This is probably the most common question I encounter when I meet people that have not previously used a Certified Professional Resume Writer. They are amazed that there is actually a service that can help them with writing their resumes. The easiest way to answer this question is by telling you what I discovered when I was recruiting in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry. I looked at literally hundreds of resumes every single day (at least 500 per week), and maybe- just maybe- one or two were very well written. Come to think of it, those were probably written by professional resume writers. The rest of the resumes could be put into two categories: mediocre (the majority of resumes fall here) and terrible (fewer resumes fall in this group).
Now, I know there are a lot of people that copy their resumes from resume books, or copy their friend's resume format, and hope that will suffice. And sometimes, it should be fine. So when should you use a Certified Professional Resume Writer? At what point in life does it become worth it to leave resume writing up to the experts? Let me put it this way. I have a great background in anatomy, and I choose not to do surgery on myself. I leave that up to a pro. Nor do I change the oil in my car, because I can have a pro do it. Now, if for some reason financially it does not make sense to have your resume written by a professional (remember that they can be tax deductible), and you have a lot of time to read books, pour through plenty of examples, are capable of critiquing your work history from a hiring manager's perspective, have experience proofreading, and have a great command of the English language, then you are a wonderful candidate for writing your own resume.
Realistically, for a Certified Professional Resume Writer to write your resume, it takes a minimum of 2 hours (for the most basic, "just graduated from college" resume). It can take well over 12 hours for higher level resumes. And this is for a professional resume writer, who does this day in and day out. Let me tell you what resume writers do: they scour through every accomplishment you ever made, they become private investigative to make sure all your dates add up and that school names / departments are still valid, they tailor your background to the exact job you are applying for, and they let you know where your weaknesses are (ouch). They also tell you where your strengths are, what to highlight, what to lowlight, what to totally drop from your resume, what the resume rules are, what the correct English should be, what needs proofreading again, and which way the watermark goes. The rules are endless in resumes, and professionals know them all. So if it takes that amount of time for a professional to write a resume, think of the time it should take the regular, job seeking person out there. And the problem is I think most people lose interest in their resume right about the time they have a few pages that "sort of" sum up their background.
So in essence, people that have their resumes written by a Certified Professional Resume Writer have an edge over people that do not. Here is an example: If you are applying for a job, you are not simply one person applying to one job slot. You are competing against 10 other people that all saw the same job ad on the same day. If your resume is not as good as what your competition has (it does not matter if you are the best qualified or not), then a hiring manager will not give you a call. If your competition is using a Certified Professional Resume Writer, and you wrote your own resume, then your competition has a leg up on you. So, should you write your own resume? Yes, of course you can. But realistically, you can save yourself time, money (remember, time = money, and resumes can be tax write-offs, so talk with you tax advisor), and quite a headache if you go to a Certified Professional Resume Writer.