When you’re actively, or even passively, looking for your next job, you should have a résumé that will secure interviews. You can write your own résumé or hire a résumé writing service to do the heavy lifting for you. Monster.com is one popular company that helps craft resumes, so we decided to review its services.
We signed up for Monster’s resume writing service’s Basic Plan, completed a moderate-length questionnaire, and submitted a resume for them to enhance. In our review, we considered ease of the process, flexibility, proof of excellence through certifications, pricing, and most importantly, the quality of the resume. The skinny: For someone who needs a resume and needs one fast, Monster is a viable option. But keep reading to see our full take.
How it Works: Complete a questionnaire, get matched to a writer
- The first step in our review process was to sign up for the service.
We sent payment via credit card to Monster and received a response within a day. This was not dissimilar to other resume services, as most of them use an automated system. Nonetheless, it’s assuring to receive a quick response knowing that you’re in the system.
- The next step in the process was to complete a questionnaire.
Like other resume writing services, we had to fill out a questionnaire that took approximately 20 minutes to complete. Next, we had to provide at least two Problem-Action-Result (PAR) statements for the two positions our candidate held. (PARs are an expanded version of accomplishment statements.) This is not necessarily a bad thing; rather it made us think about our candidate’s accomplishments.
- After completing the 20-minute questionnaire, we uploaded the resume to Monster’s website.
The process of uploading our resume (which was targeted for the Manufacturing industry) was standard compared to the other resume writing services we reviewed. Monster sent an automatic message telling us to expect the first draft within five business days and that if we had any questions our resume writer would be in touch with us.
- We received a nondescript email from Monster telling us we were assigned a resume writer.
Monster informed us within two days that we had been matched with our resume writer. We were somewhat disappointed to receive a default message letting us know that we had been matched with our writer; it would have pleased us more if they delivered a more personalized message, ideally from our resume writer.
- Our resume writer delivered the first draft as promised.
Our resume writer sent us the first draft five business days after we completed the questionnaire and uploaded our resume. Her response time was on spot with Monster’s policy, which clearly states that consumers will receive the first draft within five business days.
Resume Quality: Above average content, but design and format needed work
When assessing the quality of the resume Monster’s writer produced, we looked at design, format, and most importantly, content. While the resume’s design and format should be appealing to the eye, what is said in the resume matters most. For content we critiqued the following sections:
- Summary Statement (this section is a value statement that should be concise)
- Skills (this section should be formatted so the skills are easy to read)
- Experience (this section should include a Job Scope and bulleted accomplishments)
- Education (this section should include the name of the institution, its location, degrees earned, and discipline of study)
- Training (this section should expand on the courses our client studied and the certifications earned)
Design and Format
We found the layout of the resume Monster produced to be cramped, with .5-inch margins on the top, bottom, and sides; and 0 point spacing for the text, save for the Skills area, which had 6pt. spacing. This made the resume more difficult to read. Monster’s resume also lacked the tasteful splash of color that TopResume provided on the resume they produced for us. To make the resume snazzy, our resume writer used black fill around the section headers. This tactic didn’t impress us. For font, she used Calibri light at 11pt which, again, made the resume more difficult to read. Using 12pt Calibri or 11pt. Arial fonts would have better. But had she done this, the text would have spilled over to the second page.
Anyone with 15 years of solid work history warrants a two-page resume. But at the expense of producing a document that was cramped, our writer tried hard to turn our original two-page resume into a one-pager. With very little effort, we were able to use her improved content to design a two-page resume by changing the layout to .75 inches for the top and bottom and 1 inch for the sides; using 12 pt. Arial font; and adding 18pt. above the headers. We wondered why she didn’t attempt the same.
Our Expert Bob Says
Anyone with 15 years of solid work history warrants a two-page resume.
The format was traditional with the following sections in this order: Contact Information, Summary, Skills, Experience, Education, and Training. What probably made the resume dense and more difficult to read was that our résumé writer included too much information under our candidate’s last position of his work history. While we were not overly impressed with our resume’s design and format, the content was one of the best among the other resume writing services we reviewed.
We were pleasantly surprised by the Summary our resume writer devised. It told an accurate story of our candidate, creating a roadmap for the rest of the resume. It was also obvious that she understood the occupation of our candidate based on strong industry keywords and phrases, such as, “Materials Manager,” “product lifecycle operations,” “purchasing to fulfillment,” “boosting seamless workflow of staff, materials, and inventory,” “project coordination, relationship management, and team leadership,” and “implementing process improvements that benefit both company and client.”
To take the Summary to the next level, a resume should evoke concrete value the candidate will deliver to employers. For example, our writer wrote: “Effective project manager with a background directing warehouse relocations and optimizing production procedures to cut waste and increase efficiency.” This is not a poor statement, but a better way to show the value our candidate will deliver to the employer—increasing efficiency and reducing waste—would be to write: “Increase efficiency and reduce waste as evident by directing three successful warehouse relocations.” In addition, this tightens the Summary by eliminating five unnecessary words.
Lastly, there was very little fluff compared to other resumes we received from the resume writing services. Some of the fluff our resume writer included in the Summary was: “forward-thinking,” “highly experienced,” and “change maker.” Words like these add no value to a Summary and are seen by thousands of resume reviewers.
This section is important because it includes keywords that are mentioned in the job description and are counted by an applicant tracking system (ATS). Our resume writer did a fine job of re-formatting the Skills section with many of the ones we submitted, plus additional skills she pulled from the rest of the resume. Some of the skills that stood out were: “Contract Negotiation,” “Strategic Planning & Forecasting,” “Purchasing Management,” Vendor Relations,” Inventory & Quality Control,” and “Kanban Lean Manufacturing.”
What we appreciated most was how she provided adequate spacing making the skills easier to identify, unlike the remainder of the resume which, as we said, was cramped. Instead of using a table, which an ATS doesn’t digest well, our writer used vertical bars to separate the skills. She also employed light grey fill to make the skills stand out more. All of which were a nice formatting touch.
The Experience section is the resume’s most important section. It should begin with a strong Job Scope, in paragraph format, that briefly describes the candidate’s overall responsibility for each position. The length of the Job Scope should not exceed three or four lines at most. Our writer crafted a Job Scope that was approximately three lines long while illustrating our client’s overall responsibilities extremely well.
Our Expert Bob Says
There was very little fluff compared to other resumes we received from the resume writing services.
It’s also worth noting that the resume we submitted to Monster was stripped of some of its accomplishments because we wanted to see how the writer would help punch up bland statements like this one: “Redesigned production floor layout, reclaiming wasted space and improving process flow.” Our resume writer asked clarifying questions during the revision phase, such as by what percentage wasted space was reclaimed. She enhanced the accomplishment by writing: “Reclaimed 45% of wasted floor space and increased seamless flow of operations by spearheading design projects and implementing lean-oriented production layout.”
Another example of how our writer added value to the Experience section was to create this accomplishment, “Managed three warehouse location moves overseeing the planning and coordination to design effective new warehouse layouts.” It was by asking probing questions that she elicited this accomplishment from our client’s history.
The only part of the Experience section we questioned was including our candidate’s last position of their work history, including years of employment, in its entirety. The problem with listing the last position in its entirety is two-fold. The information beyond eleven years is probably not relevant to what employers are looking for today. And if our candidate is concerned about ageism, he or she could be perceived as an older, or mature, worker.
Regardless, Monster’s resume writer presented powerful prose in our candidate’s last position. For example, she took our unimpressive duty statement: “Audited Kanban system for accuracy” and enhanced it to read: “Examined Kanban system to reduce waste and employ effective utilization of resources, which resulted in cost control and eliminated surplus.”
All in all, we felt our résumé writer did a fine job of selling our candidate with quantified accomplishments.
Our resume writer chose a different route when writing the Education section; she elected not to write it in the traditional format in order to save space and not have the resume run over to a second page. So she listed all the information on one line: “University of Massachusetts | Bachelors in Anthropology | Amherst, MA.” We would have preferred the Education section written as such:
Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, Minor in Urban Spatial Development (a fact she left out)
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
It appears that the resume writing services we reviewed use similar ways to write the Education section. Again, to keep our original two-page resume to one page.
The resume we submitted to Monster noted that our candidate had completed a month-long training program. The program was extensive, including eight classes and culminating in certifications in Associate Program Manager and Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. Thus, we felt including all of this information was important to demonstrate value. As a way to keep the resume to one page, she simplified this section by writing:
Certified Associate | Project Management Course | 2019
Lean Six Sigma Certification| Green Belt | 2019
Had she chosen to go with a two-page resume (our preference), she could have expanded this section to include the eight classes which he worked hard to complete.
Resume Writer Certifications: Not very transparent
Monster claims that all their professional resume writers are certified. However, it’s not clear which certifications they hold. Someone who is certified as a professional resume writer (CPRW) must either be trained by someone who holds the certification or spends an extensive amount of time studying to write a resume and cover letter based on a case study. Other resume writing certificates include Certified Advanced Resume Writer (CARW), National Resume Writers’ Association (NRWA), to name a few. We were a bit disappointed with the service’s lack of transparency.
Monster also claims that their writers held previous positions in HR and recruiting in a variety of industries, indicating that a consumer will be matched with a writer who is familiar with their work experience. In addition, their resume writers have been trained by the pros at Monster. To what extent their writers have been trained is unknown.
Guarantees: Sixty-day guarantee if not 100% happy
Monster writes: “We provide a 60-day 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not completely satisfied with your resume, LinkedIn profile, or cover letter, we’ll rewrite it for free.” It’s a stretch to guarantee 100% happiness. We didn’t take Monster up on its guarantee. Rather, we projected the resume our writer produced as above average.
There are no samples or testimonials, but if you aren’t satisfied and tell the company with six days, they’ll rewrite your resume for free.
Samples & Testimonials: Non-existent
Monster doesn’t provide multiple samples of resumes, but it does show on its website a before and after sample of one resume. The after example of the resume is similar to the one they produced for us.
Available Plans & Pricing: Monster came in lowest in cost
Monster offers three plans which are reasonable compared to other resume services we looked at. Here’s a breakdown of the other packages Monster offers:
- Custom resume unique to your skills and career goals
- Keyword-rich content to match job postings
- Optimized to pass recruiters’ screening software
- Written by experts familiar with your industry
- Provided in Word format
- Delivered in five business days
- 60-day 100% satisfaction guarantee. Will rewrite it for free
- Everything Basic offers
- Cover letter for one target job title
- Expertly written to capture employer’s attention
- Showcases your unique value proposition
- Provides a compelling call to action
- Everything Deluxe offers
- Custom resume unique to your skills and career goals
- LinkedIn makeover
- Includes a professional summary to reflect your strengths
- Search optimization with keywords that highlight your top skills
- Helps you create a consistently professional image and brand
- Expedited delivery of the first draft of all three (resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn makeover) in two business days.
The Competition: Monster vs. TopResume.com
When it came to customer service, TopResume was slightly better than Monster’s. We felt our resume writer should have been the one to introduce herself to us, not the impersonal message Monster sent us. TopResume’s writer was attentive and allowed for more edits than the policy dictated. Monster has a strict five-day policy for two additional revisions. Monster’s price for the basic package was $50 less than TopResume’s similar plan, which might be a consideration if a consumer is tight on resources.
Monster produced a resume that was stronger in content than the resume TopResume wrote. And the writing was more compelling. For example, TopResume wrote one accomplishment as: “Redesigned production floor layout to optimize space and improve process flow by 45%.” But Monster’s version was better because it led with the quantified result: “Reclaimed 45% of wasted floor space and increased seamless flow of operations by spearheading design projects and implementing lean-oriented production layout.” We noticed how Monster also included words like “seamless,” “spearheading,” and “lean-oriented” in its sentence. Small details like these can make a difference. So, for us, Monster wins.
Attractive price and above-average content
While we found the design and formatting dense and hard to read because the font size was too small and there wasn’t sufficient white space, we were still happy with the overall service (save for the few some typos in the resume). What’s most important and something that not all resume writers possess is the ability to understand a consumer’s occupation and industry, but this one did. Our resume writer achieved strong content with a brief yet impactful Summary and an Experience section that contained powerful accomplishments. And finally, the price was right. Of all the resume writing services we reviewed, Monster cost the least. If you’re looking to up the ante on your resume, Monster is definitely worth using.