What does it take to become a certified resume writer?

Certified Resume Writer

There’s more to writing resumes than most people realize. And, there’s far more to operating a successful resume writing business, even as a one-person show, beyond just writing resumes. It was apparent to me from the get-go that in order for me to develop a level of trust with potential clients, demonstrate my ability to write a compelling resume, and perhaps most importantly, differentiate myself in the market, that I would need some credentials. So, I set out to become a certified resume writer.

After some research, I learned that there exist multiple professional associations that offer resume writing professionals platforms in which to learn, communicate with peers, and earn credentials. I chose to earn my first certification from The Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches, better known as PARW/CC.

My first certification in resume writing, which I earned from PARW/CC is called the Certified Professional Resume Writer, CPRW for short. The CPRW designation has been the golden standard for many years, and is often a requisite for other certifications offered by Career Directors International, CDI.

In order to earn my CPRW through PARW/CC, I had to have some foundations for how to write a resume. I was tested on different types of resume structures (reverse chronological vs. functional). I was also tested on my ability to decipher a large amount of information and put together a complete resume. It was challenging yet rewarding. Earning my CPRW certification would pave the way for more.

After gaining exposure working with senior and executive-level clients as a contract writer, I was ready to step my resume writing game up. I wanted to really differentiate myself and give potential clients even more reason to work with me. CDI offers a lot of different certifications. So, I set forth to become a Certified Executive Resume Master, CERM, for short. This was a certification held by less than 4 dozen people WORLDWIDE!

In order to earn the CERM designation, I had to compile and submit a portfolio of the work I had completed for my executive clients and submit to a blind panel of the industry’s best and brightest resume writers. Additionally, I had to pass an exam that tested my overall business acumen. Not only did my portfolio pass unanimously during the first submission, but I completed the exam as 1 of the top 10 to achieve above 99%!

The hard work has paid off in many ways. I have learned a tremendous amount about my craft (which I continue to do), and have provided my clients with the confidence they need that they are working with one of the best. As I’ll touch on in another article, I have also earned multiple certifications in job interview preparation coaching. This includes my CEIP (Certified Employment Interview Professional) from PARW/CC and my CEIC (Certified Employment Interview Consultant) from CDI.

What is a “good” resume?

Great Resume

What is a “good” Resume?

A long, long time ago in a job market far, far away job seekers used to be able to get away with writing down their job description, include whether they went to school, add a name and phone number, and it would be considered a resume. Welcome to the present, where software programs read our resumes and decisions are made in mere seconds. What makes a good resume? What does it take to pass the many tests in order to be considered for a callback? Let’s examine a few key items:

Do you have the right content?

It’s not just how you say it, but what you say. Sounds as natural as it feels to write about yourself. Indeed, it is hard. You need to make sure you have the right content in your resume to pass the basic qualification requirements in addition to satisfying the ATS systems. So what do I mean?

 – Keywords – Not just any keywords, but the right keywords.

 – Context – You need to be able to paint a picture for the reader, give some clues as to how you were effective in your past roles.

 – Accomplishments – Describing your accomplishments is almost as important as actually having produced those results.

Formatting is essential

It is surprising for me to see (or maybe it’s not really) that many of the resumes I review, a good percentage of which are made using templates, totally fail the formatting requirements needed to pass most ATS programs. Here are some deal breakers and grey areas to be aware of:

 –  Headers –  What information goes there?

 – Tables – how, when, and where to use them

 – Columns – vertical elements are nice in a resume, but columns?

 – Font – It may or may not make a difference, it depends on several factors. One thing is for sure though, NO COMIC SANS!

Formatting is SO essential, there’s more!

I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of how formatting can be the key to having a “good” resume. What I haven’t gone into is the following:

 – Spacing

 – Font size

 – Section titles

 – Borders

 – Boxes

 – Symbols/Characters/Icons/Visuals

 – Bullets

Honestly, the list goes on. There is so much more that goes into a good, nay, great resume, that most busy professionals don’t have the time to learn. So many of the resumes I review lack many of the basic elements of a good resume, not to mention the more sophisticated elements that really make a resume stand out.

Entire books, workshops, webinars, podcasts, etc. are devoted to help people learn how to become better resume writers. There is just so much information you need to know to write a good, effective resume.

So what is a “good” resume?

A good resume is a resume that takes everything I’ve mentioned in this brief blog and combines it with the storytelling content that demonstrates to the reader that you are worth inviting in for an interview. It’s the keywords, content, layout, formatting, style, etc. that makes a good resume.

Advanced Career Services is your knowledge warehouse for everything related to resume writing and interview preparation. You have questions / We have answers. Check out some of our other blogs here. or contact us here to schedule an initial consultation.