Writing resumes to help people land a job or transition into a new career is an in-demand writing service that many freelance writers offer. The high unemployment rate and competition for new jobs are making resume writing more popular than other common services like writing SEO copy or ghostwriting how-to articles. Even though a typical resume is no longer than 300 words in length, it is not easy work. Even if you were to use a common resume writing software for layout and to find common catch-phrases to use, you still need acute research and communication skills to produce a professional resume—not a cookie-cutter resume, or a one-size-fits-all resume.
About this type of freelance work
As its name suggests, your main job is to produce professional resumes for your clients. They will rely on you to present their job qualifications, areas of expertise, and experience in the best way possible—using catchy words
and a design that grabs attention and appeals to the person who is in charge of hiring. You may need to use terms specific to the job or industry that your client is planning to apply, and you may need to format a resume in a variety of ways (e.g., PDFs). Many clients want both a traditional resume and an SEO-friendly resume to post on the Internet. Besides traditional writing skills, you should also know how to optimize copy for the web.
Benefits of pursuing this career
Writing a resume may not require a lot of writing (compared to writing an informative how-to article), but you will spend more time researching the client’s background and the job market as well as phrasing sentences that persuade and inform the hiring manager. The first dozen or so resumes that you write for clients do take a while to write. It’s a myth that a competent resume writer can whip out a new resume every 30 minutes or so. You may spend a day on just crafting one resume for a client, making sure you have included all of the specifics that go into a winning resume. After a while you develop the skill-set to organize and write a resume quickly and professionally. You will also become an expert on knowing which types of phrases work best to showcase qualifications and work experience in a resume.
Why is this type of career in demand right now?
The high unemployment rate and stagnate economy has caused many unemployed individuals to revamp their resumes before they search for new jobs. Many individuals do not have experience in writing a resume. They would rather hire an expert freelance writer to do this work for them—and to do it right the first time.
What type of person would love this career?
Writing resumes for individuals offers you the opportunity to help them land a job, in addition to earning money from your writing skills. Resume writing is more engaging and client-facing because you will need to work one-on-one with the client. Rather than a client hiring you to produce a bunch of repetitive articles for a website, a client hires you to focus on one piece of writing and to make it the best piece of work that you have ever produced.
Disadvantages/obstacles in this career
Writing resumes and cover letters are becoming a more skilled profession. You may need to become certified so that you can pitch yourself as a “Certified Professional Resume Writer” to compete with other writers. You also must be comfortable interviewing your client via the phone, Skype or e-mail to compile the right information for his resume. It is also common that a client will ask for many revisions after completing his resume. You should do the necessary revisions without charge.
Before you begin to offer resume writing services, you should be able to pass the requirements set forth by the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches. You may also need to think like an HR or a hiring manager. You should know how to use the most appropriate phrases and jargon in a specific type of resume. In fact, it might be better if you can specialize in a particular market or niche.
Breaking into this career
Begin with yourself. Try to create your own resume and sell yourself to potential clients. You can also research different sample resumes, as well as revamp and revise resumes of friends and family members. You can also search for HR groups that routinely hire aspiring resume writers.
Who usually hires in this field?
• HR groups
• New graduates
• Individuals who are looking for new jobs
• Business executives
• Laid-off individuals
What is the average pay rate / salary?
Rates in this niche vary widely based on the complexity of the resume and the industry. Writing a standard resume for somebody who wants to land a job at a retail store might pay between $50 and $75 per resume. A resume to land an executive job at a Fortune 500 company might pay between $200 and $300 per resume. In a year, it’s possible to earn around $58,000 just for writing resumes. In addition to writing resumes, you can also offer ancillary services like writing cover letters, proofreading, and job research.
How and where to find jobs/clients
Finding resume writing jobs shouldn’t be an issue since you can find open positions on nearly all popular job sites. You can register with Elance.com or Freelancer.com, create a profile, and start applying to such jobs. You can also search for recruitment agencies that hire freelance resume writers. You can find such agencies on LinkedIn.com.
Deciding how to charge for editing can be difficult. Here are some of the issues involved.
Occasionally, I am asked to edit something. When I first started out as a freelancer, I took editing jobs because I had to. Now, though, I try to avoid editing jobs. Because it’s not something I’m overly fond of. But, if I really like you, I can be induced to edit something for you.
One of the reasons I don’t like taking editing jobs is because it’s such a pain to figure out how to charge. Anytime you have to set rates as a freelancer, it requires thought. However, it just seems like setting rates for editing is much more fraught with difficulty. When you write, it’s easy to say, “This is how much I charge for a blog post. This is how much I charge for creating a press release. This is what web content will cost you.”
Editing is a different animal altogether. But, as you consider your rates, here are some things to keep in mind:
What Type of Editing Are You Doing?
The first task is to identify what type of editing you are doing. Different types of editing come with different challenges and difficulties. Some types of editing are more involved than others. There are three main types of editing:
- Proofreading: This is the easiest type of editing. Proofreading is about getting rid of the cosmetic errors. It is usually the last step in the writing/editing process. It’s not meant to be comprehensive; when you are proofreading, you shouldn’t be re-working text, or re-arranging content. Proofreading is about doing a last run-through to catch surface problems with the content.
- Copy editing: Copy editing is about improving style, formatting, and accuracy. Copy editing is about making sure there aren’t inconsistencies, and that the style flows well — in addition to being grammatically correct. There are different levels of copy editing: light, medium, and heavy. Light copy editing might consist of double-checking accuracy and taking care of most grammatical issues. Medium copy editing includes heavier lifting, such as correcting flow and re-working some of the text. With heavy copy editing, the editor might re-structure some paragraphs, or heavily correct style, flow, and grammar.
- Content editing: When you are involved in content editing, the work is much more intensive. You might need to add things that were left out, or re-write sections of content. This takes copy editing to the next level, and can include some level of content creation along with making corrections.
Your first job is to figure out which type of editing will be done. The harder the work, the more you should charge.
Hourly? Or Per-Page?
Once you figure out what type of work you will be doing, you need to figure out how you will charge. If you charge hourly, often the difficulty takes care of itself. After all, the more intense your efforts, the longer it will take, and the more the job will pay. A beginning editor can expect to charge right around $20 an hour. However, an experienced content editor can charge more, as much as $50 to $85 an hour. Even as a proofreader, after you have established yourself, you can charge $25 – $35 an hour.
Another option is to charge by the page. (It’s possible to charge by the word, but that can get tricky in some cases, especially if you have to add quite a bit.) Many editors like to charge by the page. When charging by the page, the type of editing matters. According to The Writer’s Market, the average for proofreading is $3 per page, for copy editing $4 per page, and for content editing you can expect to charge around $7.50 per page.
I have charged both hourly, and per-page, and don’t really have a preference. When I’m going through and editing old posts that a blogger might have, I often charge by the hour. When I have a manuscript, though, I usually charge by the page. In the end, though, it’s about how much experience you have, and how much work you are putting in.
Image source: The Land via Wikimedia Commons