Hiring a cheap resume writing service may wreck your career prospects. I don’t want that to happen to you, which is why I want to spend the next few pages explaining what tends to go wrong in situations where a cheap resume writer is hired.
But first of all, let’s define what “cheap” means.
What Is A “Cheap” Resume Writing Service?
Everyone has a unique perception of value.
For example, let’s say you work as a Supply Chain Director at a national retailer and your annual salary is a few hundred thousand dollars.
For you, investing $2,000 in a new resume might seem like a reasonable idea.
However, if you’re an Operations Manager at a local brewery, your salary is probably more in the vicinity of $70,000 per year. So $2,000 would seem quite steep. It’s all subjective.
Don’t get me wrong – a face-lifted resume which attempts to convey your suitability for a role is certainly better than a poorly formatted list of roles, but it’s not the type of document that will produce spectacular results.
In my experience, the two factors which help your resume grab attention of recruiters and hiring managers are:
its ability to communicate your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
its ability to tie your career moves into an overarching, commercially relevant career narrative
These two factors are also the most time-intensive – and can only be built into your resume by people who possess a considerable level of commercial acumen.
At this point cracks in the promises of cheap resume writing service mills start to show.
Companies which offer cheap resume services don’t have the margins to hire high-quality talent – and they can’t spend a considerable amount of time on your resume.
Predictably, they fail to deliver on the two key factors I described above, which means their resumes are unable to:
articulate what makes you uniquely different from a similarly qualified candidate.
explain your career moves in a way that reinforces your value proposition and emphasises your key competencies.
Cheap resume writers also can’t make commercially sound decisions about which aspects of your career need to be emphasised (and which need to be placed in the background).
The net effect is obvious:
your resume reads like a job description, which means you’re seen in the same way as every other “standard issue” applicant in a recruiter’s inbox.
your resume provides no commercial context to your experience, which means you get ignored by hiring managers (who are primarily interested in you from a commercial context of their specific business).
Perhaps most damaging is the fact that a cheap resume effectively casts you as a lower-level candidate – because it merely demonstrates the ways you were of value to past employers, rather than explaining how you can be of value to future employers.
This difference is particularly important if you’re applying for a role as a senior manager or executive.
To be considered for those roles, you must position yourself as a unique answer to an employer’s current commercial needs.
2. In The Long Term, You Lose.
If you were the Prime Minister, would you go to war with a collection of cheap tanks, aeroplanes and poorly trained, underpaid troops?
Of course not.
You might not like the idea of war. (I don’t either). But the military analogy is surprisingly relevant. When you go to market, you enter a battlefield. And your adversaries (fellow candidates, if you prefer to be more gentle) are competing for a few highly desirable roles.
In such a scenario, the candidate who is most well equipped and trained usually wins.
And yet the cost of hiring a cheap resume writing service isn’t as obvious as one in the example of entering a battlefield with a substandard army.
The reason is that the “cost” isn’t immediate.
It can take months of sending out a bad resume to realise that you’ve just thrown away opportunities, wasted time on pointless interviews, and missed out on income.
Due to frustration and desperation, it’s also possible that you’ll settle for a role that you’re overqualified for. Then you could spend the next 10 years unnecessarily stuck in roles that don’t challenge or excite you.
For example, let’s say you’re a Group Financial Controller at a leading Australian insurer.
With the right resume writer by your side, your next move could be a step up to being Director of Finance at a large, blue-chip organisation.
Being the esteemed advisor to the CEO, you soon find yourself knocking on doors of bona fide, highly respectedpositions. And 5 years later you find yourself firmly in the C-suite after being promoted to the role of a CFO.
But let’s say you don’t land that Director of Finance gig.
The feedback from the recruiter was that another candidate was a better fit from a culture perspective. You’ve heard that comment many times before, right? But did you realise that your resume played a huge part in that decision?
So you decide to apply for a Financial Controller role at another organisation. You’re successful.
Another four years pass before you receive an internal promotion to Head Of Finance. You tell yourself that your career has progressed, which it has.
But you’re not doing anywhere near as well as you would in the first scenario.
And that brings me to the next reason why cheap resume writers are examples of a false economy.
3. You Rely On Chance.
Great career moves are your assets. But mediocre career moves are your liabilities.
A great resume writer will be able to position your experience in a way that positions you as the obvious, unique solution to a hiring manager’s problem.
A cheap resume writer, in contrast, will compensate for their lack of commercial acumen with keyword stuffing (which they’ll often explain as “ATS optimisation”).
This means a decision to hire a budget resume writer is also a decision to leave your next career move dependent on chance and hope than strategy and direction.
a high level of standardisation in their products.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with pursuing operational excellence—if you’re Amazon, UPS, or even your local chemist. These companies are expected to produce products and services that are low-fuss, predictably uniform and practical.
However, qualities which make a resume stand out in a recruiter’s inbox are usually the polar opposite of “low-fuss”, “predictably uniform” and “practical”.
Your career history contains unique quirks, moves, and highlights.
Great resume writing companies understand no two resumes are the same. Which means they build business models not around the discipline of operational excellence, but around customer intimacy and product leadership.