Free Resume Evaluations? What’s the catch?

April, 2016: NOTE TO THOSE WHO ARE OUTSIDE OF THE USA:  There has been an overwhelming increase in the number of evaluation requests I am receiving from people who live outside of the USA.  As an unfortunate result, I must now limit this offer to people living in the US, or applying for USA jobs.  If you do not qualify for the free evaluation but still would like my help, I will provide the same evaluation for $25.00 USD*.  
*Does not reflect the actual value of the evaluation.

A professional writer offering a free resume evaluation? Yes, it’s true!

Seriously. Free. No joke. No catch.

Seriously. Free. No joke. No catch.

Throughout my blog, in articles dealing with the topic of writing a resume, you’ll find that I often offer to evaluate your resume and/or cover letter for free.  I then provide a link that takes you to my personal email address. Many of you take advantage of my offer, but at least half of your first ask:

“Is this really free? And, if so, what’s the catch?”

I’m no different than anyone else:  When I read or hear that something is free, I expect that there is a catch.  At the very least, I’ll have to sign up for a membership, or read an ad, or somehow allow for my email address to find its way to a junk list.  And I have issues with that.

It goes against the grain of my moral fiber to charge money to someone who does not have an income and who desperately needs to find a job.  I subscribe to the notion that a resource-based economy is better for humankind, and just as I would not throw away food simply because a starving child cannot afford to buy it, I would not withhold my knowledge from an unemployed adult who desperately seeks employment.

There Has to Be a Catch, Right?

Not exactly.  If anything, the “catch” is that I am overly sympathetic to the pitfalls of unemployment, particularly for “grown-ups” (those of us over the age of 30 or so).  College kids facing the job market for the first time have ample opportunities for free assistance via their college career centers.  But once you’ve been out of school for a few decades, and after you’ve worked for an employer long enough that the job market has made significant changes, you are at an immediate disadvantage upon re-entering the job market.

During my own job search (which I eventually abandoned, by the way), I spent A LOT of time learning how to find employment in today’s market.  I started sharing that information with LinkedIn friends who were in the same boat.  Eventually, I discovered that I’d developed an expertise on the subject.  And, as a writer, I knew that I could easily offer — for free — what I’d learned.  There is no “cost” to me other than time; there is no monetary expense to me, no sweat off my brow, no reason that I can think of to charge the unemployed for the information!

So, YES, if you send me your resume, your cover letter, or your C.V., and if you ask nicely, I will happily provide you with an evaluation.  Your email address isn’t captured by a bot; you don’t have to click on an ad; you don’t have to subscribe to my blog.  No catch.  None. Nadda.

What Happens When I Open Your Email:

At a glance, I can nearly always determine whether you’ve spent any time reading the free advice I’ve provided on this blog under the “Work” category.  I don’t believe that I should spend more time on your resume than you spend on it (unless, of course, you pay me to do so.  And, the point is, I’m trying to help you for free.)  So, if you’ve neglected to follow even the most basic rules of writing a resume, I will send you a reply that says, “Please spend time reading the articles I’ve written, revise your resume, then send it back to me.” To make your job even easier (so you don’t have to search!), here is a list of some of the articles that you really should read before contacting me for a free evaluation:

You may now be thinking, “Ah-ha! That’s the catch! She wants more clicks on her blog!”  The fact is, though, that I do not make ANY money from this free WordPress blog.  Not a penny.  This is not my source of income or my primary life focus; it is simply a way for me to make a contribution.  In the future, I may decide to switch the blog to a revenue-generating format, but for now (and even then), I provide you with free assistance simply because I can.

Having said that, I do get many requests for evaluations and it can be time consuming depending on the complexity of the documents sent to me.  To make things easier for me (which is fair, isn’t it?) I’ve established some “rules”, or requirements, that I ask you to follow when asking me for a free critique.

When Requesting a Free Evaluation, Please . . .

1.  Prepare the best resume (and/or cover letter) that you can prepare before sending it to me.  I’ve given you a plethora of advice already, for free, under the “Work” category of this blog.  Use the “search” feature to narrow down the articles that are relevant to your specific needs, or simply click on the links provided in the above list.

2.  When you’ve written your best version of a resume that you want me to evaluate:

a.  Save the file as a Word document (any version), with a name that identifies you and the type of document.  Ex:  JaneSmith Resume 2016.   If you don’t save it this way, I will send it back to you. (I used to re-name the documents myself, but it’s too time consuming now.)

b.  Put your name and “Resume Eval” in the subject line of the email.  Ex: Jane Smith Resume Eval.  Please do this even if your email address is your name.

3.  Do not send a pdf file unless you want a VERY cursory evaluation.   I can’t work with pdf files.

4.  If your resume / cover letter are written specifically for a particular job notice, send me a copy of that job notice or the link to it.  My evaluation will be more helpful to you.

5.  If you have a specific deadline that is applicable — such as a closing date for a job notice — make sure to include that date in your email to me.  If I am unable to assist you by the deadline, I will let you know immediately.  Otherwise, I will make sure to provide you with assistance in time for you to meet the deadline.

6.  Please do your best to keep email exchanges between yourself and me to a minimum.  For example, I’ve received up to 20 emails in a day from one person who cranked out an email for each and every question that came to mind, as it came to mind.  Please do your best to save your questions for one email.

7.  UPDATE: Lastly, please tell me if you need a resume and/or letter that will be read by a human, or one that will be sent through an ATS (Applicant Tracking System).  Or both.  The way we write these documents depends upon how they will be submitted.

And that’s it!

Are You Sure There is Never a Charge?

Yes.  I’m sure.  I will never charge you for an evaluation.

Do You Ever Ask for a Fee?

No.  Not when you request a free evaluation.

If you want more than an evaluation — if you want your documents written for you — I will provide you with a fee quote, but only if it is requested by you.  I will not solicit your business.  Some people simply choose to have a resume prepared professionally, and I do provide this service when requested.

Most of you, however, need to prepare your own documents. There are times — but not often — that the documents I receive are so badly written (even after I’ve sent someone back to the website to do more prep work) that they need to be re-written completely.   Usually, between the information I’ve provided here on the site and the evaluation I provide through email, a person can prepare documents that are good enough for submission. But in those rare cases to the contrary, I will be honest and say, “I really think you should hire someone to write your documents for you.” If, thereafter, the person asks me for a quote, I am happy to provide it and/or refer you to another writer.  But I don’t actively pursue the work.

One reason that I do not actively pursue fee-based resume writing contracts is that the prices I charge are based on my knowledge that you are most likely unemployed.  I almost always end up making less than minimum wage when the fee is divided by the hours I put into the work. Unlike most of the professional resume writing services “out there,” I do not have an app or a template that automates the resume writing process.  I write them the way you write them, starting with a blank page in Word.  It is time consuming. In fact, I spend at least an hour just on the free evaluations.  The documents that need to be completely re-written can take me as long as 30 hours or more for a professional C.V., and that is time that I simply cannot provide for free.

In the rare event that I recommend a fee-based service for you after you request a free evaluation, I encourage you to return to this blog post to comment about it.  Not only will it help me keep track of how often I actually make that recommendation, it will validate for others the veracity of my free offer.

How To Contact Me:

Make sure you follow my list of requirements above, and then send your email with attached documents.  It’s that easy!

Happy with Your Evaluation?  thank you

Oddly enough, once I’ve put in the time and effort to help a person find employment, only about half of you say “Thank you.”  It’s a comment on our society today, not on the value of the evaluations I provide.  So, if you’re happy with the free work I provide for you, it sure would be nice to receive a “Thank you.”  Those are free, too!

~ Lynda C. Watts

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7 Responses to Free Resume Evaluations? What’s the catch?

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  7. Rob B. says:

    Hi Lynda,

    I just received your fantastic feedback of my resume. It is absolutely on the money now that I am reviewing it with your comments and notes. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to have someone with your experience and skills review and provide such invaluable feedback!

    I will be making the changes you have suggested. (I was pretty down about my resume, but your feedback, along with your overall evaluation of the resume has provided me with much needed motivation and confidence boost. 🙂 ) [And yes, for anyone else reading this post, it was 100% free.]

    I truly wish you continued success in both your personal and professional life!

    Thank you very much from the deepest recesses of my being!!!

    Best regards,

    PS – If I can be of any service to you, please do not hesitate to call on me. It would be an honor to be of service to you. I don’t have words to describe my feelings of gratefulness.

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