Resume Writing Service Review Methodology
See how we tested and rated each company
For many people, writing a resume is difficult. Knowing how to appropriately promote yourself requires a great deal of self-reflection, effort, time, and knowledge if you want to land an interview. That’s why many job candidates prefer to hire a resume writing service to do the heavy lifting.
Finding the right service to fit your industry, experience, and budget can be challenging, though. There are dozens of services and freelancers who offer this service and who promise to help you get more interviews or land your dream job.
Our Review Process
To help you find the right service to write your resume, we reviewed more than a dozen different services and put them through the paces to see which ones are the best for helping you land your next interview. We were methodical and objective in determining which resume writing services were best, based on the following categories:
- Quality of finished work product
- Customer service
- Samples and testimonials
- Pricing and payment options
For each category, a rank of one (lowest) to five (highest) was assigned, which were then totaled to generate overall ratings for each service of one to five stars.
The resume writing services that received the highest possible ratings were those that met or exceeded our expectations in each category, while those that lagged were largely services that failed to meet expectations in one or more of the categories listed.
For example, services with limited product offerings may have scored lower simply because their offerings did not fulfill the complete criteria in that category.
We evaluated providers based on these factors because we believe they are the most important things for customers to consider when choosing a resume writing service. Doing so also allowed us to identify the specific strengths of various providers we reviewed. So, if the quality of a resume is the most important factor in your decisions, we’ve identified the providers that excel in that area. If, on the other hand, pricing is a major concern, we’ve isolated providers with offerings that represent relatively good values. If customer service is a major draw, you can see how the various services match up.
Quality of Resume
In order to rate the quality of resumes from each resume writing service, we put each service through a test project. We contracted with more than a half dozen providers and sent each the same resume for a Materials Manager that required significant work. We then went through each services’ writing process to see what kind of finished product was returned.
In each of our test cases, it was up to the resume writers to ask us questions that would improve the quality of our resume. It was also up to the services to match us with an individual writer who knew our candidate’s industry and occupation. Once we got finished products back, we evaluated them for:
- Content: Did the writer include the most important information on the resume? Did they present information in such a way that it would impress hiring managers and lead to more interviews?
- Format and design: Was the resume formatted cleanly and professionally? Did the writer try to cram too much information on to a single page or did they use an appropriate amount of space? Was the font easy to read and was the document free of any distracting formatting?
- ATS compliance: Did the writer use appropriate keywords that would get picked up in an applicant tracking system and flag the candidate for a hiring manager?
More than anything else, a resume must demonstrate the value of a job candidate in order to secure them an interview. This is accomplished by presenting a resume that has strong content. To measure the quality of test resumes that we received from writing services, we looked at five major sections of the resume: Summary, Skills, Experience, Education, and Training.
- Summary: This section should be brief—no more than three or four lines—and demonstrate the candidate’s value. This will grab the reviewer’s attention and entice them to read on. The section should also be devoid of clichés and fluff.
- Skills: This section usually follows the Summary and should highlight specific skills that a candidate has that are required for a position. Resumes should focus on industry-related skills which will make the candidate stand out; including additional transferable skills is a plus.
- Experience: This is the most important section in terms of selling the candidate with accomplishments that are quantifiable. It should be formatted to include a Job Summary paragraph followed by specific accomplishments for that position in bullet format. The Experience section should not consist of only bullets. When we reviewed test resumes from writing services, this section was the one we gave the most consideration.
- Education: The education section must include the institution’s name, its location, and the degree the candidate earned. Typically, the name of the institution and its location are placed on one line, and the candidate’s degree is listed below it. However, these can also be reversed. Dates are optional, though not encouraged. Specific GPAs for bachelor’s and master’s programs are also optional but can be good additions if they reflect strong academic achievement.
- Training: This section is separate from Education and should include the following elements: the name of the training facility, course names, and the dates each course was completed. It’s important that the courses are easily identified; placing all this information in a paragraph is not acceptable.
Of the companies that we reviewed, those who delivered a product that most closely matched all the criteria for each section received the highest marks. To rate individual sections, we reviewed each section for quality of writing (whether sections were well-written and devoid of errors), content (whether the writer included the information we considered the most important), and readability for hiring managers (including the use of keywords that would be picked up by applicant tracking systems). Companies received ratings for each section of the resume, with those who provided higher-quality work receiving the highest marks.
A resume that is properly formatted is easier for hiring managers to read and digest. Readability is important because people who read many resumes often scan them to decide if they want to read the rest of them. To rate the formatting for our test resumes, we looked at the following criteria:
- Density: Paragraphs that last for 10 lines are too dense; rather, the paragraphs should be three or four lines at most.
- Font size: The font should be large enough to be read easily. For example, an Arial font should be 11pt to 12pt in size. Anything smaller makes a resume harder to read.
- Margins: We looked at the size of the four margins—left, right, top, and bottom. Between 0.5” and 1.0” is appropriate.
- Page length: The general rule is that a resume shouldn’t exceed one page for a candidate with less than five years of experience. A candidate with more years should have enough experience, skills, and accomplishments to warrant a two-page resume.
Companies were dinged if the content was crammed to one page with insufficient margins and long paragraphs. These factors weren't weighted as heavy as other ones (i.e., the content itself), but it's still important to have a resume that gets you noticed at first glance.
In the course of our review, we paid close attention to the service we received, from the time we signed up until the final delivery of our resume. We graded each provider on a number of factors including the timeliness of the first draft, the accessibility of the writers, the flexibility of communication, and whether there were additional services available—even for an extra fee.
Timeliness of First Draft
Part of excellent customer service is receiving your resume in a timely fashion. No one wants to wait three weeks for their resume to be written or revised, especially if they were told it would only take a few days. However, expecting a resume to be written in one day is unrealistic. When we put writing services through their paces, we made note of when we were told we’d have the final product and checked to see that the writer delivered on time. Those that provided a finished draft within a week got the best marks, while those that took longer than two weeks received the lowest marks.
Accessibility and Timeliness of the Resume Writer
When you’re having something as personal as a resume written on your behalf, it’s important to be able to contact your resume writer. We wanted to make sure we could get in touch with our writer when necessary. So we paid attention to how easy they were to contact upfront, how accessible they were after initial contact, and how quickly they responded to any edit requests. What we found is that good resume writing services have writers on staff who respond quickly and are easy to reach. The writers who got back to us quickly when we had questions or comments received high ratings, while those who took several days or longer to get back to us received lower marks.
Method of Communication
It’s important to be able to communicate with your writer when you want and how you want. Based on your schedule, you may want a variety of options when it comes to communicating with your resume writer. We checked to see how many methods of communication each service offered, including phone, email, text, chat, and social media. To earn top marks, we looked for writers who could be contacted by phone or email. Those that were unreachable or charged extra for phone calls got lower ratings.
Many resume writing services provide more features than just a fresh resume. Some additional services can include a cover letter, LinkedIn profile, additional drafts, extra edits, thank-you letter, and coaching. We were only interested in having our resume rewritten, but being offered extras like cover letters was a plus. Those services that did offer extra services got a slight boost to their overall ratings, while those that didn't offer anything outside of their core packages didn't get the boost.
Samples and Testimonials
Before you purchase a product or service, you would like to see samples or read reviews. The same applies to resumes. It’s nice to see the quality, formatting, and brevity with which the resumes are written. It’s also nice to read genuine reviews written by consumers. We appreciated reading reviews from happy consumers but equally pleased to see reviews written by unhappy consumers with specific red flags for us to watch out for.
Resume writers may or may not hold resume-writing certifications. Each certification requires the writer to perform certain tasks. For example, a writer might have to create a resume and cover letter based on a case study. There are some certifications that are more well-known than others; however, it doesn’t mean they are more difficult to attain. We checked to see whether writers at different services held certifications, but judged the quality of their writing independently of any certifications they held. We did, however, give an extra point to those companies that had writers with certifications.
Some resume writing services offer a guarantee that you will land an interview after a certain number of days. Other resume writing services guarantee your happiness with the finished product. We checked to see what guarantees each service offered, though we preferred to see satisfaction guarantees over those that promised more interviews. As with certifications and extra services, we gave companies a slight boost to their overall rating if they offered a guarantee. Companies that didn't offer a guarantee didn't get a boost.
Any time you purchase a service, price is obviously a consideration. We checked to see what we would receive from the entry- to mid-level resume plans available from each service. We expected packages to include at least one round of edits, but also expected a resume that would do a good job of selling our candidate. Had we wanted an executive-level resume rewrite, we would have expected to pay far more.
Cost for Entry- to Mid-Level Resume
The price of a resume can be a deal maker or breaker. Quality and time of delivery are also very important, but if a resume costs too much to warrant buying, you may be stuck writing your own. So, what’s a reasonable cost for a resume? It depends on what you’re looking for. We gave the best ratings to services that charged $100 to $200 for entry-level packages, while those that charged $300 to $400 or more saw their ratings suffer.
Payment for a resume should be fast, secure, and convenient. Methods such as PayPal, Venmo, and credit cards are usually preferred. However, some clients prefer to pay with a check. To reward companies that made paying easy, we awarded an extra point to those that accepted credit cards. Any services that required us to use another payment method didn't get the bonus.
When reviewing resume writing service, we graded each service on factors including product quality, pricing, customer service, timeliness, and samples and testimonials. While this isn’t a comprehensive list of every factor to consider when choosing a resume writing service, these are factors that matter most to job-seekers. To see what services we found to be the best based on this methodology, be sure to check out our roundup of the best resume writing services.