Resume Writers versus Certified Resume Writers – Can you tell the difference?

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Qualify a Resume Writer Before Engaging Services

Conduct a Google search for ‘resume writing’ in your area and you are sure to locate several dozen sites.  But buyer beware; there is a major difference between ‘resume writers’ and professional resume writers with supporting credentials.

How do you know who to trust?

To start, separate out anyone offering general ‘resume writing’ and review their website and offerings very carefully.  If the sites offer resume writing but do not tell you WHO the writers are (there is no individual details on the “About Us’ page) – it is best to research further.

Can you trust your job search to a person you know nothing about?!Next, analyze the resume writers’ training and involvement in the careers community. Some ‘resume writers’ (big box shops or anonymous writers) have no formal training (certification) in employment, job search strategies, or resumes.  This begs the question about the standard of work. If individuals are not engaged in the resume writing industry AND pursuing ongoing professional development in the careers industry then how can they effectively support job seekers with the critical task of applying for jobs – which is ever evolving?

Other red flags to watch out for:

  • Websites are sales focused, long winded, and include poor grammar or spelling.  Yikes. If the web site is packed with disjointed information, mistakes, or lack of value – think about what your resume will look like!
  • The resume samples are old-fashioned templates that all look exactly the same (basic and boring). If you read resume samples online and you are not immediately intrigued or compelled –  move along!  Avoid resumes that are task-focused.  Look for resume samples that include results-driven statements and unique value propositions…which are critical to job search success.
  • The writer is nowhere to be found on social media – including LinkedIn.  Today’s resume writing professionals recognize the importance of social media (particularly LinkedIn) as part of a healthy job search approach.  Professional services should also include assistance with LinkedIn profiles and other current job search trends (like ATS).
  • When approached, writers or shops speak unfavorably about their competitors to try and win sales.  True professionals do not push down others to get ahead; they are proud to be a part of the industry, have established relationships with peers, and promote the value of others.  I myself enjoy recommending other top resume writers if I am personally unable to assist.

Ultimately your best investment is to search for resume writers with supporting credentials and a reputable background in the careers or hiring industry. 

Professional resume writers will advertise designations and specialized experience, including personalized biographies so that you get a good sense of their work style and their commitment to the industry. Top professionals can also support their expertise in the industry with awards, media contributions, publications, and ongoing professional development, continuous learning, and advancement.

Learn more about “Who Can you Trust in the Resume Writing Industry?” by Sharon Graham, Executive Director of Career Professionals of Canada. Engaging with a true professional will almost certainly reduce your job search (a typical job search lasts 20+ weeks!), saving you missed salary and lost income.  Getting your resume done right with a certified resume writer, the first time, will save you both time and money.

Although certified resume writers may charge more they offer the greatest return on investment!  Skye Berry-Burke breaks down the ROI on career services in a recent blog post  that you should A list of prominent resume writing credentials include:

  • MCRS (Master Certified Resume Strategist) – only 6 in Canada; myself included.
  • CERM (Certified Executive Resume Master) – skilled in writing for the executive market.
  • CPRW (Certified Professional Resume Writer)
  • CRS (Certified Resume Strategist)
  • CARW (Certified Advanced Resume Writer)
  • NCRW (Nationally Certified Resume Writer)

Each of the above certifications are offered through different associations, including:

  • (CPC) Career Professionals of Canada(CDI)
  • Career Directors International(PARW/CC)
  • Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches
  • (NRWA) National Resume Writers Association


Finally, the best tip of all.  Associations share their directories online where you can search for a credentialed resume writer in your immediate area. So save the Google searches for something else. Go to the source to seek out the very best!I regularly receive calls from desperate job seekers who are unhappy with the resumes they got completed at big box shops or ‘writing experts’. Please do your homework before hiring help. 

Adrienne Tom

Looking to take your executive resume or job search to the next level to land your next job faster and increase your earning power? I can help! Visit me online at to learn more about my award-winning resume writing, LinkedIn writing, and job search strategies for top professionals and executives located across Canada and the USA.
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