This is a very common question I receive from new clients. There is no one right answer, but there are some quick and easy steps you can take to make sure you are assessing your situation correctly.

Usually when a professional isn’t getting responses or quality interviews from their resume, the reason falls within one of these categories:

• The resume is poorly written

• The resume hasn’t been distributed widely enough to generate interest

• The methods with which the resume is being distributed are generally poor methods

Let’s take a look at each category:

The resume is poorly written
The problems I see with resumes are too extensive to go into too much depth here, however basic reoccurring problems include resumes that are too wordy, resumes that are not laser focused on the preferred industry and resumes that aren’t loaded with quantifiable achievements.

Unfortunately it’s not uncommon for me to see resumes that were “written professionally” by a resume writer or outplacement agency that just don’t cut it.

In short, if you can’t afford a resume writer, look for up-to-date resume samples via print or online media and do your best to use them as a template. Read several how-to articles on resume writing basics so you know what to emphasize.

Finally, if you hire someone to write your resume for you, make certain they are certified through a reputable association (CMI or CDI for example) and that they have ample experience. Prices can range from as little as $300 to $3,000. Hire the best you can afford. You are worth it.

The resume hasn’t been distributed widely enough to generate interest
It’s a common error to feel that a submission of 10 to 20 resumes via a job board is a good call to action. Unfortunately most people will find that this produces little, if any results. Yielding slight higher results (optimistically 5 %+) include niche job boards, paid job boards, association job boards and direct-to-company websites.

The methods with which the resume is being distributed are generally poor methods
Do you want to see better than a 5% response rate? Then you are going to want to learn basic techniques to tap into the unadvertised job market.

Many people mistakenly believe this means “networking”. It does not, though learning basic networking techniques (that don’t involve calling everyone you know to ask them if they know who is hiring) will both boost your confidence, lower any contact-anxiety you may have and increase your overall results.

A final word about professional help
A certified resume writer and/or job search coach isn’t just for the 6-or-7 figure professional with money to burn.

In fact, a good resume writer and job search coach can save you a substantial amount of money, and that’s not hype. A few of the results a professional can help you achieve include:

• More interviews
• Bigger offers
• Shorter job search

If you are in between jobs, then the sooner you land your next position, the sooner you can regain your monthly income. Just saving one month of wasted effort in a job search can easily translate to savings of thousands of dollars.

A good job search coach knows how to help you identify and reach your goals. They have a goody bag of resources you probably would be hard pressed to find on your own and don’t forget that this help is often tax deductible (check with your CPA for details).

You can take what you learn and apply to your long term career strategy and future career transitions. Bottom line, an effective and meaningful investment in yourself and your career.

Before you decide what your next best step is in your career search, take a few minutes to apply the points in this article to your current situation. This will help you determine the solutions right for you so you can move forward with confidence.