When people call and ask me, “How much do you charge for a resume?” my reply is often something like this:

“It depends on what you want the resume to do. Have you been hired already, and is your employer now telling you that they need a resume for their HR file on you? Or do you need the resume to make job interviews happen? If you’ve already got the job, putting together an acceptable resume is simple: just cite your contact information and record your job history. If you include a responsibility list for each job, this sort of resume will pass well enough to check off the HR check box when you already have a job. Resumes like this should cost anywhere from $40-$100 at any local secretarial service. But don’t use one if you are out of a job and are actively looking for work. Using a ‘job history’ resume in this situation almost certainly guarantees that you’ll have a very long and frustrating job hunt.”

At this point, my callers ask “Why do you say that?” And I reply with the following information:

Even before the current recession began, Human Resources experts told us that most people are so nervous in job interviews that are too nervous to make a good impression in their first interview, and land a job on their second or third attempts. Another point the HR people reiterated is that the average resume ends up in the “don’t call” pile somewhere from 90-95% of the time. Taken together, these points mean that if you use an average resume to apply for 10 jobs each week, the odds are that you that you won’t get an interview until your ninth week, by which point you are so anxious and nervous that talk yourself out of a job, leading to another nine week wait for your next interview, at which you are more relaxed and might impress your interviewer and win the job. So it was no surprise when one study showed that the average executive or professional should expect their job hunt to take between 18 to 27 weeks. On one occasion in my own pre-resume writing business career, I found out by painful personal experience that these studies’ results were indeed accurate. Remember too, that both studies were done before the recession. The average job hunt nowadays, when even janitorial openings are getting 300 or more applicants, will likely take longer.

Today, a resume only containing only contact info, work histories and responsibility lists does not stand out from the 50-100 other candidates who have done the same jobs and have submitted an almost identical resume. In an economy where average resumes are increasingly jamming the circular file, winning job interviews requires a resume that takes less than 20 seconds reading time to convince its readers that you are an outstanding candidate. If you don’t send such a resume, your phone simply won’t ring.

So you need an entirely different kind of resume to motivate people to call you in for job interviews. Instead of a “work history” resume, you need to use an interview generating resume specifically designed to get interviewers to call you. This kind of resume is a sophisticated marketing document and more than a typist’s skills are needed to write one. Crafting such resumes requires the persuasive powers of a top-flight copywriter, the broad business knowledge that can quickly and accurately grasp the essential skills, specialized languages and necessary achievements of a huge variety of employment situations, and the interviewing skills of a master psychiatrist to delve deep into your memory to uncover incidents that demonstrate your character and skills in action achieving the kind of results that make prospective employers want to interview you. So it’s not surprising that any competent professional resume writers charge somewhat more than the typist. In the final analysis, however, their work is worth every penny they charge. For in the long run, a professionally written interview generating resume does not cost you a cent: instead it is an investment, making far more money for you than the cost you paid up front.
At this point, my callers ask: “How can this be?” And I reply: “Let me show you.”

Many people never stop and think about the real costs of using an average resume, but every job hunter should ask at least this one question; how much will using an average resume cost me? I can’t tell you what your exact costs will be, but I can show you how to find out. If you divide the amount of your desired salary by 52, you will get your gross weekly salary apart from benefits. Multiply that salary by the number of weeks you must allow for the job hunt to take. The size of the numbers will surprise you. Consider the following examples:

If you want a $20,000 job, your weekly salary is $384.61 and an 18 week job hunt will cost you $6,992.98.
If you want a $50,000 job, your weekly salary is $961.54 and an 18 week job hunt costs you $17,307.69.
If you want a $100,000 job, your weekly salary is $1,923.08 and an 18 week job hunt costs you $34,615.38.

Plug in your chosen salary and count your costs. Then ask yourself: can I really afford to pay that much for an average resume? Would I pay $6,000.00 or more for something that didn’t do what it was supposed to do?

Now, consider instead what happens if your resume is one of the 5% of resumes that achieves above average results. Assume it makes interviews happen not 5% of the time, but 50% of the time (a hit rate that is often achieved or exceeded). If you go job hunting with that resume and you apply for 10 jobs in your first week and your resume is only 50% effective in generating interviews, the odds are that you will have five interviews by the end of your third week (allowing a week between resume arrival and interview date), and at least one job offer from interviews 2 through 5. You might even get more than one job offer, which is a lovely piece of paper to have in your back pocket when negotiating the final details of your compensation package with your preferred employer.

So instead of taking 18 weeks, which is the low end of the average, your job hunt has taken only three weeks and your resume has just enabled you to earn an additional fifteen weeks salary. Your investment in a professional interview generating resume has just made you somewhere between $5,769.15 for a $20K salary $14,423.10 for a 50K salaried job or $28,846.15 if you were hired at 100K, or more not to mention saving you from a great deal of depression and anxiety.

Now ask yourself: is it worth investing between $150 - $1,200 in a professionally written resume in order to massively increase my chances of making $5,000, $14,000 $28,000 or more, much sooner?

Do you see why investing in an effective resume is the most significant investment you can make in your career? Or, as I sometimes say to my callers: “Investing in a professionally written interview generating resume doesn’t really cost you anything. Instead, it makes both dollars and sense.”

Author's Bio: 

Tim Cunningham, CPRW (tim@ffresume.com) is the Founder and Principal Writer of Fast & Focused Resume Service.