What should a resume cost

 
 
 

They say you get what you pay for. But a $1000 resume?

What Should A Resume Cost?

As a former professional resume writer, I've seen resume costs all over the map, from a low of $25 to upwards of a thousand dollars. That, for a mid-level professional resume. Here's what you need to know--before you short change yourself and your future, or mortgage the house unnecessarily. --David Alan Carter

You could spend a thousand dollars on a professionally-written resume, or you could spend $25. What’s reasonable?

Spend The Money It Takes To Get The Job Done

Getting the "job done" is landing the interviews that will eventually result in a job offer. That's the whole point of a resume. The reason resume costs are all over the map is that individual writers and the companies for whom they work are all over the map in the level of care they provide when representing your work history and career goals on paper.

Questionnaire Is OK--For Starters

Time is money. If you're looking for a $25 or $50 or even a $100 resume, don't expect your writer to spend the time necessary to get to know you--your background, what makes you unique, the contribution you can bring to a company. Rather, you'll be asked to complete an online questionnaire to which the writer will selectively pluck information to fill out a template. You're doing the work: the quality of the answers you give on the questionnaire will largely determine the quality of the finished resume -- ignoring the fact that those answers will still be laid out on a mass-produced template that a hiring manager can spot (and sour on) a mile away.

Consultative Interview Makes Or Breaks The Resume

There may be exceptions, of course. You might find a writer who gathers the curial, make-or-break information through an extensive telephone or face-to-face interview, who then builds a layout from scratch to best match his client's needs, who populates that layout with writing that offers a genuine insight into a candidate's strengths and capabilities, who spends an hour or two or three with that writing and the subsequent editing and proofing, and do that all for a resume cost of $50 or a hundred bucks. If you do find one, act fast because he won't be in business long. With that degree of time commitment per client, fifty to a hundred bucks won't keep food on the table.

You need the writer mentioned above. Especially in the aftermath of the deepest recession since the Great Depression, when every job opening generates an avalanche of resume responses and competition for those jobs have never been greater. You need a writer who will take the time to talk with you and flesh out your answers to that questionnaire, who will find out what you really meant to say, who will poke and prod you to reveal valuable attributes about yourself that you didn't know existed.

Back To 'Time Is Money'

Just realize that the writer, in order for him to continue working on behalf of his clients, needs to make a living wage from his efforts. $200 to $500 is not an unreasonable amount to pay for a writer offering that level of one-on-one service, and a writer who has demonstrated--through industry certification--an acceptable level of expertise in the craftsmanship of resume writing. More thoughts...

  • If you're a recent graduate or otherwise applying for entry-level work, expect to pay a resume writer between $150 to $200 to translate your educational background, full and part-time work into a message that resonates with prospective employers. Not an easy task.
  • If you're a mid-level professional with 2-4 different job titles under your belt, expect to pay between $200 and $500 for a resume writer willing to take the necessary time to get to know you and do a respectable job presenting your case on paper. The more competitive your profession, the more you need a writer who stands heads and shoulders above the average; expect to pay toward the higher end.
  • If you're an executive or senior-level manager with ten to twenty years of progressively responsible experience leading up to CEO, CFO or the like, expect a writer to charge $300 to $1000 or more (sometimes a lot more), depending upon his or her credentials and degree of expertise in working with senior-level pros in your career niche. Note: I have one and only one executive resume writing service that I fully recommend.

Again, there may be exceptions to the above rules of thumb. But keep your eye on the prize: a resume that will land relevant job interviews in the shortest period of time. If you can shave even a month off your job search with a high-performing resume, the extra couple of hundred you spent for the writer will be negligible once your new salary kicks in.

Best of luck,
David Alan Carter

Fast facts, and outside opinions regarding resume costs.

Fast Facts:

  • "Resume Mills" generate resumes the way a factory generates wing nuts -- fast and furious. They utilize cookie-cutter templates and boilerplate text, likely employ non-certified writers, and fabricate resumes from nothing more than the contents of a simple online questionnaire (no phone consultation to flesh out the client's unique background and specific career goals). Avoid them for the sake of your career/future/sanity.
  • "Online Questionnaires" are legitimate means of gathering basic information about a new client and his/her work background and career objectives. Not sufficient if relied upon exclusively in preparing a resume (as in the case of "resume mills"). Best when used in conjunction with a consultative telephone interview.
  • "Consultative Interview" is one-on-one, personalized service and a hallmark of the better resume writers. Used to flesh out work experience, unique abilities and career goals. Expect one to last 30 minutes to an hour or more, either in person or over the phone.
  • "Certified Professional Resume Writer" s a professional designation reserved for those who have met the standards set by the industry group PARW/CC (The Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches). A designation not always evident in "resume mills," but a designation you should seek out to be assured at least a base level of expertise in resume writing.

What Others Have To Say:

  • "The lowest price is rarely a bargain in the long run. There can be a high long-term cost of looking for work with the cheapest resume you can buy... I'd rather spend $20 than $100 too, but you're paying for expertise and it's unlikely you're going to get much of that for $20." -- Gary Will, author of How To Prepare For An Employment Interview
  • "There are many skilled, credible résumé writers who will treat you and your career with respect and care. You'll know them because they will spend a lot of time talking with you to assess what your talents and abilities are..." -- Nick Corcodilos, author of Ask The Headhunter
  • "I once conducted an experiment where I asked eight different professional writers to rewrite my resume. The ones who performed best took at least an hour to get to know me. Phone communication proved more effective than e-mail." -- Andrew G. Rosen, founder and editor of the career advice blog Jobacle.com