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Tanya Mykhaylychenko

Resumé Writing vs. Resumé Editing: What Do Resumé Writers Do?

Illustration of two hands holding a one-page CV or job applicant profile. One hand holds a magnifying glass over the CV.
Illustration of two hands holding a one-page CV or job applicant profile. One hand holds a magnifying glass over the CV.
Copyright: stefanamer

I have worked in the career services industry as a resumé writer since 2014. In social media groups for editors, I sometimes see requests and advertisements for resumé editing services. Let’s review the difference between resumé writing and resumé editing and how you might become a resumé writer.

Neither resumé editing nor resumé writing is a regulated profession, so it’s important to be transparent with your clients about what your services include.

What is the difference between resumé editing and resumé writing?

Resumé editors work on finished resumés. This service assumes that the resumé has been written and approved by the writer and requires no work in terms of career history or target role analysis. Resume editors’ tasks may include all the standard stylistic or copy editing elements: clarity, grammatical correctness, spelling, punctuation, formatting and consistency of style. Resumé editors can work for individual clients (job seekers) or resumé-writing companies, where they would proofread resumés written by professional resumé writers.

Professional resumé writers are career consultants as well as writers. They begin by interviewing a candidate about their desired roles and career direction, as well as any anticipated challenges. Based on their analysis of the target job descriptions, the writer prepares questions for a consultation where they collect data about the client’s achievements and skills related to their current career goals. They then prioritize this information, removing or abbreviating details that are not relevant. Often with a background in recruiting or hiring, resumé writers equip their clients with job search, follow-up and negotiation tools.

One of the reasons this profession developed formally in the 1990s (The Professional Association of Résumé Writers & Career Coaches was founded in 1990 and the National Résumé Writers’ Association in 1997) is that many candidates copy and paste their job duties into a resumé and leave it at that. Hiring professionals, on the other hand, want to see the unique profile of each applicant: specific results, awards and key projects, strategic thinking and how they approach solving problems at work.

While consultations are all about the client’s goals and career history, resumés are written for their target readers — recruiters and hiring managers — based on research about how they read resumés and select candidates. For example, Marie Zimenoff, the CEO of Resume Writing Academy and Career Thought Leaders, discusses eye-tracking research for LinkedIn profiles and resumés.

What can clients expect?

When a client works with a resumé editor, they should expect the focus to remain on fixes to the language on their resumé. It is up to the client to develop a strong job search and networking strategy.

A client who hires a career services professional can expect quality writing on the resumé itself, as well as coaching expertise and personalized career advice on topics such as job search strategy, interviewing, salary negotiations, networking and career planning. A career services professional offers a holistic consultation to help the client move forward with their goals.

What types of resumé writing jobs are there?

Resumé writers can work as independent consultants, freelance writers for a company or both. For example, a company like Talent Inc. sells its services under several resumé brands. Companies like Storeyline Resumes, Briefcase Coach and Work It Daily are individual brands started by one leading consultant.

How do you become a resumé writer?

There are five major organizations that offer resumé writing certification programs (one in Canada and four in the US):

To get a better idea of how a professionally written resumé looks, see CDI’s Toast of the Resume Industry (TORI) Award winners.

If you are an editor with an interest in career services, these organizations can equip you with knowledge to best serve your clients. If you only offer copy editing and proofreading for resumés, be clear with your clients that they may want to work with a career professional if they are not getting enough interviews or are not advancing in their work as they would like to. For more ideas on how to edit a resumé, take a look at my 2021 post for Career Professionals Canada.


Previous post from Tanya Mykhaylychenko: How Editors Can Maximize Referrals

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2 Comments on “Resumé Writing vs. Resumé Editing: What Do Resumé Writers Do?”

  • Anita Jenkins


    In the 1990s, I lost my outdated resume somewhere in my computer (or not in it). As a freelance writer/editor, that didn’t seem to matter. Clients used word of mouth to hire me. I also had a portfolio, put together with some effort, and nobody seemed to want to see that either. Is this still the case for some editors today? Or have times completely changed?

    • Tanya Mykhaylychenko


      For a freelance editor today, a high-quality website is a great marketing and networking tool, as well as their LinkedIn profile (complete and updated). A resume can be used to apply for roles in organizations.

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