Should You Use Resume Writing Services (Or Not)
Looking for a job and becoming employed in a company of your choosing is not an easy task. It is like a battle, or a race, with stumbling blocks strewn all around your path, seemingly put there to make things difficult for you.
There are a lot of things to consider, and you will undergo a battery of tests and interviews in order to assess your suitability for the job and the company.
Preparation is one of the best weapons that a jobseeker can use, and part of that preparation goes to the crafting of the resume.
In this article, we explore 1) the resume and how to write a good one and 2) if and when to buy resume writing services (or not).
The word “resume” came from the French term résumé, which means “summary” or “summarized”. It was later used to refer to the document that presents, in summarized form, the information, background, skills and accomplishments of a person who is seeking employment.
When candidates for an open position submit their application, it is usually composed of a cover letter, an application letter, followed by the resume. Often written in one or two pages (or more, depending on the amount of content that will be contained in the document), the resume is designed to provide relevant information on the qualifications of an applicant.
Note that the resume is just a summary, albeit detailed in some way. It is not supposed to be a complete representation of the applicant. Thus, it contains only the highlights, or the relevant information that, just by skimming through what is written, the recruiter, employer or hiring personnel can immediately tell whether the applicant is qualified for the job being applied for or not.
Earliest accounts reveal that the first resume ever to be written was one by Leonardo Da Vinci. It was in the form of a letter that he wrote to Ludovico Sforza, a potential employer, where he listed in bullet points his skills and abilities, ending it with a polite offer to demonstrate them before the latter.
Since then, the resume has taken on various facelifts and updates, resulting to the now varied templates and forms that are currently used by jobseekers.
IMPORTANCE OF THE RESUME
The purpose of the resume is to provide a detailed summary of the skills, abilities, accomplishments, and work experiences of an applicant. It is often referred to as a personal marketing tool because, in essence, it is a document that serves as an advertisement of who the applicant is.
Why is the resume considered to be one of the most important and primary tools for job search and recruitment?
- The resume introduces you to the hiring personnel, recruiter, or employer. You may think that the cover letter or your letter of intent to apply for the open position will suffice in getting introduced to the company, or whoever it is that will be in charge of the recruitment process. Well, guess what? No matter how eloquent the written letter is, if there is no resume or the resume is poorly written, you may not make it even to the preliminary interview.
- The resume is used to capture the interest of the hiring personnel. A well-made advertisement easily and quickly grabs the attention of consumers, and that is the same in the case of resumes. A well-written resume can easily and quickly grab the intention of the person screening the candidates’ application forms. If your resume is able to grab theirs, then you are likely to find yourself receiving an invitation for a job interview. Those who are not able to do so may find their application forms and resumes included in a pile marked “unqualified applicants”.
- The resume will showcase your offerings. Expect to face some stiff competition when applying for a job, especially if it is a lucrative job in a solid and stable company. You won’t be the only one handing in your resume, and the others may be as qualified as you are. In fact, some of them may even be better qualified than you are. So you decide to pack everything you can into the resume, ending up with at least 6 pages of it. But that is not what a resume is. It is not a biography or a detailed narrative. It is supposed to showcase the best of you, and what you have to bring to the table. It is a supposed to be a platform for you to showcase your best side. Therefore, the contents should be the highlights of your career, such as specific work achievements and accomplishments.
CONTENTS OF THE RESUME
As much as you want to put everything you deem is worth knowing about you in your resume, that is not how things go. Remember that the resume is supposed to be a summary, so you have to choose what to write.
Personal information or background
Stick to the basics. This part should include only basic information such as your name, date of birth, and gender. Do not go overboard and include other unrelated information such as your blood type or place of birth.
A good starting point would be the job description on the posting for the open position. The job may require the jobholder to be at least a certain height. If that is the case, including your height in your personal information in the resume is a must.
This is where your educational qualifications will appear. It is recommended that ALL education info will be included, even those licenses and certifications that you acquired outside of a school or educational institution.
In most jobs, education is the basic requirement. A company looking for a marketing manager is going to require that the applicant hold a degree in marketing. An accounting position requires the jobholder to be a graduate of accountancy. In senior accountant positions, the basic requirement is that he or she must be a Certified Public Accountant.
Make sure to include other information such as the school or college that you have attended, the courses that you have taken, and the inclusive dates of attendance. If you have actively participated in seminars and trainings in the past, especially those that are relevant to your career or the job you are applying for, make sure to include them in this section as well.
This is a brief summary of your skills as well as your areas of expertise. Consider it the introduction to your work experience and personal skills section. Just by going over this brief summary, the employer will immediately have an idea what you can do.
Work history or experience
This is a listing of all your work history and experience. The information that most recruiters look for are the companies that you worked for and the inclusive dates of employment with those companies, your job titles, and your duties and responsibilities during your stint with these companies.
If you also happen to have volunteered or provided unpaid services or work in the past, it may be to your advantage to also include details of those stints in your resume. Internships and apprenticeships are also often considered to fall under work experience.
You may have other skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for. In some cases, even unrelated skills are included, if only to show the employer just how much potential you have, and how much of an asset you will be if they decide to give you a chance and hire you.
For example, if you are applying for an IT position, it would be a good idea to mention the technical skills you possess, such as software development and hardware maintenance.
Communication skills are super important for your next job.
This is a very important part of the resume, since excluding it won’t give the employer any way to contact you if they are interested to call you up for an interview. Some opt to provide only their telephone numbers and e-mail address, but others prefer to include as many contact details as they can, to give the employer more options.
The ones listed above are considered to be the staples of the resume, meaning every resume should include them. In some cases, other sections or details may also be included, such as:
This is a statement of your specific job goal. It is often just a single short statement that states in no uncertain terms the type of job that you want. It could be as simple as “Objective: Accounting Manager” or more specific like “Objective: A Marketing position at ABC Company” or “Objective: A position at ABC Company, focusing on Finance and Budgeting”.
Career highlights and accomplishments
Include specific achievements that are related to your work. Along with that, you should reinforce it further by listing down your specific accomplishments while performing your tasks. For example, you were once assigned to be project manager of a major undertaking.
Include details about how the project turned out, and how you were able to contribute. Maybe you were able to complete the project before the deadline, or you managed to find and implement cost-cutting measures without compromising quality results.
Here, you may also include any awards and achievements that you have received. In fact, if you have these, you should definitely include them in your resume. This will definitely increase your “marketability”.
Memberships in professional organizations
Are you a member of professional organizations that increase your credentials as a professional in your field? Then there is nothing wrong if you mention that fact in your resume.
Include character references, or people who will vouch for your personal character and your work attitudes and ethics. When choosing references, make sure they are not related to you, as this may give the hiring personnel the impression that anything positive they say about you will be biased. Three to five references will be enough, and you should make sure you divide them into work-related, personal and professional.
WRITING YOUR OWN RESUME
The goal of any person writing a resume is to make sure that the resume is more than good enough to stand out among a sea of resumes, and catch the attention and interest – in a positive way – of the hiring manager or recruiter in charge of screening them.
Ideally, the resume should be prepared by the applicant, or the person who is the actual subject of the resume. After all, no one knows the details required in the resume better than him.
But never forget that the resume is a formal document. Therefore, you should follow certain rules and guidelines when writing one. For example, there are various styles and templates to choose from, and you should make your selection based on several factors.
Let us quickly go over the different resume formats that are currently in use.
1. Chronological resume
In this format, the work experience and history of the applicant is listed chronologically, preferably in reverse. That means that the earliest work history is listed last, with the most recent work experience being written first.
That is not to say that the chronological order, with the oldest being listed first and the most recent work experience on the last of the list, is not recommended. It is also being used by several resume writers, although the reverse format is now gaining more preference.
The Work History and experience section then becomes the main body of the resume. This type of resume is recommended for applicants who:
- Have a strong or continuous work history, with no gaps
- Have increasing levels of responsibility and accountability in their work
- Want to highlight the credentials gained through work experience
- Want to demonstrate career and professional growth
2. Functional resume
The main focus of this resume is the work experience and skills of the applicant, but this time, they are sorted by the job function or skill area. Basically, the applicant is trying to highlight his skills and areas of expertise more than the amount of work experience he has, or the progression, trajectory or growth that his career has taken.
This resume is recommended for those who:
- Have little work experience
- Have large gaps in their employment history, such as when they took a sabbatical or a long break from the workplace
- Plan on making a major career change, to an industry that is removed from the previous ones they were employed in
3. Hybrid resume
This is a combination of the two formats. Work experience is listed with emphasis on the functional list of job skills and responsibilities, then arranged according to the chronology of employment with various companies. This can be quite tricky to pull off, though, and may end up confusing the resume writer.
In this internet age, where most transactions are now performed online, there is another type of resume that is being used: the online resume.
When employers give in to the trend and agree to receive applications and resumes electronically, they also use this opportunity to customize the resume format that they accept. Some companies already have electronic forms that they have designed, and will have to be filled up by the applicants, to be sent in electronically afterwards. In job search websites and job boards, they also have specific formats that applicants will adhere to.
In some job boards, however, they leave the resume format decision to the applicant. He can choose any format he is most comfortable with, and transmit it electronically.
This paperless form of application submission is found to be more cost-efficient and time-saving by both jobseekers and employers. Jobseekers do not have to reproduce multiple copies of their resumes to submit to various companies they are applying to. It is also easier to submit applications; one click, and their resume is in the hands of the hiring personnel. No need to go out of their homes, travel and wait in long queues to submit their documents.
Employers, on the other hand, will also be saved from wading through massive stacks of resumes. They will only have to use their computers and utilize a system to filter the candidates that meet the basic qualifications. It will be quicker to narrow down the number of applicants to candidates that they will consider in the succeeding steps of the recruitment process.
SHOULD YOU BUY RESUME WRITING SERVICES
You may have heard of them more than once or twice, and you may have even had personal encounters with them. They are called professional resume writers, or individuals who make a living out of writing resumes for other people. Larger-scale operations have also cropped up, with writing service companies also offering resume writing services.
To start off, what are resume writing services?
Basically, resume writing services are exactly what the phrase means. For a fee, they will take all the information you provide and turn them into professional and formal-looking documents; in this case, the resume.
Pros of Hiring a Resume Writer
First, let us go over the advantages of using the services of a resume writer.
- Resume writers guarantee quality writing: They are professionals. They do this for a living. They had proper training for it, and maybe even tons of experience writing effective and high quality resumes. Combine all that, and you get an assurance that your resume will also be of high quality. Their ability and aptitude for writing is expected to result to a well-written resume, which will then reflect on the applicant. Professional resume writers are expected to be experts in this field, and you can take advantage of that expertise in having a resume that stands out and reflects you. These writers have certifications for writing, editing, and creating resumes. Look for them when choosing a writer to work with.
- Resume writers have knowledge about hiring practices, and will use that knowledge in the “design” and crafting of the resume. They are presumed to have been in the business of writing resumes seeking employment for years, and this level of experience means they have a “feel” for these things. They know what works, and what doesn’t. They know what to write in the resume (and how to write it), and they know what to omit. In writing service companies, the writers are also made to undergo continuous training and learning on HR industry trends, giving them the insider knowledge that they may then apply when writing resumes. This insider knowledge will definitely be to the benefit of the person whose resume is being written.
- Increased preference for professionally-written resumes among employers. In an eye-tracking study conducted by The Ladders career website, there was greater preference for resumes that are written by the professionals, citing how they are easier to read and show better organization, as compared to those that are prepared by the candidates themselves.
Cons of Hiring a Resume Writer
Now flip the coin, and take a look at the possible cons that you will encounter when working with a professional resume writer.
- Standardized resume: Your resume may just be one of the many. Let’s face it: you won’t be the only one acquiring the services of these resume writers. Considering the number of people who pay them to write their resumes, and the number of years that they have been doing this, they are becoming nothing more than “resume mills”, churning out resumes that, well, look the same. The tendency is that they may just copy-paste something that they have written for someone else before, making a few minor tweaks here and there to make it supposedly yours. If that is the case, then your resume won’t stand out, you won’t get a shot at an interview, much less at the job, and you’d have wasted your money for nothing.
- Steep fees: Some of these professional resume writers will charge you a mint for something that you can probably make and proofread using your normal word processor and grammar and spell check tool. The price is going to be even higher if you approach the established writing service companies. Imagine paying at least $50 for a one-page resume that looks so simple and plain, you know you could have done better!
When To Hire A Resume Writer
Are you still wondering whether you should hire a resume writer to write one for you? To help you make up your mind, use this guide. You should hire a resume writer when:
- You do not have confidence in your writing abilities. Some people are naturally talented at creating their own resumes; they simply have the creativity and flair for it. The same thing cannot be said for everyone, however, and if you are one of those people, you should consider using a professional resume writer instead.
- You have a hard time adopting an objective view of yourself. You may even have difficulty identifying your strengths. By working with a professional resume writer, you can explore these together, and that will go into your resume.
- You have the time to go over what will be written on the resume. Contrary to popular belief, hiring a professional to write your resume for you is not a one-sided task where he will do all the work, and you simply pay him. This is actually a collaborative process, where you will provide the “raw materials” to the writer, and he will try to understand your background, motivations, strengths, and achievements. This will take time, and if you cannot spare that time to the professional writer, then you should try writing it yourself.
- You have the money to pay a resume writer for his services. Job-hunting, by itself, is a costly endeavor. You may have to buy proper clothes and shoes to wear during job interviews. Travelling to and from the companies you are applying to will also cost money. If your budget has room for the fees of a professional, go for it.
- You do not have the time to write your own resume. Maybe there are some personal circumstances that you have to deal with, on top of trying to get employed. If that is the case, you can avoid wasting time by hiring a resume writer.
- Your repeated attempts at creating your own resume did not result in any callbacks. Maybe something is wrong with your resume, that’s why it’s not getting the attention you feel it deserves. This is the time to ask for professional help.
There is one practice that some jobseekers do: they will write their own resume, and have it reviewed or evaluated by a professional. This option is considerably going to cost you less, and still help guarantee that you will have a final resume that is error-free and will have a chance of standing out and grabbing the hiring manager’s attention.
There is nothing wrong with hiring a professional resume writer. In fact, it is now a widely accepted practice. You just have to practice caution, though. Choose the professional that you will hire to write your resume. Do your research on them so you won’t end up with someone who does nothing more than reformat and reword existing resumes to supposedly tailor them to fit you.
The bottomline is this: if you can do it yourself, then do so.