5 Questions to Ask a Resume Writer


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In today’s competitive market it is vital that you have a resume that will stand out and catch the attention of the reader.  Creating a resume from a Microsoft Word template won’t do. Neither will copying off your co-workers resume. You need a branded, unique resume that defines who you are, your accomplishments, your credentials and what you can do for them.  A certified professional resume writer will do this for you. They know what it takes to get you noticed. So, the question is… who do you choose? There are new resume companies popping up all over the place so you need to get picky and have questions ready to ask the resume writer.

Here are some questions you should always ask:

1. Are you a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW)? Does being certified really matter? YES, YES, YES! Before 1990, there wasn’t a standard to which a resume writer could be judged. Now, all CPRW candidates must go through a comprehensive set of tests before achieving certification. Testing consists of 4 modules that cover several areas including industry knowledge, resume knowledge, grammar/punctuation/spelling and proofreading, strategic thinking, content use, focus, ethics, and more. NOT EVERYONE PASSES. If you are not sure, you can check: parw.com or careerdirectors.com and check to see if the writer is certified. Advanced resume certifications are also available (CERW, MRW, CARW) and offer similar types of training followed by rigorous testing. Do your homework.

Think of it this way: would you want a Dentist to replace your crown or someone who “knows a lot about teeth”?

2. How long have you been writing resumes? There are so many mom-and-pop resume writing companies popping up out there that it is blowing my mind. Because of this recession, I’ve heard of many people who got into resume writing recently because they were laid off from their sales job and “was told by friends I can write a good resume”. While that may be true, writing two resumes and writing several hundred, or even thousands are much better. Practice makes perfect. I am the first one to admit that when I first started, my writing was less than perfect. Way less. There is so much more to understand about resume writing than just putting words to paper. It can take me up to 2 days to decide the right strategy for a client–the best way for them to be positioned for optimal results. It takes time to learn this. I’m not saying someone has to be writing for 10 years to be a good writer, but I think they need actual practice before working on your resume.

3. What association(s) do you belong to? This is important for the obvious reasons. Belonging to a professional association keeps you up-to-date on so many things including resume writing strategy, client focus, new trends, industry updates and much more. In my opinion, I couldn’t imagine NOT being in them. They are a wealth of knowledge! I get to interact with other writers/business owners/career coaches, share information, pose questions and more. My favorite organizations are CDI (Career Directors International) and PARW (Professional Association of Resume Writers), but there are several others that are good, too: National Association of Resume Writers (NRWA), Career Management Alliance (CMA), and Association of Online Resume & Career Professionals  (AORCP).

4. What is your process? Most resume writers have a process i.e. information they need from you, resume strategy, structure, and time line. It’s good to know ahead of time what the writers process is. You might have developed a great rapport with a writer only to realize they won’t have it ready for 2-3 weeks and you need it in 2 days, etc.  Or they may require more from you than just your existing resume and you don’t have time for that (although I wouldn’t advise that– if you want a great resume, you have to do a little work).

5. What do you need from me? Some writers do a lot of listening and not a lot of talking, or vice versa, as do the clients. Ask the writer what information they need from you. It’s important that the process is a collaborative one with mutual information sharing. Your writer has to literally be you in order to create an effective resume that is unique and branded. So give them as much information as possible, no matter how busy you are.

These 5 tips should get you started in the right direction and hopefully help you find a writer who is the perfect fit for your needs. Good luck!

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Written by Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CPRW - Visit the website to hire executive resume writer Erin Kennedy, CERW, CPRW

Erin is an internationally renowned certified resume writer specializing in professional and executive level resumes and career services.

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7 Responses to “5 Questions to Ask a Resume Writer”
  1. Jacob Share says:

    I like your line about “someone who just knows a lot about teeth” but not every country has certification for resume writers unfortunately.

    I think you’re missing a question. I would always want to know about someone’s track record of success and how it would apply for my needs.

  2. Hi Jacob!

    I see your point about the missing question, but I was going after more tangible questions. Any writer could say, “Oh, I have a 99% track record of happy, employed clients” when asked about their ‘track record of success’. That can’t be backed up. But asking about associations, certifications, how long in business, and process is straight forward. I would also encourage the client to look at testimonials on the site, or check out their LinkedIn profile’s for testimonials from clients.

    Thanks for the comment!


  3. Karen Siwak says:

    Canadian association with credential program for resume writers: Career Professionals of Canada
    .-= Karen Siwak´s last blog ..Considering a Job Change Once the Economy Picks Up? Be Proactive =-.


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