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Professional resume writers can help you get the job

by Robin L. Flanigan

After being laid off from her job, Lori Crow sent out nearly 200 resumes over four months. Confused about why her impressive background and credentials hadn't earned even one response, she hired a professional resume writer at Two Roads Resources Inc. in Atlanta.

"I was floored when he said I needed to change my resume," she recalls. "I said, 'I worked in human resources. I looked at resumes all day long.'"

Crow posted the revised version on two online job boards and got a call five hours later. While that job didn't pan out, she landed more interviews and started her current position, as an operations manager at a financial services company, two months later. "I truly attribute my new job to the changes he made [to my resume]," she says.

In this economy, fierce competition for jobs demands fierce ammunition, and a candidate's most powerful weapon — before the stunning suit and briefcase — is a standout resume. Crow's rewrite included different formatting, setting awards apart from job descriptions, and lumping credentials and education at the end for a big finish.

Applicants increasingly are turning to professional resume writers to help them get face time with prospective employers. Dozens of writers at TheLadders.com, a website for highly paid candidates, are expected to prepare more than 20,000 resumes this year — four times the number in 2006 when the service launched, reports spokesman Lou Casale. Its prices start at $500.

Proficient professionals do more than check grammar and represent all relevant work history. They know how to market individual clients with customized templates that show familiarity with particular industries.

"People go into the jungle without the right tools, and that's what a good service can provide," says Janice Worthington, executive director of Worthington Career Services in Columbus, Ohio. Its rates range from $250 for entry-level candidates to $800 for top executives. The company also offers career marketing strategies that include using online social networking sites to maximize a resume's exposure.

But be wary of resume companies that don't use online tools wisely, warns Joyce Wood, director of resource planning for a telecommunications equipment manufacturer. She's received e-mail blasts with resumes from several candidates on the same day, obviously sent by the same service using the same format and font.

"I was shocked the first time I saw this," she says. "I actually called a couple of the folks and told them, 'This is getting you nowhere.'"

What she does like to see are resumes that clearly show a chronological progression of responsibility. One more tip from Wood, regardless of who writes your resume: "Be aware of your e-mail address. Hotmama@xyz.com doesn't read well.


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Tips for using an online resume maker

An online resume maker provides you with the tools to write, format and save a professional-looking resume. Although some charge a fee to use the service, there are also several free ones available as well.

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