One of my close LinkedIn connections told me that a client of hers would only pay her for writing his résumé if she would guarantee he’d land a job. Needless to say, she didn’t take him on as a client. I think most rational individuals would agree that she made the correct decision. I do.
I found this client’s request ridiculous on at least three fronts.
- Writing a résumé takes commitment and expertise on the writer’s part.
- A job search is out of the résumé writer’s hand after it is written and delivered.
- It makes for bad business.
If you are going to employ a résumé writer, consider the role this document plays in your job search. It is an extremely important part of your success, but will not land you a job on its own merit.
1. What’s involved in writing an impactful résumé?
Good résumé writers go beyond taking your original document and simply editing it. They’ll add value to it, resulting in a better chance of getting interviews. At the very least, they’ll deliver the following services.
It all begins with asking questions. Some résumé writers will have you fill out a questionnaire, others will interview you over the phone, and others will do both. My preference is to have a client fill out a form and then talk over the phone for as many times it takes.
The résumé writer first needs to know your story. Are you pursuing similar work? What do you enjoy about you work? Adversely, what do you dislike about your work? Importantly, what value do you feel you brings to a company?
Questions like these are necessary to get to know you. But the résumé writer will ask specific questions that flush out your past accomplishments and potential for future greatness. A sound interview is essential in writing the document.
Writing the document
Good résumé writers won’t rely on a résumé template, as each client is different. But generally there are five major sections they’ll address in order: Headline, Summary, Core Competencies, Experience, and Education. In some cases, Volunteer Experience, Hobbies and Military History are included.
1. The Headline is a section that can tell résumé reviewers your value by your title and areas of expertise. This might be enough for the reviewer to put your résumé in the “must-read pile.”
2. The Summary should be concise, yet deliver an immediate impact. The résumé writer will suss out, in three or four lines, the value you’ll deliver to an employer. Take the following example:
Information Systems Department Director specializing in new project planning and achieving business objectives. Budget hundreds of thousands of dollars in project resources. Lead efforts that consistently generate sales exceeding $15K in a competitive pharmaceutical market.
3. In the Experience area, the résumé writer will take painstaking efforts to turn your duties into accomplishments. Here’s one example:
Used Lean methodology to increase productivity in a supply chain operation.
The résumé writer will push you to provide an accurate quantified result to make the accomplishment statement more impressive. Executive Résumé Writer, Adrienne Tom, and other executive résumé writers suggest front loading the statement with the quantified result. For example:
Increased productivity 80%—over a 3-month period—by employing Lean methodology in supply-chain operations. Acknowledged by CEO for this achievement.
4. Education section. You earned Magna Cum Laude in university. As a résumé writer, I would strongly suggest you include it in this section.
Some résumé writers ensure their clients’ résumés contain the proper keywords to pass the applicant tracking system (ATS). The résumé writer might invest in a program like Jobscan.co, which offers a premium account for Career Coaches and résumé writers.
For a nominal fee, the résumé writer would scan your résumé against job descriptions, ensuring the tailored document would have a chance of being seen by human eyes.
The résumé writer might include a certain number of emails as follow up, either free or for a small fee. I encourage my clients to reach out to me with any questions they have after their résumé is complete. The same applies to their LinkedIn profile.
2. The résumé is one piece of the job search
Any résumé writer will not guarantee that their clients land a job based on the résumé alone. There are many facets of the job search to consider. Here are a few.
Let’s talk about networking
To some job seekers, “networking” is a dirty word. Either they’ll begrudgingly do it or won’t do it at all. This is a shame, because networking has proven to be the number one way find a job. Some sources put the success of networking, if done alone, between 60-80%.
Networking is a great way to get your résumé in the hands of the decision maker. After applying for a position online, you should have someone within the company hand-deliver your résumé to the hiring manager, VP, or anyone of influence.
This was the case with one of my clients who gave his résumé to a neighbor that worked at his desired company. The neighbor delivered his document to the hiring manager of the department in which my client wanted to work. He was asked in for a number of conversations, until he was hired.
We hear of too many people who shotgun hundreds of their résumés online and then wait for the call for an interview. They wait and wait and wait some more.
Those who network are the ones who take their job search into their own hands. They approach companies of interest, get known by said companies, and find themselves in legitimate interviews.
Interviews get people jobs
A great résumé will get the attention of HR, recruiters, and hiring managers. But it will not secure a job offer on its own merit. Performing well in multiple interviews and what follows lands the offer.
Further, a strong résumé increases your negotiating power. Full of relevant accomplishments, your résumé tells employers a portion of your worth.
Of course a résumé alone won’t aptly express your worth. You must be able to sell herself to employers by reiterating your 1) ability to do the job, 2) wanting to do the job, and 3) being a fit in the company.
After the interview you must follow up with a thank you note for every person who interviewed you. Each note must be unique and delivered on time. A simple expression of gratitude isn’t enough; you must show you listened actively during the interview by mentioning an interesting discussion that occurred during the interview.
3. Going the extra yard
Astute job candidates will make the extra effort of bringing a portfolio of their work to the interview. Or they might bring a business plan of what they would accomplish within 30, 60, 90 days. Madeline Mann, creator of Self-Made Millennial, adds:
Instead of describing how you work, show it. Bring in a portfolio, build a project for the company, ask to share a presentation. In my career, I’ve only seen one or two people EVER go above and beyond like this in an interview.
This makes great sense. Wouldn’t you agree?
With all that the résumé writer must do to send the job seeker out into the wild, there still is much work for the job seeker ahead. The document the writer produces is of great value, but the rest of the job search can be of equal or more value. It all depends on how you look at it.
Executive Career Coaches, Austin Belcak and Sarah Johnston help people land jobs through the art of networking and power interviewing. Both of them would say the résumé is merely a piece of the puzzle.
So, given all the résumé writer does and what the job seeker must do upon receiving the polished document, why would a résumé writer only receive payment after a client lands a job. It just doesn’t make good business sense.