College Financing and Career Guide 2007
career
Spruce up a resume with professional help

Recent college grads coming to Jan Melnik, another longstanding Master Resume Writer, usually pay about $750 -- Melnik charges $230 per hour -- although she's been known to offer discounts to relatives and good friends of previous customers. The president of Durham, Conn.-based Absolute Advantage tends to spend most of her time familiarizing herself with an individual's background. Her price includes sheets of information on such helpful topics as using the Internet in your job search, salary negotiations and interviewing techniques. "When my clients get the full package, they're prepared to search for a job properly and interview effectively," Melnik says.

How to cut costs

There are ways to keep costs down. You can make it easier on your resume writer by having a wealth of well-organized background material at the ready. That may require a little sit-down-and-think time. "Now what did I accomplish in that summer job? Whom did I report to? What were the dates? What are my career goals?"

It's also possible to find outstanding resume writers who simply charge less. Some may not have a feel for market rates, while others may have a soft spot for younger job seekers. If you're lucky enough to find one of these writers, smile and tell your friends. "There are good deals to be had out there," says Melnik.

Moving downstream pricewise, in a random Google search for resume services we found A and A Resumes, which is offering a $99 deal for a resume edited by three professional writers. The firm provides a job-search guide with its services and says that "if you're not employed within 30 days ... we'll gladly rewrite, reformat or make any changes necessary to improve your results." A and A advertises more than 80 years of combined cover letter and resume-writing experience and more than 13,000 satisfied customers.

The advantageously named Resumes.com charges a scant $39 for its resume-writing package. This is more a do-it-yourself approach. You get step-by-step instructions to produce your resume, examples of good writing, free cover and thank you letters, and e-mail notification when your background matches the criteria in a job ad.

The hybrid approach

Then there's what I'll call a hybrid approach. Use a less-costly cookie-cutter service, add your own flourishes and then send it to a more accomplished resume pro. Many of them offer free or inexpensive consulting services. They'll tell you how you can make improvements.

Of course, then it's up to you to bring what they say to your computer screen.

To see a real resume that has gotten a professional polish, read " Resume: before and after."

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