Life After the Military

Professional Resume Writers -- Should You Hire One?

By Doris Appelbaum

One of my clients said, “I spent the money and had my resume rewritten, and I do believe it is well worth the money -- if you find the right person to do it. I supplied Doris Appelbaum, a professional resume writer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with facts via a toll-free telephone interview; it was quite thought-provoking. She wove my information into a great resume. She was much more objective about my experience than I was.

She has done this for a living for 28+ years as President of Appelbaum’s Resume Professionals, Inc., and she knows what types of things recruiters and hiring managers are looking for, especially in this age of unemployment. It is a great marketing piece about me and my background. Compared to other friends who have a plain Jane version of their resume, I've gotten a lot more job leads and am a lot closer to landing that next job than they are, too.”

Qualified professional resume writers also counsel clients about statements that involve "soft skills." When reading a profile or summary of qualifications, a hiring manager wants to see the specific skill sets, which generally appear in their summary of qualifications for the job. A recruiter said, “Having hired individuals for major corporations, if I didn't see the skills immediately listed, a job hunter would automatically be passed over.” He also said he agrees with the statement that there are "bad apples" (no pun intended!) in the resume-writing profession.

However, there are many excellent writers in this industry. Many times, clients have a hard time discerning what is important to a hiring manager. That is where the experience of a resume writer who has a human resources background is beneficial. The highest compliment paid to a professional resume writer is when human-resources managers retain your services to write their resume.

It is equally important for resume writers to stay in contact with hiring managers and recruiters to understand the trends and use them as a resource. Neither side should see each other as an enemy, but as a partner in the job-search process.

When an individual decides to hire a resume writer, he or she should ask questions about why the individual chose the writing profession, what qualifications he or she possesses, and if the person will get a personalized consultation. I have never understood firms that use a "form" and never contact the client. If the client could bring out the achievements and word it correctly, there would be no need to hire a resume-writing firm! Those of us who have been in the resume-writing industry for any length of time are still doing this craft because our clients are successful. Helping a job seeker obtain interviews through a document that gets results is very satisfying.

Since most resume screeners simply look at the most-current job title and industry, either of those factors is enough to eliminate 99% of the resumes they receive.

Therefore, a frou-frou resume is unlikely to make much, if any, difference at all. Smart job hunters should also seek solutions to the problem of how to get interviews with people who can hire them. A professional resume writer may or may not produce a better resume, but unless the job hunter's functions and skills are similar to the ones he or she is applying for, even a resume written by a professional resume writer will not work.

A certified professional resume writer and author of six books on the subject agreed that all professional resume writers aren't the same. Her firm has had to rewrite, correct and improve resumes from many one-man resume outfits and just about all the major outplacement firms (she has never seen one outplacement firm that uses certified writers).

Here’s what all professional resume writers should do: Provide a free consultation and feedback on a person's existing resume, give a flat-rate quote that won't change, conduct a full, personal interview with the applicant, then provide all changes required to make the resume accurate.

Job hunters should require that the writer be certified or degreed to do what he or she is doing, have at least 12 years of experience and provide a list of references or testimonials. It's also helpful if the resume professional can point to endorsements from top human-resources managers and/or executives at major corporations.

Some of the most expensive resume and outplacement services produce the lowest-quality resumes! Maybe that’s because they focus on professional in-house sales staff and counseling, rather than effective resumes produced by dedicated writers. When all is said and done, however, the applicant walks out with a resume, and employers rely on that resume to determine whom to interview. Greg Antonelle, an executive recruiter, has a general aversion to professionally written resumes. As an example of his displeasure, Greg quotes a line from a resume that reads: "Resourceful, adaptable, self-directed and motivated with the ability to meet and exceed even the most challenging goals." As with any type of business genre, one can find good eggs and rotten ones in resume writing.

To find someone good, you have to do your homework and interview prospective writers. To begin, ask a writer what his or her background is. It's preferable to hire someone with a human resources background or, perhaps, a general business background. The bottom line: You want someone who has been a hiring manager, has made hiring decisions or has had a lot of experience working with hiring managers.

You also want to hire someone who has a strong overall sense of business, a clear understanding of what you do, excellence with words, and an awareness of the hot points that will attract a hiring manager looking for someone with your credentials. Be wary of anyone who says he or she will write a resume that is guaranteed to get you a job. That isn't what a resume is meant to do. A resume is meant to help you get your foot in the door for interviews. It's up to you to close the deal by acing the interview.

A good resume writer is a ghostwriter, leaving no clues of his or her existence.

Doris Appelbaum is Founder and President of Appelbaum's Resume Professionals, Inc. She is an international career consultant, resume writer, speaker, and trainer with 25+ years of experience. She has been quoted as an expert nationwide and has provided career transition services for major corporations and transitioning military. A career columnist for many publications and websites, Doris’ career history includes career management for colleges, teaching and training, human resources for a government agency, and employment development for Wisconsin Correctional Services. She was an honor graduate from Hofstra University with a BA – English/Journalism and an MS – Secondary Education. Doris can be reached at (414) 352-5994 - 1-800-619-9777 - dorisa@execpc.com - (414) 352-7495 (fax).

Listen to “Career Quest” every Sunday at noon on AM 540, WRRD in Wisconsin and Illinois.

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