CV Sector Exposed

Exposing the myth
Most professional CV writers and companies (large and small) aren’t what they seem, and are a far cry from what people perceive them to be.

Why is this important to know about?
Firstly, most people are oblivious to this absolute fact, and secondly, it’s important because it is a big factor in why most professional executive CVs aren’t what they are purported to be, don’t live up to expectations, and don’t deliver on promises.

It wouldn’t be so bad if people were more aware, if so, then they could make more informed decisions. As this isn’t the case, hopefully this article can help lift the lid on surprising things that many in the CV sector would prefer to stay hidden. We’ve 20+ years’ sector expertise, and it’s about time someone spoke out – and especially since it affects anyone considering investing in a professional CV.

Fantastical claims and dazzled belief
If you believe all the claims that typical CV firms make then you’d probably expect your CV to be written by the ‘best CV firm,’ ‘premium top UK talent,’ or ‘the highest-rated CV writers.’

Do people believe it?
Of course, they do. And especially if the site looks flash, includes impressionable statistics and has persuasive salespeople. Such things don’t influence everyone, but they do sway an awful lot (intelligent executives included).

But are they right to allow themselves to be swayed?
Let’s examine this in more detail.

Numerous different firms make the same kind of claims.
They can’t all be right can they?

It’s a good question that hardly anyone ever asks, but think about it for a minute. Is it even possible for them all to be telling the truth?
Or can there only truly be one ‘best firm’ with the ‘best writers?’

When you think about it logically, it stands to reason that most claims can’t possibly be what they appear to be. And if so, what does this say to you about the integrity and authenticity of firms who make such claims?

Putting their money where their mouth is

Another question that people don’t ask is this:

  – If a CV firm really, truly believed in their claims, then why don’t they put their money where their mouth is and back it up with a real (money back) guarantee?

Do that, and it not only demonstrates that they have real faith in their writers, and genuine conviction in their promises, but it also shows to paying customers that this company isn’t one of those many firms who just spout (frequently unsubstantiated) claims, but on the contrary, is an organisation with so much confidence in their own ability that they take the risk instead of the customer.

That would be nice wouldn’t it?
Notably, surely customers would find it a good thing too. As such, if companies did offer more genuine guarantees then it should lead to more sales and happier clients.

So why doesn’t it happen more often?
It’s another good question.
You’d have to ask all those firms who don’t put their money where their mouth is just why this is.

Marketing gimmicks
There are numerous other questionable claims and gimmicks that many CV firms spout too. ATS is one, and reviews are another. ‘Guaranteed job/interview’ gimmicks also pull in plenty of hopefuls, many of whom don’t realise that it’s not a real money back guarantee until their “guaranteed job or interview” doesn’t transpire and they belatedly clock the small print.

There are other scams and marketing gimmicks too as well as CV sector malpractices.

Writers and writers
Just as in any profession, there is the good, the bad and the average. More than that, when it comes to CV writing there’s the outstanding, the hopeless and the abysmal too!

Who will write my CV?
It’s a very good question!
In some cases, you get to engage directly with a writer and liaise with them. In other cases it’s more like ordering a baseball cap online – you click a button, you send some details, you hear no more, and your product (hopefully!) arrives a few days later in your inbox.

Some companies provide details of their writers, others don’t.

Do some firms who provide writer details also spout claims and statistics?
The short answer to this is yes, but as transparency isn’t always what it ought to be, it’s usually left to each individual to fathom what they deem authentic or not.

Specialists or freelancers?
While many CV firms claim their writers are experienced, top CV writing professionals, this isn’t always the case. Indeed, genuine top CV writing professionals are more the exception than the rule.

Many CV firms draw from the same pools of freelancers, and some writers work for multiple firms. Some of these freelancers specialise in CVs, while many are e.g., general copywriters, content writers, or work in other forms writing. Notably, some just churn out poor quality CVs more as a side-line on an ad-hoc basis, rather than as a dedicated specialist career.

Significantly, it’s not just the writers who aren’t as professional as you’d think, some entire CV companies are set up and run by laymen too. How do we know? Well, we’ve been at the forefront of genuine quality CV writing for nigh on a quarter of a century. If anyone knows the sector, it’s us.

Think all professional CVs are even written by proper writers?
Think again. Over the years we’ve been engaged by CV firms to fix CVs for their disgruntled clients. One such firm’s CVs were essentially templates tweaked by the owner’s secretary, and sub-contracting to inexperienced staff is more common than people realise. These days lesser firms are increasingly utilising AI to produce their inferior CVs, and some of the bigger firms are using AI to boost profits via e.g., customer acquisition tools and automating supposed genuine CV reviews.

We’re not suggesting that writing CVs with AI is the norm in the executive sector, because it isn’t. The main message here is one of trust. Most people have total trust in companies and their salespeople. That’s down to their judgement. All we can do on this matter is draw attention to the fact that this trust is sometimes misplaced.

Writer ability
Judging by the thousands of CVs we’ve had to fix over the years, it’s clear that many professional CV writers (in the UK and internationally) lack natural writing talent.

That said, some don’t. For example, some applicants have sent us some of their pieces/articles to look at. Some articles were very well written, and it was clear they could write articles, but that’s a whole different ball game to CVs. Most people seriously underestimate what is needed to create genuine top-quality CVs. And top-quality CV is writing is a serious artform. These applicants could write. They were certainly capable of writing typical professional CVs. But they couldn’t write CVs to our standards.

What makes a top CV writer?
Despite what many people seem to think then, quality CV writing is far from easy, but it doesn’t stop people from aspiring to do it.

Becoming a genuine top CV writer doesn’t just happen overnight and it’s not something that just anyone can do.

Part of it is innate, and part needs to be acquired.

Yes, anyone can create CVs of sorts, but that’s a million miles away from genuine top quality. For that the writer needs natural writing talent, creativity, meticulous attention to detail, marketing expertise and the ability to say more but in fewer words. That in itself is a very specialist skill set, but in addition to that there are other requirements too. For example, they also need excellent people skills and the ability to feel when something could be better, and then spend potentially hours refining things to perfection – even in the knowledge the client would have been perfectly happy how it was initially and will never know the extra time and effort you put in to get it just right for them.

Do you think the large corporate backed CV firms do that?
A lot of firms have set deadlines for their writers to finish one CV then go straight to the next.

Initially we were shocked when applicants with prior experience elsewhere proudly announced how many CVs they churned out each day. We’re not shocked anymore, as we’ve been in the sector for a very long time. Suffice to say, there is a very good reason why we take a lot longer to write CVs than many companies. We actually lose custom because of this. Most customers want their CV quickly. And most can get one quickly too – just usually not one that is anywhere near as good as it would have been in the right hands.

What about methods?
Yes you also need excellent methodology as well as real specialist expertise. And that’s another article in itself because there is far more to CV fundamentals (let alone our special methods) than even most professional writers realise. It’s one reason why most professional CVs are flawed, and one reason why we are so confident we improve every single CV we receive.

CV writer recruitment
CV writer recruitment isn’t what people expect or are led to believe either.

How do we know?
Well, we’ve received a great many applications from professional writers over 20+ years, so it’s something we’ve had a lot of dealings with.

Who applies?
Quite a mixture. In addition to those with some professional CV writing experience, the likes of copyrighters, recruiters, headhunters, creative writing graduates, journalists, content writers, career officers and HR executives apply. People with administration and management backgrounds also apply, as do the likes of students, virtual assistants and communications specialists.

On what grounds?
The likes of career officers, recruiters and managers claim they are suitable because they are used to dealing with CVs, the writers, journalists and students say they can write, and those with prior experience are under the impression that this is important.

Is experience important?
Yes and no.

It really depends on the experience.
Five years of quality experience working with a genuine top firm is worth more than 1000 years’ experience with a typical firm.

This is nothing new. It’s no coincidence that many top Michelin-starred chefs trained with reputed Michelin-starred chefs, while most pub chefs are recruited from catering college or are trained up by other pub chefs.

True that is a rough analogy, but it has relevance.
If most CV firms produce flawed CVs (and they do!), then it follows that those trained up in the flawed methodology perpetuate it.

Do people/companies realise this?
Not as far as we can see.

When people judge writers, they tend to just look at the length of experience, rather than most important thing; namely the quality of experience.

Similarly, many companies seem more interested in experience (any experience) rather than quality of experience. It’s one reason why many freelancers do the rounds of CV firms and why many professional CVs and writers are much of a muchness.

How do we judge experience?
Very differently to everyone else!

Contrary to the norm, when applicants tell us they’ve been working for numerous CV firms we actually see it as a negative.

Why is this?
A few things:

Firstly, those with prior experience tend to assume that just because other companies all have similar standards, methods and products, then this applies to us. This highlights that they don’t know us, and they are oblivious to the gulf between typical CVs and ours.

Secondly, they tend to assume that prior experience means they already know it all, whereas we’d want them to forget everything they’ve every learned about CVs and be educated anew.

Thirdly, some candidates with prior experience seem disgruntled when we ask them to take our tests. Candidates without prior experience have no problem with this.

Fourthly, in all these years, no applicant with prior writing experience has ever got passed all our tests. This doesn’t fill us with confidence.

Fifthly, some with prior experience go overboard. E.g., touting themselves as a ‘top UK CV writer’ in error-strewn cover letters, or including fantastical success rate statistics. (If you have read what we mention earlier about statistics then you can imagine our view of that!).

Is there anything else that we look for that is overlooked elsewhere?
Yes. Genuine writing talent, attention to detail, going the extra mile, honesty, integrity, reliability and customer service excellence.


Some firms indicate writer qualifications. Others don’t. You’d have to ask them why not. For our part we do indicate qualifications. Moreover, we only consider applicants with at least a degree.

We also get some applications from ‘certified resume writers’ who somehow see this is as a positive when they apply to work with us.

‘Certified resume writing’ hails from the USA and candidates can be ‘certified’ if they follow the organisation’s methods and pay a fee. While it’s not a degree, some ‘certified resume writers’ also put letters after their name. It has been around for years in the US, but for the large part hasn’t caught on here.

We’ve been sent lots of ‘certified resumes’ to fix over the years (primarily from North American clients), and clients tend to be surprised at just how much we improve.


Outsourcing is also on the increase. We regularly receive (and mark as spam) emails from companies in places such as India offering to write CVs for us in double-quick time at bargain basement prices. While we don’t entertain any such business, some firms do. Worryingly, sometimes clients not only don’t know who their writer is, but they also don’t know what country they are from or if English is their first, second or third language.

Notably, you may think that this doesn’t apply to you if the company you go with is based in the UK and you have a phone consultation with your writer. And most of the time, it wouldn’t apply. But there is nothing stopping firms from hiring UK-based staff for telephone consultations then farming the writing out to India.

Again, it boils down to trust.


Almost certainly another first for a CV services company, we’ve deliberately added a separate section all about trust in this article.

Because it’s a hugely important and massively undervalued value in the CV sector.
Let us elaborate…

When you invest in a CV company you do so blind to some degree.

Many CV firms make similar sounding claims, and as already established, when you examine it logically it’s clear that some of the claims are groundless, false, misleading, or all of these things.

But how do you separate the trustworthy from the less ethical?
It’s a question that many puzzle over.
Moreover, the less ethical don’t make it easy, and as established, many people are more prone to having their heads turned by claims, gimmicks and statistics than they are to questioning trust. Frequently, trust never even enters the equation.

What about reviews?
Many people turn to reviews.
That’d be great if everyone played by the same rules, but this is the CV sector, and that’s not the case. While some firms’ reviews and testimonials are genuine, this isn’t true of everyone. Moreover, this doesn’t just apply to reviews from supposed clients. Some years ago a ‘CV services review site’ appeared. The first version of it was very crude and it pretty much said ‘forget all CV firms, X company is the best and the others are a waste of time.’ Those weren’t the exact words and we won’t name and shame the company in question, but you get the gist. At some point the owner must have realised that people weren’t falling for that, so they changed things to also include several other CV sites. These other sites were allotted (not too good or not too bad) ratings, but unsurprisingly the CV firm that the site was promoting got top rating. At the time of writing this site seems to have slipped out of the search engines, but the same kind of thing still goes on. The biggest winners currently include the biggest companies such as LinkedIn. For example, their page listing the supposed 10 best CV writing services ranks highly in the search engines, and surprise surprise, their own service is listed top. In this day and age of corporate partnerships and affiliates you’d think that more people would be wary of vested interests, they’d be concerned about ‘revenues over customers’, and they’d be suspicious of reviews and review sites in general. Amazingly this isn’t the case and many still trust reviews more than they do their own head, gut and common sense.

What about examples?
Some firms, including us, display a CV example on their website, other firms don’t. If not, then again you’d need to ask them why not.

Moreover, even where the firm is more transparent and includes an example, you’ll still never know how the final CV will be worded – because each case is different and it depends on you, your circumstances and your target (or at least it should!)

Even so, there are some clues to what you might expect if you dig deeper. We’ve touched on some clues already, but we’ll list some more again here:

  • Some firms provide details of all their writers (and qualifications) on their website, other firms don’t.

  • Some firms answer queries by phone, email and live chat, other firms don’t.

  • Some firms just tweak templates, the better firms don’t.

  • Some firms’ CV reviews are genuine, others are tweaked templates or even largely automated

  • The best firms are open about their methods and can explain them all logically. Lesser firms don’t.

  • When you contact some firms you deal with a real writer, with others it’s a salesperson on commission

  • Some firms are small teams of real specialists who do jobs to the best of their ability, some companies have what is tantamount to CV writing factories with lots of writers churning out products en-masse

  • Some firms use scare tactics (ATS is an example, and a potential subject for a future article) whereas others don’t

  • Some firms resort to marketing gimmicks whereas others don’t

  • Some firms make false promises, the best firms don’t

  • Some firms influence via unverifiable statistics, the best firms don’t

  • Some firms make claims they don’t back up, the best firms don’t

It’s not a definitive list, but at the very least it should give you food for thought to help you make a better-informed decision.

Big business
This day and age, it’s not always clear who owns what, who has a vested interest, or even which company is really doing the writing.

Big business has spread its tentacles, has infiltrated, and increasingly has more and more influence over the CV market. Be it via acquisitions, partnerships, affiliates, advertising income or whatever, smaller, independent specialists are being squeezed out by the big boys with their flash sites, AI-powered customer acquisition tools, web influence, partnership brokers, marketing teams, 24/7 salesforces, outsourced writers and industrial scale operations.

The only thing they really seem to lack is real CV writing expertise!

Too little too late
Alas many don’t realise when they’ve been mislead until weeks or months down the line when the promises they were sold don’t materialise.

So why do many typical professional CVs misfire?
There are numerous reasons.
Essentially, your CV is a sales and marketing document – or at least it’s supposed to be if it’s done properly. Most professional CVs aren’t the sales and marketing documents people think they are. That’s the biggest reason.

What else?
People don’t judge their own CV properly.
Instead of assessing it as a sales and marketing document, they view it (A) visually, and (B) as a career biography.

Importantly, employers don’t look at CVs from that perspective, but as long as it looks pretty and encapsulates their career most people are happy with that and think it’s as good as it gets.

Isn’t it?
No. Far from it.
Let’s take an analogy.

Imagine this scenario:


A car salesperson persuades you that their green Jaguar will be perfect for helping you land jobs. They say that drivers arriving at interview in Jaguars on average land well-paid jobs 3 x faster than non-Jaguar drivers and that salaries are 30% higher. If that’s not all, they go as far as to guarantee you’ll get to the interview and have a 25% better chance of being offered the job on the spot.

You sign on the dotted line, hand over your savings and grab the keys.

As you proceed to your first interview, heads turn your way. It’s a super looking car, you are delighted with your purchase. After a few miles you hear some clunking noises and the steering wheel veers to the left. That’s okay as you’re driving along the ring road anyway, but a few miles from your interview the car stutters and grinds to a halt. The engine has overheated so you give it 20 minutes it cool. Drat! You miss your interview. Never mind, you press on to the next one. Unbelievably, the same thing happens again at the second interview. And again at the third. Frustrated and disillusioned you turn the car around and head towards the Jaguar garage. On the way you notice Skoda, Toyota and Lexus owners shaking hands with the three employers you were due to meet. You clench your teeth and slam your foot down.

You are greeted by the smiling Jaguar salesperson who informs you that the small print doesn’t mean your money back, but that they’ll just amend things for you. You are led to a seat, cross your arms over your chest and snort heavily while out of the corner of your eye you see the salesperson head to your car with a tin of red paint.


It’s an exaggerated analogy but it has a serious message that isn’t so far removed from what commonly happens with typical CVs.

In this case the candidate was wooed by visuals, claims and statistics and put their trust in the salesperson.

What they didn’t look at, or give serious consideration to, was the fundamentals – the clunky engine from Taiwan and the badly aligned chassis from Albania.

If many CV firms don’t get the fundamentals right (and most don’t) then those who use typical professional CVs shouldn’t be so surprised when results don’t transpire as expected.

Notably, in the above scenario, the three people who got the jobs chose vehicles, not because they were flashy, but because they were presentable with well-oiled engines and perfectly aligned chassis all working in harmony together to do the job they were meant to do.

The moral of this is one of substance over the superficial. Fundamentals are often far more important when it comes to CVs than most realise, and overlooking this can not only steer decision-making in the wrong direction before your purchase, but it also hinders people’s understanding of stalling and misfiring CVs afterwards too (puns intended!).

Easy to prove?
In this article we make a big deal about claims and backing them up.

Firstly, because having the confidence to back up claims is one of the key differentiators between the honest and unethical. And in a sector where transparency is lacking you need all the help you can get.

Secondly, because we are so confident in our ability that, uniquely we guarantee to improve the CVs of any firm, anywhere in the world (including all the flashy ones with the most fantastic statistics).

Is it a claim or can you prove it?
We can most certainly prove it. Please feel free to check out our guarantee details.

Is it easy to prove?
Yes and no!

We improve the CVs of other firms on a daily basis and have done for many years. So proving it isn’t an issue. If anything, that’s the easy part.

The hard part was building up all the knowledge, expertise and methods in the first place to give us the foundations to write the way we do (powerfully, yet concisely and naturally and in alignment with sales and marketing principles).

None of that came easy. It involved engaging with recruiters and employers as well as lots of research, trials, testing, work, tweaks, experiments, refinements and much more besides including being immersed in writing CVs each and every day, as well as asking our own questions, responding to client questions and listening to customer and employer feedback.

Without all of that we’d be just another firm.

With all of that, and that little matter of natural writing talent, creativity, marketing expertise, attention to detail etc, we’re in a league of our own, and have been for years.

Why we wrote this article
We know that choosing your ideal CV company/writer is a bit of a minefield. In addition to conflicting claims, fake reviews and dogged salespeople, there’s that little matter of trust to consider too.

We wrote this article in the hope that it would help open a few eyes, but more than that, we wrote it because, as honest people with integrity, we are sickened by the shocking malpractices in this sector, and we believe that not only do executives deserve the truth, but they also deserve much better from those they put their trust in.

We can’t speak for other firms, but what we can do, and what we promise, is to do our utmost for those deserving executives who come to us for assistance.

If you’d like our assistance we’d be happy to help you.