Want to impress employers? Your resume must achieve three critical goals.

Thanks to companies' growing reliance on recruiting technology to find and screen candidates, writing an effective resume has become more nuanced than ever. Now, job seekers have to worry about crafting a resume that will get past these hiring bots and entice recruiters once it (hopefully) reaches their hands.

For years, professional resume writers, like myself, have touted the benefits of a professionally written resume. I've watched countless clients confidently use their new professional resumes to land interviews and secure jobs quickly after months of going at it on their own. However, this information has been mostly anecdotal — until now.

Recently, TopResume commissioned an independent, two-part study to understand just how a professionally written resume impacts the hiring process. Do recruiters perceive these candidates differently than those with your average, DIY resume? Are these job seekers more likely to receive better results?

The short answer is: yes. The data revealed that investing in a professionally written resume will not only help you find a job faster, but it will also make you a more valuable candidate in the eyes of employers.

In fact, the study found that recruiters valued candidates with professionally written resumes to be worth 7% more than when assessed using their self-written (DIY) versions. And, candidates with professionally written resumes were more likely to secure interviews, land a new job sooner, and advance their career faster. You can read the full results of the study here.

But the question still remains: What is so special about professionally written resumes? And why do recruiters favor them over DIY resumes?

How a professionally written resume differs from a DIY resume

While your average job seeker, with enough care and attention, can avoid many of the most common resume mistakes that plague today's job applications and drive recruiters crazy (e.g. spelling and grammatical errors, missing or incorrect contact information, inappropriate email address, etc.), most DIY resumes fall short when they attempt to achieve three critical goals: present a compelling career narrative, balance visual elements, and illustrate a candidate's value. But why exactly are these goals important to job-search success? Let me explain.  

Presenting a compelling career narrative

According to David Gaspin, recruiting expert and SVP of Human Resources for the wellness real estate and technology firm Delos, “A really strong resume tells the right story. It is relevant to the job and is able to create a narrative about why this person is qualified for the job.”  

Your resume is a marketing document — one that should be crafted with two things in mind: your job goals and your target audience (i.e. recruiters and hiring managers). All the information that your resume presents, from your professional summary to the details of your work history, should be curated to highlight your qualifications. A professional resume writer can create a powerful narrative that will make you stand out from the competition and impress recruiters.

Why this matters: Recruiters don't care about every task you've ever been responsible for or are capable of handling. They only want to know why you're the right fit for the job opening they're filling right now.

Striking a visual balance

When asked to rate how “polished” they considered each candidate's resume to be, recruiters in the study were twice as likely to rate a professionally written resume as highly polished. But what exactly does it mean to have a “polished” resume?

Angela Romano Kuo, Head of People for curly hair brand DevaCurl, defines it as being “clean, consistent, and easy to understand … [a polished resume] clearly articulates what you do, what you want to do, and, essentially, tells your story.” In other words, a “polished” resume does a good job of balancing the visual elements within your document so readers can quickly scan it and understand your career narrative. Resumes with overly elaborate formats, lots of color, and fancy design elements may seem like a good idea, but they're actually considered a turn-off to most employers. The last thing a resume should do is force employers to hunt for the information they care most about.

Why this matters: When it comes to resumes, if content is king, then design is queen. How the information is formatted on a resume is just as important as the information itself. Recruiters want to see a visually appealing, yet uncomplicated, resume design that strikes the right balance between content and white space. If your resume is not easy to read, it's very easy for employers to simply move on to the next application.

Highlighting the candidate's value

When recruiters in the study were asked to rate how well each resume they reviewed demonstrates and/or quantifies the candidate's ability to deliver results, the professionally written resumes received higher scores than the DIY versions — 57 percent vs. 35 percent.

In addition, these recruiters perceived candidates with professionally written resumes to be worth 7% more than other candidates, on average.

Why this matters: Recruiters will gauge your potential based on how you performed and what you were able to accomplish in your previous positions. The more effectively you are able to quantify your work, the easier it is for recruiters to grasp your value. When your resume fails to illustrate your achievements and contributions, recruiters may assume you are a “doer” rather than an “achiever.”

Anyone can state that they have a certain skill; however, the candidates who show proof of their skills are the ones that will catch an employer's attention. Dave Barner, President of boutique staffing firm Barndog Staffing, confirms this: “I'm always looking for resumes that are results-focused … the ones that seek to quantify and monetize their achievements are always the best.”

A trained resume writer knows how to not only state a candidate's qualifications, but to provide evidence of these abilities to maximize a candidate's perceived value to an employer.

Most of us don't think twice about hiring a professional to handle our taxes, yet when it comes to something as important as our earning potential, too many of us try to write our own resume — and our careers suffer for it.

If you want to land a job faster and maximize your future paycheck, hire an expert to write it for you.

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