Should You Pay For A Résumé?

Last week Working Girl got 10 meals out of a 4-pound chicken.

Meaning, she’s in a frugal mood.

Meaning, when she read this article in the WSJ on Tuesday, she was appalled at the prices people charge, and pay, for résumés.

The question at hand: Should you fork over $500 or more to someone to write your résumé for you?

Yes, nowadays we pay people to do all sorts of things we used to do ourselves–mow our lawns, sew on our buttons, do our taxes, even organize our closets.  It’s the age of specialization.  Everyone’s an expert of one kind or another.  A task is beyond your expertise?  Better pay someone else to do it.

But in case you’re as frugal as WG, or thinking maybe that becoming frugal might be a good thing in this lousy economy, here are a few random thoughts:

  • If you are a student or a recent graduate, keep in mind that the career center at your college may well offer résumé help for free.
  • Books on résumés are available (for free!) at the library.
  • Ask your mentor(s) for help in (a) writing or (b) reviewing your résumé.  (You do have mentors, don’t you?)
  • Ideally, your résumé should be tailor-made to the specific job you’re applying for.  Which means, you’ll be tweaking that thing every week.  You can’t pay a résumé writer every time!  So you’re going to need to know something about résumé preparation no matter what.
  • Always ask someone who is a good writer/communicator to look over your résumé.  Then ask someone who is a good editor to check the spelling, punctuation, etc.  Then ask someone who works in your field to read it.
  • Hiring managers can usually spot a “professionally” written résumé right away.  There’s a chance he/she will wonder why you didn’t write it yourself.  Are you incapable?  Are you hiding something?  It’s worth considering.
  • A résumé should embody you and your personal style.  Who better to do than that you?


  • Lacy Nelson says:


    Great points! I read this same WSJ article and cringed over some of the practices of those who call themselves “Professional Résumé Writers.” As a career coach, I believe that it is frugal to invest in a professionally written résumé. Here’s what my clients get for their investment: 2 hours (typically) with me discussing your career goals, effective ways to market yourself, identification of your accomplishments, job search tips and resources and sometimes job leads. ALSO, you receive a first draft of your résumé, another half-hour with me – a career coach – in the editing of your résumé, advice on and a typed list of references.

    The frugality in this process is that you are working with a professional who will save you hours and money in your job search. Together you accomplish the sometimes daunting goal of completing your résumé which allows you to move forward with your job search.

  • almostgotit says:

    Ten meals out of a four-pound chicken? I am not WORTHY….

    I have always found writing (and rewriting) my own resume to be a very focussing act.

    Meaning, the process helps me see what I can do, where I’ve been, where I should (or could) go next.

    Meaning, (!!) working on my resume helps rev me up for the job search, and the particular jobs I’m customizing my resume for.

    I can see that working with a professional may be helpful in some instances, if writing and editing is a particular challenge (for instance) or if English is not one’s first language, etc. — but I, for one, would miss the benefits that putting my own blood and sweat into the process gives me.

  • I’m totally with you on the frugal mood lately! How you squeezed that many meals out of oen chicken defies my imagination, but kudos anyway!

    There are so many resources available for free (especially online! Many resume writing services have blogs chock full of tips!) so it may not be the best use of money.

  • Rita Ashley says:

    If you are only beginning your career, paying for a resume writer is unnecessary. Locate a copy of a resume from a person whose background and goals are similar to yours and use it as a template. Need more help? Call the HR department of a company that has jobs like the one you want. Ask them to remove the name and companies of a resume so you can use it as a guide about how to write a reasonable resume. People want to help young people starting careers so asking for this support is not unreasonable.
    The Job Coach