Is a resume writer worth the investment?

Claudia Hassell enjoyed a successful sales career with Eastman Kodak for years. But when the photography giant went through a restructuring phase, her department took a hit. Hassell, who knew marketing inside and out, started looking for a new gig. But rather than reworking her resume herself, she hired a professional. Why? "I wanted someone who could take my accomplishments and put them in concise bullet points so my resume could be relevant."

Career coach and resume expert Nancy Spivey knows the score. She says the number one reason most jobseekers reach out to a resume writer is because it's easier for someone else to play up your achievements than to do it yourself. "For the majority of people, writing a resume isn't what they do every day," said Spivey. "They're not in the job market every day. And I think people have a very hard time marketing themselves. And a resume is exactly that; it's how you market yourself."

The thing is, there are a lot of certified resume writers out there. How do you find the perfect match for you? First, know that the word "certified" means they took a class and passed it. Look for more than that, says Spivey. "I suggest working with someone who is not only a resume writer, but also has a background in career coaching.

"Find someone who gets where you want to go. Not only with this job, but afterward. Someone who has an advanced ability of looking at the big picture, instead of just looking at this one resume. To me, it's got to be more than just writing a resume."

And with that comes the proverbial needle-in-the-haystack search for an affordable resume writer who does more than fill in a template. The answer? Referral, referral, referral. After that, get a referral. Go to job networking groups. Call various churches in metro Atlanta with job clubs and ask if they have any recommendations.

When you find someone you like, Spivey suggests breaking out your best Inspector Clouseau interview skills and inquiring about their background. It's worth it to ask questions. Do they have any samples of their work you can review? How long have they been writing resumes and do they stay in touch with recruiters and talent scouts? Finally, since so many companies are now using a computerized tracking system that scans applications and resumes for keywords, what is their expertise in that?

Resume writers, on the average, charge anywhere from $200-$500. And if you itemize your taxes, the majority of job search expenses are deductible.

Always remember, the bottom line here is you're employing professional services that are far better than what you could do on your own. For example, no matter how loudly your accomplishments scream, "Hey, I'm a perfect match!," one single typo or misspelled word speaks louder and sends a detrimental message. If you're hiring a resume writer, the final product should be pretty much perfect.