Best Resume Writers Lists: Fact or Fiction?

If you’re on the search for a professional resume writer or resume writing service, you’ve probably encountered a “best resume writers” list or “top resume writers list” along the way. Perhaps you’ve read through the list, scrolled through the named best resume writers or top resume writers, and jotted down whose website to click through and ultimately hire.

I’ve authored a number of articles on how to research and review resume writing services, and I’ve touched on the “best” and “top” lists because I’ve been placed on a number of them through the years. Important to note: I’ve never paid to be on a top 10 list or paid for an award. Placement on these lists and any awards I’ve received have been a result of my stature in the resume writing industry and commitment to the craft of resume writing — which I always note takes years of training to become an expert in.

Here are two examples of lists I’ve been put on: 10 Resume Experts We Love from Recruiter.com. In the article, you will notice I’m ranked in the #1 slot, but you will also observe it’s from a third-party publication which is not using affiliate relationships to promote the list. I also link to it on my website homepage. I’ve also been listed as a Recommended Professional Resume Writer for IT executives by Heller Search Group. As the article explains, I’m on the list because former IT executive clients submitted my name to the list.

Are Best Resume Writers Lists Legal?

When it comes to best resume writers lists, let me say this loud and clear having pursued this issue through the legal channels: best resume writer lists or top resume writer lists are permissible forms of advertising because, by law, you cannot enjoin free speech.

There is no way to preclude them or shut them down as long as they comply with fair advertising practices according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC is clear on advertising disclosures. Here is the link to the FTC’s stance on advertisement endorsements.

Top and best lists exist in every industry — it’s done with beauty products, computers, etc. Example: last weeked, my Dell laptop gave me the blue screen of death. I hopped onto Google and searched for “best laptop for 2020.” Here is what popped up:

best lists - fact or fiction

Note what it says at the top of the article: “PCMag editors select and review products independently. We may earn affiliate commissions from buying links, which help support our testing.”

What’s an affiliate relationship? That means a person pays for being on the list by giving a kickback to the website listing them if a purchase is made. You can often figure out if there’s an affiliate relationship by clicking through on the links of the websites named in the “best” lists. The URL will show added characters signifying there’s an affiliate program/relationship.  This article explains how affiliate marketing works.

Affiliate marketing is very common and it’s also legal. The important rule of thumb is there must be an open and obvious statement (usually at the beginning of the article) disclosing the existence of an affiliate relationship.

This article by Udemy explains what an FTC compliant advertising disclosure should look like, particularly if there are affiliate relationships involved. The reason why it should be on top of the article is because putting in the middle or at the end may not allow for it to be seen by every consumer.

The image above is a prime example of truth in advertising. It is then incumbent on the consumer to do their due diligence, research each product carefully, and make an informed buying decision. BTW, I ordered a Macbook Pro 16″ laptop. I will be a first-time Mac user (yay!).

Self-Imposed #1 or Best Resume Writer Titles

I’m sure you’ve seen things on LinkedIn such as “#1 career coach in X city,” the self-imposed “#1 career job search coach,” or a newbie calling themselves the “#1 resume writer.” Most outsiders can read between the lines when it’s an unsubstantiated title that’s mere hyperbole and a marketing ploy. Candidly, if you can’t link to a third-party unbiased, unpaid article supporting your ranking, DON’T DO IT. Consumers will not stand for it and they will question it, especially executives.

What Consumers Should Do with Best Resume Writers Lists

If you’re a consumer, always, always do your research when seeing one of these best resume writers lists. There are series of questions you should be asking. Here are a few:

What’s the relationship of the author to the article? Is the author a person in the industry trying to leverage SEO? Is the author biased or unbiased?

I saw one such best resume writer of 2020 list recently. This list was authored by a “growth hacker” that lists several resume writers on the list who were named “top voices” by LinkedIn. What the author fails to disclose is that he works for LinkedIn. Arguably, there is an inherent conflict of interest that can lead one to believe this is a LinkedIn-endorsed list and therefore it’s biased, not objective. The author of the article is also selling a course that he’s actively promoting which makes it clear that this is an SEO-targeted article, and again, not objective.

Are the people on the list part of an engagement pod designed to “game” the LinkedIn or social media algorithm?

Research the people on the top or best list. See what their expertise truly is when you go on Google. Keep in mind that engagement pods on LinkedIn are rampant and people are known to buy followers on various social media platforms.

I’ve seen situations where writers or coaches consistently put out combined lists and “roundups” to promote each other back and forth. Legal, but again, pay attention to who is on the list and what the objective is. If it’s the same people over and over again, read between the lines as this may just be an SEO tactic of cross-linking to build up weak domain authority.

Is the list a third-party site with zero invested interest in the list? Is the site using it to ultimately promote its own product or service OR is it just a good-faith endorsement?

Keep in mind, the resume writing industry and coaching industry are unregulated. That means ANYONE can call themselves a resume writer or career coach. I’ve seen people land a job at Amazon and 6 months later, they’re a self-designated top expert on how to get a job at Amazon and now coaching others on the same path. You have people creating massive followings on LinkedIn in short periods of time and charging users for advice on how to growth hack the platform. Again, do your due diligence. Research the writer’s background. Contact professional associations. Ask for verification of membership, credentials (certifications), and awards lists. Go to Google and do a deep search into their background. Research when their website was created on ICANN or when they formed their corporation or LLC.

As a consumer, it’s incumbent on you to do your homework and be an informed buyer when it comes to reading through a best resume writer of 2020 list, top resume writer list, or even a writer’s background.

Have a follow-up question? Feel free to reach out to me directly.