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5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Paying for a Resume Review
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Laura Berlinsky-Schine
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You know your resume needs work, but you’re not sure how to go about fixing it. What’s working? What’s not working? How do you even know? 

A resume review can give job seekers guidance on how to strengthen their resumes, even if they have already experience securing interviews and landing jobs. This step isn’t the same as resume writing, which involves a professional creating the document from scratch or reworking an existing one, but it can be a first step in using this kind of service.

What does a resume review entail, and should you have one done? Here’s our rundown.

What is a resume review?

Also known as a resume critique, a resume review involves a professional, applicant tracking system (ATS) or other technology, or both examining your resume to identify areas that could be improved, highlighted or emphasized and strengthened. For example, the review might offer suggestions for honing a career objective or including relevant keywords to best display your skills and expertise in certain areas. 

You’ll receive unbiased guidance and, depending on what the critique entails, specific suggestions and advice on what to change, as well as tips for addressing these weak areas and constructive criticism. 

There are several different types of services and processes for conducting resume reviews, and businesses and independent professionals will employ a range of methods depending on the type of service they’re offering and the goals of the critique. 

How do you write a resume review?

A professional who is writing a resume review should address certain areas and take a series of steps to conduct a thorough critique and create the report. They include:

• Performing an initial resume scan

Some hiring managers and recruiters claim to evaluate a resume in six seconds to determine whether the candidate could be a possible fit for the organization in question. A resume reviewer should also perform an initial quick scan to evaluate the layout, font and general appearance, as well as identify qualifications and skills that jump out immediately. The reviewer should then identify holes, weaknesses and areas that could use improvement.

• Considering the different components and how they function together

Does the career objective add to the overall resume and clearly outline the applicant’s goals? Does the experience section offer details that convey accomplishments rather than tasks and correlate with the overarching objective? How is the information presented? These are the types of questions a resume reviewer should be asking and noting in the critique.

• Offering suggestions for addressing holes in the resume

The review should provide ideas for how to account for any issues, such as employment gaps. It should evaluate how these types of potential red flags are handled and, if possible, offer advice for addressing them.

• Providing constructive criticism and actionable steps

What can the applicant do to improve her resume? Rather than merely pointing out flaws, a good resume review will provide actionable advice for strengthening and honing different areas. 

• Proofing the entire resume

Some people may assume that a resume review will only identify errors. While that’s not true of a comprehensive critique, it is an essential step in the process. Your reviewer should point out typos, misspellings and grammar errors, along with other potentially disqualifying features that might impact your job candidacy.

Often, a resume review will involve a critique from an expert and an ATS scan. This information may ultimately be compiled into a single report with subsections identifying issues and errors as well as steps for improvement.

How long does it take to review a resume?

Generally, the turnaround for a resume review is two days. It can take more or less time depending on the size of the business, how many other clients it has, whether the critique is paid or free and other factors.

What's the best resume review service?

Many resume-writing businesses offer free initial resume reviews. You should keep in mind that they offer these services in an effort to encourage you to buy their resume services, so you should bear that in mind when reading the feedback. Still, they can be helpful starting points, even if you don’t want to pay for the resume-writing service. Some top free resume critique services include:

Let’s Eat, Grandma

Upload your resume to receive your “Career Score.” One bonus of this service is if you get a high score, you’ll receive the Starter Package free of charge. 

Monster

You’ll simply upload your resume, and the “smart resume scanning technology” will assess it.

TopResume

Top Resume boasts a review conducted by experts that will provide you with objective feedback and recommendations.

ZipJob

ZipJob runs your resume through an ATS system and offers personal feedback from experts as well as a layout and design critique. 

You should also consider using the services of an industry professional, resume writer or career counselor. Some professionals may perform a free resume critique, while others may charge a small fee.

When you should consider paying for a resume service

Many resume reviews are free to clients. However, many people receive them to help them determine whether to invest in additional resume services, such as resume writing or guidance. You should consider hiring a professional if:

• You’ve been job searching for a long time with no success.

• You haven’t needed to look for a job in a while. 

• You know your writing skills could use some honing. 

• You’re changing industries or careers.

• You’re confused about the terminology and where to start when crafting your resume.

You shouldn’t pay for a resume service if:

• You haven’t had to struggle to find a job and are well-versed in industry practices, requirements and expectations.

• The job depends on your personality and writing skills.

• You have a good deal of experience in branding yourself and applying for jobs.

• You have access to recruiters, career counselors or similar professionals in your network and can receive this type of guidance without having to pay for it. 

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