A reader writes:

Five years ago, I left my job as a technical writer at a software company and tried to make it as a freelance writer specializing in resumes (think: the personal advertising agency sort of resume writer, not the typist sort). I studied for my Certified Professional Resume Writer designation (yes, there is such a thing), read--actually read, not skimmed--countless resumes, and discovered what a really, really good resume looked like (and how to write one).

Worn out from years of writing technical manuals, installation guides, and procedure manuals full-time, the change of pace was refreshing. I loved working with people and seeing an immediate, practical benefit to my writing. However, it was a far from lucrative niche. Not even a $500-a-month yellow pages advertisement in the Resume Services category seemed to bring in enough revenue to make the venture even plausibly a full-time occupation. Although I found the resume writing work gratifying and refreshingly service-oriented, I soon found myself going back to the software industry for the money.

Skipping ahead to last April, I found myself having free time and the desire for income enhancement, so I figured that I would reopen the resume business. Business was creeping along without much excitement until September. That's when the phone started ringing and the e-mails started coming in faster than I could manage, even without a physical office or any advertising except a Web site. People just googled for the city and resume writer, trying to find somebody local to work with. Suddenly I found my part-time, home-based business turned upside down. I quickly hired a freelance copywriter and found avenues for subcontracting my overflow work. I no longer had much time to write; instead, I found myself managing projects, editing, and proofreading. And meeting with lots of job seekers.

I've interviewed dozens of job seekers in the past couple of months, from the recently laid off Starbucks store manager to vice presidents of Fortune 1000 companies. Some are seeking their first resume in a decade. Some want to replace two part-time jobs with one full-time job with benefits. I can usually tell when a company is about to announce layoffs because their managers start calling a couple weeks ahead of time. Almost every one tells me that they're not getting calls back, despite having great credentials. Zilch, or one or two phone interviews that lead nowhere. I know I'm helping these people, and they're immensely more confident in their job search knowing that their resume is professionally copywritten. But I worry for them. I don't know if having a great resume will be enough to land a job, and I can't tell them that my recent clients have been landing jobs or if they're still fishing. It's just too soon to say.

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