One of the questions I hear quite often is, "why would anyone pay for a resume?". The answer to which -- at least in my opinion -- is quite simple. You wouldn't invest in an expensive new car after receiving a cluttered, hard-to-read advertisement would you? No. You would feel that the marketer hadn't quite finished the job.
Hiring picture from Shutterstock
And essentially, that's exactly what's happening when a hiring manager receives your resume. You're the car, and your resume is your advertisement. You need to sell yourself!
Consider this scenario. You're a busy recruitment agent, charged with placing a technical team lead. You almost dread placing the ad on Seek, knowing that the minute you do you're going to be inundated with hundreds of responses, many of which will not be suitable. Once the applications start to roll in, you engage your junior recruitment coordinator to assist with sifting through the pile.
Now as a candidate, you're really not privy to this side of the process and probably have little-to-no idea that your application is being assessed by a surly 19 year old, who's likely more interested in shopping at lunchtime than effectively appraising your skill set.
You have about five to 10 seconds in which to grab the attention of said surly recruitment coordinator. If the document you've presented is poorly formatted, too long, crammed with tables, crazy fonts, technical acronyms and so on, you're probably not going to get a look-in. It's not always the case (certainly not for more specialist roles) but generally speaking this could be considered a fairly typical scenario.
This is why paying a professional can be beneficial. Broadly speaking, resume writers and editors are typically ex (or current) HR, recruitment or resourcing professionals with extensive experience and understanding of the candidate lifecycle process. A decent one (and not all of them are) will be able to succinctly enhance the experience you wish to portray, and craft it in such a way that is appealing and appropriate for the target audience. They may even point out skills or achievements you didn't know you had! Sometimes when preparing your own profile (and this definitely happens to me) it's difficult to be objective, and also to cover everything important without going on and on for pages and pages.
Another benefit to a professionally-written resume is of course, formatting. Wonderful, wonderful formatting. I'd say almost everyone believes it's their experience or education which secures them that all-important interview, but in my experience it's always been a nice, clean-but-stylish layout firstly, accompanied by the relevant experience which gets you through the door. If something is difficult to read, it won't get read.
A quality resume service provider will have a good understanding of current industry standards with regard to the length, style and structure of a stand-out CV, and will apply the necessary formatting to increase the visual-appeal and streamline the flow of information throughout your profile.
Now, this is not to say that everyone should race out and start throwing money around -- if you're a half decent writer with good spelling and grammar then you should do just fine on your own. Find yourself a nice template and get started. Don't waffle on. Don't use Times New Roman. Easy.
On the flipside, if your spelling is atrocious and you haven't a clue about formatting then yes, I'd say off you go to get yourself a professional resume. It's your foot in the door after all, is it not? Think of it as an investment.
To quote Eminem (not something you should do on a resume): "you only get one shot". An odd reference perhaps, but think about it. At any moment you could stumble across your dream job and know without doubt that you're perfect for it, but without the perfect resume to represent you, will you get your shot to prove it face-to-face?
Peta Brady is the co-founder and director of Word Birds. Having recently made the move from the corporate sector into freelancing, Peta is a certified professional proofreader and editor and aspiring novelist living in Melbourne Australia, with big dreams to move to New York. Check out Word Birds on Facebook and Twitter.