What does it take to be a professional resume writer?

My question is, are creative and professional writing skills sufficient, or do you absolutely have to have a human resources background? I am contemplating moving to a college town and am looking for a business activity to get into. I have always been told my writing skills are good and that I can write good resumes. If I try go start a business activity writing resumes for University students

  1. Will my writing skills be in demand, or do students write all their own resumes on their own PCs these days?

  2. Is there some legal or professional requirement you must meet to call yourself a resume writer?

  3. Can you get into trouble doing this?

Do any dopers out there have any thoughts on this?

Everyone I know writes their own resumes. Furthermore, my school has a career services office that is more than happy to go over them and suggest changes umpteen times. If your target market has something like that available to them, I’d guess you’ll see little business.

I supported myself as a resume writer for about 10 years when my children were small. I had worked for a short time for a resume writing company that was a complete and total rip off operation and believe me - any jerk can claim to be a resume writer - no law against that. But I did learn how to interview people and how to organize a resume. When I was fired for not selling the $300 super special 3-page, parchment printed specials (hand-typed and pre-computer) I went into business for myself.

The main value I offered my clients was in ferreting out their skills and experience. You’d be amazed at how people devalue their accomplishments and wouldn’t ever think to include all kinds of things that employers value. You have to have a knack for psychology and be prepared to really talk to your clients. Most of my initial interviews took an hour to an hour and a half. You also need to really educate yourself about marketing your clients if you care about the end product.

Many college students are going to be cocky and think they can handle it themselves. They are computer savvy and there’s lots of information available that we didn’t have when I was doing it 15 years ago, but I think there’s still a client base, especially for foreign-born students. Also, many people know they aren’t writers and are intimidated by the process. Your client base should also include housewives who have been out of the job market for a while, older workers, and people who are transitioning. I had enormous success in writing effective “job-winning” resumes (to quote the scam artists) and I found the work very rewarding.

I never thought in a million years I’d have the opportunity to spout off about this - Thanks!

Clearly I have no idea what I’m talking about. Thanks for fighting some ignorance here, violet9.

I wrote dozens of resumes during my final year or two of college, simply on word of mouth. At that time, about seven years ago (computers pretty widespread, internet becoming mainstream), the ends of the bell curve were doing their own resumes, and everyone else desperately wanted help. If the same situation exists today, you should have no trouble finding customers.

The necessary skills include interviewing, as violet9 points out, and teasing out relevant skills and experience. To do this, you have to know what employers are looking for. I bought a cheap paperback called “What employers really want” for insight.

Other skills include computer proficiency, obviously, and good writing ability, obviously. Some psychology would be helpful, as you seek to help clients satisfy the needs of potential employers, and some marketing acumen is crucial. You are marketing your clients. Read that last sentence again, for emphasis.

When they say, “I’m a waitress,” you have to hear, “I am a high-energy customer service representative in a fast-paced and demanding environment.” When they say their objective is to “make a lot of money,” you have to hear, “Motivated go-getter seeks career-oriented position with challenges as well as rewards.” Or whatever.

If you can write and format a resume, you’ll get some customers. If you can produce documents that match clients’ abilities with employer needs, you should be quite busy.