So, here's how the industry works and what you should look for when selecting a resume writing service.

1. Avoid the scams.

Unfortunately, there are a number of scams out there. No one has ever reviewed resume writing services so avoid those who have Top 10 Resume Writing lists. These are generally companies overseas who have ranked their own site as #1 in resume writing.

A newer form are those sites that guarantee a job or they will not only refund your monies, but give you $50-$75 money back as well. Sounds great, but if you check out the terms and conditions, you will not be able to comply.

2. Unless you think you are like everyone else, avoid the factories.

One way to identify a factory is by their very low prices as no one can make any money in this business charging less than $150 unless they have a production line setup. Some factories will also be "partners" with some larger organization which is usually nothing more than a royalty they pay for every sale. Factories often use cookie cutter templates to produce a resume, so unless you are comfortable with that, find someone who will spend the time to understand how you are unique.

3. How does the web site look?

If they cannot organize their web site and make it look attractive, then they can't do that for your resume. However, this is not the only criteria to use. I know a company with mediocre writers that is successful solely because they have an attractive web site.

4. The resume writing firm should have some credentials.

The most common one is the Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) designation that indicates they have at least passed some level of competency.

That being said, look for credentials beyond the CPRW designation. Do the people have impressive backgrounds? Many sites won't tell you anything beyond their CPRW designation. Great writers have great accomplishments so look to see if they have been published in books and, most importantly, find out about their business background. Did they attend a good school – did they rise through the business ranks? Being in HR is good and being an executive is even better as they have been the decision makers behind the hiring process and have demonstrated the skills to excel.

5. Look at their samples.

If you don't like their samples, you surely won't like their work. Look to see if they are focusing on skills and accomplishments as opposed to producing pretty resumes that just list job duties.

6. Check out their resume writing process and make sure you get to speak to someone.

A good resume cannot be written just from a questionnaire, and a good resume writing firm will insist on speaking to you. This way they can ask you insightful questions that highlight the skills and achievements that impress an employer. If they don't interview you, this means their writers are not strong enough to have an intelligent conversation with you.

The best resume writing firms will use both a questionnaire and a phone interview. The questionnaire will jog your memory and make you think a bit about things that you haven't thought about in a while. In fact, it not only helps you get a better resume, it helps you prepare for a job interview. High level executives would insist on a questionnaire and a phone interview and there is no reason that you shouldn't be able to get the same VIP treatment.

7. Get a free resume evaluation.

If they don't offer one, then they are probably too weak to provide a good critique, or they rely on high volume and are one of the "factories" that use templates.

Then notice if they call you or send you an e-mail evaluation. E-mail evaluations are usually standard templates with a few words changed and anyone can produce them. The Ladders is notorious for e-mailing a lengthy, well-written evaluation that is 99% canned with a couple of sentences added. A really good company is not afraid to talk to you to understand your needs and indicate how they could help.

8. Call the company.

Do you speak to a sales person or a resume writer? If you are speaking to a sales person, then they probably are more of a factory that does big volume and uses "cookie-cutter" templates.

If you are speaking to a resume writer, ask them about their background and what they have done in their career (see #3).

9. Do they offer a guarantee?

A good service will stand behind their work and offer to revise your resume for free if it is not working. You'll want to choose a resume writing service that stands behind their product.

Also look for the BBB Online Reliability seal that shows they are a safe and reliable site and check out their track record.

10. Ask about the price.

Yes, the price is important but not as important as getting a resume that works. The difference between a mediocre resume and a great one can be as little as $100 (the cost of a night out). This is one of the most important documents in your career, so it makes sense to spend what it takes to get a resume that you know will work.

The Internet is a wonderful thing, but it has allowed anyone to offer resume writing services, regardless of their background. Use this 10-point checklist and you will be guaranteed to choose the right resume writing service for you.

Don Goodman, president of About Jobs is a nationally recognized career expert.

Thanks to Careerealism