How to Choose a Resume Writer Series: Cost, Part Two

“Why are resume services so expensive?”  I hear that question at least once a day.  Resume prices vary dramatically,j0438855 of course, but here are some typical price ranges:

  • If you’re a young professional or new college grad you will likely see resume/cover letter packages ranging from about $150 & up.
  • If you’re not in management (& not looking for a management position) & have up to 10 years of experience, you will likely see resume prices ranging from $200 or $250 & up.
  • If you’re a mid-career professional with well over 10 years of experience &/or are looking for a mid-management role, you will likely see resume prices ranging from $300 & up.
  • If you’re a director/VP-level executive, you will likely see resume prices ranging from $350 & up.
  • If you are or are seeking a c-level position, then you will likely see resume prices ranging up from $400.

Every resume writing firm has a different pricing structure, but these numbers give you a very general idea of what to expect.

Before you can decide if such an investment is worth it, you need to know exactly what it entails.  Let’s take a look at what a resume writer actually does to redesign your resume or create one from scratch for you (not all writers will follow this same process, but this example is fairly representative):

  • Reviews all of the provided documentation, which usually consists of 1 or more resumes; questionnaire; job descriptions; performance evaluations; sample reports; reference letters, all of which can total 20-50 pagesof data about you.  Time involved:  30-60 minutes
  • Evaluates & synthesizes all data. This means weeding through all those documents to decide which bits to use, where.  It also means uncovering the candidate’s career brand as evidenced through their history of achievements.  Time involved:  1-2 hours or more
  • Assesses candidate career goals/brand & plans a marketing strategy.  One of the most critical parts of the resume design process, this step is often the hardest to describe.  In short, it means figuring out how to help the client get from where they are to where they want to be.  It’s at this stage that I usually decide which resume format to use (chronological vs. functional vs. combination); determine how much of the candidate’s work experience/credentials to include; devise a strategy for handling any career liabilities (everyone has one or more); & pinpoint the client’s positioning (type/level of position sought, targeted industries, required industry-specific key words).  Time involved:  1-2 hours or more [notice that by now the writer has invested a minimum of 2 or more hours in your resume & yet hasn’t even begun the actual writing process]
  • Interview the client.  Not all firms do this step, but those that do may invest 30-60 minutes in preparing for & interviewing the candidate to fill in information gaps, resolve critical issues, & clarify career goals.  Time involved: 30-60 minutes
  • Develop the first draft.  Finally it’s time to start writing the resume.  Even this step is more complex than it appears, however.  It includes setting up the new document, selecting a layout, making design alterations to the layout, & word processing content, of course, but it also includes wordsmithing – editing sentences for flow/impact, optimizing readability, selecting alternative phrases to limit repetition, & packaging those all-important achievement statements.  Lastly, though certainly not least, this step also involves the design & wordsmithing of the career summary, which in essence means “packaging” the candidate for job boards, hiring managers, & recruiters to evaluate.  It may also involve research to source additional details for the draft.  Time involved: 1-2 hours+
  • Editing.  A good writer reviews a draft prior to submitting it to the client for initial review.  This will include spellchecking, proofing, and editing of text/styles.  Time involved:  30-60 minutes
  • Revisions.  After the client has had a chance to review the first draft, it’s time to make any needed revisions.  This stage, too, can vary dramatically from minutes to hours depending on how close the writer has “hit the mark” in the client’s estimation.  Each revision includes more editing, spellchecking, & proofing.  Time involved:  30 or more per revision (a colleague of mine once had a client request 17 rounds of revisions)
  • Order Finalization.  Once revisions are complete, the order is ready to be finalized.  Depending on the package the client ordered, the writer may have to prepare additional resume formats such as PDF, text, or scannable resumes.  Time involved:  30 minutes

Look at what we have here:  An average duration of 4-8+ hours per client, depending on the length of the candidate’s work history, their positioning, & the number/complexity of documents required for resume development.

What can you do with this information?  Once you have an idea of any given firm’s pricing, try dividing that number by 4 to 8 to get a feel for the hourly wage of the writer.  If you want to hire the cheapest resume writer you can find (& the cheapest I’ve seen is $59), ask yourself whether you’ll get the results you expect by paying someone that hourly rate (in this case, a mere $14.75 per hour).

Keep in mind that the lower the resume writing price, the more resumes the writer will have to write weekly or daily to make ends meet (hey, we have mortgages, too).   If I need to make $500 a week, say, that means I can write 9 or 10 resumes per week at $59 each or a 1-3 at several hundred each.  Which writer would you want to work on yours – the one who has to churn resumes out like widgets on an assembly line or the one who has the time to savor your experience & design a marketable work of art for you that will get you more interviews, faster?

Of course the next question you should ask yourself is: When is it appropriate to pay a lot more per hour for the help of a professional resume writer?  How much more are we talking about?  And is such an investment really worth it?  Until next time ….