Article, When you should use a professional resume writer :

When You Should Use a Professional Resume Writer (and When You Shouldn’t)...
Cara MacDonald


Your resume is the most important tool in your job seeker tool box; it is one of the few variables that you can actually control in your job search. In fact, I can really only think of one other—the jobs you choose to apply to. If you are applying to jobs you are qualified for and not getting responses (translation: interviews), it’s your resume’s fault. If your resume is underperforming and you don’t do something about it, it is your fault.


There is only one time you should consider using a professional resume writer: and that is, when you are not a professional resume writer. Let me repeat that for emphasis, if you are not a professional resume writer you should consider using a professional resume writer. Professional resume writers spend their career honing the skills needed to market people on paper. They understand what the audience wants, and how they expect information to be delivered. This whole process, applying for a job, getting an interview, acing the interview, negotiating terms, etc…this whole process is a sales exercise. It’s about understanding what will elicit action from your target demographic. In this case, what does your resume have to do to make the employer or recruiter pick up the phone?


One of the biggest mistakes job seekers make is thinking, “My resume is good enough”. When in your professional life has “good enough” been the bar? Resume writing is hard. You are probably not good at it. Like any other core competency, if you have not practiced this skill you simply don’t have it.  However, not being good at something under your purview doesn’t mean the bar moves to “good enough”; it means you delegate the task to someone who is capable of making you shine. Your resume is a six-figure RFP—“good enough” does not win the bid.


Understanding that you need help is half the battle. Now that you know you could use a hand, how do you find help from someone who actually knows that they are doing? Some resources will tell you to ask for samples. This is a great idea if you know how to evaluate a resume…which, unfortunately, you probably don’t (if you did, you wouldn’t need a resume writer). Sourcing a good resource to help you is actually going to be the hardest part of this process. Like all industries, there are varying levels of quality and skill; advice and action that is suitable for one industry is not necessarily the right tactic to take with another; what is true for an entry level applicant, for a new grad, for a mid-level manager is not always true for senior level or executive applicants. In fact, it’s usually not. Your resume writer should be experienced with senior level executives—but don’t take their word for it, their process should indicate that.


HigherBracket utilizes an extensive, collaborative, transparent process that demonstrates our ability to help you from the very beginning. We typically begin by reviewing your existing resume, if you have one. We will show you where your current resume is falling short and follow up with a phone call to explain in detail what can be done about it. This means that you can actually take this actionable advice and try your hand at it if you want to. We will answer your questions, ask you questions, and ultimately determine if your expectations and needs match our deliverables. This consultative approach allows me to confidently say, ‘I can help you’.


Our process follows with a questionnaire, filled out by you, designed to better understand your background, your hurdles, your intent, and your career. Understanding what is holding you back allows us to move you forward. The questionnaire also gives us insight into who you are and how you see yourself. This is important in maintaining your voice in your professionally written documents. Your writer has to be able to portray your story in your voice to prevent a disconnect between “Interview You” and “Resume You”. Following the completed questionnaire, you will have a “Strategy Call” with your writer to further identify accomplishments, your unique value proposition, and your voice.


After this, your documents run through a rigorous editing and proofing process that involves a professional editor and assistant, a graphic designer, and a member of our executive team to ensure that your documents meet our high standards of quality. In fact, your “first draft” is actually our third or fourth revision. In all, each project has 4-5 people working diligently to market you in the most effective, concise and compelling way; each project, consisting of a resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile takes my team a minimum of 20 hours to complete. Senior and Executive level resumes deserve this much attention if they are going to demand interviews.


In the title of this article I promised to tell you when you should not use a professional resume writer too, and it’s very simple. You should not use a resume writer if you are not willing to invest in your career. Period. Full Stop. You have to be willing to invest a portion of your time to the process. You should not be involved in the actual crafting of the resume (and run if you are being asked to do that!), but you are the subject matter expert on you; a firm or writer that doesn’t ask you questions cannot  market you effectively.


There is little to no benefit from simply having your current resume regurgitated and put in a shinier package. If this is what you are looking for, you don’t need a professional resume writer.  Bottom line, you must be willing to invest a little bit of time, probably a few hours. You should also expect to invest financially in the process. Like anything in life, you get what you pay for. If you are not willing or in a position to invest somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.5-2% of your expected compensation you should not hire a resume writer. Let me be clear, you can find a so-called professional resume writer who will commit to rewriting your resume for less—I’ve seen them advertised on Groupon or Craigslist or Kijiji for $80—but a firm (or individual writer) who is willing to work for next-to-nothing will deliver results reflective of next-to-nothing effort or ability. As I said above, the HigherBracket team invests 20 hours on every project because it takes 20 hours to do it right. Expect to pay for quality work and impressive results.


If you are interested in discussing how HigherBracket can help you with your resume or career advancement in any way, contact me directly at or send an email to to reach a member of my team. Or, if you are simply interested in having your resume reviewed, please send it to us at referencing this article.


We wish you the best in your career advancement! 




Cara MacDonald
Director, Business Development