Why Be a Subcontract Resume Writer in the First Place?
Let’s be honest. Being a contract resume writer isn’t always lucrative.
But, subbed projects …
… give new resume writers experience.
… help fill the “financial valleys” all business owners experience from time to time.
… give the opportunity to learn the inner workings of another’s resume business. For example, you learn about handling client projects, resume questionnaires, and resume drafts.
One of the biggest challenges to being a sub is the pay.
Subcontract resume writers can get shafted.
For example, a recent interview with a resume writer with TopResume revealed she gets paid an astonishing $25 for writing a resume.
Yup, only $25! Can you imagine?
Client intake and communications in tandem with resume writing and draft review can collectively take up to 10 hours.
This shameful rate of pay isn’t the norm.
Most contract resume writers get
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For example, a project that retails for $395 would net the resume writer $79 (20%) to $158 (40%).
If you’re doing the math in your head, the 20% to 40% pay model at that rate isn’t great either.
4 Questions to Answer BEFORE You Become a Contract Writer
When taking on a contract role, there are some key factors to consider. For example:
- Will you have client contact, or will the resume firm handle that for you?
- Will you write the resume? Or, will you handle all job-search collateral (e.g. resume, cover letter, LinkedIn)?
- Will you be responsible for tweaking the resume drafts you produce?
- What support will you get for problem clients or difficult client projects?
Sometimes, contract resume writers deal with problem clients with little to no help. Problem resume clients have unrealistic resume expectations and ask for non-stop resume tweaks.
Both these situations can drain resume writers.
This can be frustrating — even more so as the writer watches their pay rate get spread over more and more time.
This is when contract resume writers make less per hour than a McDonald’s worker.
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So, I have a few suggestions on how to go about getting a fair wage as a subcontract resume writer.
3 Strategies To Get Higher Per-Project Rates From Subcontract Projects
First, stay away from high-volume, low-fee resume writing firms. Some of the most common resume mills are those linked to large job boards.
There are stand-alone resume mills too.
Do a quick Google search for “resume writer” or “resume service.”
Take a look at the paid advertisers.
Chances are, you should stay away from those folks.
Large resume mills are easy to spot because they do a high-volume business and charge a modest fee ($279 or so).
Most jobseekers don’t have a clue of how little some writers actually make.
To avoid resume mills, work for smaller resume writing firms. Shoot for those who collect higher per-client fees ($500 to $1200) and keep 1-4 contract writers on staff.
Smaller resume businesses are more often focused on project quality over quantity IMHO.
This is contrary to what you see with larger resume companies. In these cases, financial priorities take a backseat to project and service quality. Not a good combination.
There is one major trade-off. When working for smaller resume writing firms, project volumes can fluctuate.
You may want to subcontract for more than one resume writing business.
Second, take a deep look at the quality of your writing. Ask fellow resume writers to critique your work and give honest feedback only.
Please don’t take this the wrong way, as I don’t mean anything MEAN about it.
We all could use some sprucing to our writing skills. Me included.
My point is simply this: with the faster resume writing model, resumes are generally lighter and include content that could be considered more generic and universal.
The goal anyone in our industry should adopt is to be the best the industry has to offer and give clients a reason to use our services AGAIN, and AGAIN, and AGAIN.
Make it impossible for them to go anywhere else.
When resume writers are great at their craft, they are in demand.
When in demand, they can command higher pay — it’s that simple.
Research the resumes of the top resume writers in our industry to get a feel for what they are doing — versus what you are not.
Learn everything you can about what makes a great resume.
Critique colleague’s content to learn how they are “fleshing out resumes” differently than you are.
Of course, the object is not to mirror what other resume writers are doing, but simply to gain inspiration for finding your own path for writing great resumes.
Be cautious not to fall prey to the latest trends that might not seem feasible.
For example, I read about Jeanne Hwang using Pinterest to get her resume and cover letter into the hands of hiring managers.
Because she’s targeting employment at … you guessed it, Pinterest.
But, the effectiveness of such a strategy for other companies is still to be seen within an already over-burdened hiring environment.
Third, become an award-winning resume writer.
For example, there are many NRWA ROAR award winners (with links to PDF resumes) worth checking out.
That didn’t pan out for us, but a great recommendation none the less.
So, getting yourself more positive recognition and attention from those in our industry isn’t a bad idea when trying to secure higher per-project fees as well.
Of course, there are two additional options that you could consider, which could allow you to break away from taking on subbed projects altogether.
The most obvious, build your business and secure your own clients.
There’s nothing better than having the power to select only those clients you are willing and able to help — and set your own fee structure.
If you secure $85 for a resume and cover letter as a sub, you’d be in better shape securing $300 to $400 for a similar project that you closed through your own business.
Another option is to create and leverage a referral system.
What you might not have considered is that some resume writers have referral systems in place, meaning that when they have no room for yet another new client, they refer that prospect to a colleague to close and work with.
So, instead of you being a subcontractor you are a referral partner. This way, you secure the retail fee and pay out the typical 15% referral fee to the referring writer.
Getting a higher rate for your resume writing talents will take some effort on your part, no doubt. But, well worth that effort when trying to raise your yearly revenues — even a little bit.