What is a Certified Resume Writer?

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  • Written By: Cathy Rogers
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2019
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Sure you can write your own resume or enlist the help of a friend or colleague, but sometimes you need a professional’s advice. A certified resume writer is a professional who has taken the necessary steps to become certified in his or her field by one of two professional organizations. The process to become a certified resume writer involves training and testing on skills such as grammar, strategic thinking, employment knowledge, and resume and cover-letter writing.

Many who seek certified resume writer status are freelance or self-employed career resume writers. However, of the many other professionals who seek the certified resume writer accreditation, some work in employment agencies, college placement offices, or outplacement firms. The certification process itself is relatively new; the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches began its certification program in 1991 and the National Resume Writers’ Association started a similar certification in 1997.

Both associations offer similar accreditations: Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) or Nationally Certified Resume Writer (NCRW). Either certification assures a client that the professional has met a minimum standard of qualification. Just because a professional is not certified, however, does not mean that he or she is not capable of producing an effective resume for his or her clients. Some resume writers choose not to seek certification and rely instead on client testimonies, awards and publication credits to prove aptitude.


The NCRW Certification Program involves a study guide of concepts and strategies important to successful resume and cover letter preparation. Candidates for the NCRW certification must also earn continuing education units prior to testing. The certified resume writer candidate must also submit a sample resume and cover letter, which is critiqued by members of the certification commission.

The NCRW exam itself contains two components; the first component includes questions related to a sample resume. The second component of this particular certified resume writer exam consists of a writing exercise. Once a person receives NCRW certification, he or she may maintain the designation through either 1) additional continuing education units or 2) passing another NCRW exam. The CPRW test consists of four components: industry knowledge; grammar, punctuation and proofreading; strategic thinking; and a resume and cover letter writing test using hypothetical client information.

By using a certified resume writer instead of preparing the resume yourself, you benefit from the experience and knowledge that comes as a result of the certification process. Certified resume writers maintain that when an individual prepares his or her own resume, the individual tends to sell him/herself short on achievements and not include enough details regarding measurable accomplishments.

Certified resume writers set their own fees for resume and cover letter composition. Some charge by the hour; others charge by the resume. The rates are often based on the difficulty of the job; for example, a resume for an entry level employee is not as complex to create as is one for an executive with many years of experience or an individual who is attempting to change career fields.


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