The importance of association partnerships for resume writers including tips and strategies to discern the legitimacy, competency and quality of executive resume writing firms
When looking to hire a top executive resume writing firm or solo practitioner executive resume writer, you may be wondering how imperative it is that the firm be involved in an industry association. This article explores the different resume writing industry associations, how they help and support their members (resume writers), and, why involvement in associations is so critical to vetting a firm’s credibility.
The cornerstone of this important topic is that the career services industry is unregulated. Because the career services industry lacks both regulatory compliance measures and licenses in order to be a practitioner, association membership(s) become a very important indicator of a resume writing firm’s quality and industry reputation.
Reviews and review boards do not replace this credibility. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to self-appoint ‘great’ reviews through overseas contractors – especially on B-tier review boards. In the same manner, bad ‘fake’ reviews can be written about competitors with relative ease and has become a recent problem for reputable resume writers. Consistent ‘glowing’ reviews over a period of weeks or months, systematically generated every other day or every few days, can be an indicator that said reviews are being procured through unscrupulous methods. Be prepared to use a wider set of indicators than online reviews when working to discern an executive resume writing firm’s overall credibility.
Most career-related associations have guidelines that professionals must agree to uphold in order to obtain membership (among these are good business practices like ethical and honest consumer marketing). The standards established to extend membership are therefore a solid indication that the executive resume writer or firm is committed to following criteria or guidelines in concert with accepted ethical business dealings and industry best practices.
Furthermore, most career-related associations offer opportunities for executive resume writers or firm representatives to serve on boards and committees, attend informative conferences, obtain advanced certifications in a niche or market (C-level executive resumes or military transition resume writers), and submit their work for award contests and recognition where a panel of their peers judges their level of competency.
This provides exceptional opportunities for the executive resume writing firm or solo practitioner to learn, grow, advance and network with other industry leaders and career-services professionals.
In an ever-evolving market such as executive resume writing, staying current on best practices and market trends is crucial. I have made sure that my writing team and I are not only members of multiple associations, but also certified and actively involved in them. In addition, many of us are multi-award winners for our executive resumes (more detail on this below).
This is an investment of time, effort and money, but I consider it a wise investment for any writer or firm wanting to truly reach and stay at the top of their game. More specifically, we participate out of a commitment to our clients and our quality standards; to stay current on industry standards and market trends; to uphold our thought leadership in the industry; and to give back to our professional community by sharing knowledge, ideas and information that enhance our entire niche. This is why, if you call multiple practitioners, you may begin to get the feeling that we do not see each other as competition but rather as admired and respected colleagues. This is one of the many positive aspects of the resume writing and career coaching industry.
As you search for an executive resume writing firm, you may have stumbled upon a top-10 list in a niche, geography or industry. Here are a couple of points to consider when seeking to discern the validity of these lists:
- Who wrote the list? The author should be clearly stated on the article. Did the author appoint him or herself or someone related to his or her company as #1 on the list or anywhere in the ranking? If so, then the list you are reading is primarily marketing material for said company or person. Reputable third-party reviews or top-100 lists like FORBES do NOT self-appoint their team as winners and can therefore offer you a higher level of objectivity.
- What authority do top-10 list authors have for producing the ranking? Are they a professional journalist, industry veteran, book author, retired partner from a top retained executive recruiting firm such as Kornferry or past or present association director? If not, what is their objective for compiling the list and with what authority and criteria have they established their ranking?
- How long has the author been in the careers industry? Are they a reputable thought leader and industry expert?
- What credentials, awards or recognition does the author have? Are the awards or recognitions self-appointed or did he or she earn them through a recognized third party or industry association?
The takeaway: discerning fact from marketing hyperbole or sometimes straight up deceitful marketing practices and/or scams (I wrote about that here) takes a little digging but it can be done. The good news is associations can help you filter information to establish who and what companies are truly committed to their industry, their clients and best practices.
Resume Writer / Executive Writing Firm Checklist
When you are vetting resume writers, here are some things to look for that establish credibility….*
- Years in the industry:
- Price point (the best writers and firms usually command a premium):
- Association memberships:
- Association certifications:
- Association awards:
- Association board member:
- Association committee member:
- Price transparency (listed on website?):
- Resume samples on their site (that you like):
- Training in graphics or marketing:
- Professional training in your industry or niche:
- Major media mentions:
- Keynote speaker/speaking engagements:
- Book author/publisher:
- Careers expert for (LinkedIn/podcasts/career related entity):
*Nothing 100% ensures a perfect partnership in any service industry, but these general guidelines can increase your chances of success.
Now for a quick look at the primary resume writing associations:
- Career Thought Leaders (CTL): A think tank of careers industry leaders learning and collaborating to advance and promote the careers industry. Offers membership and certification. CTL is home to many of the top executive resume writers and career coaches in the world.
- Career Directors International (CDI): A membership-based organization for resume writers, career coaches, recruiters and HR related professionals. Often considered the gold standard in the industry, CDI offers, membership, conferences, multiple resume writing and coaching certifications and is home to the famous TORI awards, held by the majority of the top resume writers in the world. (TORI: Toast of the Resume Industry).
- The National Résumé Writers Association (NRWA): The mission of the National Résumé Writers’ Association, a nonprofit trade association for professional resume writers, is to increase the visibility of the industry, encourage ethical practices, promote excellence, and raise industry standards through peer marketing and training. The NRWA offers memberships, conferences, certifications and educational resources.
- The Professional Association of Résumé Writers (PARW): Our first industry association, The Professional Association of Résumé Writers & Career Coaches™ was founded in January of 1990. Today, those who display the association’s logo affirm their dedication to excellence in meeting client career goals. In addition, many members then choose to seek certification to further affirm their expertise as career professionals. PARW has over 1,700 members including independent business owners, as well as non-profit career centers such as colleges and universities, military bases, workforce development offices, and state Departments of Labor in North America. Additionally, the organization has members throughout the world. PARW offers membership, certification and conference opportunities for their members.
In closing, association memberships, awards and certifications are critical to give job seekers peace of mind that the executive resume writing firm or executive resume writer cares about the quality of their product, service and client. It is the job seekers insurance policy—in an unregulated industry—that the writing firm is following industry standard guidelines, truly committed to their craft, and has obtained some peer reviewed positive feedback.
Here is another top executive resume writer’s perspective on Associations from Wendy Weiner of The Writing Guru.