Friday, December 11, 2009

Pros and Cons of using a professional resume writer

I've seen many physician resumes and I've noticed many common elements among all these resumes. Here are 3 common elements:
  • First, physicians generally tend to list their positions. Who needs to provide a description if your position was: "private practice family physician" for 10 years? People in the medical community automatically understand what that means. As a result, physicians rarely provide descriptive examples that illustrate what they accomplished during their clinical careers.
  • Next, physicians often do not know what to emphasize when they are transitioning into a non-clinical career since most physicians lack industry work experience. They may wish to highlight that they are effective at communication, but how to you say that on your CV? "Effective communicator?" How about "Strong communication skills?" These phrases are too vague.
  • Finally, many physicians are simply not effective when they are writing about their skills, talents, and capabilities that are relevant for specific non-clinical careers. They may be extremely intelligent and eloquent speakers, but their writing skills often need improvement when it comes to their resumes.
I've clearly made some gross generalizations here, but I think you get the idea. So, should they work with a professional resume writer?

Here are some of the Pros and Cons of using a professional resume writing service (this is not meant to be exhaustive):

  • Organization and format. A professional resume writer may help them improve the organization and the format of the resume.
  • Effective communication. A professional can help them effectively communicate skills and capabilities in writing.
  • Content. A professional can help you focus on relevant content and filter out content that may not be relevant.
  • Efficiency. A professional will probably save you time since they are more efficient. If you're too busy to rewrite your CV, then maybe you should pay someone to do it for you.
However, here are the Cons:
  • Cost. A professional resume writer can be very expensive. On, you can expect to pay around $700 for professional resume writing services if you enroll in their premium UpLadder services (which runs around $15-30/month). Other professional resume writers may charge $500 to over $1,000 for their services.
  • Limited experience with physician career changers. A professional may not be experienced working with physicians who are changing careers. They may be great for physicians who are looking for other types of medical jobs, but the minute you switch gears into the non-clinical world, it's a totally different game when you're working with career changers.
  • Uncertainty about the return on your investment. The term "professional" can mean different things when you're a resume writer. How will you be able to judge the effectiveness of the professional you hire? After all, they won't be providing any type of guarantee that you'll get a job if you use their services.
  • A single perspective. A single writer will give you a single perspective and you may end up focusing on the wrong elements if you rely on a single writer.
Resume writing is an art, and I've found that some of the most effective ways of revising a resume is to receive some coaching from HR (human resources) professionals who evaluate resumes on a routine basis. If you don't have the communications skills to rewrite your CV, then you should definitely get some professional help. Otherwise, you may wish to invest your time to get some personalized career coaching so that you can focus on finding the right types of non-clinical job opportunities that best fit your career goals. A mentor could really help you tailor your CV for each non-clinical opportunity that you wish to pursue.

If you've had positive or negative experiences working with a professional resume writer (or writing service), then I'd welcome your comments on this topic.

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