”
Before you hire anyone, check out what they’ve done before. Ask for references, see samples of their work, and talk to them about their process. Regardless of cost, it’s important to do your due diligence to make sure this person is who they say they are.
Find out what they know by asking specific questions. For instance, if you’re talking to a so-called expert that doesn’t know how to fit your details into an ATS-friendly document, that’s a red flag. ATS, or applicant tracking system, helps companies recruit and hire potential employees. The structure of your resume and cover letter matters.
“The time and effort it takes to create a unique document that can pass the ATS, appeal to recruiters, and attract hiring managers can be a long, daunting process,” Denny said. “Sometimes it's better to focus on what you do best and allow experts to help you with the aspects you may struggle with.”
Don’t expect a quick turnaround
Some of the best resume writers and experts work quickly, but it’s just as important to produce quality. If you’re thinking about applying to jobs right away, you might want to hold off a little bit.
“Would you rather a quick turnaround or are you willing to wait for quality?” Denny said. “Not every way works for everyone, so pick a service that will be ideal for you.”
While there are some experts that can get you an updated resume or cover letter right away, make sure you continue your expert vetting process. For instance, is your expert just taking your information and updating the template? Or are they doing a complete overhaul? Get these questions answered before you sign a contract or hand over payment. These affect not only your cost but also your timeline.
Understand your needs
Hiring a professional isn’t necessary for everyone in every instance.
“Sometimes it's better to focus on what you do best and allow experts to help you with the aspects you may struggle with,” Denny said. “Resume writers are familiar with hiring trends and can decipher what information needs to be included in the resume and write it in a compelling, powerful, and concise way.”
If you’re changing industries, applying for a senior role, or trying to get a similar job with more money, hiring an expert is a good idea. A professional can bring your resume or cover letter to the next level. But even with the most carefully crafted documents, they can’t secure the job for you. That’s still on you.
Use a resume expert to highlight and enhance your achievements, but take these improvements into your interviews.
Dori Zinn is a personal finance journalist based in South Florida. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, CNET, Quartz, TIME, and others.