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Cheap Resume Services and Why to Avoid Them

by John Nicholson, Resumes That Jump
Originally published: Jul 17, 2009

A quick search on Google shows that there are tons of resume services out there, and that a lot of them are dirt cheap -- in the $49 to $99 range. A lot of people go this route, and most of them end up with bad resumes. Here's why.

Resumes are extremely difficult to write well. You have to take thousands of hours of experience and distill them into something that can be scanned in 2 minutes -- and that sets you apart from everyone else. Every word and every piece of space are critical. This means two things:

1. Great resumes require highly skilled professionals.

You need someone who is a great writer, has solid business experience, and has good design sense. That's not an easy combination to find. If you're in a specialized field like IT, you also need someone who has a grasp of your type of work and its language. More specifically, you need someone who will:

  • Work with you to "pull out" the most impressive and relevant parts of your experience (often things not on your current resume).
  • Write concisely and clearly so that your accomplishments and skills pop.
  • Cut and condense your least relevant experience and excess wording, so that readers focus on your best stuff.
  • Structure and design your resume to be sharp, professional, and easy to scan.

2. Great resumes require a lot of time.

Because every word and piece of space is critical, even the most skilled resume writers need a lot of time to create and finalize a truly great resume. You want a writer who will pull key information out of you in an iterative process. And you want a writer who will keep rewriting and redesigning parts of the resume as new pieces come in over the course of a week or two (you won't think of everything at once).

This process will often take 8 to 12 hours from start to finish. An entry-level professional will require less; a senior executive with 30 years of experience may require more. What if you already have a pretty good resume? This helps, but it doesn't decrease the hours by much. By the end, a good writer will have tweaked or rewritten just about everything from your original.

If your car needed an overhaul and an auto repair shop you knew nothing about told you it would only cost $99, you'd walk out the door. Do the same when it comes to your resume.