First, I should state that as a professional resume writer, I could be considered biased. After all, if everyone wrote his or her own resume, people like me would be looking for another way to make a living. That would be a shame, because I love what I do–love working with clients to help them market themselves to employers effectively and love seeing or hearing their reaction when they get positive results. Having said that, I’m going to touch on three points that are often brought up by people who advise job seekers to do their own resumes.
Claim: “You should write your own resume because no one else knows you the way you know yourself.”
The implication is that you have the best inside information and an outsider couldn’t possibly get to know you well enough to represent you effectively in a resume.
Fact: While it’s true that you probably know yourself in many ways better than someone else would or could, writing your resume requires understanding what’s needed to present you as a desirable candidate to employers. It can be very helpful to have someone who has a sense of perspective and isn’t so close to the situation–someone who also makes an effort to keep up on the job market trends and opportunities, challenges, etc.
Claim: “You can do at least a good job as the people who are representing themselves as professional resume writers. It’s not that hard to write a resume.”
Fact: Not everyone is a good writer, and you might be one of those not-so-great writers when it comes to doing your own resume. How good are your general writing skills, and how much do you know about the difference between resume writing and other kinds of writing? I used to teach English, but that wouldn’t necessarily make me a good resume writer. I’ve taken a lot of training from experts and maintain active involvement in professional associations to help me stay on top of things in my profession. Do you have the time, money and desire to do that?
Claim: “Professional resume writers charge a lot of money and don’t do anything for you that you can’t do for yourself.” That’s one common claim. There’s also often the underlying, if not actually stated, view that resume writers as a whole are just out to get people’s money and don’t really provide any value in return.
Fact: Resume writing is like most, if not all, professions–the quality of people engaged in it can vary from charlatans to part-time hobbyists to highly skilled professionals to seriously great resume writers. I like to think of myself as belonging in the highly skilled category, but I aspire to join the seriously-great category one of these days. The people I know who are already in it are my mentors and my inspiration because they work amazingly hard to make sure they deliver the highest-quality results for their clients and have established very successful careers doing that. As if that weren’t enough, they give back to our profession in incredibly generous ways.
What does this mean to you? By all means write your own resume if you’re sure you can do justice to it and know how best to use it once you have it finished. No truly professional resume writer would urge you to do otherwise. However, if you’re not sure how well you can do it or if you try and it’s not producing the results it should, at least consider having help from a professional. Then choose one wisely.
P.S. If I can’t help someone who contacts me, for whatever reason (maybe he/she can’t afford me or we’re just not a good fit to work together), I will try to refer that person to someone who can.