Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vivamus convallis sem tellus, vitae egestas felis vestibule ut.

Error message details.

Reuse Permissions

Request permission to republish or redistribute SHRM content and materials.

Thinking of Hiring a Professional Resume Writer?

A person writing a resume on a desk with a laptop.

If you've tried writing your own resume and struggled, maybe it's time to hire a professional resume writer.

A good resume can be expensive, but with your financial stability and professional future at stake, consider it an investment that allows you to spend more time on job-search activities that have a greater payoff. The trick is to find a resume writer with the right skills, background and credentials.

Choosing a Professional Resume Writer

You get what you pay for from a resume writer. When you see resume-writing services advertised for $100, know that the writer most likely needs half of that for operating costs and to show a profit. You have to ask yourself, what kind of a resume are you going to get for $50?

If you're thinking about hiring a resume writer, use your street smarts to help you make an informed choice.

  • Don't get overwhelmed by credentials or skills claims, unless you know what they mean and how they relate to resume writing. For example, "life coaching" has little to do with resume-writing skills.
  • Question mysterious credentials. Ask which association awarded credentials you don't recognize. Verify that the organizations and credentials exist and are relevant; this research could save you time, money and anguish.
  • Ask to see resume samples, and ask about the resume writer's tenure in and contributions to the profession.

Listen to Your Gut

Resume writing is a sophisticated and complex process. Your instincts will probably tell you that someone who mostly offers peppy, feel-good tips and breezy solutions isn't going to help you write a great resume.

Ask yourself:

  • Does this resume writer sound competent, or is she or he just throwing buzzwords at me?
  • Do I have confidence in his or her ability to convey what is most marketable about me?
  • Is there evidence that she or he cares, or am I being pushed into making a quick decision to buy?
  • Will I be willing to listen to this person when she or he is saying something I don't want to hear?

Check out potential resume writers on LinkedIn, and look behind the surface polish. Make sure they can back up their claims with solid experience.

Who Makes the Best Resume Writer?

People who have been intimately involved with the recruitment and selection cycle are best suited to be good resume writers. They probably have invested in becoming a member of a professional association and sought further training.

For my money, the very best resume writer is the headhunter who has also worked in corporate HR and understands the needs and demands from both sides.

Costs of a Professionally Written Resume

Custom resume prices vary greatly, but, according to my research, the following accurately reflects the competitive midpoint you are likely to pay for a professionally written resume. These resumes are priced to include:

  • A resume in each of the three formats you'll need (i.e., formatted, a PDF and database-friendly).
  • A cover letter.

Resume-writing services may include some personal coaching, although coaching services are more likely to be priced separately. Here are different resume price points, matched to levels of experience:

Entry Level: $400

Students, new graduates and professionals with up to three years of experience, not in management.

Professional: $550

Professionals with three to 10 years of experience, not in management, information technology (IT), or other science or technical careers.

Midcareer: $650

Professionals with more than 10 years of experience, not in management, IT, or other science or technical careers.

Science, Technology and IT Professionals: $750

All science, technology and individual contributors with more than three years of experience.

Career Changers: $750

All career changers and job seekers returning to the workplace with more than three years of total experience.

Managers: $750

All managers with hiring and firing responsibilities for individual contributors.

Executives: $1,100

Senior managers with bottom-line fiscal responsibilities and hiring responsibilities for managers.

This might sound like a lot of money, but think about what your last job paid you by the day, and then compare three-to-five days' pay against these costs. If these services shorten your search by just a few days, you'll come out ahead.

Use these guidelines, and you'll have a resume that opens the doors to more and better job opportunities in less time. Moreover, these opportunities might even deliver higher earnings than you expect.

Have a question for Martin about advancing or managing your career? From big issues to small, please feel free to e-mail your queries to We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know.

Packed with practical, honest, real-world guidance for successfully navigating common HR career challenges, Martin Yate's new book, The HR Career Guide: Great Answers to Tough Career Questions, is available at the SHRMStore. Order your copy today!