So, you’ve realized that your own resume isn’t up to par, and you’re intent on making improvements or finding some help.
What you might NOT know is that using professional resume samples can greatly increase your chance of success.

Whether you’re polishing your own resume or finding a resume writing service to assist you, using examples of successful resumes can play a large part in the responses you receive.

Here are 3 ways that you can use resume samples to increase your odds of winning an interview:

1 – Get an insider’s edge in your industry.

While copying is prohibited (and can cost you the job if you’re found out!), finding examples of resumes in your field should be your first step. This will give you the inside scoop on keywords and strategy ideas.

Given that resume quality (and results) will vary among samples, it’s best to locate several examples representative of your skill level and career goals.

For example, if you’re tailoring your resume for a sales job, you’ll find that a search on sales resume sample should produce documents showing an array of skills such as as closing, negotiations, prospecting, cold calling, revenue growth, relationship management, and other related keywords. If these apply to your background, by all means add them to your own resume.

Conversely, a search on CTO sample resume will show many terms for technical leadership careers, including infrastructure planning, offshore development, and project management.

Searching for resume samples in your area of expertise can also give you an idea of the number of pages that are commonly expected in your field.

Consider this: resume samples in your field can show you what your competition is offering (a major point in my post on 2010 resume trends), and how well your credentials stack up in a particular industry. You may even be reminded of projects, skills, or achievements that you’ve neglected to add to your own resume.

Be sure to adjust your own resume to reflect any relevant data that you might have missed during the writing process.

2 – Get pointers on format, design, and content.

Recruiters can’t say it enough – your resume must be clearly laid out, giving the reader a good chance to quickly skim your details and assess your professional goals.

This is where professional resume samples often have an edge. Many writers make a candidate’s credentials stand out (and quickly!) by creating innovative designs with graphics, borders, and bolded text specifically intended to draw the eye to critical areas of the document.

A crucial point: resume design should vary based on the industry, career level, and personal brand of each job hunter. A resume for a marketing specialist, for example, may have added flair and design elements that are important for professionals in a creative field.

These types of graphics, however, would be totally out of place for the resume of a bank Vice President. In fact, many recruiters in financial services fields are drawn to more subdued fonts and layouts.

Most hiring managers welcome a bit of creativity—even the use of color here and there—as long as it doesn’t overwhelm the document and impede your brand message.

The key to incorporating design elements is to start small, selecting just one or two changes to use your own resume.

Depending upon your field and career path, simple graphical changes may be all that’s needed to generate more interest from employers.

3 – Gain a clear idea of the difference among resume writing services.

When searching for a resume service, you’ll find that formats, design practices, and writing styles will vary considerably. Most professional resume writers therefore post examples of their best, interview-winning work.

While some people select resume services based on price alone, reviewing sample work can give you a good idea of the quality and time invested in each project—and whether the service will work for your needs.

After locating resume writing samples on company websites, look carefully at the type of document produced. Would YOU hire the person represented? Does the resume speak the language of your profession?

Do you see evidence that the writing service is experienced in your field—and at your level?

For example, the strategy used for most CIO candidates will differ substantially from that of an engineer. Therefore, it’s critical to find resume samples that back up the writer’s claim of specialized expertise.

Even more importantly, is the job hunter’s personal brand evident from quickly skimming the resume? If you have difficulty discerning the candidate’s job goal, this can be a red flag that it’s time to move on to another resume writing service.

Does each resume sample employ a different look and feel, based upon the type of credentials presented?

Be wary of services that display resume samples in seemingly identical formats. This can be a sign that the company does not undertake a strategic brand analysis of your career, but simply uses a template to reword information and churn out each document.

Of course, the visual example that you gain by surfing these websites can give you a solid idea of what to expect when going through the professional resume writing process—long before you make the investment in such a service.

Overall, you might find that writing your own resume is a little less daunting if you can tap into great examples of resumes that have worked for other candidates.

In addition, the examples offered by professionals will give you a strong idea of what to expect, should you decide to turn to a resume writing service for expert help in your search.

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