Have you been offered a “free résumé critique” by a big-name résumé-writing company? It’s a tempting thing to try, eh? Just send in your résumé and get a free critique! You could even use it to improve and re-write that piece of paper yourself, at no cost. But did you ever wonder, how do busy, highly-paid, professional résumé writers at a big-name company read all those résumés that people send in, then take time to critique them and offer advice — for nothing?

It would be like taking your malfunctioning car to a mechanic who spends time figuring out what’s wrong, writes up his analysis, gives it to you, and doesn’t charge you a dime unless you agree to have him fix it.

Imagine if doctors offered such a deal. You’d get a full diagnosis, but there’s no charge unless you want treatment. “You’ve got pellagra, M’am. Two months to live. Let us know if you want it cured. But today’s diagnosis is free. Too bad your kids will be left motherless because you were such a moron and didn’t take care of yourself…”

And that’s what a lot of those “free résumé critiques” sound like. You idiot, you showed this résumé to an employer?? You’re dead meat! Let us take care of this for you!

Well, I’ve figured it out. The mechanic didn’t really diagnose your auto problem. And the doctor? Sorry, you don’t have pellagra. In both cases a chimp pulled your diagnosis out of a bag. Likewise, a monkey copied and pasted your résumé critique into an e-mail and sent it off to you, along with a note attached that asks, You idiot, you showed this résumé to an employer??

The great thing about being the Ask The Headhunter guy is that people all around the world send me neat stuff all the time. Recently, a reader sent me a multi-page crib sheet that a major résumé-writing mill apparently provides to its writers. Every problem your résumé could possibly suffer from is dealt with on this sheet. All the résumé writer — or reviewer, or monkey — has to do is pick them off like fleas, paste them into an e-mail, and there’s your sales pitch. You idiot, you showed this résumé to an employer??

The résumé-critique crib sheet is too long to print in a blog post. But you’ll find it on my web site. Free résumé critiques: The new career-industry racket. And it includes a little challenge from me to you:

Help me find the firm that uses this crib sheet.

If you have received such a résumé critique and think you’ve been scammed (and probably insulted) by a monkey sitting at a keyboard, compare it to the verbiage on the crib sheet. Do the phrases match? Which firm gave you the critique? I’d love to know, and if we figure out who it is I’ll share the results with you. The link to submit your sample is on the web site.

I’ll tell you what I’ve learned on my own. Good, honest résumé writers don’t use boilerplate to write critiques, nor do they use canned résumé components. This new scam seems to have been spawned by the big job boards and “career” sites, which continue to find new ways to fleece people to support their insupportable business models. They seem to be behind the crap that masquerades as “professional writing” in the résumé business. And all this does is corrupt the business for the honest practitioners. So caveat emptor — know the résumé writer you buy from. Hint: The good ones are the those who will actually talk with you.

(Have you encountered a different kind of résumé scam? That’s what the Comments section is for below.)

  1. Ok, I read it. I don’t know which company formulated this crib.
    However, some of the comments do seem to be helpful and some of them are obviously bs. I’d like your opinion of what to take seriously from this crib.

  2. Lucille,

    Of course some of the ideas in the crib are useful. (Though some are indeed b.s. and intended to confuse, scare and “sell”.) But that’s not the point.

    The point is that when people send in their resumes for “critique,” they expect a real review. A personalized commentary. Not someone to copy/paste boilerplate comments into an e-mail.

    That reveals a total lack of integrity and a scam. Hey, I didn’t make the offer of a free critique. Those who did owe people an honest, personalized review, or they should divulge that monkeys are doing the “work.”

    But the implications are even bigger, though I have not touched on them yet.

    1. Who is doing these reviews? If it’s monkeys pasting boilerplate into e-mails, that’s a problem. Monkeys make mistakes.
    2. If it’s not professional resume writers, then what’s the value of the review? Many of the comments in the crib sheet are structured like what a fortune teller tells a client – it’s designed to be broadly valid and to apply to almost anyone.
    3. If the “firm” uses monkeys to do the critiques, is it also using monkeys to write the resumes it sells?
    4. What are the credentials of the resume writers and, for that matter, the monkeys?

    What I “take seriously from this crib” is that this firm probably has no qualms about selling “custom resumes” while it probably delivers boilerplate resumes. And I’m guessing at a premium price.

    A scam is a scam. Especially when it impugns the integrity of the product the firm sells. And as far as I can see, the product is impugned. If I swallowed one of those “critiques” and then paid for a resume, I’d be asking for proof that a qualified resume writer did the work, or I’d want my money back.

    Why doesn’t the “firm” just publish the crib sheet and let people figure out for themselves what’s wrong with their resumes? Or publish the thing as a guide to fixing your resume?

    I love this line: “Oh… you are asking me now to convince you to use our firm and not another resume service. I am a TERRIBLE sales person!! I’m a writer and analyst.”

    Or a TERRIBLE monkey.

  3. Dear Nick,
    You are correct. I take your point. It doesn’t really matter what was useful out of this crib. I could probably find that in a book.

    I’ve only hired resume writers 2x before and I knew that they were real people and they interviewd me. So I was comfortable. I’ve written my resumes myself the other times.

  4. Dear Nick,

    Unfortunately, whether you find someone to talk to or not, most business models can only be supported if the writers are manufacturing resumes…and because the big career sites can and will let their monkeys do it for about $100-$300, the little guy can only compete if he himself pumps-out boilerplate paper credentials for his clients too… Need to find a savvy writer with a night job.

    Furthermore, does it really matter whowrites it? If you ask for ten different opinions about your resume that’s exactly what you are going to get..So no matter what monkey writes it, it will never appeal to everybody..Rather than pay somebody $300 to write a resume, find somebody who can teach you how to use it…A well written resume may be a silver-bullet, but without a rifle its useless..

  5. Resume writing is not an exact science. As John rightly points out above, ask for ten opinions of your resume, and that’s what you’ll get. And since they are in the business of selling resume writing services, well… it doesn’t help their bottom line to tell you your resume is perfect, now does it? Besides, there is no such thing as a resume that is perfect for every situation.

    It’s all so hit and miss. I think many firms push this service because it’s visible, there is a finished product you can hold in your hand. When I hired a career consulting firm, who charged me $4500 for a service they completely misrepresented, the one of the first things they did was rewrite my resume. (Nick, why don’t you do a column on these career counseling rippoffs? I’d be delighted to share with you and your readers my experience.) And boy, didn’t that resume look swell! I was impressed. Until I gave it to Scott Kane of Grayhair Management to review. He looked at it for at least 2 minutes, and couldn’t even determine my educational level from it! But it really looked swell. Do you know how many interviews I got with that swell looking resume? Zero. Eventually I dropped it, and with the help of a recruiter friend, pulled together a much simpler resume that was much more effective.

    If you are not getting interviews, maybe the problem is that you are applying to the wrong jobs! Or maybe it’s just not getting to the right people. Or maybe the issue is that this whole process is so hit and miss that you just need to churn out hundreds of applications! You could have the most wonderful resume in the world, and it would be of no service in those situations.

    More often than not, your resume will end up in the hands of a screener, something I did for a recruiter when I was in transition… if your qualifications for the first 2 or 3 requirements of the job I’m working on don’t leap off the page at me, it’s back in the drawer you go. Your resume should allow the screener to be able to rule you out within 20 seconds. Of course, once you get passed the screener, then you have to give enough to have the hiring manager want to read more. So now it has to be intreguing. As I write this, I’m remembering a little gimmick we used to have as kids, it would be a picture, but the picture would change if you moved it. I’m surprised no one has thought of that for a resume format yet. Maybe I’m on to something…

    If you have $300 or more to burn, use the money to attend either networking, or better yet, industry events where you can mix and mingle and talk to people.

  6. Tom C.,

    I’ve covered “career management firms” many times. Start here: http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/teeth20031013.htm

  7. This is interesting. Years ago, I started helping my friends create resumes just because I was really good in MS Word! I did for free, at church, after work. Read up alot on what should be in them, started talking to managers to see what they are sick of seeing. It’s a lot of work! Last year, when I got fired, and shocked, I threw myself back out there. I could get everyone else a good job with my now experienced resume writing skills, but, myself? It took months, upon months. I discovered your in my research awhile back, and seeing someone use a crib sheet is insulting! I personally created a small lifestyle business doing resumes, but it’s work! I interview them, research their industry, provide lots of coaching and feedback. And it feels great getting the call that they got the job they wanted. I know of many of those online scammers, too. I hope you find who it is, just to put whiteout on their scam!

  8. Creating a great resume is WORK. So much work, in fact, that it takes weeks of research and preparation before writing can even begin (as Kristen W confirmed in her comment).

    How can that be? Isn’t a resume a job history with some accomplishments and education thrown in? Well, yeah, if you’re composing a “job graveyard” that’ll have your job search just as dead.

    The resume is the LEAST important thing you can do for your job search. Sure, you need to have one; employers, no mater how enlightened, expect to see a resume. But the resume needs to grow organically from the preparation you do for your job hunt. It’s got to be forward-looking, not backward-facing. It has to prove potential for performance; it has to speak to decision makers’ needs. It has to be relevant! Nick, your articles on what resumes need to be say it all. No need for me to restate.

    So the prep for a productive job search “Ask the Headhunter” style is ultimately translated into a “resume.” Send that resume to any resume mill critique service and it’ll be sent back as unacceptable in many areas. Yet, ask a decision-maker which resume speaks to him and he’ll tell you its NOT the job graveyard document. It’s the living, breathing, “I know what you need and here’s what I can do for you” presentation.

    Great resume writers and coaches know this and help their clients embrace it. Sadly, many, resume professionals are stuck in the past, producing job graveyard documents that lull their clients into thinking they have exactly what they need to find a job.

    Because graveyard resumes require little prep, other than taking a job history, there is no recognition of the bigger picture and how with real job search preparation the resume is just the tangible deliverable, representing a deep well of insight, ability, and targeted effort.

    These resumes become crutches for ineffective job searchers and perpetuate the myth that the resume is the engine that gets interviews. So sad. So frustrating! Rest in peace

    Ironically, great resumes AND graveyard resumes won’t pass unscathed through the resume mill critique process. So don’t go there! If you’ve done your homework, the resume doesn’t have to be perfect. You, not your resume, are the main attraction,

  9. Nick,

    You know how I feel about resume mills – I think they do a disservice to the professional resume writers who actually take the time to talk to their clients and write a professional document that captures what the job seekers have done and what value they bring to the next employer.

    However, in kind of a back-handed defense of the critique “cheat sheet” you have posted, the topics they have covered are what I see on a daily basis with my potential clients. It seems to me that they have covered the topics that happen most often on resumes.

    Now, I do not use templates for critiques – I talk to the person on the phone and review the resume they have and let them know what I see. Once the potential client hears what I have to say, and finds out I have 22 years of experience with a stellar track record of success, they hire me.

    Here is a different twist on how job seekers can actually USE this critique sheet. Take their resumes, print out the critique sheet, and go through their resumes in each of the important areas that apply to them and see if the information contained actually speaks to any problems on their resumes. Then, fix those areas.

    Finally, I must state that while a resume needs to speak what you can do for an employer (as noted by my colleague), it does have to include duties and accomplishments for each position. Currently, I have partnered with 15 executive recruiters for whom I write their candidate resumes. Overwhelmingly, they say it is imperative to know the job functions (that is where keywords appear that they search for) and they want to see a consistent track record of success in those positions which are shown through quantifiable accomplishments.

    There is an old adage, “past performance indicates future success.” If a job seeker can prove he / she has been successful in every position, the chance he / she will repeat that performance is greater.

    Employers generally want to know two things: can you make me money and / or save me money. If job seekers can prove that in their resumes, which sometimes can be their only shot at getting in the door, the chances for obtaining the all-important interview have increased.

    Within the past two weeks, three of my clients have received and accepted job offers in a hard-hit industry. Each of these clients have received significant raises, and in one case a sign-on bonus. While I cannot guarantee that will happen with everyone, there was one common theme that each of these clients told me: the potential employer told them they pulled their resume out of the stack because it provided them with great information and stood out from the pack.

    So, in closing, I want to state that proper strategy, along with excellent writing, in addition to working every angle in the job search process (networking, recruiters, friends, neighbors, etc.) will open opportunities for job seekers.

  10. Thanks, Deb Dib and Kathy Sweeney, for perspective from the legit side of resume writing and coaching. Kathy makes an interesting point that I also made in my Feb. 19 comment above. You can USE the crib sheet I published because it does include useful ideas to help you learn the ins and outs of resumes.

    That’s why I suggested, “Why doesn’t the “firm” just publish the crib sheet and let people figure out for themselves what’s wrong with their resumes? Or publish the thing as a guide to fixing your resume?”

  11. I’ve changed careers voluntarily and involuntarily. I could never market myself saying what I’ve done the longest is what I’m best at. When I’ve landed assignments, it’s because at least one enlightened employer wanted to break new ground with me. The petrified ones wanted to sentence me (and themselves) to sleeping with the past.

    Employers who focus exclusively on the past are doing their companies, candidates and recruiters a tremendous disservice that further destroys the hiring process. Moreover, how many job candidates say the reason they want to change jobs is because they want to do something NEW?

    It’s been said 90% of people who want to get in use the front entrance. When that’s so crowded and you want to get noticed, you can find other doors, including ones that show employers how to make money legally. You can really stand out by being one of the few who actually talks about their *current* goals and needs.

    And it is orgasmic to get jobs and assignments by never even producing a resume. I have politely told some employers who are addicted to resumes, “Ask not what I have done for other employers. Ask what I can do for you!”

  12. Nick,

    The “crib sheet” you cited, is not mine, however, I do use an assessment form when critiquing resumes.

    As others have mentioned, people tend to make the same mistakes over and over and over again. Therefore, similar comments can be applicable. I do personalize my critiques, and go thorough over the resume when providing feedback.

    Every resume that crosses my desk does not get panned, nor do I do a bait and switch. The fact is, most assessments that I do send out do not have a sales pitch or a quote for services.

    Your article makes valid points, however, it lumps all writers that provide resume reviews together, in one “monkey colony.”

    You do put a caveat in, that not all resume writers are monkeys. That is very noble of you. The vast majority of resume writers are NOT monkeys. They are self-employed individuals who have spent years educating themselves, staying abreast of the job search climate and ensuring that they provide quality service. Deb Dib and Kathy Sweeney are just two of many.

    You have done an immense disservice to people such as Kathy, Deb, myself, and others. However, you may have done a disservice to those very people you are trying to help. Painting a broad brush across the entire resume writing industry puts all of us under suspicion, and advice that may indeed be valid could be disregarded because of the “monkey label.”

    As a co-founder of the National Resume Writers’ Association and author of its first Code of Ethics I have worked very hard not only to help writers grow professionally, but to protect the public interest as well.

    Unfortunately, I may now be regarded as a “monkey” because I provide assessments that contain the same advice to more than one person.

    Thank you Nick.

  13. Sorry, Judy Friedler, but I don’t see any disservice to good resume writers (specifically, to Deb Dib and Kathy Sweeney, both of whom I respect greatly) in my column.

    When I tackle bad behavior on the part of headhunters, the good ones know who they are, too. I think Deb and Kathy clearly get what I’m saying and why I’m saying it — and I think other readers do, too.

    Just as in the headhunting business, goofy marketing ploys have corrupted parts of the resume writing business. Frankly, I think this goofiness makes it all the easier to see who the legit practitioners are. Why get defensive?

    Do you know who produced that crib sheet?

  14. Dear Nick

    I’ve been following this blog for a while, and everybody seems to have their own opinions mostly based on lots of years of experience, but in my case being a recent graduate struggling to pay rent, the only thing I have is the opinion or comments made by other people and recruiters about my resume. I haven’t read your book, and I wish I could have the time to do all the tips you mentioned in your articles, but I don’t. So do you think it would be a good idea to compare my resume to this crib sheet? Honestly I am really lost with all this.

  15. Nick and all.
    I’ve been conducting job seminars for the past 4 months through our public libraries in the area. I cover most of the basics on resume writing, cover letters, job searching etc.. I DO NOT write any resumes for anyone. But try to give people the basic information, offer a free critique of what I see. The most frequent problem I’ve seen is the 4-5 page resume filled with everything and the kitchen sink. I’ve taken the liberty of copying the resume crib sheet and will make sure Ask the Headhunter gets credit for the expose on the resume mills…
    Thanks for all you do.
    Sue Henry

  16. How much do resumes matter in the grand scheme of things? What I mean is, do you really need a nuclear powered aircraft carrier to go fishing?

    I have read many more resumes as an employer than I have submitted as a candidate, and here is how I look at them:

    1. I scan the cover letter to see if it’s basically coherent and to the point, as well as devoid of obvious errors. In short, does it pass the basic literacy test—and if it sings, that’s a bonus. More than one page—boring.

    2. I look at the introductory portion of the resume, which is typically a statement of career objectives or summary of qualifications, to see if it meets my needs.

    3. I look at the job history, and primarily ONLY at the job title and employer. I know what I am looking for, and the job and employer usually tell me what I need to know for starters. Only if that piques my interest do I bother to look at the more detailed narratives under each previous job.

    4. More influential than the resume is whether or not the individual comes to me with a referral or recommendation from someone I respect—that will sometimes trump a resume that doesn’t fit exactly what I am seeking.

    In short, the applicant has about 60 seconds to get my attention. I assume that prospective employers look at my resume the same way, so I have designed it with that in mind. Shouldn’t that be sufficient?

    Especially since I have never gotten a job from a resume only, but through a personal relationship or referral that the resume simply supplements.

    So, my guess is that these expensive resume writing services are a waste of money, unless you are totally clueless as how to write one up. But, if like me, you have a degree in journalism, you can do without them.

  17. Nick:

    Think I’m late to the party but here goes! I’ve been in this biz for over three decades, first as a headhunter (1973 – 1987) and then as a career/job search coach (1987 – Present).

    I am a Certified Career Coach & Resume Writer; I have written a career column for Business Journals for 9 years, and as a second tier founder of National Resume Writers Association, brought professional education into the Midwest.

    I totally share your position because I have first hand knowledge of resume mills who find their “writers” on Craig’s List with one required qualification, “must have your own transportation.” Maximum pay, $50 per project. Cost to client – $499.

    Nick, who writes one’s resume certainly does matter! In conjunction with strong search strategies, the resume is the one required document that precedes a personal appearance. Much like a print ad it competes! Ad agencies don’t promo a Mercedes like a Cheerio, and resume strategies differ based on job seeker offerings and the audiences they are attempting to impress. Seasoned, proven pros know how to configure these strategies!

    Our firm goes beyond creating resumes, and we do nothing fast and cheap. As a boutique firm we have clients who come to Columbus, Ohio from throughout the US. We spend hours face-to-face with as many folks as possible, operate our own “job search school” and spend hours of phone time with our international clients.

    While this all sounds great, it’s nothing without the candidate results generated from that business model. I don’t mean sales and I don’t mean ROI; I mean putting people back to work! There’s your evidence! If it works it’s worth it!

    Now regarding the snake oil resume mills to whom you refer, they do not detract from our quality or longevity. But they do lure and capture the credit card numbers of already zombied job seekers and devastate them further. And because of the recession, there are now many additional microwave resume writers and job search coaches in a totally unregulated industry.

    The solution? Your voice and for that I’m grateful!

    Oh yes, I don’t know who wrote your crib sheet but I do have my own collection of about 12 verbatim documents from anther firm saying the same things about every candidate who inquires.

    Janice Worthington, President (@execjobcoach)
    Worthington Career Services

  18. JobFox (not recommended) is engaging in this practice now. Here are two recent e-mails from them. There is some good advice inside but it seems boilerplate as my resume has a lot of this already.

    I’m the Jobfox resume expert that was assigned to critique your resume. Your resume was assigned to me because my focus is on job seekers with a technical background. We’ve found the complex nature of technical resumes requires a different approach and base of knowledge. I reviewed your resume with the goal of giving you an honest, straightforward assessment of your current resume, and not a judgment of your skills and qualifications. I should warn you about my style: I’m direct and to the point, so I hope you won’t be offended by my comments.

    I have found that the most brilliant technology people are also some of the worst resume writers. In the past, even the very recent past, a talented tech professional could get away with a sub-standard resume. Simply having experience with the right set of tools and technologies was sufficient. I’m here to tell you this is no longer the case. Employers are flooded with candidates, often 300 to 500 resumes per position, and the poorly written resumes are the first ones to go. We see this phenomenon every day within the Jobfox service. On the other hand, when a recruiter sees a resume from a technology candidate that’s well written and beautifully formatted, they take notice. There are so few it puts you in a category far above the rest, and in today’s market, you need every advantage you can get.

    Here’s the good news: my first impression of you is that you have an impressive array of skills and experiences. You’re a qualified [generic title from profile, not resume], with a lot to offer an employer. Now, here’s the bad news: your resume isn’t doing a good job saying that to an employer. I found it to be mundane and unlikely to catch an employer’s attention. If you were selling yourself as Crème Brulee, it’s as if your resume is saying “pudding in a cup”.

    Your resume needs a boost from a visual, content, and organizational standpoint to engage the reader. It needs to make them want to learn more about you. I didn’t find it to be exciting and it didn’t make me want to run to the phone to call you. These days, employers are being flooded with resumes, and we need yours to compel a hiring manager to continue reading and contact you for an interview. Countless studies have proven that resume quality is the key determinant as to whether a candidate is selected to be interviewed.

    [first name], to be honest with you, I think you should view this version of your resume as a work in progress. It’s missing many key elements that we like to see on resumes at your level.

    Here are the major issues I see on your resume:


    Your design is very crowded. The appearance is not polished, and doesn’t say “experienced Online Services Manager.” By way of example, it’s like the difference between a professionally printed brochure, and one that was done at home and printed on an inkjet printer. For people at your level and experience, I’m used to seeing a much stronger visual appeal. In the real world this means your resume is at a disadvantage when the manager is culling the pile of resumes. The ideal resume format is airy, clean, and uncluttered, with the effective and strategic use of white space.


    As I was reading your resume I was trying to imagine myself as a hiring manager, looking for that ideal [title]. I then asked myself whether I’d have picked your resume, and whether it was memorable. I concluded that much of the information was superficial and that in many instances it was too long. Simply put, I wouldn’t remember you. There are a lot of words on your resume, but they’re not formulated into powerful and impactful statements.

    Your Career Summary is weak. It’s a critical element of your resume that should be designed to compel the hiring manager to keep reading. The purpose of this section is to define you as a professional and cover those areas most relevant to your career level and job target. By having a weak Career Summary, you are making it easier for the reviewer to say “pass” when your resume is given the customary cursory glance.

    From a grammatical standpoint, I found your resume to possess many of the most common flaws. Expressions like “Accountable for” and “Oversee” are monotonous for the reader, and serve to repel versus attract their interest.

    From the way the resume is worded, you come across as a “doer” not an “achiever.” Too many of your job descriptions are task based and not results based. Meaning they tell what you did, not what you achieved. To be effective and create excitement, a great resume helps the hiring manager visualize you delivering similar achievements at his or her company. By way of example, you can say you were responsible for managing a particular business process, or you can wow them by describing how you overhauled the process to deliver 50% higher results. Here are some examples of task based sentences in your resume.

    [two task-based sentences from resume]

    These statements are more about what you did, not what you achieved. It would be like you saying “I played golf last week” when you could have said “I won the men’s golf tournament at my club last week unseating the guy that held the title for the past three years.” Which sounds more impressive?

    Employers want to know not only what you accomplished at your jobs, but the depth of those accomplishments. How did your work improve things, save money, etc. Employers are looking for return on investment (ROI).

    Additional Issues

    As a final tip, I recommend you use a Cover Letter whenever you are sending your resume directly to a recruiter or hiring manager for a specific job. (It’s not necessary when you are just submitting it to a database) A well written Cover Letter can give you a huge edge over other candidates with similar skills. It’s the best way to make a personal appeal to grab the recruiter’s attention by linking you to the company or the job and explaining why you are uniquely qualified for the job. A Cover Letter can be crafted to be reusable because your core strengths and accomplishments remain the same. But the aspects of the letter that change each time you send off a new resume—the company address, the name of the position, how you heard of the position, can be easily filled in as needed. We include a reusable Cover Letter with our Technology Resume Package.


    [first name], I’d like you to go back, reread your resume, and ask yourself whether it’s selling you short. Does it say “[first name] is a [title] with tremendous expertise?” A great resume is the lynchpin in your job search, and I hate to see a strong person like you being underserved by something that’s so easy to fix.


    Most people are like you – they struggle to put themselves down on paper effectively, but that’s where we come in. All the recommendations above can be combined in a cohesive, strategic manner so that you can distinguish yourself from other candidates. Our resume writers are experts in doing this. As I mentioned earlier, the complex nature of technical resumes requires a different expertise. You can’t just go to any resume writer and expect them to understand your world. We’ve assembled a team of resume specialists whose sole mission is to help our technology clients with their resumes.

    Countless studies have proven that professionally written resumes get more interviews, and, if it shortens your job search by even one day, a professional resume will pay for itself.

    Purchasing the right resume writing service is important. You want to be sure you are getting everything you need to be successful in your job search without being nickel and dimed.

    A Professionally Written Resume
    A Cover Letter
    An Electronic Version of your resume
    Technical Keyword Optimization
    I’ve included the comparison below so you can see how the Jobfox Technical Resume Package compares to other services. At $399 we are priced to be the best value service.

    If you would prefer to pay in installments, we have a fantastic option that no other resume writing service provides: Six (6) payments of $69.95 per month. You will receive your professionally written resume now but have the advantage of paying for it over time.

    I was speaking with a job seeker yesterday and he asked a very interesting question. How much time does an employer or recruiter take to review a resume?

    The answer is 3 to 5 seconds.

    To get an idea how long (or short) 3 to 5 seconds is, glance at a newspaper for 3 to 5 seconds and see if your attention is brought to anything in particular. Is there anything appealing that stands out right away, or did you move on to the next page?

    The same thing may be happening to your resume. That’s why having a professionally written resume can improve your chances of having an employer or recruiter notice your skills and accomplishments. Let’s face it, 3 to 5 seconds is a very short opportunity to make an impression.

    If you purchase a resume re-write between now and tomorrow at midnight, you will receive a free reusable thank you note ($50 value) along with your resume, cover letter, and e-resume. Yes, in this market, thank you notes after an interview are back in vogue. In addition, we have discounted the price of the package 15% so you only pay $59.46/month for 6 months or a one time payment of $339.15. We are the only company that lets you pay for your resume in installments.

    I hope that as you continue to think about your career objectives, you’ll consider having your resume professionally written. It might be the only thing holding your job search back, and it can be solved in a few short days.

    To get started today, give me a call, send me an email, or click here.

    Best of luck in your job search,

    Peg Crits
    Senior Resume Consultant
    Monday – Friday 9:00am – 6:00pm ET

  19. @skott coffee: Thanks for posting. Slimy marketing tactics tend to get stolen and are re-used. Just like resume critiques by these companies.

  20. Nick,
    I got the exact letter you posted (with the generic fill-ins) also from Peg Crits after I posted on jobfox. Didn’t fool me for one second. But I did learn something: I can do it myself better for free! My time is my own (I’m unemployed) and yes, it is hard work making my resume the best; harder than actual work. These “people” are the latest breed of con artists. In any area, you can do it yourself, up to a point, and then, if necessary, you hire the expert. I have gotten called a “cheap-skate”, but who is the best expert on me? My next employer will not get a phony with a commercially written resume, but will get me, a person who can back up each and every assertion on my resume and cover letter because I WROTE IT!

  21. @Steve: Fancy that! You wrote your own resume! I’ll bet you fry your own eggs, too! ;-) Nice work.

  22. This is the letter I received from Jobfox

  23. Weird, I came across this article exactly one year after it was published.. It’s a good read, I was just researching this very same situation and I had done a search on “Peg Crits” as I too received a boilerplate response from her. I am going to stay away from Jobfox at all costs, even their searches are tainted. I sent an email to “Peg” stating that I was on to them but.. like that will do any good..

  24. I wish I’d read this page before applying to a job via JobFox. After spending half an hour or so to complete the employer’s pre-screening (the questions were impressively insightful, btw, but it turns out this had nothing to do with jobfox) it turned out the job posting wasn’t even active.

    Thanks JobFox!!!

    Now they’re pestering the shit out of me for their resume-writing services, etc…first Peg Crits, now Peggy Patelino, Rob McGovern…and I’m getting emails every day suggesting which jobs I should apply for. HOWEVER, they’re all based on jobs on my resume I’ve had in the past. Nothing related to jobs I actually want as I’m in the middle of a career change.

    JobFox sucks. AVOID!

  25. Like so many, I applied for a “job” on jobfox. The so-called resume critique from ‘Peg Crits’ was unsolicited. Unfortunately I deleted it and unsubscribed from jobfox in the 5 minutes following my reading of the jobfox email. Of course I read later from Jobfox resume users they got hit for up to $400 for this “service”. Wow?

  26. How do you rate the all inclusive services like senior executive career partners? They seem to provide much more than a resume.

  27. @MTC: “Senior executive partners?” Do you mean a firm like this? http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/gv010822.htm

    When a “firm” uses a moniker like that, it’s time to run for the hills. You’re looking at a scam that’s trying awfully hard to sound important and to convey a sense of exclusivity.

    Usually, “all inclusive” means “you pay us a ton of non-refundable money up front, and then we guarantee you all the useless services and advice you can stand to swallow…”

    Sorry, but I think 99% of those “firms” are frauds.

  28. Job seeker having problem of marketing there skills. The skill sets are same among all the job seeker. Try to differ it from the others. See how a car seller do the marketing of there product, it will explains every one the new features in his model, like this try to make your resume unique. Not only the list out the skills, give your practical experience with that. The employer will get the idea about your knowledge. Objective is the one of the important part in the resume. The good format, font, content written resume help to shortlist your resume, but the selection is depend on how you express your knowledge in interview process.
    Thank you,

  29. So, I actually used a resume writing service and found that while she did a good job, she didn’t really ‘get’ what I was looking for. I chalked it up to lesson learned (an expensive one, though).

    About 5 months later, I was searching for example resumes with the job title similar to mine that I had done in the past. I was flabbergasted to find my resume, from this respected writer, being used as an example on the website. I wouldn’t have been so upset, but there were accomplishments listed that were VERY specific to me and the industry I was in. I politely e-mailed her to take down the resume, and she actually did. But still, the nerve!

    Thanks for the column, Nick. Keep up the good work.

  30. I have seen behind the scenes of one of the major resume mills – and let me tell you, it is bad.

    After the birth of my 3rd child, I decided to not return to retained executive search and focus on job search coaching and executive resume writing. While I knew how to write killer resumes, I didn’t have many clients of my own yet, and figured working for a large outfit would help me get good experience under my belt.

    I lasted less than a month – not only is the pay horrific (what decent writer would work for that?!) but it is a total crap shoot as to what kind of writer you get. This outfit had many websites, and were also the “white label” for a major website .. one that gave “free reviews” like you listed here. I quickly became a preferred writer for them, and was given assignments where they client was not happy with the work done by the previous writer. I can’t even begin to describe some of the HORRIBLE resumes that I saw.

    I quickly left that position, better off on my own with a few clients and positive word of mouth referrals. But man, do I feel sorry for anyone that pays to have a resume written by one of the mills, or for that matter, an unqualified writer. Like anything else, do your research. Get recommendations!

    I still believe that a custom, professionally written resume is worth paying for. After 10 years in retained executive search, I have seen enough poorly written c-level resumes to know that some people need help. Not everyone is a writer, or knows how to speak to hiring managers and get noticed.

    But whatever you do – avoid the big guys! Find an individual that will work with you one on one. There are plenty of great writers out there, but you will not find them working for pennies per resume written.

  31. I enjoyed reading this article greatly. Although, I now feel overwhelmed with anxiety. I feel as though one I can’t find a comfort zone either way ( between my own writing and the what If made a mistake and a professional writer and them being a “mill” writer)? I am interested in knowing if you could suggest a “reputable” resume writer, one that will spend time and interview (and not one whom wants you to complete a written survey).

  32. Misty,

    Somehow I got an email notification of your comment from when I had replied to this blog post in July.

    One of the easiest ways to tell the “mills” is price – you get what you pay for generally with resume work. But if you want to find a quality writer that will work with you one-on-one, I suggest finding someone that has taken the time to get certified. There are several out there CPRW, NARW, etc .. but each requires a level of proficiency that not just anyone can achieve. Then make sure that you will be dealing with ONE person, the actual certified writer.

    This article feeds into job-seeker fears, and there ARE horrible resume mills out there (plenty of them) but there are also 1000’s of highly qualified, excellent resume writers that will help you craft very powerful, effective documents. Don’t let this scare you away from reaching out.

    Best wishes!

  33. @Misty: You’ll find a good resume writer by talking to his or her happy clients. That is, ask around: Who does good work? Look at it and judge for yourself. But I’ll tell you this: You are your own best resume writer. Don’t fall for claims that you need an “expert.” No one is as expert in who you are or what your value is as you are. There is no “magic dust” someone can sprinkle on your resume. In fact, the fancier and more clever a resume is, the more chance that it’ll be ignored. Keep it simple. Then again — try to land your next job without a resume, which is really just a crutch that enables people to avoid actually talking to employers: http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/crocs25crutches.htm

  34. I have recently started preparing resumes after years of doing, not only my own resumes, but reviewing and repairing resumes for friends – then on to offering them for free to people advertising looking for jobs on the internet. From my own resumes and cover letters, the last 4 job offers I have received (not all accepted) have all seemed, when I spoke to the recruiter (they’re typically small businesses) that the job was mine to lose before I walked in the door.

    I have started by offering resume reviews and many of my reviews do have the same points. I hate objectives, but employers do seem to want them. Unfortunately I see the same thing time and again “to obtain a job where I can use my skills and experience for the benefit of the employer” or other such claptrap… even from most resume writers who put up samples. Fine – employers want to see them – call it an objective or a summary or whatever. It is the first thing the recruiter sees… make it count. Make it speak about who you are, what you have done, where your goals are. My personal one reads “Aspiring CPA with 20 years of accounting experience seeks position with reputable company”.

    I hate soft skills on a resume. Everybody is “reliable, trustworthy, punctual and a team player”. It’s fluff and detracts from the actual qualifications.

    Unfortunately, a lot of my reviews do have similar points on them – because unfortunately a lot of people are using the same writing advice. I have seen resumes that I could read word for word, get to the end, and not know what the applicant can do. I have seen resumes that convey a lack of confidence, either in the resume or in the cover letter, to the employers. A lot of people have a really hard time getting what is “great” about themselves – and if you’ve been in the working world for any length of time there likely is or they filled it with so much fluff the good stuff was buried. This is, consistently, a problem – so my reviews, consistently, include those points.

    Having said that – where I see something good, I also talk about that. I had one client send me a resume that was basically good… but the layout drew the focus to his military career rather than the amazing things he had done at his current job. I restructured it to draw the focus to his more current and relevant skills – and he got a great deal because there really was minimal work required.

  35. just adding this so I see follow up comments.

  36. I had my resume done by a professional with the creds to back her. No interviews resulted from that resume in 8 months and then I shredded it. I went back to her for a bit of insight – let me do your Linkedin profile (for more money) was the response. My resume is utterly value driven. I’m a writer, author, consultant and interim business manager who makes other people rich. That IS the bottom line. But for me, unable to garner the interest of the decision makers, it’s back to square one, again and again and again.

  37. Seems the news goes from bad to worse everyday, with reports of 94.7 million Americans with no work.Depressing numbers,I can sympathize with so many who have lost hope & given up the search, competition is fierce, a college degree is a guarantee of being buried in debt,still no guarantee of a high paying position. Sadly reality is no less cruel ,education + no experience=no hope of job, as surely as minimal skill experience + no degree is. I know, I returned to school,got a CHpT license..still even w/volunteer exp. still no job..is hard not to be discouraged & lose hope.