When you start looking around for resume services, you’ll find rates anywhere from $5 (fivver.com) to more than $5,000 (for superior writers). Once you uncover the vast array of services and price differences you’re probably left wondering “what’s the difference” and “how do I choose one”?
How much you pay is largely determined by who you choose to write your resume. Each choice has its own advantages and disadvantages.
That choice is, roughly between;
- DIY resume (free)
- Relative, friend
- Graphic Designers & Freelances (Fiverr, Etsy, Upwork etc)
- Resume Mill
- Professional Resume Writing Firm
- Bespoke resume writing by a well-known credentialed writer
Each of these is typically divided up by the following inclusions;
- Service & customisation – Generally, the more personalised the service and the more customisation required the higher the price. At the low end of town, you can expect a standardised client intake process with little to no direct contact with the company and one set resume design. At the top end of town, everything is customised. You get personalised service (including face to face appointments) and your own unique formatting and design.
- Information gathering – How information is collected will impact pricing. Low budget services will use a short questionnaire form that doesn’t change and stock standard for everyone. Mid-priced services will offer customised questionnaires and at the higher end of town are writers who conduct an intake interview either via phone or in person. Expect resume writers who use phone intake or in person interviews to charge anywhere from 20-50% more than those who work from questionnaires.
- Experience/credentials – Whilst you don’t need any certifications to become a resume writer, expect those who do have credentials to charge more. The more years of experience a writer has in resume writing, combined with their background (i.e. former recruiters, HR professionals etc.) the higher the price point.
- Resume only v’s full solution – If you are working with a writer who provides full marketing documents, career assessments, personal brand development and coaching to help you through your job search, then expect to pay more than individuals who only write resumes. Writers who hold a deeper knowledge of job search process, current trends and who offer information and resources will charge more just for writing a single resume.
So, let’s dive a bit deeper into the offerings of each by starting at the beginning – the very VERY bottom.
I’ll write my own
Let’s face it, we all start here.
If you are on a tight (or $zero) budget, no problem! You’re starting in the right place. Writing your own resume and testing it in the marketplace for 90 days or more will give you an idea of what’s involved. As your job search progresses, you’ll gain clarity on the direction you wish to go and hone in on the job you really want.
Some will find that they gain interviews easily and others will give someone like me a call if results are lacklustre. But for now – Just do it. My best clients are the ones who have created their own resume, have been actively applying for positions and now know they need help.
Simply use Microsoft Word to create your resume.
Online Resume Builders
If you are considering using an online resume builder such as LiveCareer or uptowork because your Microsoft skills are lacking – be aware that it’s usually FREE to create your resume, but when you want to want to download your finished product there is a FEE.
They can be a good option because they come with great formatting and some have pre-written content you can add into your document (handy if you don’t know what to say). That being said be careful of using too much pre-written content.
Remember other job seekers will be doing the same and you don’t want to end up with a document that is written exactly the same as someone else.
Content wins over design
Applicant tracking systems reward job seekers who closely align to the position being advertised and in order to do that, you need great content. But once you make it into the hands of a human, they need to be able to read your information and understand your background so putting effort into your resume data is more important than ever.
You can have the most standout graphically designed resume in the world, but if it can’t be read by a computer and doesn’t have enough information for a Hiring Manager you won’t get a call back for an interview.
Putting effort into not only what you did, but how well you did it makes all the difference.
Your resume designed by a relative or friend
$0 – $99
Your friend has good word skills or is studying design at school or university. They have offered to write and design your resume. Maybe for a small fee of $50, possibly for free.
I’ve rewritten countless friend resumes. The friend realises the complexity of the project and wings it or you end up with something “visually appealing” that lacks substance and fails to generate interviews.
The drawback with an inexperienced friend, relative is knowledge.
- Knowledge of the recruitment process (across multiple genres, levels and industries)
- Knowledge of applicant tracking systems and their requirements
- Knowledge of how to write accomplishment based resumes rather than task oriented resumes
Having said all this – if you are technologically challenged and need someone to format a document for you, it may not be a bad experiment. See how it goes.
Graphic Designers & Freelancers
This is where you outsource to places like Fiverr, Etsy, Upwork etc
$5 – $200
Graphic designers have moved into resume design. But be wary. There’s a LOT more to a resume than pretty pictures and layout.
Yes, you can build a resume using Photoshop. I wouldn’t. Because they can’t be read by applicant tracking software and since many applications go through this software as the first step in the recruitment process you may just rule yourself out of the running before you even start.
This also goes for those Microsoft Word resume templates you can buy off Etsy. They use text boxes (not tables, these are different) to format the document. Applicant tracking software cannot read text that lives within text boxes.
If you insist on having a graphic designer create your resume go for it, but do keep the above reservations in mind. My advice is to only use this option if you are applying directly to Hiring Managers and are bypassing the traditional application process.
When it comes to Freelancers who are writers not Graphic Designers, check the credentials first, read the reviews and view samples of their work. You might find a fantastic Freelancer with stellar writing skills for a bargain on Upwork.
Your resume designed by a faceless resume factory
$79 – $349
A resume mill is kind of a first toe in the water experience where you actually invest a reasonable amount of money into hiring a company that deals specifically with creating resumes.
They tend to offer the following:
- Writing projects only at a budget friendly price
- Automatic allocation of a writer (no choice on who you can work with)
- Standard questionnaire (that doesn’t change) to gather your information
- Quick turnaround
- Singular resume template or limited range of resume designs
The process is standardised and can feel impersonal. Especially if you don’t know who your writer is and can’t speak to them. You may not know the writer’s background, credentials and experience level and generally, the writing talent isn’t listed on the website.
Now, here’s the interesting part. I’ve been a contract writer for a resume mill to see what it was like, their service etc. You should know that the pay to writers is very low. In my case, the pay was $24 for a resume, $5 for a cover letter and $20 for a LinkedIn profile.
Why is this important?
The average professional level resume takes 4 hours to write, which means your resume writer (based on the above pay grade) is only making $6 p/hr. That doesn’t include the resume mills who expect you to do all customer service and revisions. Revisions are usually another 30 minutes and customer service/administration is 1 hour. So now, your average writing project is 5.5 hours and your writer is only being paid $4.36 p/hr.
To speed up writing and increase their hourly rate something has to give.
As a writer that usually means, you copy from someone else’s resume whom you’ve written before, write as little as possible, leverage the existing content from the original resume. Your customer service may be poor because you just want move on to the next project and not decrease your hourly earning rate.
Many resume writers make their start in resume mills because they get loads of experience quickly with lots of different professions, industries, genres etc. So, it is possible you can get a great outcome (heck the people I wrote got a total bargain from me!).
If you are looking to for fast turn around without personalised service or the need to provide lots of information about your background then these places might work for you. Just remember — you get what you pay for!
Professional Resume & Job Search Firm
That’s me and company’s like me
$300 – $1,000 (max)
Meritude Career Services falls into this category. Okay, so here’s what we do.
I offer three professional resumes packages plans at varying prices.
- Resume Only ($297)
- Resume + Cover Letter ($497)
- Resume, Cover Letter & LinkedIn Profile ($694)
We also offer Job Search Coaching to help you throughout your job search and help you land your next position. Plus tailoring services where I can align your documents specifically to an advertised role.
The service is personalised, whilst being efficient. My typical client is the mid-career professional and it is these clients who appreciate the flexibility of working online whilst having a short 1:1 strategy session to nut out the direction of the project.
They like being able to work with the same person throughout the project, the ability to ask targeted questions related to their job search whilst receiving accurate, up to date information.
Their document is crafted using a Challenge-Action-Result flow which demonstrates not only what you did, but how well you did it, and the benefit your employer derived from your efforts.
Naturally, you might go with another resume writing company, but check the credentials first, read the reviews and view samples of their work. I know you’ll find Meritude Career Services best value for money.
All resumes need to be able to pass through Applicant Tracking Systems, so make sure your writer provides a document that is able to be read correctly and parsed properly. All of our resumes meet these requirements.
Okay – that’s my spiel out of the way. 🙂
Onward . . .
Expert Credential Resume Writer &/or Career Coach
The big end of town
$1,000 – $5,000
At this end of town it isn’t about value for money. It’s about working with an expert one-on-one (possibly in person) on all aspects of your job search.
What do we get for the big money?
Career industry professionals at this level are usually highly experienced with 20+ years under their belt and multiple credentials. Many at this level have a niche audience they work with such as executives or specific professions/industries. Some are published authors, some feature regularly in the media and some have their own unique products and systems.
Many provide career assessments/testing, personal brand development, the full spectrum of writing services (not just resumes and cover letters, but bios, CVs, selection criteria, thank you letters, networking letters, etc.) plus LinkedIn profile development, and into coaching services — interview coaching, salary negotiation coaching, career change strategy development, and more.
Because they tend to have a deeper well of knowledge, information, and resources, they command a higher price point even just for the resume writing piece of it, if that’s all you need.
If you are looking for a highly personalised, hand-holding and customised service from an expert, then this is the place to be.
How much should a resume really cost?
Ah, the million-dollar question.
So, if you want the official data here is it. According to research conducted by the Resume Writers’ Digest Annual Industry Survey — the “average” cost for a resume and cover letter in 2018 is around $500.
There is a general guideline that job seekers can use:
In general, you should spend 1-3% of your annual salary on your career development.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Full-time earnings in Australia averaged A$78,832 a year in the second quarter of 2016. (Seasonally adjusted wages – Bureau of Statistics.) Using the 1 to 3% figure, that would mean spending between $788 and $2,364 on career development annually.
Career development can include more than just a resume/cover letter. It also includes education/training, career-related clothing and personal items, and even subscriptions to LinkedIn Premium membership.
But if that $78,832 was a single jobseeker, then $500 fits perfectly with the “average” fee for a resume and cover letter that I mentioned before with a bit left over for a Linkedin profile or interview coaching etc.
The advantages of a professionally written resume are numerous — many job seekers find it hard to know what to write about themselves (much less design a resume that meets modern job search standards and Applicant Tracking System-friendly formats).
Professionally written resumes are more likely to generate interview requests than do-it-yourself documents, meaning a potentially shorter job search. (You can calculate how much it costs every week you are unemployed — for example, if you’re making that hypothetical $78,832 a year, that’s about $1,500 a week.)
The final word
Your income is your greatest wealth-building tool. If you currently pay a monthly car payment to drive something that gets you to where you want to go — why not spend a couple hundred dollars more for a document that can drive your CAREER where you want it to go?
So instead of asking “How much does a resume cost?” job seekers should probably instead be asking themselves, “How much do I want to make?” and what is the cost of NOT investing in my job search, and career path.
Remember, you have less than 20 seconds to make an impression on paper.
Your time starts NOW
This article was last updated on the 30/4/18