How to Start a Resume Writing Business
Less than a minute. That is the average time a recruiter spends looking at a CV! According to a report by Roane State, an average of 250 applicants will apply for a corporate job opening, 4 – 6 candidates will get through to the interview based on their resume, and one person will get the job.
It’s no surprise then that many job seekers employ the services of a resume writer to make that first great impression and catch a potential employer’s attention.
If you are an organized person, an excellent communicator, have an eye for presentation, and ideally have a background in HR, starting a resume writing business might be a fantastic career move for you.
Resume writers prepare CVs, summaries of qualifications, skills, and experience on behalf of job applicants. They might also develop or extend online profiles on LinkedIn or other relevant networks for their customers.
A resume writer ensures the applicant’s information is presented in a clear and appealing format, with concise wording that is appropriate for the industry and highlights the competence and achievements of the applicant.
You don’t necessarily need a degree to be a resume writer, but having a background in human resources (HR) and/or understanding the requirements and practices of a specific industry will definitely be a plus. You can also add to your credentials by attaining a resume writing certification.
Owning a resume service gives you the freedom and flexibility to work for yourself, develop your brand and services. Plus, being a resume writer can be a hugely rewarding job, especially when that winning resume you prepared was successful and led to a job offer for your client.
A resume writing business is often owner-operated, run from home, or run as a small business. While there are no specific figures available, resume writers are part of the document preparation services industry in the US. According to IBISWorld, almost 127,000 people are working in this industry, with over 83,719 businesses registered.
Although this industry is considered as having low barriers to entry, it is a highly competitive environment. It is also more localized than other industries. This is in large part because resume requirements can differ greatly from one country to another. What is best practice in the USA, for example, might be an absolute no-no in Switzerland.
Unsurprisingly, many resume writing services have sprung up that are solely offered online. Platforms such as Fiverr, Upwork, and Freelancer also provide easy access to CV experts. Especially the advances in online communication platforms have supported this trend.
According to IBISWorld, the document preparation services industry in the US can expect annual growth of 1.2% between now and 2026. That said, the industry has already undergone a decline of 2.2% in the number of businesses in 2021 but achieved an increase in profit margins of 6.2% in the same period.
Your target market will be a job seeker looking to apply for a new job. Your customers might ask for your help getting their resume and/or online profile in order so that it’s ready for future applications. Or, they have already started the recruiting process and need an updated profile urgently.
A job seeker fresh out of college will have different resume points to someone with a proven history of job experience. Different industries have different requirements and recruitment processes as well. Understanding what these are and matching your clients’ information to them will help set your services apart in this competitive environment.
Skills, experience, and education useful in running a Resume Writing business
Excellent communication skills
To run your own resume writing business successfully, you will need strong writing skills; you must write concisely and engagingly. According to a report by Roane State Community College, a whopping 77% of the most common mistakes in CVs are typos and grammatical errors. And such errors likely shift a resume to the bottom of the pile straight away.
Be prepared to work with very nervous clients. You need to be a good listener. Understand your clients’ capabilities and professional history but also their personality, then translate that information into a well-presented resume.
Self-motivation and organizational skills
A positive can-do attitude and discipline are vital to running your resume writing business successfully. You must organize your time well to ensure you meet your clients’ deadlines and can juggle sometimes competing projects and requirements. You might have to deal with quite a few last-minute requests.
Don’t forget to set aside time to look after your business administration, meet with potential clients, work on your marketing and keep on top of invoicing.
Computer skills and competence
Recruiters will often look at the social media presence of potential employees and will look at their LinkedIn or Instagram profile, for example. Having the capability to help build those profiles can be very useful. Optimizing resumes for the web is also essential, as many people post their resumes online.
Stay up to date and on top of trends.
What are major recruitment trends? Are cover letters still a thing? What should a resume look like for applications within the media or design industry? What is the correct language to use for military personnel recruitment or the engineering sector? How can you quantify achievements? What are the pros and cons of a paper versus an online resume?
Stay connected with your networks and your industry. They offer a raft of resources, certification options, and workshops. It will help you stay on top of trends, offer innovative approaches, and deliver high-quality services to your clients.
Checklist for Starting a Resume Writing Business
If you’re thinking about starting a resume writing business, it’s important to do your research first. Here is a checklist to help you get started.
Step 1: Write your Business Plan
You’ve decided to be your boss. You might have discussed your ideas with family and friends, perhaps even with a business mentor. The next step should be to write a business plan. You might think a plan is not that important because starting a resume writing business doesn’t require a large sum of capital upfront. But the business plan will make you focus on some critical aspects of your business, such as who your customers are, how you plan to reach them, projecting income and expenses, and much more. It is also vital to research and understand your competition and find your point of difference.
Multiple studies have shown that a business plan helps increase the odds of starting a successful business and sustain it longer-term. And having a detailed business plan is a must, should you need a loan from the bank.
Related: How to write a business plan
Step 2: Name the Business
Finding the perfect name for your resume writing business can be challenging. Not only does the name have to resonate with your customers, but it also has to be available to use.
Step 3: Form a Business Entity
A business entity refers to how a business is legally organized to operate. There are four primary business entities to choose from, which include the sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC). Each type of entity has its own pros and cons, such as liability exposure, costs, and administrative requirements.
When deciding on which business entity is best for a resume writing business, it normally comes down to the sole proprietorship and Limited Liability Company.
A partnership opens the owners up to unnecessary personal liability because if a partner does something to get the business sued, or runs off with cash from the business, the other partners are personally liable to repay. The corporation can be a good choice because it separates the business assets from the owner’s assets. If the corporation is sued or certain business debts can’t be paid back, the owners aren’t personally responsible to repay them. The downside to the corporation is that it is more complicated than all the other entities and requires more administration than the LLC. If you plan on raising a lot of investment though, the corporation is usually the better choice.
That leaves the sole proprietorship and LLC.
The sole proprietorship is the least expensive and easiest entity to start which is appealing. The downside is the owner is personally liable should anything happen to the business, which is an important consideration. The LLC offers the ability to operate as a sole proprietorship with the liability protection of a corporation. Depending on the state, the cost to form an LLC runs from $40 – $500, which is pretty inexpensive for protecting the owners from business-related lawsuits and certain debts.
Related: 3 steps to forming your LLC
Forming an LLC sounds complicated and expensive, but using an entity formation service guides you through the process so you know it was done right.
Some popular LLC formation services include:
IncFile - $0 plus state fees & free registered agent for 1 year!
IncAuthority - $0 plus state fees & free registered agent the first year!
ZenBusiness - $49 plus state fees & free registered agent for 1 year!
Step 4: Select your Location
Many resume writing businesses are owner-operated and run from home and online. However, consider the advantage to open an office as a point of contact. This can certainly be a bonus for an initial consultation with your customers. Having a centrally located office is also likely to attract walk-in traffic.
If you decide to offer your services from home, ensure you can rely on a quiet place to work, with the potential to lock confidential business information safely. Make sure you understand the regulations – if any – for running your business from home; it might differ from state to state and town to town.
Step 5: Apply for Business Licenses and Permits
While there is no license specifically for a resume writing business, there may be general business licenses to register for. Some of the more common ones include a local business license and Employer Identification Number (EIN).
In addition to business licensing, there is certification to help build the credibility of a new resume writing service. One is the Certified Professional Resume Writer certification through the Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches.
Step 6: Open a Business Bank Account
Keeping your business and personal finances in separate bank accounts is important to track the income and expenses of your business and identify trends.
Many banks offer free business checking accounts, so be sure to find a cost-effective option for your business.
Step 7: Get your Marketing Plan in Place
To run a successful resume writing business, you will need to set aside a budget to cover an initial campaign and ongoing marketing costs. Common marketing techniques for resume services include a website presence, social media pages on Facebook and LinkedIn, and online advertising.
In addition, look out for expos, events with professional organizations, or university career days. Focus on recent graduates in your area to advertise your business and extend your reach to new customers. Marketing costs will depend on the activity performed and its volume.
New resume writing businesses without any customer testimonials to showcase can consider creating sample resumes to show potential clients.
Step 8: Get Business Insurance
Compared to other businesses, a web design business will not need an extensive range of insurance. But you should explore:
– Professional liability insurance helps cover any damages owed if your professional services or advice result in a financial loss for your clients.
– Worker’s compensation insurance is often required if you have employees and covers expenses like medical bills and legal fees that a business might face if an employee were ever hurt while working.
Insurance policies will vary in cost depending on factors like the business’s location, the value of its inventory (if any), and the number of employees on staff (if any). To get the most accurate idea of what to budget for insurance, request quotes from multiple providers. When comparing the quotes, consider not only the premiums but also how the plan exclusions, coverage limitations, and deductibles compare.
Step 9: Hire Employees
Many resume writing businesses are owner-operated, but hiring additional staff will allow you to expand the range of industry-specific expertise you offer and the volume of work you can manage. According to PayScale, the average hourly rate for resume writers in the US is $24.00. Salaries will vary though from state to state and will also depend on the experience and expertise of the writer.
In addition to salary costs, make sure to include other employee-related expenses in your budget. For example, workman’s comp insurance, unemployment insurance, and paid time off are common expenses that a business will need to cover when hiring staff. It will also be useful to set aside both time and budget for training and development.
Related: Hiring your first employee
Step 10: Set up an Accounting System
Setting up an accounting system for a resume writing business is critical to its long-term success. A good system will allow you to stay on top of your billing and track income and expenses. It will help you maximize profits, identify trends, and keep the business out of trouble with the government.
The thought of accounting can be intimidating for a lot of new entrepreneurs. There are a number of ways of handling bookkeeping, from DIY to hiring a bookkeeper. These include:
- Pen and paper - Low expense, but difficult to track.
- Spreadsheet - Low expense, but easy to make errors.
- Accounting software - Medium expense, but owner typically inputs expenses. Some great accounting software programs include Freshbooks or Wave Accounting.
- Hire a bookkeeper - Higher expense, though very affordable at $100-$200 per month in most cases. A dedicated bookkeeper will probably save money because, in addition to handling all of the bookkeeping (so you can focus on the business), they also provide personalized tax advice and ensure the business is in compliance.
Find bookkeepers in your local area or use a service like 800Accountant.
How much does it cost to start a resume writing business?
Starting your own resume writing business has low barriers to entry, according to IBISWorld. Your main cost will be investing in time and a marketing effort to develop your business profile and build up a customer base.
As you work with clients, you can develop a professional portfolio that can be used to show potential customers the quality of your work.
An excellent way to test the waters is to put your profile on platforms such as Upwork™ or Freelancer and get started with smaller projects to build up experience and a customer base.
Most resume writing businesses operate out of their house, but if you decide to open up a brick and mortar office, location, square footage, and amenities will determine the costs.
When working out your budget, ensure that you have enough capital to cover costs for the first three months of business operation.
And lastly, invest in working with an up-to-date laptop or desktop computer, word processing programs, professional spell check programs, and team and video conferencing tools. Finally, if you don’t already have one, set yourself up with a powerful computer, potentially multiple monitors, and an excellent internet connection.
How profitable is a resume writing business?
There is a lot of competition for resume writing services. Not only does it provide the flexibility of full-time or part-time work on the side, but it can also be a high-paying business.
Considering that your original outlay and especially your ongoing business costs are relatively low, owning a resume writing business can be a relatively safe and scaleable investment. For example, ZipRecruiter reports a top-freelance resume writer can make up to $77,000 a year.
In addition, to resume writing, you can offer career coaching, practice job interviews, and help with your client’s job search as well.
That said, your income will have to cover your overheads such as computer services, program updates, and indeed the time you invest into the business. Many resume writing businesses do not charge per hour but per resume. And that can be anything from $100 to several hundred dollars, depending on the services offered.
Are there grants to start a resume writing business?
It’s extremely rare to find a grant to start a resume writing service business. If you search for business grants, you will come across a lot of scams and misinformation. Occasionally an organization will offer grants to start a business, however, be skeptical and don’t provide any sensitive personal information or pay money to get more information.
Legitimate federal grants can be found at Grants.gov and you can check on your state’s economic development office to see if they have any grants available.
What is the NAICS code for a resume writing business?
The NAICS code for a resume writing business is 561410, which is classified as Document Preparation Services. Related businesses in this NAICS code include; desktop publishing, proofreading services, transcription services, and others.
The NAICS code (North American Industry Classification System) is a federal system to classify different types of businesses for the collection and reporting of statistical data.