I received the following questions in my inbox from a younger professional graduating this May with an advanced degree:

Q1. I met someone a few weeks ago who is a resume writer. She gave me her card and encouraged me to contact her. Obviously she was trying to sell her services. So I’m curious, what do you think about spending money on such a service? I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed since I have to do my resume all over with my graduate school focus, so I’m tempted to utilize such services.

Q2. Regarding informational interviews, if you do not actually know the person, do you think it is better to request a phone conversation rather than an in-person interview? For as long as I have had it on my list “to-do,” I don’t think I have ever actually interviewed someone in an informational format.

Here are my responses:

A1. For the resume writer, has she specifically worked on resumes in your field? What are her rates and can you afford them? How does she charge? By the hour, by the project? Does she have a sample resume she has worked on that she can show you? Resume writers are all different. Some resumes I’ve seen that people have worked on are too busy for my taste, others can be great. I do think it’s nice to get extra support especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed. How is the career services office at your school for that? Does your school offer samples of post-graduate school resumes for you to work off of? These are all questions I would ask myself before spending money on a resume writer.

A2. Informational interviews are always great to do in person when possible. You make a MUCH stronger connection when you do a face-to-face. This way when you follow up later, the person has a better sense of you and vice versa. If you can swing a coffee meeting (or offer to go to their office) for 30 minutes that’s ideal. This isn’t always possible though so sometimes a phone call will have to work. Thirty minutes is a good rule of thumb and you can be the one to stick to it. If they offer you more of their time that’s fine but it’s respectful and appreciated if if you keep to the original agreement. See “Favorite Informational Interview Questions” for ideas on what questions to cover.

Feel free to chime in on these questions or email additional ones to lyjnow (at) gmail.com.