How to Work with a Professional Resume Writer | Ladders

Certified professional resume writers are experts in writing resumes, but you are the expert on your career.

How to Work with a Professional Resume Writer

Certified professional resume writers are experts in writing resumes, but you are the expert on your career.

Many people have never worked with a professional resume writer, so they don’t know what to expect. The actual writing process is just as important as the final document. Certified professional resume writers are trained to work with job seekers who aren’t accustomed to working with a writer or editor and to guide you through the process. But there are steps you can take to help the writer and ensure you get the best product for your and their effort.

Isn’t the writer the “expert?”

All certified professional resume writers are trained to work with job seekers, develop effective resumes and stay current on the most effective resume techniques. But you are the expert in your own career. Your resume writer will need you to provide the relevant information that will form the foundation of your resume. They are trained to ask questions that force you to think about your career and reveal the right information. They rely on you to be open and honest. It is a collaborative process, and your writer will lead you through it.

What time frame is optimal for the process?

The writing process requires your time, effort and focus. Most professional resume writers recommend 30 days to complete the process, though our clients’ other obligations can sometimes delay the process.

But you can help to keep the process moving. If your writer has sent a resume draft or other communication, it is best that you respond quickly so there is continuity of thought. It is harder for your writer to come back to the project weeks or months later. Also, if too much time passes, your circumstances might change and the original writing strategy may no longer apply.

What are the best ways to communicate with my writer?

Your resume writer will definitely be available to discuss the resume writing process. Some writers like to work with written responses and others prefer to do phone interviews. But they should adapt to what you prefer. Staying in touch is the No. 1 factor for a successful writing project!

Why are sample job posts important?

Your resume writer may ask you to provide some examples of the job posts you wish to pursue. Sample posts will help your writer focus your resume on the jobs you are targeting and help you assess the next steps in your career. Most job seekers have a broad range of skills, knowledge and experience, but the best resumes are written for one type of position. Within a sample post, your writer will look at the type of company and industry, job duties, candidate requirements and key words. Without a job post as a guide, your writer would have to speculate on what you really want to do next.

Why am I being asked to complete a worksheet? Rather than start with a previous version of your resume, many professional resume writers prefer to start from scratch and will ask you to complete a questionnaire requesting details about your work history and experiences.

It’s an efficient way to prompt you for details you might have missed on your previous resume. Your writer will integrate the information from your previous resume, the worksheet and the sample job posts to craft a new document.

How much information do I need to provide on the worksheet?

There is a balance. If you don’t provide enough detail, your writer may not have sufficient material to build an effective resume or may omit important details. If you write a book, it is hard for the resume writer to focus on what is important and to integrate and organize the information.

If you are not sure what to provide, your writer should be able to help you provide the appropriate amount of information. Getting the right information the first time is key to a smooth writing process for both of you.

How do I review the resume draft?

Take a “macro” and a “micro” view. Are all the details correct? Does it project the image you want to project to employers? Is it overstated or understated? Remember, you are the expert in your own career and your resume writer will rely on you to tell them what’s missing or incorrect.

When do I sign off on the final version?

Most professional resume writers will provide you with what they call a “master resume” that you can then use to customize for specific job opportunities. Ask you resume writer for some guidelines about how to save it and use to apply for future positions.
To recap, what do resume writers want from you? Here is every resume writer’s wish list:

1) Put forth time, energy and focus for a collaborative writing process.

2) Don’t leave your writer guessing. He or she is an expert on writing effective resumes, and you are the expert on your career. Your writer can only work from the information you provide.

3) Stay in good communication throughout the entire process.

4) Send a thank-you note when you’re satisfied with the final draft.

Irene Marshall

Irene Marshall

Irene Marshall, MBA, PhD, is president of Tools for Transition. She has helped people get jobs for nine years, starting as a recruiter with Robert Half. She is a frequent public speaker in the San Francisco area on job search and career issues. She has more than 40 years of broad business experience. Her industry credentials include certifications as a professional resume writer, interview coach and career coach.

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