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3 Warnings about Your Professionally Written Resume

You hire a professional resume writer, read the completed resume, and it looks good. You’re ready to send it out, right?

Not quite yet. To make the most of your investment and give yourself the best chance at being invited to interview, consider these three caveats.

1:  The resume may still need proofreading.

As you probably know, a single typo can get your resume thrown straight into the trash. At the very least, an error creates doubts about your reliability with details.

“But it was professionally written,” you may say. “Didn’t the resume writer proofread it?” Yes, they probably did, and that’s the problem. It’s devilishly hard for a writer to effectively proofread their own work, because they’re focused on the overall meaning of the words, while proofreading requires a focus on one word, letter and comma at a time.

During my twenties I worked at a magazine and then a book publishing company, and I can tell you that if anyone on the staff had said “It’s okay, the writer has proofread this, and he/she is a professional so there won’t be any mistakes,” they would have been laughed out of the room.

Proofreading is more difficult than most people think.

Since I became a career professional more than a decade ago, I’ve seen many excellent resumes written by professional resume writers that were excellent and without mistakes. I’ve seen many others that had grammatical errors, missing words, misspellings, faulty punctuation, capitalization errors and more. In some cases these were by well-known pros with excellent websites and reputations, even awards. Probably all of these faulty resumes had been proofread by the writers themselves. The job seekers for whom they were written hadn’t caught the errors, either.

As a resume writer myself, I will confess that before I started working with a professional proofreader I, too, occasionally delivered resumes with errors.

Hire a proofreader. The cost is typically only a few dollars per page. You can find these professionals on freelance sites such as Upwork.

And proofread it yourself too, for accuracy of your dates of employment and other facts that the proofreader can’t know–and because even proofreaders are human and can make mistakes.

2:  It may be a great resume—or not (plus: tips for how to hire a resume writer).

I know this is painful to hear if you’ve just spent $400–2,000+ (pretty typical prices for a good resume, ranging from entry-level to executive-level roles), but not all professionally written resumes are well strategized and well written. And however much you’ve already spent, your future is worth far more than that figure.

One common resume weakness is a lack of accomplishments. A good resume communicates not just what you did at your jobs but more important, how well you did it and the difference you made; it emphasizes your key selling points; it’s skimmable, making the right impression within seconds–and more. Read my Resume “Must-Haves” checklist for a quick summary of what you should expect from a well-strategized, well-written resume.

Before you hire a resume writer, look at their experience, reviews and/or testimonials. Look for a serious commitment to their craft demonstrated by formal resume-writing training, certification in resume writing and a professional web presence. Ask to see resumes they’ve written and compare them to the checklist above to make sure the samples follow the best practices. And above all, ask how they’ll gather information from you. A resume is made from the questions the resume writer asks, and in my experience, having the client fill out a questionnaire is not enough; an in-depth discussion almost always turns up additional accomplishments or strengths that greatly enrich the resume.

Most resume writers offer a free consultation so that you can ask these questions, and so that they can learn more about you and make sure they can help you. Some job seekers try to use this free consultation as a substitute for paid help, referring to their sketchy notes from the conversation as a how-to manual for rewriting the resume on their own. This is totally inadequate. If the writer is highly skilled, the initial comments they make about how they’ll improve your resume barely scratch the surface of what you’d need to know to do it yourself. If you want to take a DIY approach, study a good, complete, current resume book–for example, Modernize Your Resume by Enelow and Kursmark.

3:  A great resume does not equal a great job search.

Don’t over-rely on your resume, no matter how good it is. For most job seekers, simply sending out resumes in response to job postings is not the most effective way to get a job, either in terms of how fast it will work or the quality of the position you’re likely to obtain. The most successful job searches focus on networking activities such as informational interviews.

Am I trying to talk you out of investing in a professionally written resume? Absolutely not. A skillfully written resume is a strategic marketing tool that can pay for itself many, many times over. And as difficult as proofreading is, in my humble opinion resume-writing is even harder. Do hire a professional resume writer, but do your due diligence first. You and your career are worth it.  This post was originally published in 2019, and has been updated.


Young female entrepreneur enjoying business and job success against city and sunset background. Successful businesswoman smiling outdoors

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