Catch up with parts 1 and 2 of this 3-part series here:
[Please note, when I mention executive resumes and resume writing here, take that to also include LinkedIn profile creation and writing, biographies, and really any job search and personal marketing content writing.]
What to Ask When Qualifying Executive Resume Writers, and Personal Branding and Job Search Strategists
You’ve done some background work, as outlined in Parts 1 and 2 of this series. Now it’s time to contact the executive resume writers you’ve pre-qualified as a possible good fit for you.
A word of advice going in – please don’t take advantage of the resume writers you contact by expecting a free resume critique on how to re-work your existing resume yourself, or expecting to “pick their brain” about your job search, when you have no intention of retaining their services.
It just isn’t fair.
Some resume writers do offer in depth resume critiques for a fee. This can get you on the right track, if you feel you can write your own resume.
If the resume writers ask you to send them your current resume and/or fill out an assessment form on their website, before discussing the development process and providing a quote for the fee, please do so.
This will give them the opportunity to review your background and career target, determine whether you may be a good fit, and prepare for a meaningful conversation with you.
Some things to keep in mind (and my thoughts) when communicating with each resume writer
Does she/he ask you how you’re targeting your search? Don’t be talked into an un-targeted, watered down generic resume. It could prolong or derail your job search. See my post, How to Write An Irresistible Executive Resume in 10 Steps.
Are they knowledgeable about today’s executive job search?
Is the writer interested in what you’ve been doing so far in your job search?
Do they have experience writing resumes for executives in your field?
Do they have experience dealing with any particular job search challenges you have – employment gaps, career transition, sabbaticals, sidesteps in career progression, lack of educational degree, etc.?
Ask about the terms of the contract or agreement for services you’ll probably have to sign. Have them send you a copy, if you feel they are a possibility.
Once they deliver the resume draft to you, will you have the opportunity to make revisions and provide feedback?
Will they deliver the finalized resume to you in Word, PDF, ATS-friendly and/or other versions? The ATS-friendly (Applicant Tracking System) version is the one you’ll send to people who will place your resume into a database.
Be wary of a guarantee that your new resume will land interviews or get you jobs. Once documents leave the resume writer’s office, she/he has no control over whether you “tweak” them, how you use them, who you send them to, and how well you perform in interviews. You are solely responsible for your job search success, once you’re equipped with your new, targeted resume.
Beyond the resume, do they also create supporting career marketing documents (biography, cover letter, etc.), and other services – LinkedIn profiles, other social media profiles, job search coaching, other career coaching, and other career services? If they don’t offer other services you’re interested in, will they recommend other professionals who do?
What kind of investment for services can you expect?
Fees range wildly, from a few hundred dollars to thousands for a resume alone. You’ll have to decide where the value is for you, based on meeting your various criteria, and the writer’s years of experience and level of expertise.
The resume development process varies from one resume writer to another. You’ll derive added value beyond the deliverable of a resume document, if the process helps you dig deep to uncover what specifically differentiates you from those you’ll be competing against, and define your personal brand.
This self-knowledge will help you better communicate the value you offer your target employers, when you’re networking and interviewing for jobs.
Ask how and when payment is made. The careers industry standard is full payment upfront, usually by credit card. You may be able to make other arrangements.
Try to get a feel for whether or not the executive resume writer is a mutual good fit.
Overall in your discussions, do you feel that you and the resume writer are on the same wavelength and that you can work with her/him?
Does she/he “get” you and understand your specific needs?
Do you get the feeling this resume writer will do the best job in marketing the best you have to offer your target employers?
Can they tell you what kind of success their clients have had in landing interviews?
Do they meet all or most of your criteria?
If the resume writers you talk with don’t feel like a good fit for you, for whatever reason, they may be willing to refer you to other qualified writers. Many of us have a wide network of colleagues in the industry, with different areas of expertise, with whom we have referral connections. Just ask.
You’ll likely be making a major investment to partner with a top executive resume writer. Be sure you know what you’re getting, and that you can comfortably and successfully partner with that person.