Start a resume writing business by following these 9 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your resume writing business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Check out our How to Start a Business page.
STEP 1: Plan your Business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a resume writing business?
Most professional resume writers counsel would-be writers to start small by working from home. All you’ll need is a computer and a phone to start offering services, but you also need a way to get the word out that you're open for business. Buying a domain name, setting up a website, and establishing social media pages can be as low as $20. You can meet clients at a coffee shop if you want face-to-face time without renting office space. You may need a small business license, depending on your state, how much you make, and how many hours you work. If you choose to have office space, you'll need to factor in rent or leasing costs. All in all, startup costs can be under $50.
What are the ongoing expenses for a resume writing business?
Ongoing expenses for a resume writing list will be fairly low:
- Computer maintenance
- Marketing expenses
- Office rental costs
- Refreshments for clients
- Ongoing education in resume building
Who is the target market?
Entrepreneurs who want to enter this field are looking for clients who understand that a resume writing service could be the difference between a high-paying job and months of unemployment. Your clients will be pragmatic, long-term thinkers who understand the value of a strong investment today for the future of tomorrow.
How does a resume writing business make money?
Resume writers charge a fee for their efforts, which typically includes all services. In other words, there isn’t a separate fee for the interview, the editing process, etc. Fees should account for both the time and the level of skill of the writer.
How much can you charge customers?
Professional resume writing services vary widely depending on who is offering the service. Those with extremely low overhead and little experience may charge as low as $20 or less. Those with a wealth of knowledge though in a highly paid field can charge $700 or more for resume writing and up to $1,000 if it includes customized cover letters and thank-you notes.
How much profit can a resume writing business make?
Fortunately, most of the money you make will be pure profit. If you have 100 clients in a year, then you can make $100,000 at the top price echelon. These services are definitely worth it for many people, and the average yearly salary of a resume writer is just under $60,000 a year.
How can you make your business more profitable?
You can make your business more profitable by understanding and assisting with the entire job-seeking process. Offer practice interviews or coach job candidates on how to sell themselves both on paper and in-person. You can also do public speaking in schools about what it takes to make a resume that counts.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Resume Writing Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your resume writing business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a resume writing business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For more information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Certificate of Occupancy
A resume writing service can be run out of an office. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease a location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a resume writing service.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build a location:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your resume writing service will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
Resume writing businesses should require clients to sign a services agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and intellectual property ownership. Here is an example of one such services agreement.
STEP 7: Get Business Insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
How to promote & market a resume writing business
Promoting a resume service will be all about showing candidates how you can make them money. Make your website easy to navigate, and update it regularly to promote your services. Consider investing in pay-per-click marketing on Facebook groups for job seekers. If a short-term investment now could net candidates tens of thousands of dollars or more a year, then this is an easy way to get the word out to candidates. Talk about how you get the attention of even the pickiest of decision makers. Cold calling and print media may also help get the word out if you're looking to stay local.
How to keep customers coming back
The best way to attract customers is to get everyone you work with a job! Hopefully you won’t need to retain customers because they’ll be with a company that promotes them based on their performance and not their resume. Be as involved as possible with your clients and the businesses at which they are apply to work.
Talk statistics to your customers and sell yourself— you want them to know how many people get a job because of you. Offer discounts and specials to new clients, or market exclusively to certain colleges or trade schools. You can consider offering a guarantee too, but guarantees can be tricky because the resume is certainly not the only component of getting a job.
STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Start A Resume Writing Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
People with English or journalism degrees will be attracted to the writing aspect of this business, but there's more to it than that. A resume is like a sales letter, and it needs to be easy to read. When most hiring managers spend only a few seconds on each one, the format and word choices have to count.
Those who have experience in HR and a thorough understanding of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) will do well. You will need a certain amount of people skills to attract clients, but the results will matter far more than how friendly and personable you are. If 90% of your clients find a job in their field after paying you a visit, these numbers will speak for themselves.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a resume writing business?
A resume writer may have to perform the following tasks on any given day:
- Conduct interviews with job candidates over the phone or in person
- Write and edit resumes or interview correspondence
- Research new hiring trends
- Market services to new clients via physical and virtual media
- Maintain social media listings and a website
- Adapt a resume to a particular market
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful resume writing business?
Writing skills will certainly be at the top of the list for this business, but so will understanding how a hiring manager or ATS will scan a resume for certain keywords and time frames. Resume writers will need to know how to adapt a professional’s experience to fit new goals or interests if the person is trying to change fields. It helps to have an array of experience in an in-demand field, such as computer programming. These skills make it easier to pinpoint what candidates need to do to get the edge.
What is the growth potential for a resume writing business?
A resume is still the first thing that employers look at when deciding whether or not to hire a candidate, so the market for a resume writing service is very stable. While resumes are easy to skim and dismiss by both humans and computers alike, that doesn’t mean they’re not an incredibly valuable tool for landing the job someone wants. Without a vast network of professionals (which few people have), a resume is the best way to stand out from the rest of the job-seeking pack.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a resume writing business?
Many people start this business as a side project before transitioning to full-time. Instead of trying to market your services to everyone in every industry, you may want to stick with the field you have the most amount of experience with. For example, if you know what hiring managers are looking for in the medical or legal sectors.
Unfortunately, the neighborhoods with the highest unemployment rates may not have the funds to hire your services. Instead, focus on the larger cities where there will be more people with sufficient savings and foresight to recognize what a resume service can do for them. Owners can also offer services online if the demand in their area isn't high enough.
How and when to build a team
Resume writing does have franchise opportunities, such as Red Star Resume or Action Resume. If you’re planning a full-scale launch, then you can consider hiring a team of professionals with valuable experience in HR.
However, it will likely be better to start off alone to build up your skills and client base. Once you feel comfortable that you know what it takes to make it in this business, then you can consider opening a franchise or hiring help.