How to Start a Resume Writing Business

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Quick Reference

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.

Business Overview

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.

Industry Summary

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.

Industry Trends

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.

Target Market

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.

 

Costs to Starting 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.

Work hard to create a professional portfolio and engage with potential customers. 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 how, but if you decide to open up a brick and mortar office, location, square footage, and amenities available 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.

Steps to Starting a Resume Writing Business

 

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
Free sample business plans 

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.

Related:  How to do a Trademark Search Before Choosing a Business Name

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 pros and cons, such as liability exposure, costs, and administrative requirements. Even if you decide to start on your own as a freelancer, make sure you understand all requirements.

Related: Comparison of Business Entities

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.

Costs will depend on the office’s square footage, location, and amenities. The closer your space is to the CBD or a high-traffic area, the higher the costs will likely be.

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.

Related: Choosing a business location

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.

Related: Common business licenses, permits, and registrations by state 

Step 6: Open a Business Bank Account

Keeping your business and personal finances in separate business banking and credit card accounts is vital and makes good business sense. It will also make it easier to track the income and expenses of your business and identify trends.

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.

Related: Low-cost ideas to market a new business

Step 8: Get Insurance

Compared to other businesses, a web design business will not need an extensive range of insurances. 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.
  • If applicable, worker’s compensation insurance 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.

Related: Common types of insurance a business may need.

Step 9: Hiring 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.

Related: Setting up accounting for your business

How much can you potentially make owning a resume writing 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-ranking resume writer can make up to $77,000 a year.

In addition, to resume writing, you can offer career coaching, practice job interviews, and helping 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.

 

Things to consider before starting a resume writing business

The resume writing industry is a highly competitive environment. Any specialized knowledge you can offer as well as excellent people skills will be a plus. Even though you don’t need a qualification to become a resume writer, consider getting an industry certification. Also, remember that running your own resume writing services means you will be responsible for all business decisions, for managing your business accounts, and for your staff if applicable.

On the other hand, owning your business 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 CV you prepared was successful and led to a job offer for your client.

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.

Resources:
Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches
National Resume Writers Association

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