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Within today’s highly competitive job market, few senior-level executives seeking new positions write their own executive resumes or execute a multi-faceted job search without professional assistance.  While this may not have been the case 20 years ago, much of the change has been facilitated by the rapid growth and availability of marketing companies and professional consultants who are experts on virtually every facet of job changing.  There are considerable differences in the services offered by these consulting companies, although most employ names such as the following:

  • Career counselors or advisors
  • Executive job couunselors
  • Executive resume writers
  • Resume writers
  • Employment consultants
  • Career or executive marketers
  • Career or employment psychologists
  • Career advancement consultants

These firms operate under so many different labels that it can be confusing to even those people in the job-search and employment industry.  However, in terms of their primary operations, all of these firms may be categorized within three distinctly different classifications that include:

1.  Counselors (career counselors, executive job counselors, career psychologists, etc.)  –  These firms typically seek to resolve questions such as:  Am I in the right field?  Would I function best in a small or large organization?  What occupation should I pursue?  How do I go about achieving my personal goals?  Am I achieving the satisfaction I need from my job?  What is it I really want to do?  Good counselors can often help to bring these types of questions into perspective, and can also be a valuable resource in helping people review their situations before they seek new jobs.  The old cliché – the grass is always greener – has a certain significance when it comes to the way many people view management positions.

Most of the larger career counseling firms tend to focus much of their time and effort on people who are at an emotional low point in their career.  These are often people who are depressed over a missed promotion or the loss of a job, and the prospect of impending failure is something which sends them scurrying for advice.  Others may seek counseling because they don’t feel successful enough in their present positions, but have a fear of changing jobs.  In larger corporations, managers and executives can easily have their careers blocked and it is often difficult to achieve future success without making a change.

While providing a valuable service, one of the main complaints lodged against career counseling firms is based on the fact that clients, after spending thousands of dollars with the expectation that they were going to receive a marketing service, were simply provided with counseling advice.  In other cases, some career counseling firms have been accused of utilizing “hard closing salesmen” who have deliberately misled prospective clients.  Read your contract well and always be aware of sales reps who insist you come into their office before they will disclose their exact services and associated fees.

2.  Executive marketing consultants and executive resume writing services  –  Executive marketing consultants and executive resume writing services stand in sharp contrast to career counselors.  While many career counselors have added resume writing assistance to their career counseling program, most executive marketing consultants and executive resume writing services do not get involved in psychological testing, philosophical issues, or long-term counseling processes.

The concept of executive marketing consultants may be traced back more than half a century when their focus was on the marketing of professional athletes.  Over time, these firms learned how to adopt the same philosophies and techniques that they used to manage the careers of professiIn more recent years, new companies referred to as executive resume writing services stepped into the huge market and initially focused on writing high-impact executive resumes. 

As time passed, however, the scope of their services broadened, so that today there is little difference in the services offered by the largest executive marketing consultants and the top executive resume writing services.  In essence, the two terms are basically interchangeable.In order to meet the varied needs of their clients, almost all executive marketing consultants and executive resume writing services offer a number of ‘modularized’ services.  This approach allows clients to purchase only the areas most needed, without involvement in a lengthy and costly program.  At the heart of any such program, of course, stands the executive resume writing process which forms the foundation upon which all job-search success is based.

Other career marketing services provided by the better firms frequently include:

  • Creation of individualized marketing campaigns, including research and personalized executive job search planning services.

  • Positioning and image development utilizing such documents as cover letters, thank-you letters, leadership profiles, executive resume letters, executive branding statements, achievement summaries, personal biographies, reference dossiers and salary histories.

  • Executive resume (paper) mailing campaigns targeted directly to employers, as well as electronic executive resume distribution to executive recruiters and venture capitalists.

  • Administrative management of complete executive job-search campaigns.

  • Reference checks (to avoid unexpected replies during routine employer inquiries).

  • Interview preparation and salary negotiation coaching.

  • Design of web-page resumes, strategic Internet posting and Internet job searches.

Regardless of the services selected, the emphasis is always placed on helping the client develop a competitive advantage against the vast number of other job seekers all vying for the same type of position.  Both executive marketing consultants and executive resume writing services advocate a very disciplined and aggressive approach to job hunting, as supported by precise attention to planning, high-impact written materials, and follow-up.

Even if you have been recommended to a reputable firm that is a known commodity, it would still be a good idea to initially retain the company for assistance in developing your written materials (executive resume and cover letters).  This will give you some insight as to what the firm can do with your background, and the high-impact executive resume they will produce is always a wise – and tax deductible – investment.

3.  Independent resume writers  –  Based on the wide-spread success of larger executive marketing consulting firms and executive resume writing services, tens of thousands of small resume writing firms seemed to pop up almost overnight.  These are typically one-person operations that pump out low-priced resumes for students, blue collar workers, non-exempt employees, and go-getters within the junior-management ranks.

While a certain portion of these operations attempt to promote themselves as executive resume writing services, only a very small percentage of these independent resume writing firms are actually qualified to address the more demanding needs of middle or senior-level management.  However, if you are in the early stages of your career, a small resume writing service can be extremely helpful.  Just make sure you consider their resume writing skills, and do not lose sight of the fact that not all resumes are created equally.

Selecting an Executive Resume Writing Service
Executive resume writing services are not for everyone.  Typically, they would be of primary interest to those seeking major responsibility and financial increases, people making complete career transitions, and senior C-level executives who do not have the time to manage their own campaigns.  If you feel an executive resume writing service would provide you with an advantage, evaluate their abilities with care.  Like any other type of business, there can be considerable differences in the quality and impact of the products they produce.

While there are some talented and knowledgeable executive marketing professionals who have helped large numbers of job seekers market themselves into vastly superior positions, there are also a number of moderately-priced executive resume writing services ($350 to $600 per resume) that utilize “super salespeople” who excel at closing the sale.  Many of these resume mills will then subcontract your project to an independent resume writer who may only produce marginal results.

In the absence of a personal recommendation from a friend or business associate, consider the following points when evaluating an executive resume writing service:

  • How long has the service been in business?  A firm that has survived and prospered over an extended period of time will tend to be more savvy than a newer business.  This is due to the simple fact that the older service will have worked with a wider variety of client backgrounds and will have overcome a broader scope of marketing challenges

  • Is the firm’s web site well written and do they provide good contact information (address, telephone number, e-mail address, etc.)?

  • Does the person with whom you are speaking seem knowledgeable in the area of executive career marketing?  Also, is the person more interested in your background and job objective, or is he/she attempting to do a hard sales close?

  • Does the firm provide examples of the types of executive resumes they write?

  • Is the firm a member of an organization such as the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches?  While membership does not guarantee top-notch results, members are pledged to adhere to the highest standards of professional and ethical behavior.

  • Will your executive resume be written in-house, or will it be subcontracted to an outside independent resume writer?  Just be careful of terminology such as, “your executive resume will be assigned to one of our associates.”

  • What is the salary level of an average client?  If most of the firm’s clients earn under $100,000 a year, they probably would not be a good choice for an executive seeking $150,000 to $1,000,000 annually.

As you evaluate potential executive resume writing services, do not lose sight of the fact that a written contract always takes precedence over any oral promises that may have been made.  If you have been guaranteed interviews or job offers, make sure this information is incorporated into your agreement.  A good contract will clearly specify the exact services to be provided, all corresponding fees, the firm’s cancellation policy, terms of payments, and any guarantees that may be associated with your project.

As a final note, never let the executive marketing consultant’s or executive resume writing service’s fee be the deciding factor in determining which firm you select.  The best executive resumes and related career-marketing services are not cheap.  However, if you make the right choice it will always represent a wise investment.  Further, you may be assured that you will recuperate your fee many times over when you land a top-paying position offering the type of opportunity that is essential to your future success.

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