The best way to get help writing your resume and accompanying materials is to get a referral from someone you know and trust. Employing a resume service is like employing a hair stylist: you’re joining forces with someone who can help show you in the most favorable light. The key is collaboration. If you surrender control to a writer who doesn’t help illustrate your strengths, your resume will reflect only how the writer sees you, not necessarily who you really are.
As a resume writer for more than 20 years, I get most of my business from referrals. I help my clients take part in every step of the transaction. I quiz you about what you like to do, where your strengths are, what you would do for free, and what you wouldn’t do for any amount of money. We analyze your skills and achievements to identify what it is about you that gets you where you want to go. We work together identifying language that is comfortable for you, and will be accessible to potential employers. Your participation in writing and editing will give you familiarity with the material, and confidence in your qualifications. By the time we’ve finished, you will have been through at least two practice interviews. You’ll be able to speak about your resume as if you’d written it yourself, since, in essence, you have.
As far as needing help composing your own resume being a sign that you can’t write: it’s not just about writing. It’s also about selling yourself in a way that will appeal to a reader, and it’s quite hard to evaluate your own qualifications impartially.
When describing yourself in order to land a job interview, offer facts that can be evaluated: accomplishments, track record, what makes you unique. If you were first, fastest, best, brought in the most business or clients or fans, you need to highlight those accomplishments because they will catch your reader’s attention.
Adjectives? Not nearly as effective. Not only are adjectives subjective (everyone can claim to be enthusiastic, but what does that really mean?), they are mostly meaningless filler. Supervising projects or teams, working quickly or efficiently, exhibiting great attention to detail, being a go-getter – everyone can claim these qualities, true or not. Be specific; “I supervised tons of associates” becomes “I supervised teams of up to 549 colleagues.” “I completed a big project really fast” is better as “I finished a projected nine-day project in four days.” “I paint super quick” becomes “I designed and painted 43 billboards in 17 days.”
Adjectives can be helpful when you are aiming for a job you have not held. You may be right out of school with no applicable work experience. You may be reentering the workforce after raising children or spending time in the witness protection program. Or you may be trying to enter a new field, say transitioning from banking to selling sailboats. In these cases the main thing you have to hang your hat on is your adjectives. If you’re right out of school, your study habits, research skills, punctuality and positive attitude are probably the large part of what you have to offer, so offer them. Remember, though: your second resume after entering the work force will reflect your actual experience, so the adjectives, and just about everything else aside from your name and phone number, will most likely be replaced by tangible accomplishments.