A middle-of-the-road service for the price
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About the Company
If you're looking to get your resume ready for prime time job hunting, it's often helpful to enlist the help of a professional writer who knows what it takes to make sure yours is at the top of the applicant pile. TopResume is one popular resume writing service many job seekers turn to for some help getting their employment history and experience up to snuff, so they can land their dream gig.
We decided to put TopResume to the test by purchasing the Professional Growth package and submitting a sample resume to be rewritten, so we could evaluate the quality, turnaround time, customer service, types of plans available, and more. Read on to see our full findings, so you can determine if TopResume is worth using to help you get the offer letter you're looking for.
What We Like
Relatively simple signup process
The price is stomachable (lowest package is $149)
An initial quick response
Attentiveness of the resume writer and clear communications
The design and format of our one-page resume
What We Don't Like
An extra charge ($50) to talk with our resume writer via phone for 30 minutes
The length of the Summary and Job Scope sections on our resume was rather long
Bulleted paragraphs that lacked punch to really sell our candidate
The Training section wasn’t highlighted enough
We wish the resume writer asked more detailed questions about our candidate's experience
How it Works: A few simple quick steps
- The first step in our review process was to sign up for the service.
Within a day, TopResume sent an email confirming that our purchase of the Professional Growth package was received and that they were thrilled to help us take our career to the next level. The response time and welcome to the service were not dissimilar to other resume services we reviewed.
- The next step in the process was to complete a questionnaire.
It was not extensive—asking for target occupations; three URLs for specific jobs in order to optimize our resume; and as many accomplishments as we could provide. The resume we sent was geared for the Manufacturing industry (specifically Materials Management), and it was stripped of accomplishments, so we provided TopResume three they could use in rewriting the resume. We found that filling out a questionnaire is standard fare with some other resume writing services we tested.
- After completing the 20-minute questionnaire, we uploaded the resume to their website.
Shortly after, we received an email assuring us that a first draft will be delivered within a few days. TopResume was true to its word; our first draft was delivered after three business days.
- We communicated with the responsive resume writer via email and received three rounds of edits.
We worked with our writer exclusively over email. If we wanted to talk via phone, we would have had to pay an additional $50 fee for a 30-minute conversation. It’s worth noting that other services we reviewed don’t require the consumer to pay an additional fee for a phone conversation. This was one of the biggest drawbacks of TopResume’s customer service.
However, TopResume redeemed itself a tiny bit in the revision process. Generally, they allow for two drafts, but our writer exceeded their guideline of edits, providing us with three rounds. This was a big plus for us, and in the next section, you'll see how we worked with the writer to end up with our final product.
Résumé Quality: Nicely formatted, but lacked a punch
This is where the rubber meets the road. In considering the overall value TopResume delivered, the quality of the product is paramount. And while the design and format of a resume is important, it's not as important as the content. We were critical in our review of the sections of our rewritten resume, including:
- Summary Statement (this should be concise yet show value)
- Skills (should be laid out the most relevant ones in a clean format)
- Experience (should use impressive action verbs and quantified accomplishments)
- Education (should include the name of the institution, its location, degrees earned, and discipline of study)
- Training (should highlight the courses studied and other pertinent information)
Design and Format
Overall, the design TopResume produced was excellent. It was crisp, had the appropriate amount of white-space—in other words, wasn’t crowded—was written with Corbel font, and contained a splash of gold on the top border and lines for the section headers, which made it pop and really stand out.
The format was well done, too. A well-formatted resume guides HR and the hiring manager through it like a map. Section placement generally follows as such: Contact Information, Summary, Skills, Experience, Education, and Training. We submitted a two-page resume in this order. The first draft we received was a one-page resume, which we felt downplayed our candidate’s overall experience that was between 10 and 15 years.
For the first draft, we were hoping for a Summary that would be brief—three lines—while showing the value our candidate would offer employers. The first iteration of the Summary was five complete lines. The final version was four lines and two words. A well-written Summary should not only be brief but include a quick value/accomplishment statement such as: “Consistently saves companies thousands of dollars annually through improved processes.”
It was evident that our resume writer used the three job ads we provided to create a Summary that reflected the skills required for the collective job ads. She incorporated many of the keywords from the job description, including "procurement," "strategic negotiations," "contract management," "vendor relations," among others. This mostly contributed to a lengthy Summary.
Finally, we were hoping for a Summary that was devoid of cliches and fluff, especially at the beginning. To our dismay, this is exactly how the writer began the Summary, “Results-oriented professional....proven track record.” Other cliches included, “exceptional,” “with proven ability,” and “demonstrated.” With some coaching, our writer removed most of the cliches.
A Skills section is a way to show employers that the candidate has the required skills for the position. The resume we submitted included a Skills section that was roughly formatted. Our resume writer was able to organize it better and give it a cleaner look. She was crafty in saving space by excluding the Skills or Core Competency header and simply placing the skills under the Summary section.
The Experience section is the most important part of a chronological resume because it's where the accomplishments must stand out. Ideally, this section begins with a Job Scope that describes the overall responsibilities of the position and is written in paragraph format. Following the Job Scope are bulleted achievements that should include a result that is quantified with numbers, dollars, or percentages. For example, the number of employees one manages or the dollar amount saved and the percentage of productivity that is increased would make solid bullet points.
A Job Scope, or any paragraph in a resume for that matter, should not exceed three lines. For the first draft, our resume writer came back to us with a Job Scope that was six lines long. We asked her to cut it down by at least four lines, which she did. Still, we felt she could have reduced it to less than four lines without diminishing its value.
Take the following sentence she included in the Job Scope: "Managing a team of 5, analyzed inventory, demand, and vendor quality to make the most advantageous acquisition decisions and to ensure supplies were available when needed to meet demand." This sentence could have been written more concisely: "Directed team of 5 in inventory control, purchasing, and vendor relations; consistently meeting company goals. " This would have brought the number of lines to three.
To our resume writer’s credit, she asked questions that would demonstrate more impact for certain bulleted items. For example, she asked by which percentage the workflow was improved for the following statement: “Redesigned production floor layout, reclaiming wasted space and improving process flow.” The revamped bulleted accomplishment she produced read: "Redesigned production floor layout to optimize space and improve process flow by 45%.”
While we found the revised bullet point concise and to the point, Monster.com’s writer came up with a better version of this accomplishment: “Reclaimed wasted space and increased seamless flow of operations 45% by spearheading floor redesign through the implementation of a lean-orientated production layout.” We felt this one painted a better picture than that of TopResume’s writer.
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.
As mentioned above, the Experience section of a chronological resume is the most important one. This is where the resume must pack a punch with powerful accomplishments. While we felt our résumé writer asked clarifying questions, some bulleted statements could have been better worded. For example, the bulleted accomplishment, "Analyzed new product market trends to fulfill new product projections with 91% accuracy" could be more powerful if it began with the quantified result: “Fulfilled, with 91% accuracy, product projections by analyzing new market trends in a competitive crafts’ manufacturing climate.” We would have liked her to mention the kind of market and industry attached to this accomplishment as well. So, for us, the bulleted accomplishments she wrote were just middle of the road.
On most resumes, the academic institution is listed followed by the geographic location and years of attendance, which is optional but generally discouraged. On the line below one would write the type of degree, e.g., Bachelor of Science, and Major such as Chemistry. Our resume writer was clever in listing all of this information on one line, thus saving space.
Our candidate engaged in a six-week training program of 10 courses, which was noted on the resume we submitted. Training of this type is extensive and also explains a gap in employment. This fact was lost on our resume writer. 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. She complied with our request but didn’t highlight it as much as we would have liked; they were listed in a paragraph, probably in order to save space. After another go-around of emails, she listed the dates of the Training below the paragraph. This was the best we could hope for.
Resume Writer Certifications: Not very transparent
TopResume states that their 1,500 resume writers hold various resume writing certifications; however, it doesn’t list which ones. Resume writing certifications included: Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), Certified Advanced Resume Writer (CARW), National Résumé Writers' Association (NRWA), to name a few. We were a bit disappointed with the service’s lack of transparency.
Interview Guarantees: Twice as many interviews
Top Resume states on their website that you will land twice as many interviews within 60 days when you use their service. If you don’t garner as many interviews as promised, TopResume will write it again free of charge. In our opinion, this is unrealistic. Sending the same resume, albeit optimized, to multiple employers won’t demonstrate a candidate’s understanding of the job. Furthermore, a generic resume won’t pass the ATS which is scanning a resume for keywords from the job ad.
Samples & Testimonials: Resume formats span 25 industries
TopResume provides a wide array of resume samples from 25 industries on its website. The samples range from customer service, executive CEO, graphic design, military to civilian, and more. A quick look at the resume samples revealed similar formats, either one- or two-page documents, with splashes of color. To their credit, each sample resume has a modern look with contact information, a summary, core competencies, an experience section, and lastly an education section.
There’s verbiage above each sample resume explaining the importance of the consumer’s resume passing the applicant tracking system (ATS), which is software that reads an applicant’s resume for keywords found in a job ad. If the resume lacks said keywords, it is eliminated from consideration. Approximately 97 percent of large companies and 65 percent of mid-sized companies use an ATS. The resume our writer created for us was, in fact, ATS compliant.
Available Plans & Pricing: Fair
TopResume claims to produce resumes that are optimized for your occupation by using technology that compares your resume to three job descriptions that you send over. The service will also write cover letters and LinkedIn profiles for an additional cost. If all you need is a resume, TopResume is priced reasonably. Here's a look at the current packages they offer:
Professional Growth: $149
- Written by experts who know your industry
- Formatted in a way to get a potential employer’s attention
- Keyword optimized to get you past the applicant tracking system (ATS)
Career Evolution: $219
- Everything that the Professional Growth package offers
- Includes a cover letter
- 60-day guarantee that you will land interviews
Executive Priority: $349
- Everything that the Career Evolution package offers
- LinkedIn profile makeover
The Competition: TopResume vs. Monster.com
TopResume excelled in customer service, where others were extremely slow in reacting after the initial payment. We found our writer to be flexible and attentive. She exceeded the number of drafts allowed and was punctual in her replies, and did a great job in the design and formatting of the resume. Where we felt TopResume wasn’t as strong as some of the other services, such as Monster.com, was in the quality of the resume. As mentioned earlier, resumes must be easy to read and demonstrate value to the employer. The paragraphs for the Summary and Job Scope were too long, which made it difficult to capture the information. The bulleted accomplishments didn’t show as much value as the competition. There were other sections that were well written but, on a whole, the resume was just adequate. We're giving this one to Monster.com.
Final Verdict: OK to use for entry-level positions
TopResume delivered strong customer service. Our resume writer was attentive and timely in responding to our emails. For someone who needs a resume fast, this is a definite plus. Where we felt TopResume didn't hit the mark was in rewriting the resume. It would pass for a resume with adequate prose as well as one that would pass the ATS. Overall, however, it wasn’t a resume that would do a great job of selling our candidate. The paragraphs were lengthy — making it difficult to read quickly — and the bulleted accomplishments lacked punch. We would recommend this service for someone who is looking for an entry-level position, but if you're really trying to move up the ranks, you might want to try another service.