Strategies for Kick-Starting Your New Resume Business

This week, I want to take some time to respond to an inquiry from one of our readers:

“… I don’t yet have the confidence or inspiration to think that as a beginner I could offer a considerably more attractive or valuable service than the pros already sharing the pie.”

“How might a beginner without any initial ‘add-on’ services provide attractive value, when even ‘low rates’ cannot compete with the many free services available to students and professionals? Am I underestimating the popularity or need for ‘fee-based’ resume services? Are there certain ‘niches’ other than big ones like students and career-change professionals that a beginner might target as an ‘entry-level’ clientele?”

The answers to this reader’s questions are multifaceted. For example, I live in a large metropolitan area – Miami, Florida. There are several colleges and universities here, and also a fair number of public and private agencies that help people with their resumes. I have many years of experience in writing resumes, but beyond that I am simply one of many hanging out my shingle. And I do not compete on price (i.e. “XYZ Resume Service: The lowest prices in town!”).

So, how is one resume service among many, like mine (and like our reader’s) supposed to differentiate itself? How does our reader, as a fledgling resume writer, compete with the more established or experienced services?

The first piece of advice I can give is also the most crucial: Do not be intimidated by others out there in the market.

The fact is, there is so much need for resume writing and related career services right now that there is room for more quality providers. Also, the more services there are in a particular location, the more likely it is that a good number of them are shoddy, unprofessional, and do not deliver what they promise.

According to Rebecca Smith of, the most effective resumes are those that follow some basic principles. They:

  • State a clear career objective that is in line with the needs of the current job market
  • Include job qualifications stated in clear, measurable ways that show not only the types of problems the client can solve, but specific examples of the type of problems he or she has solved
  • Incorporate formats that are computer-friendly
  • Answer the “who,” “what,” and “so what” within the first 60 seconds of the visual scan
  • Provide a document completely devoid of typographical errors

Believe it or not, many of the resume services you compete with will not follow even one of the above principles. So, first of all, make it your goal to learn as much as you can about how to provide resumes that are of the highest quality, and make sure you deliver that level of quality every single time.

Another thing to consider is how big you want your business to be. Do you want to be a resume “factory” that hires many writers to pound out many resumes a day? Do you want to write a few resumes to supplement your income on a part-time basis? Or are you looking at a business somewhere in between? This decision will also affect how and where you market yourself.

Marketing is a third consideration: What is your marketing budget? Will you have several thousands in start-up money, or will you be building your business with limited marketing and advertising funds? Most of the resume writers I work with are in the latter category, so I will address this group primarily.

I cannot stress this enough: Assuming that you already strictly adhere to the principles of an excellent resume that I listed above, the best way to build your business is through networking. When I relocated back to Miami a few years ago (after living in Europe for three years), I wanted to re-start my resume business in the U.S. I was a true “solo” entrepreneur (no real budget, and certainly no advertising dollars).

The way I built my business was to immediately join a “leads” club. In my case, I joined BNI (Business Network International), although there are several similar clubs in different geographic areas. This type of club generally meets weekly, and once you become a member, no one else who is in your same “category” can join (for example, Resume Writer, Plumber, CPA, Immigration Lawyer, Florist, Real Estate Agent … you get the picture). So, when anyone in the group needs a resume – or knows someone who needs a resume – the referral comes to the group’s “Resume Writer.”

In BNI, the members are not judged by how many referrals they receive, but by how many referrals they give to others – so members are constantly looking for ways to refer business to other members. For the first three years, I received a very nice and steady stream of resumes … then I hit pay dirt: A member joined as a marketing recruiter. She specializes in placing marketing professionals at the director or executive level. She does NOT do their resumes, and when she learned that I do, she asked to see some samples.

I showed her, and she tried me out on a candidate she had been working with for several months. He had excellent experience, but was not getting a foot in the door, even with the recruiter’s help. She thought it was a problem with his resume. So she had me re-do it. With his new resume, the candidate not only got the next interview he was going for, he got the job – at $175,000 plus bonus!

Now this recruiter (who is in demand nationally) tells all candidates who approach her that that she will not work with them unless they have their resumes done … by me! This is an excellent example of how you can find a perfect referral source for your services – if you put yourself out there and network. In today’s job market, there are many opportunities – and one simple meeting can sometimes jump-start your entire business in ways you never imagined.

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Published: June 2, 2006

9 Responses to “Strategies for Kick-Starting Your New Resume Business”

  1. Quite informative and contains valid points worth taking into consideration. Being a beginner, it gives me the encouragement I need to forge ahead. Thanks for the pointers!

    RominaJohnsonApril 30, 2009 at 7:23 pm

  2. I enjoyed this article, as I do all the others! I've been studying the resume writing with a goal of 33-66 minutes/day.
    I work long hours, so I need to have lots of self-discipline, and encouragement to not give up, for I have not yet tested the waters, until I feel confident enough to plunge into this new carreer.
    Any suggestions for my kick start are welcome. Thanks for all these great articles. Sincerely,Doug... your future partner in writing.

    Dougcopy-part-time writer--full-time payJune 13, 2009 at 4:38 pm

  3. I truly enjoyed reading the article. I read and studied the "Resume Writing Program" and have learned quit a lot.I mentioned to a friend who is relocating to my area, that I write resume(s). I am currently updating her resume. In the meantime, she told her daughter what I do and I am scheduled to do hers as well. Her daughter told her friends and they want thier resumes updated as well. This looks promising and I haven't spent one penny on advertising. Wow!!!! Nubies tell people what you do.

    Bob RandolphSeptember 18, 2009 at 5:53 pm

  4. It's great having Julien Sharp being a producer in the resume writing market with hands-on information that produce results. This helps focus on studying and learning the resume writing program with less imtimidation. It's like having a welcome mat to better appreciation getting through the beginning stage and getting comfortable enough to put yourself out there to say "I believe I can achieve this".

    Patricia717February 28, 2010 at 8:51 pm

  5. As a beginer job resume writer,I find extremely enlightening and useful reading the up lifting articles and the comments from variety of people intersted in this program.
    As for me, I'm retired physician & Surgeon anxious to get other skills and keep conected helping people working from home or anywhere.

    Graystone WriterSeptember 12, 2011 at 5:32 pm

  6. Dougcopy - I suggest that you use your resume skills to get a better-paying job with fewer hours. You could then have more time for resume writing as well as being a testamony for yourself.

    ChuckSOctober 22, 2012 at 11:01 pm

  7. I am so excited about finaaly starting my Resume Writing Service. It can be intimidating and scary. I use the resume guide as my bible. My question is do you all think the resume writing service is saturated?, or is the supply far less than the demand?

    Alicia SmartOctober 15, 2013 at 2:07 pm

  8. Thanks Julien for the article. Very encouraging.

    I finished the program a few months ago, but I have not made any money yet. I guess, it's out of fear more than anything.

    I've looked at the 90-day plan. Looked at all the material. Studied them. But I have not followed the well-laid out plan in the books yet. Actually worked on the website but that's about the extend of it.

    This time around, I'm sticking with the instructions- verbatim!

    Thanks again for all the encouragement!

    rhowuniongJanuary 8, 2014 at 7:54 pm

  9. That is awesome advice. I have definitely profited from networking in the past. The benefit of BNI is that you can't help but get leads. My only challenge with suggesting BNI in particular is that there are hefty quarterly/annual fees (in the $500 range, at least here in the Metro Atlanta area). That can be very cost prohibitive for someone with a limited budget. For someone on a budget, you may need to try out free groups, first, generate cash, then reinvest it into a group like BNI.

    Denise ReneeMarch 20, 2014 at 11:25 am

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