What is it really like to work with a resume writer? One woman shares her experience from her first DIY attempt to receiving her final TopResume product.

I've never truly felt proud of my resume — I mean, it's always been fine, but not something that I'd frame and hang on the wall; at best, I'm indifferent to it. And why would I ever be proud of a document I've candidly always approached with a cavalier attitude? My old resume was only updated when I had a bad day at work and fantasized about being anywhere else; even then, I approached things with a twinge of resentment towards the process. Cram everything that might make you valuable to a stranger's eyes onto this document — and make sure it's only one page! That was the prevailing rationale behind my a lot of my past resumes, and an approach I've since come to find is utterly incorrect.

Proactively perfecting my professional documents

I have always been someone who floated from job to job on the backs of kind words and recommendations from colleagues; I had a resume but never needed a resume. As I found myself growing restless in my current position, I decided to be proactive and conquer the challenge of redoing my job-search materials. I know I'm capable, smart, and can be an asset to any company, and I wanted a resume that would show that I am qualified for a broader range of positions outside of the niche advertising community where word of mouth has served me so well.

I felt myself craving something new and different — a job that would push me to the edge of my comfort zone — and wanted to have all of the right documentation ready so I could spring into action when the right job posting came my way.

From a DIY try to hiring a resume writer

I felt completely out of my element, obsessing over every word in the descriptions of every job I've held as I wrote my resume. I didn't want to take any chances, either; I wanted to ensure I was set up for success. I scoured Pinterest for the prettiest resume designs and created a visual masterpiece that I thought showed off my 10 years of expertise, my creativity, and my analytical skills. It was so unique, it all fit on one 8 ½ by 11, and I believed no one would be able to resist the person who could create something so beautiful. She's a must-hire, we need her.

I found TopResume's free critique when I wanted to validate my efforts — I felt like I had done all the right things and wanted an expert to confirm that my hard work paid off. I uploaded my multi-colored beauty to the service and patiently waited for the results. When I opened the results in my inbox and read them over, my heart sank.

I had no idea there were so many robots and digital gatekeepers standing in the way of me and the real hiring managers I wanted to meet.

I had no idea that the resume I thought was a compelling work of art presented me as a person who only has a few years of experience instead of a decade.

I had no idea that all the visuals and pictures could prevent a hiring bot from reading anything about me at all. Nothing seemed to come through clearly or correctly, not even my address.

It was then I realized I needed a professional. My time is valuable, and the value of the time it would take me to learn about all the fixes and changes I needed to make was far greater than the cost of hiring a writer. Plus, I was ready to start applying! I needed to get this resume fixed … and fast.

One click of an 'Order Now' button and just like that, I had hired someone to help me redo my resume.

The questionnaire

Before I got paired with a resume writer, TopResume issued me an extensive questionnaire where I shared my goals and strengths — the things I wanted to highlight with my new resume. The questions made me feel like I was going to receive VIP treatment thanks to the complete and total focus on my career.

I really appreciated the experience of getting to do the questionnaire. As I moved through question after question about my career, my trouble spots, and my resume, I was forced to self-reflect and think about the arc of my career story. For the first time, I really understood the value of getting outside eyes to reframe your experience. You've lived as yourself your whole life, and your understanding of yourself and your self-presentation may not line up with how the rest of the world views you.

The experience of completing all of the prerequisite questions also doubled as job-hunting prep in a way, too. TopResume asked for examples of job descriptions for the ideal positions I wanted to achieve with my resume. It took a lot of the stress away from surfing LinkedIn for potential dream jobs knowing that I was going to receive a resume that was made to look as attractive as possible for the positions I wanted most.

Meeting my brand-new resume

A few days after completing the questionnaire, I got my first draft back from the writer assigned to my case and was shocked to see the differences. My resume writer violated resume rules I had long held to be true, like that I had to keep a resume to only one page. The format was completely different and looked a lot less stylized than the picture-perfect-Pinterest version I had whipped up on my own.

Changing your mind about anything is hard, and it was startling to see some of the differences between the original and this new draft. They weren't changes I would have ever made myself — a fact which reinforced my initial decision to hire a resume writer. When you embark on your own journey working with a resume writer, you have to be open-minded and trust the process. The professional writers understand what works and what doesn't works better than you do.

I loved reading the way my writer reinterpreted and reframed my career accomplishments. It filled me with pride to read how my career was viewed from outside eyes. It was another reminder that others can see you so differently than you might see yourself; in this case, my resume writer found impressive things to say about my career and work performance that I wouldn't have ever noticed or called out. Reading my rewritten resume was a huge confidence boost.

You're able to go back and forth with your writer a bit for a first draft and then a final draft, a feature which I took advantage of. You leave your writer comments and notes simply by adding them to the draft document of your resume — you don't need to put forth a ton of extra effort to give feedback. Because I was proactively redoing my resume and didn't have a deadline, I took my time thinking through all of the comments I gave to my writer — although to be honest, she did a pretty amazing job straight out of the gate. If I didn't have the luxury of time, I still would've been OK.

The results

Overall, I'm thrilled with my resume-writing experience — I'm so glad I had it done. It set me up for job-hunting success in an environment where most often, applicant tracking bots control whether or not you get a chance to meet anyone from the company face to face.

I learned about the new resume best practices — yes, you really can have more than one page! Best of all, I got to benefit from having outside eyes review my career and the way I was presenting it. It gave me an opportunity to understand what weaknesses a hiring manager might see in my resume and work with my writer to address them.

I'm so excited to embark on a new round of job hunting with my upgraded resume; the new document, while maybe not Pinterest-perfect-pretty, conveys my competence, skills, and strengths far better than I did myself. Now it's up to me to go and use it, and use it well.

We're ready to prepare you for a more successful job search. Learn more about working with a professional resume writer from TopResume.

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