Is it ethical to have someone else write my resume?

Posted on Posted in Resumes

Someone recently sent me a link to an opinion piece in the NY Times Magazine in which a few individuals were debating whether it’s OK to hire someone to write your resume. Some of them thought this might misrepresent an applicant’s writing skills to potential employers, while others viewed professional resume writing as simply helping the applicant to produce a quality document – in a sense, a form of outsourcing.


My perspective as a professional resume writer is pretty obvious – I provide an expertise that my clients don’t possess. It’s like writing your own autobiography vs. having a professional author write your biography – the author has the specific knowledge and skills to make the project a success, but the general idea and content remain the same. While most jobs require you to write in a general sense (emails, documents, etc), writing a resume is a completely different skill not typically used in most jobs and therefore is not a skill the employer is evaluating when reviewing your resume. In fact, the skills you do possess may not be clear to the employer due to the formatting and presentation of your resume.


The purpose of a resume is to secure an interview. While my resume writing expertise is likely to improve your chances of being selected for an interview, your potential employer will use interviews to select the best candidate for the job. Behavior-based interviewing, already used by 94% of organizations, are considered an effective method to predict future performance. Once you’ve secured an interview, you must demonstrate the skills required for the position (and listed on your resume) in order to succeed. If writing is a skill required for the position, a writing sample or assessment may be included as part of the interview process.


Ultimately, the decision to hire a professional resume writer is a personal one. If you choose not to have someone else write your resume from scratch, you can still benefit from some professional help. In addition to writing resumes, I also offer revision services – I can take your existing resume and improve upon it to increase your chances of being selected for an interview. When I write cover letters for clients, I ask them a series of questions and reassemble their answers, in their own words, into an effective cover letter. This preserves their voice throughout the letter, presents them accurately to the prospective employer, and teaches them a method for approaching the cover letter writing process in the future.


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