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The Complete Guide to Getting a Résumé Writing Certification

Updated: May 8

A woman working on her résumé writing certification

Working as a résumé writer can be a fulfilling and creative job where you help clients uncover more opportunities in their careers.

Not all résumé writers get certified, and the question we’ll cover in this article is if it’s worth doing so.

We’ll go over the reasons it might be worth getting certified, if résumé writing could be a good career choice for you, and we’ll give you our top choice for a résumé writing certification program.

What is a Résumé Writer?

A résumé writer is a professional who helps clients write or improve their résumés to help them get jobs. The client will tell the writer about their job history, skillset, and education. Then, after studying the job description and researching industry norms, the writer turns the client’s experience into a clear, impressive, and properly stylized document to help them get an interview.

A résumé is an applicant’s first impression. And many job seekers don’t know what makes a résumé compelling and attention-grabbing or how to tailor a résumé to a position. So, working as a résumé writer can greatly boost clients' chances of getting an interview.

It can also be a meaningful job because you get to support folks in their career advancement and help them uncover opportunities they may not have otherwise had.

Some résumé writers only provide clients with résumé support. Others also help write cover letters and LinkedIn profiles. And others work as full-fledged career coaches and help clients with interview prep, networking, and clarifying career direction.

Is It Worth Getting Certified as a Résumé Writer?

If you want to work as a résumé writer, then the short answer is yes, it is a good idea to get certified.

Not all résumé writers choose to get certified. And you can certainly be good at résumé writing and make this career work without it. However, spending the extra time and money on a certification course will give you three main benefits: credibility, skill development, and networking.

Getting certified will increase your credibility

Credibility refers to how qualified, trustworthy, and skilled your potential clients perceive you to be. Having a credible reputation is one of the best marketing tactics you can employ.

And there are a lot of ways to gain credibility. You might have worked in HR for years and seen thousands of résumés, you might have glowing testimonials on your website, or perhaps you simply have a confident and persuasive presence.

One surefire way to gain credibility is to get trained. Studies suggest that we trust doctors more when they wear white lab coats. Why? Because the formality of a lab coat means “I’m a professional,” and signals authority and credibility. It’s the same reason lawyers hang their degrees on their office walls.

The same is true of certifications. If a potential client knows you’ve been certified with a reputable organization, then this is your lab coat. It signals that you are a professional and will help clients feel reassured and trust your expertise more. 

Getting certified will enhance your skill set

Another great reason to get certified as a résumé writer is to build your skill set.

A résumé is ultimately a marketing document, and crafting one is a skill. While self-study can get you far, to become excellent at any skill it helps to learn in a structured format, get feedback from a teacher, and practice with other learners.

Training in this type of format can fill in your blindspots, make sure you have all the fundamentals covered, and take you to the next level. It can help you write résumés that portray your clients as the all-star that the employer has been looking for. 

Completing résumé writing training will likely give you greater confidence that you are setting your clients up for success.

Getting certified (in a cohort-based program) will expand your network

Not all certification courses will introduce you to other people, but if you can find a cohort-based training, this can be a boon for your professional network.

You’ll meet other ambitious colleagues and teachers who share a similar career path to you, some of whom may even refer you clients down the road.

How Do You Get Certified in Résumé Writing?

To get certified in résumé writing, you’ll need to pick and enroll in a program. Most programs require you to pass assignments or a final exam.

There are many types of certifications for résumé writing. But don’t let all the options confuse you; as long as the organization administering the training is reputable, then you can’t go wrong.

One solid option is the Senior Professional Résumé Writing Certification. It’s widely applicable to most types of clients and would benefit both entry-level and more experienced résumé writers.

What Type of Person Would Be a Good Fit to Become a Résumé Writer?

If you are not yet a professional résumé writer but are considering the possibility, here are some clues that it could be a good career path for you.

  • You want to help others succeed.  Effective résumé writing ultimately comes down to empowering others to create more career opportunities for themselves. If you like the idea of helping someone achieve their goals, this could be a good fit.

  • You excel at distilling complex information. As a résumé writer, you are turning a complex and multifaceted person into a piece of paper. Can you find key threads and locate the signal amidst the noise?

  • You thrive on variety. One day, you might be crafting a résumé for a corporate lawyer switching to government law, and the next day it might be a non-profit coordinator making a career advancement. The skillset is consistent, but each client will be different. And while some résumé writers stick to a single niche, they’ll still work with clients from a variety of backgrounds.

  • You enjoy research. Because of the variety of clients, you’ll need to get used to researching different industries and roles. A doctor’s résumé and a graphic designer’s should look very different.

  • You stay up-to-date on job market trends. The best résumé writers continuously research evolving hiring practices, in-demand skills, and how different industries change. If you have a natural curiosity about the job search process, this could be a great fit.

  • You like writing. While career coaches help people through meaningful conversations, résumé writers help people through writing. Many people weave both skill sets into a single career, but to be a good résumé writer, you have to enjoy working by yourself and with words.

What education or work experience is required to be a résumé writer?

While there is no formal education required, a bachelor's degree will be helpful to work as a résumé writer, as this can signal some level of credibility to corporate clients. And at the very least, proficiency with writing and editing is a must.

You don't necessarily need extensive work experience to become a successful professional résumé writer. It is possible to break into this field with just certification training and a natural talent for writing compelling résumés.

That said, the more career experience and success you’ve had, the better. First-hand experience with the hiring process will give you more empathy and knowledge. If you have figured out what it takes to get hired for multiple roles throughout your career, then you can use that knowledge to help others.

And while it’s not necessary, if you’ve worked as a recruiter, hiring manager, or in HR, those experiences will give you a huge advantage.

Which Résumé Writing Certification Program Should You Pick?

There are dozens of programs out there. Though one choice you might be interested in is the Senior Professional Résumé Writer Certification from the International Association of Career Coaches (IACC). 

This course is based on a video curriculum with seven lessons. The course covers:

  • How to gather client information for their résumé

  • The components of a high impact résumé

  • Résumé designs and templates (and which to use for different industries)

  • The purpose of each résumé section

  • Writing job description paragraphs

  • Writing eye-catching achievements

  • How to increase efficiency as a résumé writer

  • Writing engaging cover letters

In addition to the video lessons, there are weekly calls with a cohort of other trainees. This is a great opportunity to build your network, and learn from others.

Lastly, you’ll get live feedback from the résumé writing staff to help sharpen your skills.

Most graduates can comfortably complete this course in 8-9 weeks.

Taking a training like this can take your résumé writing skills from good to great. As one graduate from the program wrote, 

Before working through the Senior Professional Résumé Writer course, I thought the résumés I had written were pretty good. Well, “pretty good” doesn’t land you at the top of the pile on an employer’s desk! By the time I received my SPRW certification, I had already seen my clients’ interview and hiring rates skyrocket, and I felt so blessed to have been able to help them land incredible jobs.

If you feel on the fence, you can book a free 30-minute consultation with Cara Heilmann, president of the IACC. Just find a time in this calendar.

Whether you choose to get certified through this program, a different one, or none at all, best of luck in your career journey helping others get jobs.

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