Writing résumés for others is a good job for anyone with writing and editing skills. It can help make ends meet, or even be an extremely lucrative in some locations. And you as a résumé writer for others could earn from $35 to $150 and up for one professional résumé.
My own 2009 Sell Yourself On Paper With A Competitive Résumé-Cover-Letter Combination: The Ultimate Guide To Getting A Job! is the only book on résumé writing you’ll need for your business. The original version was actually written for other professional résumé writers rather than consumers. It was converted for consumers, but the advice in it is still perfect for the would-be résumé writing professional. Everything I learned about writing professional résumés is in the book. (The only thing missing is some business set up advice which you’ll find info about below.) You will be able to give the advice in this book to your customers just as I did.
What I did was simply explain to each client that came into the back hallway of my house I used for an office, the philosophy of what makes the best job finding attitude. I used the same questionnaire included in the book to obtain client information. Once I had the information on the form I interviewed them, with the principles described in the book in mind, to find out how to best sell them and their skills. I then, using the information I’d gathered on the form and from my interview, put together a résumé based on the principals of selling a job applicant as described in the book. It only took a few hours and I was usually able to present the finished résumé to my client the next day. On the day the client came back I would go over the résumé and cover letter I wrote with the client. I would ask the client to check spelling and his personal information to make sure it was correct. If corrections were needed I would make them, otherwise I would present them with the résumé and a bill which was paid on then and there.
Computers and Printers When I started there were no computers and easy corrections. I did a master copy on a typewriter and if there were corrections to be made I had to redo the résumé and have the client come back. Now, you could easily make corrections on your computer and have a corrected copy in a manner of minutes. I have two computers I use now. I use my Acer Aspire One AOD250-1706 10.1-Inch Red Netbook - 7.5 Hour Battery Life for most of my writing (and it is great on the internet) and my Apple iMac MB420LL/A 24-Inch Desktop for internet and movie making. The cost of the acer is low enough that most of you can at least afford that. It’s a great computer. For handing résumés and bills to clients it’s best to have a laser printer. Monochrome laser printers like Lexmark E120N Monochrome Laser Printer are not much more expensive than comparable ink-jet printers. And the quality is usually much more consistent and impressive. Since the computer and printer are your main investments this means that you can usually set up a résumé business in your home for as little as $500.
CHECK OUT LOCAL REGULATIONS To get started you need to check out local regulations. Your chamber of commerce might be of help. Your bank may also be of some help. (You don’t need to join the chamber of commerce until you are well underway in your business.) The things to find out are:
1) Do you need a business license in your state or community? a. When I started in Wisconsin I had a sales tax number. b. I didn’t use a business sign so didn’t need a business license. This was also true in Montana where I didn’t need to collect sales tax. c. If you only work online you may not need a license. d. When I worked in Montana there was a minimum income level before a license was needed. Check! 2) Do you need to collect sales tax? 3) Do you need to post a fictitious name notice. In many places if you use a name other than your real name you need to make public this intention. 4) Do you need a business bank account at your bank? If you have checks made out to your name rather than a business name you may not need a commercial account.
An excellent book on setting up your own business is Start Your Own Business. You won’t need everything in the book. Business plans are helpful but if you have your computer and printer you won’t be needing it for a bank loan. In fact, your main concerns will be the sales tax and business license requirements mentioned above.
HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU CHARGE The next question is how much should you charge. If there are other résumé providers in your community find out how much they charge. If you do have competition you can make your prices competitive, but that is not always productive. You might find it more lucrative to charge the same as your competition. What you need to do is charge enough to make a profit after your expenses. If you work out of your home these can be minimal. But don’t charge too little. I would suggest $35 for a one page résumé is a minimum with at least $15 a page for additional pages.
ADVERTISING Back when I started newspaper ads were the only option. Nowadays there are online venues like Craig’s list and Google. I still like newspapers for local clientele. I would suggest you try both Craig’s list and newspaper ads. And if there are places around town, like grocery store bulletin boards you can try those too. And do ask potential clients who call how they heard about you. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Marketing Basics
WHEN THE CLIENT ARRIVES AT YOUR DOOR When a client arrives you will have to interview them. The questionnaire at the back of the book will be helpful but you’ll have to get much of the information by asking questions. If you need help on interviewing try reading Interviewing Clients across Cultures: A Practitioner's Guide. I was actually in a journalism major in college when I started writing résumés. So I knew a bit about interviewing. The book mentioned above is not journalism oriented. If you are also interested in being a non-fiction writer and want to learn more about interviewing for magazines I recommend The Craft of Interviewing.
Basically interviews for resume writing are fairly simply. Your job is to find out what skills and talents your client has to offer a prospective employer. But before you do that make sure you explain your fees and schedule to the client if you haven’t already done so when the client first called. Always tell the client that your fee is due in full when the résumé is delivered. I, personally, wouldn’t extend credit to clients to say let them pay after they get jobs. Usually, people who are out of work end up with a lot more important bills to catch up on than yours. You might end up waiting a long time. If you have trouble picturing yourself interviewing clients or want to be able to give interview advice to clients check out 5 Steps To Professional Presence: How to Project Confidence, Competence, and Credibility at Work.
GIVE YOUR CLIENT A GUARANTEE I told every client that if their résumé did not get them a job I would do it over. I never had to. But it is a good idea to give every client that guarantee when they call.
DRESS FOR SUCCESS? When I started writing résumés I did not have a large wardrobe. If you are in a big city and plan on renting an office instead of operating out of your home, how you dress might be important. New Women's Dress for SuccessJohn T. Molloy's New Dress for Success But I actually wrote an article about a home résumé business which was published by THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS in one of their publications and in it I see I was wearing Oshkosh-by-Gosh bib overalls as I interviewed a client. What you need to wear will depend on where you are and what your client’s expectations are. I did résumés for everyone from factory workers to corporate executives and never had to dress up.
AND JUST DO IT I started my business, many years ago, with nothing but my typewriter and an ad in the paper. Today you'll need a computer and printer but it can be almost as simple. Check out your local regulations and just place an ad. Writing résumés was both profitable and rewarding for me. It was profitable because I made much needed money. And it was rewarding because every so often a very happy client would contact me to tell me about the terrific job I helped them get.