The Muse Resume Review
Excellent Customer Service but a Mediocre Resume
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About the Company
When confronted with the task of writing a resume, it might make you anxious or downright scare you. Very few job seekers will say they enjoy writing a resume; they would prefer to leave the writing to the professionals. There are plenty of resume writing services that can help you with this daunting task, and The Muse is one of them. We decided to put them to the test of rewriting a real-life Materials Manager’s resume. Of the three resume writing packages they offer, we selected Mentor. (More on this below.)
The Muse serves multiple purposes: It allows you to explore companies, browse for jobs, read career advice, and hire a career coach. The Muse’s tagline is, “The Muse is the go-to destination for the next-gen workforce to research companies and careers.” And the company's digital presence does have a young, vibrant feel. We used the website to hire a career coach who writes resumes. In this review, we will talk about the available plans, customer service, the quality of the resume, and other features. Overall, we felt that The Muse excelled in pricing and customer service, but the resume they produced was mediocre. Read on to learn more about our experience with this resume writing service.
What We Like
Easy signup process
Able to choose our own writer
Quick turnaround times
Friendly resume writers
What We Don't Like
Design and format made reading the resume difficult
Summary paragraph was too long
Resume lacked punch in the accomplishments
Education and Training sections lacked certain information
How It Works
- The first step in our review process was to sign up for the service.
Signing up for The Muse’s resume writing service was easy. We used a credit card and received acknowledgment of payment a day later. This was also the case with the other resume writing services we reviewed.
- We chose a coach.
The Muse gives you the option to choose from more than 60 coaches who vary in expertise and price. With other resume writing services, a resume writer was assigned to us based on our candidate’s background, which was a nice benefit. We chose a coach who rewrote our sample resume for $119.
- The next step in the process was to complete a pre-resume review.
The resume writer we chose sent a message that instructed us to fill out a brief pre-resume review that asked for very basic information. (Other resume services asked us to fill out more extensive questionnaires that were more time-consuming.) Some info gathered in the review included the name of our candidate, our goal for a resume review session, the types of jobs our candidate was applying for, something we love about our current resume, and something we’d like to change about it. This assessment was a breeze.
- We went to work on the first drafts.
Our resume writer asked us to email our resume in Word or Google Doc format. We were surprised to receive the first revision of our resume within two days. Our writer asked questions in the comments section, which we thought should have done a better job of drawing out accomplishments from the duty statements. Other resume writers asked more probing questions leading to higher quality resumes.
- We received the second draft in seven days.
The Muse allows only one round of edits for the Mentor plan. But, judging from our resume writer's emails, they seemed open to revising additional edits we made. Our writer was extremely punctual and accepting of our suggested changes.
Resume Quality: Appealing Format but Mediocre Resume
When assessing the quality of the resume The Muse’s writer produced, we looked at design, format, and, most importantly, content. While the resume’s design and format should be appealing to the eye, what is said in the resume matters most. For content, we critiqued the following sections:
- Summary Statement (should be brief yet show the value a candidate will offer an employer)
- Skills (should be easy to spot and relevant to the industry)
- Experience (the most important part of the resume; this is where the accomplishments must really shine)
- Education (should stand on its own as a section, and traditional format is preferred)
- Training (should also stand alone and include all the courses our candidate has completed)
Design and Format
The design of our resume included splashes of color at the top with a gold bar and gold lines on each side of the headers. This was a nice touch, as was the spacing of the text, which made it easier to capture information. However, the font size, Corbel 11pt, was a bit smaller than preferred. If our resume writer had used a larger font size and one-inch margins, our resume would have been a page and a half. Furthermore, had our writer expounded on some sections, our resume would have easily been one page and three-quarters.
Note: We believe a candidate with 15 years of experience warrants a two-page resume, particularly with outstanding responsibilities.
We were looking for a concise, yet impactful, three-to-four-line Summary section. This was not the case with the summary our resume writer produced. If they had used our preferred one-inch margins and 12pt font, the summary would have been five-plus lines. Clichés such as “experienced,” “analytical-minded,” “professional,” and “proven track record " are what made the Summary feel unnecessarily long.
This said, our writer included keywords that would most likely get our applicant past an applicant tracking system (ATS), including: “procurement,” “strategic negotiations,” “contract management,” “vendor relations,” “strategic partnerships,” and the like. Most likely, our writer was able to include keywords in the summary by analyzing job ads.
The Skills section was strong compared to other sections. Our resume writer made sure to include prevalent skills for a Materials Manager. Some of them included: “Supply Chain Optimization,” “Strategic Sourcing/Negotiations,” “Continuous Improvement,” et cetera. Again, it’s important that industry-related skills are on a resume in order to get past the ATS. Our writer spaced the skills nicely with 4pt, single spacing between the rows, which made this section easier to read.
We were a bit disappointed that this section was not centered and was written using a table. A centered Skills section is aesthetically more appealing. And most ATSs don’t digest tables well; the words in the cells will end up in various places on the reader’s end. A solution for this is to use hard tabs instead of a table.
A strong Experience section leads with a job scope that summarizes a candidate’s overall responsibilities for the position. It should be no longer than three or four lines. Our resume writer presented us with a job summary that was three and a half lines long at 11pt font and half-inch margins. It would have exceeded space expectations had they increased the font and margins size. Nonetheless, the job summary aptly expressed our candidate’s overall responsibilities.
The Experience section is where the resume must do a stellar job of selling a candidate. This is done through writing accomplishment statements that include action statements and quantified positive results. Our writer met this rule halfway at times. For example, the positive result “Increased inventory turns from 12 to 7.5 to reduce the monthly average” required how our candidate was able to accomplish this. This accomplishment would have been better stated, “Increased inventory turns from 12 to 7.5 by implementing a process that balanced restocking items with sales efforts.”
Another example of when our writer could have dug a little deeper for more descriptions was with this statement: “Implemented a cycle count program to achieve over 95% inventory accuracy.” Had our writer asked more about implementing a cycle count program, we would have told them by using a software package. A more descriptive statement could have read: increased inventory accuracy by over 95% by implementing a cycle count software program to automate the inventory counting process.” The bottom line: while our writer was able to quantify many of the results, we would have liked them to paint a better picture of how our candidate was able to achieve the accomplishments.
Often, job candidates have a work history that exceeds 10 or 15 years, as was the case with our candidate. One solution to deemphasize a long work history is to create a Previous or Additional Experience section. We were pleased with the way our writer listed the previous position. She condensed it, writing: “Additional Experience as Materials Manager with (Company Name and Location).” This was a way to deemphasize the additional experience as well as save space. A nice touch.
There’s no steadfast rule on how to format the Education section in terms of where the degree and school/location are placed. In some cases, all of the information is written on one line. To save space and keep the resume to one page, our resume writer listed our candidate’s Education on one line.
Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology - University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
Our preferred way of writing the Education section is to include the major and university/location on two separate lines:
Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, Minor in Urban Spatial Development
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
We weren’t overly disappointed by the way our writer formatted the Education section; however, we were disappointed to see our writer failed to mention that our candidate minored in Urban Spatial Development, which was on the original resume. This is an accomplishment that should not have ben omitted.
Our candidate engaged in a six-week training program consisting of 10 courses, which was noted on the resume we submitted. Training of this type is extensive and explains a gap in employment. This fact was lost on our resume writer, who didn’t seem to have much familiarity with our candidate’s industry. The first draft we received had the Training section placed on the bottom with no dates of attendance.
We asked our resume writer to move the Training section closer to the top. They complied with our request but didn’t highlight it as much as we would have liked; the training courses were listed in a paragraph in order to save space. After another go-around of emails, our writer listed the dates of the Training below the paragraph. This was the best we could hope for.
Resume Writer Certifications: Our Writer Had None
There are nearly 60 resume writers in The Muse’s stable. We were able to find one resume writer who had a certification, Certified Master Resume Writer. Many of the staff had other types of certifications. Based on our resume writer’s biography, they didn’t possess a resume writing certification. Instead it reads in the bio that consumers should look at our writer’s remarkable testimonials. Other services we reviewed boasted of their writers having various certifications, the most popular of which is the Certified Professional Writing Certification (CPRW). A certification doesn’t necessarily make a person a better resume writer, but it’s assuring to know they went through the training and wrote a resume that passed muster.
Guarantees: None After Final Delivery
The Muse doesn’t explicitly guarantee that its consumers will land interviews based on the resumes they write. We don’t believe such guarantees are worth much, anyway, as a lot more goes into delivering a resume that will land an interview. The resume service does offer guarantees of satisfaction for coaching sessions as well as the drafts—80% refund if a consumer isn’t happy with the initial call and 50% if they’re not happy with the drafts. However, once the final product is delivered, consumers won’t receive a refund of any kind.
Samples & Testimonials: Samples Are Hard to Find
The Muse doesn’t display samples of their resumes on its website, unlike one of the resume writing services which shares samples from 25 different industries. However, The Muse provides a short biography of our writer with their degree of proficiency—$ out of $$$—along with testimonials of happy consumers. Our writer had five out of five stars from every consumer along with stellar testimonials. We would have felt better about the transparency of the resume writing service if there were some negative press.
Available Plans & Pricing: Some of the Lowest Prices Available
The Muse offers three plans depending on one’s job-searching level and needs. Their resume writers have to earn their titles. Our writer was a Mentor, thus the least expensive. Each plan includes an updated resume from a coach.
- A 30-minute chat over Skype or phone
- One round of edits
- A 45-minute chat over Skype or phone
- Two rounds of edits
Master Coach: $479
- A 60-minute chat over Skype or phone
- Unlimited edits for 2 weeks after receiving first draft
The Competition: The Muse vs. Let’s Eat, Grandma
We were genuinely satisfied with the professional resume both writing services created. Our resume writers were personable and seemed to sincerely care about the process. It was nice to be given the option to have an initial conversation with both writers as well as reliable communication via email.
The Muse came out on top with pricing at $119; but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Let’s Eat, Grandma (LEG) was more expensive, at $209, but the quality of writing was better and a cover letter was thrown in. For $90 more LEG was the best deal.
Both services did a poor job of formatting our resume. LEG used Calibri 11pt and The muse used a more fashionable Corbel 11pt. A 12pt font would have made the resumes easier to read. Both services also used half-inch margins for the sides and top and bottom of the page. All of this was done to squeeze as much content onto one page as possible; we felt that the years of experience of our candidate would have been better as a two-pager. Note, by playing around with both resumes, we were able to produce a respectable two-page resume.
The clincher for us was the content. The Muse and LEG wrote a Summary section that was too long and contained multiple clichés. But LEG came through with the better Skills section. And while both writers asked questions which improved our candidate’s duties and accomplishments, we felt LEG’s writer had a better grasp on our candidate’s occupation and asked more illuminating questions. LEG’s content was not only better than The Muse’s; it was the best of all the resumes we reviewed.
Final Verdict: Great Customer Service and Price, Mediocre Resume
The Muse offered the lowest cost and some of the best customer service of the resume writing services we reviewed. Our writer was personable and attentive to our needs. They were willing to go beyond The Muse’s policy of one round of edits. However, the resume quality was not up to snuff. The Summary was too long, the Experience section weak, and the Education and Training sections lacking in information. All that said, The Muse was still able to provide us a professionally-formatted resume at an unbeatable price. So, if you're looking for someone to help you prepare a resume for entry-level job applications, it may be worth considering.