By Joyce Lain Kennedy


I am not getting interviews. I am 32 and experienced in my field. I know that jobs are scarce, but several friends are getting interviews and one has been hired. They paid a professional to write their resumes, but I think it is money I can't afford to spend right now. Can you help me sort this out? -- D.J.H.

Think of the fee you will pay a professional writer-analyst as an investment in yourself. You will do the work-up documentation to present to the professional much as you gather your tax information to hand over to a professional tax preparer.

Every week you are out of work is costing you money, even when you're receiving unemployment insurance checks. The weekly cost for a $40,000 job, for example, is about $770.


Today's successful resumes are more distinctive -- more vivid in design and powerful in language -- than the static run-of-the-mill paper documents of yesteryear. Paper is absolutely still needed for some usages, but the preponderance of resume exchange has turned digital.

Further, there is so much change and challenge on the jobs front today that many professionals who once wrote only resumes, even exceptional resumes, are morphing into writers of many types of self-marketing documents, and some are becoming career coaches who strategize a client's entire search.

GETTING PROFESSIONAL HELP. You could spend at least a month absorbing and applying all the new success factors in resumes and related social media profiling before putting your fingers to a keyboard. (If you're unversed in resume know-how, make that two months!) A professional resume writer may be your best swift move -- if you heed these five tips:

Understand the difference between services.

Clearly grasp the difference between a clerical service and a resume-writing service. The clerical service provides keyboarding and resume duplication, while the resume-writing service offers expert writing and analysis of what it will take to persuade an employer that you will save or bring in more money than you cost. A professional resume writer will have the expertise to avoid a blaring disclosure of work-related problems in your background that will instantly sink your candidacy, and instead present your qualifications in the best light.

Get referrals and shop. Solicit names of professional resume writers from a friend who is a satisfied client, or from people in the career-management business. Resume writers who belong to professional organizations that teach, test and certify skills are more likely to stay current in resume effectiveness.

Visit the Web sites of these five leading resume-certifying organizations:

-- Career Directors International,

-- Career Management Alliance,

-- The National Resume Writers' Association,

-- Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches,

-- Resume Writing Academy,

Compare samples and check fine print.

The Web makes it easy to weigh one writer's work against another's because most post samples. Take the time to read and translate the details in any "resume guaranteed" offer. No one can guarantee a job based on the quality of a resume -- and sometimes the very best resumes do fail for reasons beyond the writing.

Ask for a free get-acquainted meeting.

Whether in person or on the phone, ask to speak to the writer -- not the sales agent -- whom you are considering hiring. At this juncture, you are looking for the writer's philosophy of resume construction -- not specific solutions to your situation.

Cheap can be costly.

Talented and high-quality resume writers are sometimes contacted by people whose failed resumes were commercially written by hacks who offered cheap prices because they used cookie-cutter templates and ground them out without considering the client as an individual. Buying on price alone is a mistake.

MOVING FORWARD. You correctly identify your basic self-marketing document as the main roadblock to interview invitations. Your resume has been hitting ground balls when it should be hitting home runs.

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