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When Resumes are “Too Fancy”

I met a hospital supervisor about two weeks ago who shared with me his take on resumes and hiring. The Nursing Supervisor told me that when he gets an “over the top” resume he won’t even look at. He admitted that he’d been burned by employees who just didn’t live up to their resumes. That’s understandable.

In fact, I could probably make my resumes “over the top” too, however I try to make these documents as well-written as possible, but formatted in a such a way that the average Joe, who knows a few things about Microsoft Word, could do it himself. I don’t include graphs or charts, no color, and the fonts are pretty simple for compatibility across all platforms. Most of all though, I don’t utilize “overused” words and hyperbole, such as “successfully” and “results-oriented.” You either did it, or you didn’t. If it wasn’t successful, why would you list it at all?

I probably should make you aware that this Nursing Supervisor works for a VA Hospital which only accepts Federal Resumes. He added that he doesn’t want to see a 5-page resume for a nurse with only 2 years of experience. That being said, in my 9 years as a Professional Resume Writer, I have never written beyond 2 pages, because after much research, I learned that rarely will anyone read past the second page.

Always remember, the word “resume” is French for “summary.” It’s not a novel or life history. It’s a marketing document designed to get the reader to respond by contacting you for more information in an interview.

–Susan Geary, 1st Rate Resumes

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Resume Writing as an Industry

I attended a professional resume writing conference last week in Annapolis, Maryland, hosted by the National Resume Writers’ Association. It was my first conference with this particular organization, and now, (as far as I am aware) I have attended conferences from all the major career coaching/writing associations. You didn’t know there was more than one? Yes, I work in a fractured industry with 5 major associations (NRWA, PARW, CDI, CMA, AORCP) that represent and coach us. Add to that the Resume Writers Academy which teaches resume writers tips and tricks of the trade. Scattered among these associations, there are 16+ certifications, and a handful of awards bestowed. The NRWA is the only non-profit group, the rest are for-profit.

Now I’m not advocating which one is better than the other. Each has its own attributes and deficits. But for professional resume writers trying gain visibility and credibility, it can be awfully confusing to the public. My case in point: Professional Organizers are represented by one organization: NAPO. We have 5! And the issue with that is that there are countless other fakes with similar names and alleged certifications that fraudulent resume writers post on a website. Buyer Beware! I’ve already heard the horror stories of job seekers ripped off by those claiming credentials as a professional resume writer on Craig’s List.

One of the often heard complaints I heard at the NRWA convention was there are too many associations for our industry, and there needs to be consolidation. It would certainly be helpful to us. Peruse the member listing of any of these organizations, you’ll notice that more than 60% overlap with memberships in at least one other association. Is all this duplication really necessary?

Bottom Line: If you are seeking a professional resume, the following sites are helpful and credible:,,, and And no, I don’t belong to all of them (anymore).

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Sometimes It’s Cheaper to Call a Professional

I love the John Tesh Radio Show. This morning on his show he cited an article in the NY Times about how in our troubled economy more people are trying the “do-it-yourself” route rather than call a professional. One lady tried to install a toilet and after the water leak caused it to crash through the ceiling from her handiwork, she ended up paying far more than if she had just called a professional to begin with.

Many things are not as easy as they appear, and that includes writing a resume. People who have never hired a professional resume writer may balk at our rates, but consider this: How much would it cost in lost wages if after 6 months of job hunting you did not get any bites on your job applications? Seems to me that an investment of a few hundred dollars on a good resume and cover that moves you to the front of the line would make you money if you’re back to work in only 3 months. A professional resume can yield more job interviews, competing offers, and in some cases a higher salary. Yes, it’s still possible even in this economy depending on your background and occupation. And the best part? Expenses related to the job search are TAX DEDUCTIBLE!

Here’s the link to what John Tesh has to say about hiring a pro and how it can SAVE you money:
Sometimes It’s Cheaper to Call a Professional

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Wishing you success in your job search!

==Susan Geary, 1st Rate Resumes

Blog Job Search Advice Resume Service Uncategorized

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Professional Resume Writer

Savvy job seekers know they should ask questions before they hire a professional resume writer, but first timers may not know what to ask. Here’s my handy guide so that you can decide which writer will best suit your needs and budget.

1. What kind of experience do you have with my occupation?

2. Can you provide me with references?

3. Are you a member of any professional organizations?

4. Do you have any credentials or certifications?

5. Have you attended any professional conferences in the past year or taken any online coursework to further your career?

6. Have you won any awards for your work?

7. What is the procedure?

8. Can I get an electronic copy of the resume?

9. Do you accept major credit cards?

10. What if I’m not happy with your work?

11. How much do you charge?

Now that you’ve asked all the questions, consider how your prospective writer answered them. Did they get defensive, or give you answers that generated discomfort? Trust your gut feeling. Most of all, it’s important that you click with your writer and trust him or her.

–Susan Geary, CERW / 1st Rate Resumes

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How Much Do You Charge for a Resume?

I get this question a lot from people I meet, who are interested in getting a resume done, but ask upfront about the fee. The fee is determined by several factors, including length of time employed, number of former jobs, level of responsibility, and number of college degrees. Then I estimate the time to complete the project and set the fee. Most people have no idea what to expect regarding the price of a resume, and why they vary so much from one resume writer to another. Here’s what you should know about fee schedules, and what you should be getting for those fees.

$5,000-$12,000. This is the fee that outplacement companies charge employers undergoing a reduction in workforce. As part of the severance package the employee gets a job search coach that teaches displaced workers how to write a resume, look for a job, attain new skills, etc. I haven’t seen too many of these companies join professional resume writing associations and noticed the resume formats are outdated.

Next, there are some elite writers who command $1500-$2000 per project which includes a resume, cover letter, and ASCII conversion. These professional resume writers are members of multiple career associations, have attained more than one certification, authored several books, attend annual writing conventions, are quoted often in the press, have a website, and 20+ years of experience. They also keep a blog, and are well known within their own industry. Clients are handled one on one, with some worksheets to fill out. Most are C-Level clients.

Executives seeking $100K or more can expect to pay around $825 for a resume, cover letter, and bio through a high-end, high-volume resume service. The job seeker fills out a 7-10 page questionnaire, then faxes or emails it to a seasoned writer who has a solid understanding of the client’s occupation. The writers on staff are all certified and they specialize in executive resumes. These services typically maintain a blog and website, and they advertise on several major job boards. They’ve been in business for 20+ years.

For $350 you can hire a certified resume writer who has about 5 years experience, is a member of a professional association, attends the occasional conference, completes webinar training about twice a year, and works with a lot of middle managers, and new college graduates. These writers are typically contributors to published books, but not yet authors. Expect to see a website and work samples at this fee level. Some writers at this fee level keep a blog.

$150 is about the average fee of a brand new writer who is working toward certification, has not authored a book, but has joined professional associations. They also write as a subcontractor for one of the larger resume writing firms. They may not yet have a website.

$100 is what you will pay a copy shop, such as FedEx Kinkos to typeset the document for you. That means you have to write out every sentence on that resume and they copy it exactly as you wrote it. It is set in a snappy “eye catching” format with fancy fonts.

$50. These are the folks who advertise of Craigslist. They promise to make you look good, etc, but there is never any contact information, such as a phone number or website. Be careful. You might be giving personal information to an ID Thief. Most of these writers are not certified, do not belong to any professional associations, and the results are a very basic resume about job duties. Only job seekers in high school should expect to pay $50.

Bottom line, protect your career and hire the best you can afford. Interview your writer to ensure s/he has knowledge of your occupation and understand its unique challenges. Then do your due diligence and check up on them. Contact the professional associations to see if they are a current member. Then contact the BBB to see if their are any complaints filed. Finally pay with a credit card, and if you want extra protection, insist on PayPal. That way you don’t have to give away your credit card number to a stranger you found on the internet.

In the next blog, I’ll reveal the questions you should ask when you decide to hire a resume writer.

–Susan Geary, CERW / 1st Rate Resumes

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Beware of Cheap Imitations


1st Rate Resumes is not affiliated with any company using First-rate resumes or 1st Rate Resumes in advertisements posted nationwide on Craigslist. You’ll know the difference because we clearly post samples of our work on our website.

Check us out at or

We don’t do cheap work. Plus, we’re members of professional career associations.

Shop and compare. Your career matters to us.

Susan Geary / 1st Rate Resumes

Blog Resume Service Uncategorized Update Your Resume Month

September is Update Your Resume Month

It’s time once again to evaluate what you’ve been up to over the past year. What did you do to help your company make money, slash costs, increase business, improve quality, etc. For a free worksheet, contact us, and we’ll get one right over to you.