How Long Does a Professional Resume Writer Take to Write a Resume?

March 27th, 2014

Julie Walraven of Design Resumes has a great post titled The Chief Cause Of Many Poor Hiring Decisions.  She starts off with CareerBuilder’s new stat about how long hiring managers spend reviewing resumes…as we know, it’s pathetically low.

But then Julie takes her post in an unexpected direction: how long SHE, as a professional resume writer (she is certified and has been doing this, afaik, for over two decades): she will easily spend six hours creating a resume.  Usually that is for an entry-level person.  It’s not unusual for her to spend ten or more hours designing a resume.

Julie is an “expert,”having investing more than 10,000 hours in her trade to claim expertise.  When I lost my job I spent a couple of weeks fumbling around trying to piece together my own resume.  I had no expertise, experience or training… just an attitude that if I could put myself through two degrees, I could certainly write a one or two page document!

Right??

I didn’t understand that a resume was not simply a list with work history, dates and some “cool” action verbs.  I thought I could easily put that document together… but what I didn’t realize was what a great resume really is.

A great, even an excellent resume, is a marketing document. Coincidentally, a sucky resume is also a marketing document – it just screams: don’t hire me!

A resume is not a standard business document for filing away in a three ring binder, simply to be forgotten.  Your resume has a very specific purpose.  What’s more, the “judge” of your resume is going to take your days, weeks, and for some of you, months of work and give it a cursory 30 or 120 seconds… it’s almost an atrocity!

But really, spending less than two minutes really is NOT an atrocity.

You see, it’s not about YOU.  It’s not about the amount of work you put in.  It’s not about how amazing you are, how clever you are, or how dumb the viewer is for not “getting” how brilliant you are.

This is all about THEM. Pursuing you will reflect on them and could have an impact on their career. Are they capable of hiring the RIGHT person?  Can they hire the BEST person?  Or will they hire a dud, or a lemon?  This could cost them their job!  Hiring the wrong person could sink the entire company!

If an expert, like Julie Walraven, spends six hours to develop the most basic of resumes, which she can only do because she has over ten thousand+ hours of writing resumes, what makes you think that you, or I, without this expertise, can “throw something together” in a few hours, and have it be good enough (much less great!)?

The mistakes I would make would undoubtedly cause my resume to be in the “under-ten-seconds-and-then-throw-away” pile.  Whether that is a typo or a grammar mistake, or not using the best word(s) to put us in the right light, it will cost me.

I know there are people out there, including one of my favorite recruiters (Steve Levy… read his blog!) who say that we must write our own resumes, and hiring a resume writer is as good as hiring a charlatan (those are my words, but that’s the message I hear from him).  I agree that we should do a lot of work to help get the resume done.  We should put our hearts into it.  We should spend time going through our past, listing our accomplishments, and doing the very hard work of self- and career-evaluation.

But I still think we should run it past a real resume writer who will polish our final marketing document so that it gets more time, and more respect, from the person evaluating whether they should bring you in for an interview or not. (professional resume writers are not merely polishers.  They are experts in creating perhaps the most improtant marketing document at this point in your career)

Convinced you need resume help? I suggest considering either of these two options:

First Option: look for someone who’s experience matches exactly what you need and who you are.  There are resume professionals like Liz Handlin (Ultimate Resumes) who are so focused on executives, especially finance executives, that you should NOT consider using someone who doesn’t do finance executive resumes before talking to someone like her.  There are resume experts that specialize in IT executives, CEOs, entry level (recent college graduates), and everywhere inbetween.  When you are looking for the right match, don’t disrespect these professionals and tell them how the process works.  See if they are a right fit, and then humbly work with them within their system.  Otherwise, you might hear a very kind “I’m not sure I’m the right person for you – let me recommend you to one of my colleagues.”  That really means “I wouldn’t choose to work with you for double the money – I can tell you are going to be a massive pain to work with.

Second Option: if you are looking for a low-cost just-get-me-to-the-next-level and clean up what I already have, consider JibberJobber’s new partnership with JC Resumes (we have negotiated discount bundle available to you to get you what you need).  I have been hesitant to do a partnership like this for YEARS.  But I have talked to the owners of this service and I always come back to “is this high quality?  I don’t want to recommend a resume mill that just pumps them out like typists.”  I have asked them about their writing and quality process, and I’m really quite impressed.  I personally should have spent the money to do this instead of wasting a week or two trying to write my own… get it done, have something you can be proud of, and if you find out it’s not good enough, then go back to the first option above.  But I doubt it will be money wasted. Here’s the page to get started.

We’re working on creating an list of specialized resume writers that you can reach out to on your own… stay tuned :)

The point is, make sure that you are putting enough time and resources into getting this marketing document put together the right way.

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2 Responses to “How Long Does a Professional Resume Writer Take to Write a Resume?”

  1. Paul says:

    Hi Jason,

    Related to your FeedBlitz blog.

    This is an FYI, and I am not saying this is the universal experience.

    I got a Groupon for JC Resumes. Since I saw them on your site – I thought they would be reliable.

    Here are a few issues that happened:

    1 – They (on the Groupon) didn’t say explicitly what the service was – (if I remember, executive vs. professional.) If you look back, it does say, but I think easy to miss. Anyway – that is not about your site and I blame myself for not being more cautious and observant. (They later said they gave me a higher level of service – but going higher from nothing is not far.)

    2 – Their chat person basically says yes to everything to get the business. Again – not totally miffed, as I understand they are selling.

    3 – The bad one – they were totally incompetent. I briefed them via email extensively. Their person constantly misstated my accomplishments, clearly didn’t understand them, and they were just inappropriate as they put them in the resume. I really had to wonder if their writer had any business knowledge.

    Then – they said (in contradiction with my B School – Chicago, and in contradiction to a coach I know (who runs the HBS NY career group) that I should just have the last 10 years of experience on the resume – so they put prior experience in a totally ridiculous looking section with lots of company names and nothing else.

    I politely pointed out the situation. They never responded in any intelligent way except to do the same thing, despite requested otherwise. Then, I finally said I wanted a refund. They wouldn’t to it. Finally, after very many requests I spoke to someone who said he was one of the owners – and I got a Groupon refund. (Mind you, not my money back.)

    4 – They start writing off of your existing resume which they ask for. There is no human contact (except by email). So – they largely rearrange your content and not write something from the beginning.

    Basically, they make it almost impossible to reach someone who knows anything or can address issues – except for the happy talk from their chat person (if I remember, Sean).

    Also – the money they get off of a Groupon – and I see this is a promotion they still have – supposedly giving something they say is worth $260 dollars for $85. I would bet they are not getting much word of mouth out of it – ie – friends of users buying a resume so it makes sense to offer a big discount. So – at $85 I understand why they do everything not to give you anything worth $260, or for that matter, even $85. (I really don’t know what they charge on your site, but given your blog post – that it is not unusual for Julie Walraven to spend 10 hours on a resume, I see why JC is giving you garbage for the little time they likely actually spend on it.) The bottom line is – if you need a good resume and have some work experience, it will cost you way more than $85, or likely even the $260 JC says they usually charge. (And that $260 comes with a cover letter – so it isn’t all on the resume.)

    Jason – I think you have done a lot with Jibber Jobber and are honest. This seems a resume mill at best. I would try mystery shopping them, and/or find out if they are serving your customers well.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they are holding things from you.

    Thanks, and sorry to write this, but I hate to see anyone ripped off – which may be happening.

    Regards,

    Paul

  2. I have been writing professional resumes for over 20 years, and recently started my own business with this service. Many people have tried to sway me into mass production of resumes, and I steadfastly disagree that this is the way to go. Could I make more money doing so? Absolutely. But my clients are the ones who would suffer. Every one of my resumes are uniquely designed specifically for that client, showcasing their personality in their resume as well as their accomplishments. I pride myself on being readily available to speak directly with my clients should they have questions or feel the need to get in touch with me. Your resume is of utmost importance given it is your number one marketing tool to get a foot in the door. I do not recommend large companies who specialize in resumes as they fail to provide the personal touches necessary when developing a document for an individual.

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