Let’s be honest. Being a contract resume writer isn’t always lucrative.
Beyond the pay gap, however, being a contract resume writer does offer some ideal advantages.
The advantages of contracting projects are they…
… provide writing experience, which is optimal for start-up resume writers.
… help fill the “financial valleys” that new and seasoned resume writers experience from time to time.
… give you the opportunity to learn the inner workings (e.g., best practices for handling client projects) of another’s resume business.
The potential for low pay is a big downside.
Subcontract resume writers sometimes get shafted IMHO.
An interview I had with a resume writer who wrote for TopResume revealed to me that she got paid a mere $25 for writing a resume.
Yup, only $25! Can you imagine?
Think about how that amount spreads as the full scope of projects is realized. For example, pre- and post-sale client communications, project intake, writing, and draft review can take a minimum of 5 hours. In this scenario, the resume writer makes $5 an hour.
And, this if everything goes smoothly.
So, paying writers such a small stipend for such a labor-intensive process is shameful. Thankfully, that amount isn’t the norm in our industry so don’t let me scare you away from taking contract writing roles.
Most contract resume writers get 20% to 40% of the retail purchase price.
For example, a resume project that sells retail for $500 would net the contracted writer $100 at 20% and $200 at 40%.
Still not great, but better than the $25, right?
It’s worth noting that some resume writing firms pay their writers much more handsomely. I’ll tell you where to find those later in this article.
There are questions you’ll want to be answered BEFORE accepting any contract writing position because the amount of time you spend with clients will impact your rates.
For example, will you have client contact, or will the resume firm handle that for you?
Will you write the resume only? Or, will you handle the whole package (e.g. resume, cover letter, LinkedIn)?
Be sure to ask about the payout for each.
Will you be responsible for tweaking the resume drafts that you write?
This might seem an odd question, however, there are companies that use admin or editorial staff to handle final project tasks and closeouts.
What support will you get for problem clients or difficult client projects?
Sometimes, contract resume writers face unforeseen complications and get little to no help from the company.
You’ll want to ensure the company you work for stands by you when dealing with clients who have unrealistic resume expectations, ask for non-stop resume tweaks, and so on.
So, I have a few suggestions on how to get a fair to above-average rate as a subcontract resume writer.
First, stay away from high-volume, low-fee resume writing firms.
Common resume mills are oftentimes linked to large job boards, yet there are stand-alone resume mills too.
How do you find them?
Start by doing a quick search for “resume writer” or “resume service” in Google.
Assess those listed at the top of the results, which are paid advertisers.
Chances are, most of those businesses are large resume mills that handle high-volumes of resume clients and charge modest retail fees (e.g., $200 to $300). Visit each site to verify their fee structures to confirm.
Most job seekers who hire these large resume mills are clueless as to how little the resume writer gets for doing all (most of) the work.
To avoid resume mills, write for resume writers who have established brands and are known for collecting higher per-client fees, such as $800 to $1200.
These resume businesses are most often focused on project quality instead of quantity. This is contrary to what you see with high-volume resume mills whose financial priorities take a front seat to project and service quality.
There is one major trade-off.
Project volumes for contract work can fluctuate.
Therefore, you may want to subcontract for more than one resume writing business, depending upon your ideal workload.
Second, take a deep look at the quality of your resume writing because this can have a direct impact on how much you make.
Start by asking fellow experienced resume writers to critique your writing and give honest feedback. Don’t be insulted by what you’re told about your writing.
Remember, this is a necessary step to help you grow and be a better resume writer.
If you truly want to make a good living by resume writing, your goal should be the best in the industry and give clients a reason to use your services AGAIN, and AGAIN, and AGAIN.
[FOR RESUMEBIZ MEMBERS: How to Get a Subcontracting Job Writing Resumes contains a list of resume writers to approach for potential contract writing opportunities. If you’re not a member, you’ll be taken to the JOIN page to view the benefits of joining.]
When resume writers are great at their craft, they are in demand.
When in demand, they can command higher rates — it’s that simple.
Another way to elevate your writing skills is to examine the resumes written by the top resume writers in our industry. By doing this, you can get a feel for what they are doing versus what you are not.
Take classes and become your harshest critic to further push yourself to elevate your skills.
Learn everything you can about what makes a great resume.
Third, become an award-winning resume writer.
For example, there are many NRWA ROAR award winners (with links to PDF resumes) worth checking out.
Getting yourself more positive recognition and attention from those in our industry isn’t a bad idea when trying to secure higher contract rates as well.
Sure, awards can help you get much higher contract rates; however, awards are also a segue to building your own business.
There’s nothing better than having the power to select only those clients you are willing and able to help — and set your own rates.
The rates you’ll get through your own business will be far sweeter than anything you can get as a contract resume writer.
Getting a higher rate for your resume writing talents will take effort on your part, no doubt. But, well worth that effort when trying to raise your yearly revenues.