A couple of years ago, I shared tips on how to avoid resume scams after being contacted by several unhappy customers that mistook Top Resume Writing & Career Services for another similarly named resume service. Although I’ve taken great pains to distinguish my service from this other operation’s service and offerings, I do still field and redirect calls from their aggravated customers from time-to-time (although less often than before, thankfully!).
Do your own quick Google search and you’ll see the resume writing profession is saturated with companies setting up and shutting down shop every day. From the outside their websites appear to be professional operations, but proceed with caution. Many of these companies are known as resume mills because their focus is on churning out a multitude of low-quality to “so-so” resumes quick, fast, and in a hurry. Understanding the difference between a resume mill and a professional, credentialed agency and/or service provider could save you from wasting time and money. Here are some common resume mill red flags to watch out for:
All Communication is by Email Only
A customer-centered business will go out of it’s way to be assessable and maintain open communication throughout the resume writing process. These days most common ways of contact are by email and phone (and sometime text messaging). If you contact a company for more information about the services they provide, a phone consultation should be an option. If the company insists on email communication only, proceed with caution.
Low, Low Prices
I know, I know – who doesn’t love a bargain? Unfortunately, sometimes getting what you paid for isn’t a good thing. As a general rule, most professional industries have a standard range of competitive pricing; and in the career services profession, rates may also be determined by professional certification(s) and training, years of experience, and record of results. Resume mills, on the other hand promise you a lot for very little and seldom deliver.
Resume mills operate on a simple methodology of quickly cranking out as many resumes as possible. They do don’t spend a lot of time on strategy or gathering relevant information. Mills usually have multiple subcontract writers (these writers may or may not be certified, and they may or may not be native English speakers) to tackle high volumes of client orders and keep up with impossibly fast turnaround times for insultingly low pay. This can result in numerous problems like high writer turnover rates (with writers quitting in the middle of client projects), low quality “cookie cutter” resumes with poor grammar, and unexpected service delays.
Information is Collected by Old Resumes and Questionnaires Only
The key to creating a quality, customized, job-focused resume, cover letter, etc. is in the strategy; and an effective strategy requires a deep dive information gathering process by phone or in-person.
Resume mills skip this vital step, preferring instead to take short cuts, using a client’s old resume and/or a very basic, emailed questionnaire. it’s not surprising that the final result is a document with a lot of holes.
Unable to Communicate with a Live Human Being
This one is a huge red flag. I had a potential client contact me once after the suspected resume mill in question informed her that all communications would be by email only. If she wanted to communicate with her assigned writer by phone, she would need to pay an additional fee! Crazy, right?
No Professional Certifications
I hesitated to include this as a warning, because there are a few conditions. There are some exceptional resume writers and career coaches that have been around long before certifications were available. Still, writers that train and successfully pass certifications must meet and adhere to established industry standards and ethics. Working with a certified professional is the best way to ensure that you’re working with a trustworthy, expert.
Unfortunately, some resume mills have figured out how to get around the certifications issue by having the “face” of the company be a certified resume writer while the subcontracted writers may not be certified themselves.
Weeding through the many companies in your online search results for a resume writer may seem like a lot of work, but the return on investment that comes from working with the right writer is so worth everything that comes with reaching your job search goal.
Photo Credit: Jon Tyson