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seen too many of these companies join professional resume writing associations and noticed the resume formats are outdated.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