Considering a low-priced executive resume?

Some words of caution

By Kelly Donovan, CPRW, NCOPE, CHJMC

Many websites and individuals offer “executive resume writing” for around $150 to $900. Is that a good deal? Let’s dig in!

What’s involved in the work you’re paying for?

The process of creating a world-class executive resume and LinkedIn profile takes many hours. Once the writer has all the necessary information, the writing process just for the resume can easily take several hours.

That’s before factoring in the time spent in the intake session with you, plus time for revisions, LinkedIn profile writing, bio creation, cover letter creation, and whatever else is included. Depending on the nature of your package, a writer might need to spend somewhere between 12 and 18 hours to deliver high-quality work. A package with some coaching could exceed 18 hours.

Evaluating prices

Every company that offers executive resume writing is going to try to impress you with a variety of marketing claims, some of which might seem compelling.

Beyond checking out the claims to the extent you can, you could also gain some insight by analyzing the company’s prices.

When comparing executive resume writing prices, do the math: divide the price by the estimated number of hours needed to produce high-quality deliverables.

If the writer you’ll be working with doesn’t own the firm, keep in mind that most resume writing companies use freelance writers (sub-contractors) and often pay them about one-third of the price of the package. The exact amount varies depending on the company.

Let’s use an example of a $600 price tag. The writer might only be receiving $200 to write your resume and LinkedIn profile. Let’s use the low end of the range I gave — 12 hours. That would work out to $16.67 per hour.

Then, keep in mind that these writers are contractors who have to pay both portions of their Social Security and Medicare taxes, don’t receive paid time off, and must purchase health insurance on their own.

After factoring in all of that, we could be looking at wages that are in the ballpark of minimum wage in many states. You could make more as a receptionist or Amazon warehouse worker.

How likely is it that someone with the talent to produce high-quality executive resumes would be desperate enough to accept such low compensation?

That leaves us with three other possibilities: 

  • The sub-contractor is just starting out and trying to get some experience, seeing it as a stepping stone.
  • The sub-contractor has weak qualifications and can’t find work that pays better.
  • The sub-contractor won’t be putting in the time necessary to do the work properly.

Low-cost firms usually have some tricks up their sleeve to maximize efficiency and profits–at the expense of quality:

  • They sometimes use sub-contractors as secret ghostwriters; the owner of the firm might conduct the intake session with you and claim to be writing the resume herself, but then she hands it off to a less-qualified sub-contractor. With the lowest-cost services, the sub-contractor might be off-shore.
  • They often use pre-written templates for common professions where a client’s specific information can simply be plugged into the appropriate fill-in-the-blank spots on the resume–which, of course, they won’t admit. (I write content from scratch.)
  • They might make you fill out a lengthy questionnaire rather than speaking with you by phone or Zoom, or they get most of it from the questionnaire and have only a short conversation with you. This method saves a lot of time and makes it possible to hand off the project to a sub-contractor without you knowing. (I gather information through a detailed and thoughtful conversation with you and do all the writing myself.)
  • They’ll have you submit your requested revisions online, either via email or through an online collaboration platform to reduce the time spent on revisions. (I invite you to meet with me on a screen sharing session to review, discuss, and edit a draft so we can make sure you love it.)
  • They provide documents only, and don’t provide added value like a meeting at the end of your project, or extra services to support your job search. (I provide a one-on-one session via screen sharing that includes LinkedIn guidance, as well as optional services like job search coaching.)

As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Investing just a little bit more in the right help could mean the difference between languishing in your current position versus enjoying the leadership role of your dreams.

The most important investment you can make is in yourself. — Warren Buffett

Next Steps

DON’T hire an executive resume writer or LinkedIn profile writer without first asking these questions.

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