Should I Hire a Resume Writer or Career Coach?
Although the job market has rebounded somewhat since hitting rock bottom 5-7 years ago, it’s still a buyer’s market. For every job posting, dozens of equally qualified candidates descend like vultures, leaving applicants wondering why all their carefully crafted applications seem to disappear into the void.
With such stiff competition, finding a way to differentiate yourself is key. Hiring a career coach or professional resume writer can be the difference that gets you through the door.
How do I know if a professional resume writer is right for me?
Resume writers and career coaches can be an excellent resource for a professional at any stage of career, but they are especially useful for job seekers who:
- Are new to the job market. With so many entry-level positions requiring for 3-5 years of experience, the deck is stacked against recent graduates. A career coach can help recent grads leverage their internship experience, extracurricular activities, and volunteer work to prove they have the skills needed for the job and a willingness to learn.
- Are switching careers/industries. Professional resume writers use their familiarity with a wide range of industries to showcase your skills and experiences that are most likely to convince a hiring manager in your new field that you can do the job.
- Have gaps in their job experience or changed careers multiple times: Good resume writers are also good storytellers and can identify the narrative threads that run throughout your career. By focusing on your story, they can minimize the damaging effects of career gaps or job-hopping on your application.
- Have been at one company for a long time. If you’re a job seeker who last fired up your resume over a decade ago, the current landscape can be intimidating. A professional resume writer can coach you through modern resume standards, building a good LinkedIn profile, and managing your professional brand online.
What to look for in your career coach/resume writer:
- Certified Professional – Credentialed and certified resume writers have dedicated themselves to their trade and typically go through rigorous training. They will have in-depth knowledge of personal branding, marketing, keyword research, and the latest trends in hiring practices. One of the most highly-regarded credentials is the Certified Advanced Resume Writer (CARW) certification, offered through Career Directors International Professional Association, but several other organizations offer well-respected credentials as well.
- Customized strategy – A good resume writer takes the time to get to know the real you: not just your achievements and skills, but your hobbies, motivations, ambitions, and any obstacles you’ve overcome. By getting a 360-degree perspective, they help you craft a personal brand and begin selling YOU, not just your accomplishments. Avoid any resume writer or agency that doesn’t prioritize in-person or phone conversations and relies instead on cookie-cutter forms to create your professional portfolio.
- Comprehensive packages – The modern job seeker needs more than a strong resume to stand out. You also need a top-notch LinkedIn profile, targeted yet adaptable cover letters, a professional bio, and (increasingly) a personal branding website. Your resume writer should offer packages that include these elements to ensure your entire professional portfolio is on-message and consistently branded. Coaching is also critical to a good resume package. A resume writer who is also a career coach can offer a more impartial perspective on your achievements, listen to your objectives, and help you craft a strategy to market yourself and achieve those goals. They can coach you through the job search process (armed with your new professionally
written documents!) and help you prepare for interviews.
- Dedication to continuing education – The job market is constantly changing, as are the tools and documents used in the search process. A skilled resume writer should be active in professional organizations (such as Career Directors International or Career Thought Leaders), attend conferences, and keep abreast of trends among hiring managers and recruiters.
Most importantly, you should make sure you’re comfortable with your resume writer. You’ll be sharing a lot of personal information with them and will be trusting them to help further your professional career. Most will offer free consultations, so be sure to see if there’s a fit before buying.
Finally, remember that no matter how talented your resume writer is, you need to take ownership of your own success. Invest yourself in the process and commit yourself to any homework your coach gives you, and you’ll be well-prepared to take the next big step forward in your career!
Kristin S. Johnson
CARW, CCMC, CJSS, COPNS, CG3C, 360Reach Analyst
Profession Direction Career Services, LLC
Kristin is a TORI award-winning, 7-times certified resume writer, job search coach, and social media consultant. Her approach is cutting-edge, creative, and kind. As owner of Profession Direction, LLC, she works with professionals and aspiring executives across the country. Her clients enjoy the reassurance of having professionally-written, SEO-optimized documents. They find clarity and direction in their job search, feel at ease with social media and in-person networking, and earn more income faster. She would love to help you “Target Your Success Today!”