Tag: Career Directors International

Executive Resume Writing Firms & Professional Industry Associations

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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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?
  1. How long has the author been in the careers industry? Are they a reputable thought leader and industry expert?
  1. 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.


Mary Elizabeth Bradford, CARW, MCDMary Elizabeth Bradford is honored to be a member in good standing of Career Directors International, Career Thought Leaders, The Professional Association of Resume Writers and The National Resume Writers Association.

For Career Directors International (CDI), she has obtained the following certifications: Certified Executive Resume Master (CERM), Internationally Certified Master Resume Writer (CMRW), Certified Master Career Director (MCD) and Certified International Advanced Resume Writer (CARW).

She has earned the following CDI recognitions: 4 CDI TORI Nominations and 2 TORI Awards, Career Directors International Career Innovator Awards: Nominee & Winner for The Job Search Success System, CDI Lifetime Achievement Award (The Highest CDI Award given).

Finally, for CDI, Mary Elizabeth has sat on multiple committees and has served as a past and current top tier judge for the TORI Awards (2017, 2018 and 2019). *Please note award winners are judged by a team of 15+ judges and work is submitted anonymously by entry number.

Maryelizabethbradford.com has been awarded the FORBES Top 100 Websites For Your Career.

The majority of writing team members for maryelizabethbradford.com  are both multi-certified and multi-award-winners.

To book a discovery call to discuss your next executive transition, working with Mary Elizabeth or her team, contact us here: https://www.maryelizabethbradford.com/.

The Truth About the $199 Resume

If you type “resume writers” into your search browser, you’ll notice that the first big sites to come up are fondly referred to by reputable writers as “resume mills.”

These are companies with a lot of writers who generally have pretty slick websites and offer cheap resumes. I have often seen resumes offered on these sites for $199 and even “executive level” resumes offered for $299. If you are tempted to go with one of these mills to save a few bucks, here are a few things to think about before you take the plunge:

  1. Generally in life, you get what you pay for. I not only like that my resume prices are a great value, but that they include a lot of extras and bonuses, because I want my clients doing back flips about my services, and I want to help them in a holistically with their entire job search. I also offer a full money-back guarantee if someone isn’t fully satisfied with the quality of my work (which to date, I am happy to say, I have never had to use). But I can’t and don’t give my services away for next to nothing. And I generally don’t invest in services that do, because there is always a catch. I might not know where or what it is, but I know it’s there – either in lack of quality, lack of experience, lack of service or dependability, etc…
  2. Before you do anything CALL and talk to a live person. Some companies are involved in fraudulent business practices. Talk to a live person – ask some questions and trust your gut.
  3. LOOK at their resume samples. Once you do that, go to Career Directors International and search for certified and/or award winning resume writers. Now look at their samples. I have so very rarely seen these samples compare, because when you are a reputable, award-winning and certified resume writer, your charges are in line with the market. A good – a really good resume – is a critical piece of your job search pie. It’s not the place to skimp. It’s your career. Get the best writer you can afford. You are worth it.
  4. Be realistic. Here is what I have seen as averages for good/great/excellent resume writers: $299 to $450 for a new grad resume; $550 to $800 for an entry-level to mid-level management resume; and $800 to $3000 for a VP to C-level “executive” resume package. If you are making determinations in this range, generally you are in a good spot.

If the rates for a resume service or writer you’re researching seems drastically lower than the figures in #4, my suggestion is to check with the major Career Services Associations, look up some members websites, and conduct your own comparative analysis. In my opinion, Career Directors International is the best place to start, because their certifications are not cheap, the testing is very difficult, and they set their quality bar very high. To keep certifications current and in good standing with CDI, writers must provide a certain number of annual continuing education credits and hours of volunteer work. THAT is the writer you want to hire, because that writer is serious about their craft and getting you the biggest return on your investment possible.

CDI / 2011 Career Innovators Award

I am so excited to announce that my bestselling program, The Job Search Success System, has just won the 2011 Career Innovator Award through Career Directors International!

I would like to thank Career Directors International for acknowledging this powerful online home study course that has helped so many job seekers take control of their job search by tapping into the hidden job market in both good and bad market climates!

To celebrate, if you sign up to access the Job Search Success System before Friday (tomorrow) I will personally critique your resume as part of the package to make sure you are looking good there!

P.S We are currently sold out of the VIP packages for the Job Search Success System but you can still get the home study course ($97 package) here.

Attention Career Services Industry Professionals

WAYYY back in 2003 I became a member of Career Directors International. By far this is one of the wisest decisions I ever made.

If you want to rise to the to the top of your industry, be the best you can be, learn ways to increase the success of your business, keep up on the latest critical career and resume trends and have the opportunity to network with one of the nicest and most supportive member-groups then CDI might be for you!

CDI seems to attract members from all areas of the Career Services industry including but not limited to:

resume writers, career and life coaches, HR executives, recruiters and more.

A few interesting CDI links here:

CDI Benefits

CDI Member Testimonials

Join CDI

Free Resume Critiques: Job Seekers Beware

Job seekers beware. Inside the career services industry there has been a lot of negative rumblings about The Ladders…a paid job board that gives “free resume critiques” infamous for trashing even well written resumes and charging top dollar to “rewrite it for you”. Now there is a new black sheep (Fox?) on the block: Jobfox.com.

Same game, same scam and same advice…

I feel there is something especially shameful about preying on job seekers who are just trying to discern the next best moves for themselves – trying to make sure their resume is doing its job and the job search methods they employ are the right ones for them.

The Ladders has been written about extensively. Jason Alba of Jibber Jobber blogs about it here

And Nick Corcodilos rakes them over the coals here.comments section here.

I don’t like to say negative things about other people or companies. In fact this is the first post I have ever written in this tone. But companies with a significant online presence that beguile job seekers and/or operate in the grey need to be exposed…period.

I found this eye opening page describing JobFox’s services. Check out the

The BEST way to figure if your resume is doing its job in my opinion is to contact either Career Directors International or Career Management Alliance – both are big, gold standard Associations in the career services industry where a job seeker can quickly find a certified resume writer that can help them. Some of these resume writers offer free critiques and some charge a small amount for their review. There are no 100% guarantees, but by far this is the most discerning step a job seeker can take and one that serves to best shield against unscrupulous companies and practices.

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