Hiring a resume writer? Look out for these 7 red flags!

Due diligence is important when hiring any service-based business. The professional resume writing industry is no different. If you’ve never hired or worked with a resume writer, it’s easy to get lured in by a flashy website, unrealistic guarantees, and scams that hide in plain sight. This post will guide you on separating first-rate resume writing services from those that will waste your time and money. Let’s begin!

The first thing to know about the resume writing industry is that it’s not regulated. Anyone who can use the Internet can advertise themselves as a resume writer.

Have you ever googled resume writing services?

If so, you’ve likely gotten dozens of results for various resume writing services with prices all over the place. We’ll cover more on pricing later. Over the years, I have worked with numerous clients sucked in by ads and flashy websites that offer a free professional resume review and deals that seem too good to be true. These services give the resume writing industry a bad name.

By the time they contact me, they are often frustrated that they are no closer to getting into their next job faster. If you are unemployed, the situation feels more daunting with the money lost each day you’re unemployed.

Information is power. When hiring a professional resume writer, it’s important to know what to look for to make the best decision for your needs.

7 Red Flags of Resume Writing Services

1) Does the deal seem too good to be true?

We’ll start with the obvious one. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Over the years, there has been an influx of these low-end resume writing companies, aka “resume mills” or “resume factories.” The COVID-19 pandemic also led many people to flood the market, despite knowing little about recruitment and hiring technology and the modern job search landscape.

Many of these companies will pay a royalty to online employment sites, like CareerBuilder or Indeed, for every sale they make, giving them a veil of legitimacy to advertise on popular job board sites.

These companies will advertise:

  • Ridiculously low prices for $150 or less
  • Insanely fast 24-48 turnaround times

I recently found a company that guarantees “award-winning resumes ready in 3 hours.”

REALITY - A legitimate writer charges between $500 to $1,000+ on average.
During that time, I’m not just “writing your resume.” I spend several hours getting to know you and understanding your career goals. I use that information to create a robust strategy and argument that shows how your background, skill set, and other unique value align with your career target(s). I’m also equipping you with tools beyond the resume to help you navigate the modern job market, maximize employer responses, and get you into your next job faster.

How does Scientech Resumes compare?

Scientech Resumes typically works on a project basis with fees ranging from $597 to $1497+ for a resume and cover letter service. I also offer packages with full LinkedIn profile content development and SEO optimization, which range from $1497 to $2597+, and with bio writing, $3000+.

The average time I spend on a project is between 15-20+ hours, including information gathering, research, writing, revisions, and finalization.

Job search, interview, and LinkedIn coaching are offered at $200 per hour, a 1-hour session with follow-up notes.

The total project investment will differ based on each client’s career stage, desired direction, required services, and overall work complexity. I do my best to be competitive but fair, given the value you get from working with me.

Resumes for STEM professionals are highly specialized, requiring strong attention to detail and a different strategy than writing more standard resumes.

Scientech Resumes never uses templates. Each resume is created from scratch, specifically targeted for each individual client’s career goals, while emphasizing relevant highlights and accomplishments from your career evolution.

While the initial investment may seem expensive, consider it an hourly rate.

With that in mind, we take that $150 resume and divide it by the average time spent on a project, which, for me, is about 15-20 hours. Suppose we divide the $150 by 15 hours, which equals $10 an hour.

That number makes no sense when you account for all the work involved.

Don’t waste your money on these cheap, sub-par services.

That $150 will be better spent on a nice dinner, a spa treatment, multiple video games, or something that will create a great memory. In the end, you get what you pay for, and the cheapest option is rarely a bargain in the long run.

2) Does the company make unrealistic guarantees?

I recently came across a company that offered resumes for under $100 and a job guarantee within 30 days or a full refund plus $50 extra.

Sounds amazing, right? No. The fine print in their terms of service was full of obstacles designed to make the refund process as cumbersome as possible.

REALITY - A resume's purpose is to get you an interview, not a job.
Job guarantees are worthless for 2 reasons. First, the hiring process is full of back-end processes like screening resumes, conducting interviews, evaluating a job offer, and negotiating salary, benefits, and start dates. It’s not uncommon for delays to surface. Second, the average job search can take anywhere from 3-6 months. This is a reference point. I’ve had clients who landed interviews and jobs much faster than that. The timeline will vary depending on the position level, job market, job search techniques, etc.

No legitimate resume writer can guarantee you a job. I cannot control the effort you put into the job search process, how you behave during the interview, or if you’re using the resume to apply for jobs that align with your qualifications and the positioning strategy we developed while working together.

I know some resume writers advertise 60-day interview guarantees on their websites. Even though a comprehensive term of service agreement backs it up, I think it’s still disingenuous to offer these guarantees for the above-mentioned reasons.

How does Scientech Resumes compare?

Look for writers that offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

While I do not offer any interview or job guarantees, I take my obligation to make each client’s investment work for them very seriously.

Every client who works with me receives the following benefits:

  • Lifetime email access.

Clients can contact me with ANY questions about the job search process, such as those related to interview preparation, salary negotiation, or LinkedIn networking, or to share news about strategies they’ve been using and results achieved (i.e., interviews, job offers, etc.).

  • Access to bonus resources.

Every resume package includes bonus materials to help you beyond your resume. These materials include guidelines for how to easily customize your resume to a job posting, prepare for interviews, and strategies to build your LinkedIn network (i.e., identify connections, messaging scripts, etc.).

3) Does the company employ experienced resume writers?

Before hiring a resume writing service, it’s important to ensure that the writer(s) are qualified and the right fit for you and your career goals.

Remember, resume mills work on a quantity-over-quality model, meaning their goal is to process as many resumes as possible in a short amount of time.

Since resume quality isn’t a priority, they hire non-credentialed writers that will take your resume, throw in extra buzzwords (not the same as keywords), reformat it, and put together a generic resume that anyone with a similar background could use.

Additionally, resume mills will outsource the writing to foreign countries, mostly overseas, where English is not the primary language. As a result, this can lead to poor grammar, awkward sentence structure, weird adjectives, and other things that reflect a lack of understanding of your field or industry.

REALITY - Legitimate resume writers continually invest in their professional training.
There are a few ways you can assess fit. Many reputable resume writers are multi-certified, specializing in niche areas, have won industry awards, and are affiliated with one or more of the major professional associations, such as the NRWA, CTL, CDI, RWA, or the PARW/CC. Each of these organizations offers professional certification programs and regular training. The NRWA, CTL, and the PARW/CC hold annual conferences covering diverse topics, including resume writing, job search, and recruitment/hiring trends. Finally, you can look on their website for testimonials and other third-party sites for reviews.

How does Scientech Resumes compare?

Certifications and industry awards are not the end-all-be-all, but they can be a good starting point for vetting resume writing services.

I rarely have people ask if I’m certified. No one has ever asked me if I’ve won resume writing awards. That said, I have been published in best-selling books for lifelong career management, including Modernize Your Resume: Get Noticed … Get Hired (3rd Edition), and regularly featured on the NRWA’s Ask the Experts career blog.

Additionally, I have provided expert quotes on career management-related topics and have been interviewed on multiple career podcasts, including The Career Confidante and Resume Storyteller with Virginia Franco.

People that work with me tend to be interested in my previous engineering and science industry background, Master’s in applied chemistry, and niche credentials:

  • Certified Resume Specialist in Engineering & Science (CRS+ES)
  • Certified Resume Specialist in Information Technology (CRS+IT)
  • Certified Resume Specialist in Healthcare & Medical (CRS+HM)
  • Certified Resume Specialist in Accounting & Finance (CRS+AF)

Scientech Resume’s testimonials page is currently being updated, but you can find detailed client reviews on Google and my LinkedIn page.

4) Does the company have a surface-level writing process?

This one is very important. Remember earlier when I mentioned that resume mills are mainly focused on volume?

This red flag will become more apparent during the writing process. These writers don’t directly communicate with the clients because they don’t have time. They are overworked by default, trying to get as many resumes done as fast as possible to earn a living.

Instead, they will frequently ask you to complete a form and create a generic resume based on the information you provide. They won’t personally contact you or spend one-to-one time with you to understand your career goals and background. The revision process will be scant

REALITY - Serious resume writers have a comprehensive information-gathering process.
The resume writing process should be a collaborative partnership between you and your writer. Every service works a little differently. Some writers work by conducting an in-depth phone/video interview, while others may work primarily through email and worksheets. It’s important to consider the time you’re willing to invest in the project. Most importantly, make sure the writer will take the time time to understand your career goals and develop a strategy to help you get there.

How does Scientech Resumes compare?

Scientech Resumes’ services are highly personalized. You work directly with me (Kate Williamson) throughout the entire process.

My information-gathering and writing process is comprehensive, using a combination of a targeted information questionnaire and a 30-minute career discovery meeting that benefits you in the following ways:

  • Time to think through your career path vs. answering off the cuff
  • Capturing and integrating your voice into the documents
  • Sharing more engaging, impact-oriented career stories
  • Providing more complete, detailed background information.
  • Improving your interview storytelling skills

Each project includes a set number of revisions and one-to-one meeting time. Since my information-gathering process is so comprehensive, we rarely have to make extensive revisions to a project. Finally, I pride myself on being accessible to all my clients eligible for lifetime email access.

Learn more about Scientech Resumes STEM resume writing process.

If you’re considering a resume writing service that employs a team of writers, make sure you will be able to speak one-to-one with your assigned writer and be able to access them via email, phone, or video. Additionally, clarify how many revisions and interactions you will get with your writer.

5) Does the company offer a free resume review from a real person?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Resume mills prioritize volume and are built to pump out as many resumes as possible. They use the same approach when luring unsuspecting job seekers to buy their sub-par services.

Resume mills tend to work by an email evaluation, using a template stuffed with canned language that anyone can replicate, although they will claim that they personalize the evaluation to be unique to you.

REALITY - Genuine resume writers will want to speak with you first to assess fit.
Every reputable resume writer I know offers a free consultation/resume review. During this time, they will ask questions about your job search goals, provide you with a few comments on your existing resume, and assess how they can help you. This meeting is a good opportunity to ask them questions and see if the writer’s personality and style fit you.

How does Scientech Resumes compare?

I offer free 20-minute discovery meetings (Book here) where we discuss the following:

  • Your job search goals and challenges
  • Your resume’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Writing process, service options, and investment

Regardless of whether you pursue a project with me, you will leave our session with at least 1-2 new strategies you can use to strengthen your resume positioning.

6) Does the company have poor-quality resumes?

Most resume writing services post samples on their website for viewing. If you’re not well-versed in modern resume writing techniques, it can be hard to differentiate between high- and poor-quality resumes.

Here are some red flags of a poor resume:

  • Highly generalized with no specific details about your background
  • Lacks quantifiable achievements and impact-oriented outcomes
  • Uses a badly formatted template with numerous grammar errors

REALITY - Legitimate writers will either post or email samples of their work.
Don’t be afraid to ask for samples. Samples are a great way to get a sense of the writer’s quality of work. Be suspicious if the service doesn’t want to share any samples. There is no reason why they cannot accommodate your request. If you don’t like the samples, you likely won’t be impressed with the final resume product.

How does Scientech Resumes compare?

Scientech Resumes has a massive library full of hundreds of fictionalized samples for science, engineering, IT, finance/accounting, healthcare/medical, etc. professionals from people across diverse career stages (i.e., new graduates to c-suite).

We are creating a searchable resume sample archive that will be public in May 2023.

7) What does the company’s online presence look like?

A company without a website is enough reason not to do business. While a strong web presence is important to getting found and staying relevant in this modern digital age, don’t make the website your only selection criterion.

Plenty of mediocre resume mills have lured people in with sharp websites, while exceptional resume writers may have more moderate websites. Beware of dated sites that look like they are from the 90s. This may be unfair, but if the website looks dated, there’s a chance their resumes will use outdated techniques too.

Verify if the writer partners with top career blogs, have a widespread social media presence, or has established an industry presence in other ways.

I say “verify” because I have seen numerous instances of resume writers and career coaches who claim to “be featured in ABC publication” or “as seen on XYZ media.” A simple Google search can help verify whether this claim is true or false.

Beware of resume writers, career coaches, or others claiming to be job search experts who suddenly have hundreds of Google reviews or thousands (maybe millions) of social media followers within a short period of time (i.e., 3 years or less).

  • Is the number of reviews fair and reasonable for how long they’ve been in business?
  • How far and how frequently do the reviews date back? Are those reviews substantial?
  • When looking at LinkedIn recommendations, do the reviews reflect actual clients?

REALITY - It's not unusual for clients to NOT publicly disclose they hired a resume writer.
Most of my clients are conducting a confidential job search and don’t spend their time regularly writing reviews on third-party sites of resume writing services. Between Scientech Resumes Google page and my LinkedIn profile, I have over 50 reviews and testimonials. So far, I’ve written over 300 resumes and only started collecting reviews about 5 years ago, which amounts to a little over 14% of my client base, a fair and reasonable number.

How does Scientech Resumes compare?

You can easily learn more about me on my website landing page. I’m always writing articles on the latest resume writing techniques, job search strategies, and recruitment/hiring technologies, which I share on my blog.

You can check out my presence on LinkedIn and Instagram. Additionally, you can find me listed in all of the major resume writing and career coaching organizations, including the NRWA, CTL, CDI, or the PARW/CC.

8) BONUS – Verify if it’s a resume writing or secretarial service.

Some clerical services will type your resume for you at a rate of $100 or more. This option is fine if a typing job is all you need. However, this approach assumes that your resume is already good enough for an interview.

These services won’t do you any favors when it comes to strategically positioning you for your career target(s), handling challenging career situations (employment gap or a transition), or crafting a personal marketing document that reads well for skim readers (i.e., recruiters, frontline HR) and hiring decision-makers.

A Forbes article said that job seekers who hire a professional resume writer are 40% more likely to get noticed by hiring professionals than those who do not. That said, I recommend talking to a few different resume writers to see whose process, personality, and style best resonates with you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Hiring a resume writer is an investment in you.

Scientech Resumes is dedicated to helping science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals find fulfilling work through targeted, branded, and keyword-optimized resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and other career marketing documents. Schedule a FREE 20-minute discovery session to get real-time feedback on your current resume and job search strategy, or connect with me on LinkedIn. Let’s get you where you want to go with greater results!


  1. canadian resume writing service left a comment on 01/22/2019 at 11:44

    Thanks for sharing
    Keep bringing more


  2. Antika Roy left a comment on 09/01/2022 at 13:37

    Really appreciate to guide to hire about a review writter.
    Thank you

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