One of the most mysterious components of a job search is the resume.

In today’s age of job seeking, a dynamic resume is more important then ever.  In surveys I’ve conducted with job seekers, professionals are often insecure about whether their resume is doing a good job of connecting with employers.

A study conducted by my friends at shed a new light on how recruiters review resumes they receive for open positions.

In the past, the standard initial resume review time as self-reported by HR professionals averaged 3-4 minutes. The Ladders followed 30 recruiters for 10 weeks (or more accurately, it followed their eyes using eyetracking gear) and it turns out that recruiters on average spend only 6 seconds on the initial resume screening.

In addition, there was a 60% improvement in how recruiters responded to professionally written resumes compared to self-written resumes.

In fact, the study said, “Because professionally written resumes have a clear visual hierarchy and present relevant information where recruiters expect it, these documents quickly guide recruiters to a yes/no decision.”

The study further revealed, “…..the ‘gaze trace’ of recruiters was erratic when they reviewed a poorly organized resume, and recruiters experienced high levels of cognitive load (total mental activity), which increased the level of effort to make a decision. Professional resumes had less data, were evenly formatted and were described as ‘clearer.’”

For most job seekers, it is difficult to understand their key areas that make a resume ‘pop’ for success. Professional resume writers have experience in understanding the critical points of your background, expertise and accomplishments and more importantly, they know how to craft a resume that helps to define these important areas of your history that will grab a recruiter’s attention.

I recently interviewed Ruth Pankratz, a nationally Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW) whose expertise and training is in writing resumes, LinkedIn profiles, professional letters, interview assistance, marketing copy, and web content.

Ruth is also a current Board Member of the The National Resume Writers’ Association, the industry’s leading nonprofit, member-driven organization dedicated to promoting the highest standards of excellence in résumé writing through certification, education, and mentoring programs.  Ruth also holds active memberships in Career Thought Leaders, Certified Résumé Writers, Professional Association of Résumé Writers, Career Directors International, International Webmasters Association, and Marketing Sherpa.

Ruth provides resume and career services through her company, Gabby Communications and encourages you to contact her through her website at

AH: What are the benefits of using a professional resume writer?

RP: Professional résumé writers are ethical service providers. Many service providers have extensive training, years of writing experience, and accreditations. Résumé writers specialize in working with clients to create customized career marketing documents that provide potential employers with an understanding of the jobseeker’s value, unique skills, and professional brand.

Résumé writers help clients with targeted, customized career documents that catch the hiring manager’s attention. There are a variety of résumé writer service providers, so it’s important for jobseekers to research options and consider contacting a couple of service providers to find a resource who can meet the jobseeker’s needs while making them feel comfortable and confident through the process.

AH: What are the things that job seekers should consider when looking for a professional resume writer?

RP: For some jobseekers it will be important for the service provider to understand professional differences between a programmer and system administrator, or product marketing and marcom. For other jobseekers it will be important that the service provider understands the contributions and business knowledge offered by an individual contributor or an executive.

Most service providers will ask questions to understand the jobseeker’s situation in order to provide the best service outcomes. If the service provider does not ask the jobseeker any questions–do you already have a résumé, what is your experience, how are you looking for work, what’s your job aim–it may be an indication of a less experienced writer. The jobseeker should be prepared to answer a few questions. The focus of an inquiry should be on the jobseeker’s needs and service options, not on prices.

It’s common for service providers to require payment in full prior to starting project work. The service provider should provide a contract or agreement. There are still some service providers who only ask for 50% of the service fee upfront. Once a jobseeker agrees to work with a service provider, the investment costs, services, timelines, and documents should be clear and understood by both parties.

AH: What questions should jobseekers ask when interviewing a professional resume writer?

RP: There are many questions you should consider asking, including:

–    Can you tell me about your service process?
–    How long will it take to write the résumé?
–    What is included with the service fee? Edits? Changes?
–    Do you use templates or write unique documents?
–    Is a LinkedIn profile one of your service options?
–    What other services do you provide?
–    Do you meet clients in person?

What is the typical process when you hire a professional resume writer?

RP: Most jobseekers start inquiry communications with résumé service providers by calling and talking over the phone, using email, or by completing a website contact form.

It’s important for the service provider to understand the jobseeker’s need. For example some individuals have a résumé that just needs updates, other jobseekers need a complete résumé development process, and still others need more than one résumé to ensure appropriately targeted documents for different positions. Therefore some projects will be quick, while other projects will be complex.

What should job seekers expect to pay for a professionally written resume?

RP: Great question. Prices vary depending on the jobseeker’s service needs, level of service provided, and other variables. Most service providers list starting prices on their website. Once the jobseeker explains needs, service providers can give detailed service information and prices.

If a jobseeker is trying to determine price versus value, consider the following:
–    Do you want a typing service or a professional résumé writer? Typing services typically range from $29-$99.
–    Are you okay with a template résumé and a lower level of service or do you want a customized document? Template résumés range from $49-$200.
–    Is the writer certified? How many years has the résumé writer been writing? For service providers with less writing experience, expect to pay $199-$299.
–    If the service provider is certified with 5+ years of writing experience, attends training, and has a good reputation (check LinkedIn references, website testimonials) is a published author, or top-level service provider expect to pay $399-$2800.

Do resume writers also help develop dynamic LinkedIn profiles?

RP: Not all résumé service providers are trained or offer LinkedIn profiles. Conducting a search in LinkedIn can help you find résumé writers who provide LinkedIn profile services. You can also read the writer’s profile to see if you like the writing style and to read recommendations. Then review a provider’s website to see if LinkedIn profiles are a service option.

Do resume writers also help develop cover letters for job seekers?

RP: Yes, almost all résumé service providers can write strategically targeted cover letters for their clients.

Where can job seekers find professional resume writers?

RP: A certified résumé writer ensures the jobseeker that the writer has some level of professional training. To find certified writers, use these helpful resources:

The Career Experts

The National Résumé Writers’ Association

Professional Association or Résumé Writers

To contact Ruth Pankratz, go to her website at

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