How a professional CV writer works

Some people have dealt with a professional CV writer before but many haven’t. I thought it would be good to shed some light on the process and the expected outcomes. Feel free to ask any questions if you wish to know more.

It’s all about the consultation

No-one should be charging you money for writing your CV if they can’t add significant value in comparison to what you could do yourself. How can they do this? Well, finding out all about your specific career and what you have uniquely contributed to it is the first step. These are the raw materials that the CV writer works with. So naturally, the consultation during which this detail is gathered is of huge importance. Spending the right amount of time and asking the right questions are the key variables.

Can this be done instead by an email exchange or a basic form? I wouldn’t have thought so.

We can’t just take what you have already and polish it up

Of course, some may try this. I personally have never taken any candidate’s existing CV as a starting point. This may sound counter-intuitive, but really it makes sense. The whole point is to find the absolute optimal way of communicating your value to your next employer at this specific point in your ongoing career. That’s why I liken the CV writing process to a marketing strategy rather than a mere campaign. It’s more sophisticated.

Whilst candidates’ CVs are of varying quality – some are of course good – it’s never a bad idea to go back to the drawing board and decide what the objectives are and what evidence you have to inform your value proposition. Of course what sounded impressive when you were moving on from your first ever job may not be your best material 10 years later.

What else are most existing CVs full of? Template stuff. You can read my thoughts elsewhere on CV templates.

Objectivity is very useful

Your friends and family will probably tell you that your existing CV is great. Apart from the obvious bias, they can also read between the lines because they know you. For a recruiter though, the CV is often all they have to go on. The expertise to get your entire message across in one go is not something that necessarily comes naturally. It is worth having if you can get it.

I’ve even had cases where recruitment consultants have told candidates that their CV is ‘fine’. The thing for me though is that your CV shouldn’t be ‘fine’. It should be outstanding, compelling and full of value!

It takes time to get right

For me, if less than a day is spent on the job then it absolutely cannot be done right. It’s just an opinion, but I’ve written hundreds of these and there is no way I could do the job faster. So, consider what a potential CV writer is charging you and think whether or not this represents a day’s pay plus overheads? If not then they are likely to be spending less time on it.

I also don’t think it can be turned around in a day or two. There is a lot of value in coming back to a document with a fresh mind and really crafting the result bit by bit. So it’s a day’s work spread over seven days for me.

There may be times when you need a CV by tomorrow, and  that can’t be helped, but to really get a CV that will deliver you long term value; there is no substitute for a bit of time.

One other comment about price – what is a permanent pay rise worth to you?

It is still your CV

Expertise is great but your CV has to be personal to you and you have to be able to go to the interview and back up everything that is on the CV. This comes back to the partnership approach and the importance of the consultation. No-one knows your background better than you.

The job of a CV writer is to ask intelligent questions, draw the information from you and take the time to understand you so that they can represent you in an authentic way.  It should have something of your style about it.

This is why I can write CVs for two people who do very similar jobs but the result can look very different.

See more about Why use a professional CV writer


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CV Writer and Interview Coach. Blogging about ways to improve your CV writing and job searching experience.