Finding good resume-writing help is a job in itself

Your career

July 06, 1992|By Joyce Lain Kennedy | Joyce Lain Kennedy,Sun Features Inc.

Should professional resume writers be certified? This is a matter of concern to job seekers and a spitfire issue to people in the business. The problem is, what does a resume writer need to know to be qualified? And who will judge whether the writer has the required expertise?

Yana Parker, one of the nation's foremost resume writers, recently led a resume-writing workshop for counselors of jobless people. I used the opportunity to get her thoughts on how job seekers who don't feel comfortable penning their own resumes should go about finding a first-class resume writer.

Ms. Parker wrote the best-selling "Damn Good Resume Guide" and "The Resume Catalog." Her new book, "Resume Pro: The Professional's Guide" (Ten Speed Press), is due out this summer. Here's what this leading resume authority says.

Appreciate the hidden costs in failing to choose wisely. Getting assistance from a hack resume writer -- even at prices up to $250 -- can cost you a good job interview.

The recommendation of a satisfied customer is the safest path to a high-quality writer. Next best bets: a referral from a local career center consultant or copy shop manager.

Working without a referral, you can glance through a yellow pages directory, but don't assume that the companies best at advertising themselves are necessarily whizzes at writing resumes.

* May I speak with the person who actually will be writing my resume (not a sales representative)?

* May I talk to the writer for a few minutes about what strategy will be used for dealing with my particular problem? (If the writer isn't willing to discuss your problem or doesn't have a good strategy for handling it, keep on looking.)

* How much time will I spend face-to-face with my resume writer? (If all that is offered is a perfunctory and brief interview and all the writing will be done when you are gone, the results won't be as good as if you were on the spot to consult with the writer during the actual resume preparation.)

Be wary of resume companies that insist you come into the office before they will answer any of your questions. They may want you on the spot for a hard sell of a more expensive product.

Be wary of companies that charge by the page. Longer doesn't usually mean better.

Be wary of companies that rely primarily on your filling out a long form with your work history and job duties. You may get back your own language merely tricked up with a few words of jargon in a glossy word-processed format.

Avoid resume writers who print out resumes on 11-by-17 parchment paper, folding them into a pretentious brochure. An overemphasis on the paper that will be used may be a clear signal of incompetence and misplaced priorities.

The mere fact that a firm has been in business a long time has done thousands of resumes, or is affiliated with any organization or franchise, is not a reliable measure of competence. And some professional associations will sell their stamp of approval to anyone who writes them a check.

A good resume writer knows an effective resume is a marketing piece, not a "career obituary," and that it should be targeted as sharply as possible to a specific field. They also know how to interview a job hunter carefully to discover the client's unique experience and strengths.

What should resume preparation cost when it is more than word processing? If skills assessment and extensive interviewing are combined with good writing, depending on complexity, in the San Francisco area, for instance, this would range between $75 and $350.

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