Resume Writer Certification:
Certified Advanced Resume Writer (CARW)
Showcase your current resume writing expertise.
If you are looking to earn a resume writer certification and join the lucrative world of professional resume writers, then the Certified Advanced Resume Writer (CARW) credential with CDI is the best place to start!
Ready to get started?
The CDI advanced resume writer credential is for professional resume writers who are already skilled at writing resumes and are ready to earn their certification.
What is resume writing certification and why do I need it?
In most industries, buyers look for a standard of education or quality to help them know they are making the best buying decision. In the world of resume writing, CDI's resume writing credentials are seen as the gold standard, making it the perfect place for an aspiring or established resume writer to become certified.
When you become a certified professional resume writer with CDI by earning the CARW credential, you:
- Stand out from the crowd with an "advanced" credential.
- Receive a beautiful logo and e-certificate you can proudly display online and in your office.
- Help prospects to trust in investing with you.
- Build confidence in your own technical skills and ability to charge 3-4 figures for this service.
- Position yourself with the credential most sought after by companies who hire resume subcontractors.
- Align yourself with the only resume writing organization known to provide both state-of-the-art resources in resume writing as well as 6-figure business-building.
Why else will job seekers care if I earn the CARW resume certification?
Potential clients can be confident in hiring you with your CARW because they will know you are:
- Ambitious in honing your craft and continuously maintaining contemporary knowledge of job-seeking trends and resume writing strategies.
- An experienced resume writing strategist; a professional who employs sound and tested knowledge to help job seekers secure interviews.
- Dedicated to professional development by attaining CEUs to maintain the credential.
- A cut above your competitors because you were willing to leverage your strengths by showing you are confident of your talents and willing to have them scrutinized by industry leaders.
Is the CARW certification recognized internationally?
Yes, the CARW is recognized internationally. CDI is proud to be an "international" organization with a certification panel made up of professionals in three countries who are experienced in writing and reviewing resumes from around the world. When you earn the CARW, you are encouraged to meet our standards but to also write for your market. We embrace the cultural and geographic differences of resume writing so that it won't count against someone who isn't simply writing for the US market.
When you earn the CARW, you can be proud to know it is recognized globally, and not limited to a single country.
Are there any other ways I'll benefit by electing to pursue CARW certification?
In addition to what is listed in the section above on "what is resume certification and why do I need it?", you will also receive:
- CDI's 113-page Resume Certification Guide (brand new for 2022), which walks you through the ins and outs of today's marketing resume along with instructions for formatting and multiple resume samples.
- Review of one resume to ensure you are ready for certification testing. (If you are not ready, you will receive extensive, valuable feedback to help you resubmit).
- CDI's 25 Things to Do With Your CARW Guide upon successful attainment of the credential. The guide is full of ready-made strategies for promoting and getting the most return on investment from your accomplishment.
- Ability to pursue advanced credentials such as the Certified Executive Resume Master, Certified Master Resume Writer, and any of our niche industry credentials.
- Access to CDI's entire member library filled with all the tools you need to advance your skills, price and package your services, maximize your time, and create a 6-figure business.
How much does it cost to become a CARW?
We keep the price low as we understand most people pursuing this level of certification are just starting out. Our rates make us one of the lowest costs of entry for earning resume certification.
We break the process into two steps:
Step One: Become a member of CDI (review monthly and annual options here) and purchase the first step in certification, which is only $50 US.
Step Two: Once your resume sample from step one has been approved, you would pay for the testing, which is only $150 US.
Total cost of CARW certification, excluding membership, is just $200 US.
How does the resume certification process work with the CARW credential?
There are just two phases to pass through in the certification process: evaluation and testing.
Evaluation (Step One)
Once you have invested $50 US for part one of the CARW, you will immediately receive access to CDI's 50-page Resume Certification Guide and resume check sheet. One you have reviewed the guide, you would then select a resume, tweaking it if necessary, to submit to the certification committee for a blind review.
Before submission you will need to first:
- Read the Certification Guide and recommended reading.
- Review your sample resume to make sure it is accomplishment-oriented and keyword rich (use the check sheet in the guide).
- Review your sample resume to ensure it is error-free (use the check sheet in the guide).
- Provide a brief description (one or two paragraphs) outlining: (a) the project situation / challenge and (b) explanation of choices for document style and information inclusion. This should be placed on the first blank page following your resume.
Once your sample resume has been reviewed, you will be advised as to whether you have been approved or denied to move on to the CARW exam phases. Should your sample not be approved, you will receive detailed feedback in order to guide you in improvement and resubmission. At any time as a CDI member, you also have access to dozens of resume writing lessons and how-to video tutorials. An additional sample submission will be accepted at no added cost. Should additional submissions be required, a $25 fee will be incurred for each one.
Testing (Step Two)
Once your sample has been approved in part one, you will be able to register for part two of the CARW for $150 US. After you have made your payment, you will complete the following three testing phases:
- Resume and Cover Letter Creation: Certification candidates are sent notes in MS Word on two fictional candidates and asked to create a resume, a cover letter, and a one-or two-paragraph justification for each document that outlines (a) the project situation/challenge and (b) explanation of choices for document style and information inclusion. One file contains client worksheets that have been completed and the other file contains raw notes. It is important that candidates can write effectively in both situations. Candidates have seven (7) business days to complete both resumes and cover letters.
- Short-Essay Questions on Client Information Gathering Strategies: If the candidate passes Part Two of the certification process (resume and cover letter development as described above), they will be asked to respond to a series of short essay questions probing the methods used to gather the necessary information to write a winning resume. The answers to these questions help the committee to better understand the candidate’s target audience, and reveal how the writer translates the information culled from these questions into a superior marketing tool. Candidates have three (3) business days to submit their completed essays.
- Final Exam: If the candidate passes Part Three of the certification process, they will be sent the final exam to determine their mastery of spelling and grammar and assess skills around client information gathering and interpretation, and writing and design strategy. Candidates have 60 minutes to submit their answers to the certification committee.
How do I know if I am ready for certification, and are there any prerequisites?
CDI’S expectation is that all candidates seeking CARW certification have previously studied and practiced the art of resume writing.
Your knowledge of the necessary competencies may come from appropriate books such as Resume Writing for Dummies, 8th edition; the CARW guide you receive with certification purchase; CDI member resume writing resources; and/or your actual paid or unpaid writing experience.
While there is no hard and fast rule concerning the years of experience a writer should have before taking the exam, the CDI certification committee recommends that the certification candidate has at least one year of writing experience prior to taking the exam.
Can I see samples of resumes that meet CDI's CARW standards?
Of course! We don't want you to feel intimidated by this process. The following resumes represent the pinnacle of performance in resume writing. While some of these demonstrate higher-end formatting and graphics, which exceed that required for the CARW, we believe you should be aware of and strive for the best!
Will my resumes have to be design-heavy like the CDI TORI award winners?
Absolutely not! As you can see from the resume samples above, some resumes provide advanced design techniques and others are relatively simple. Your goal with CARW resumes is to ensure that they meet the criteria in the resume checklist as laid out in the CARW resume certification guide:
- I have read the Certification Guide.
- I have reviewed my sample for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors.
- I have used powerful accomplishment (CAR/SAR) statements.
- I have created an appealing layout that uses white space along with a format that draws the eye to
- I have selected an appropriate font size and type.
- I have provided clear direction of career target/objective for the type of position the candidate is
- I have included a strong summary of qualifications section.
- I have front‐loaded the sample with appropriate key words.
- I have used an appropriate format for the candidate’s job target/situation.
- I have qualified and quantified results to showcase the candidate’s job.
- I have provided a brief description (one or two paragraphs) outlining: (a) the project
situation/challenge and (b) explanation of choices for document style and information inclusion
and placed this on the first blank page following the resume.
The majority of employment situations won't require TORI-level design work so that is NOT required to attain the CARW!
How long does the process of certification take from beginning to end?
The process of certification varies for each individual because only you know your current work situation and availability. The process can take as little as six to eight weeks for individuals willing to invest the time to complete all four stages of certification end-on-end.
Essentially you can take as long as you need within reasonable limits as long as you meet submission deadlines for each phase of certification. Submission deadlines for CARW candidates are as follows:
- Resume writing exam: You have seven (7) business days to return two resumes and two cover letters written from notes/worksheets provided.
- Essay Questions: You have three (3) business days to return responses to questions regarding your business practices and information gathering techniques
- Final exam: you have 60 minutes to complete the online exam.
After each phase you can take a break to fit in with your situation. Take the time you need to go at your own pace and schedule each phase to ensure the right balance for you.
Are there resources that can help me prepare or that CDI recommends?
Yes. The CDI Certification team has prepared a comprehensive manual outlining the criteria we look for when evaluating resume samples submitted for any of our certifications. This 50-page manual, which covers everything from grammar and punctuation to formatting, is included in your CARW step one fee of $50 US.
Additionally, there are numerous resume writing resources available (lessons, infographics, video tutorials, and more) in the CDI member section including successful resume submissions by TORI award winners.
Who will view my sample and my resumes? Will they know who I am?
Your samples and test resumes are viewed by a panel of CMRWs (Certified Master Resume Writers), some of whom have won or have been nominated for TORI awards. The Director of Certification handles the distribution of your documents and is the only person who knows your identity as the key contact point. This process includes giving your candidacy a unique number, renaming documents and “scrubbing” all samples and submissions of metadata—which means that all personally identifiable document properties have been removed—ensuring your anonymity to the entire panel.
Hand-picked to represent the best-of-the-best of the industry and its various resume certification procedures, the committee's current members include:
Certification Chair: Gayle Howard, CERM, CMRW, MRWLAA, MCD, MCPLAA, MRW, CPRW, CCM, BIC, HRCC, CWPP, CARW - Top Margin Resumes Online, Melbourne, Australia
Patricia Duckers, CMRW, CPRW, CEIP, CWPP, CFRW, CFRWC, MFCC, MFCC/T, MMRW - CareerPro Global, Inc., Edison, New Jersey
Barb Poole, CERM, CMRW, CARW, CCMC, CPRW, PHR, BS - Hire Imaging, Maple Grove, Minnesota
Gillian "Jill" Kelly, CERM, CMRW, MRWLAA, CARW, ATSC - Career Edge, Queensland, Australia
Erin Kennedy, CERM, CMRW, CPRW - Professional Resume Services, Lapeer, Michigan
Darlene Dassy, CERM, CMRW, CARW - Dynamic Resume Solutions, Sinking Springs, Pennsylvania
Michelle Lopez, CMRW, CRS+AF, CRS+ME, CARW - One2One Resumes, Western Australia
Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, CERM, CMRW, MRW, CPRW, CEIP - CareerTrend, Gordonville, Texas
Dawn S. Bugni, CMRW, MRW, CPRW - The Write Solution, Atkinson, North Carolina
Carolyn Whitfield, CMRW, CERM, CARW, CEIC, CP-OJSRM - Total Resumes, Tasmania, Australia
Scott Nichols, MBA, CERM, CGRA, CPRW, CEIC, CEIP - Advanced Method Resumes & Career Services, Granite Bay, California
Will I need to renew my CARW certification?
Once attained, the CARW Certification must be renewed every two (2) years by earning 30 industry-related continuing education units (CEUs). This can be completed through a variety of activities such as: employment-related book reviews, career-related community service, completing related coursework or study, publishing resumes, winning resume awards, and/or authoring articles, blog posts, and related materials on resume writing.
The renewal fee is $50.00. Download the Renewal Form.
Why is renewal necessary?
Because the craft of resume writing is dynamic and is swiftly changing with the advances in computer technology and applicant tracking / scanning as well as emerging legal issues involving resume fraud. These are just a few concerns that make it necessary for professionals to demonstrate ongoing education and knowledge of modern resume writing techniques.
Can I lose my CARW credential once earned?
All requirements of CARW certification, renewal, and CDI membership standards must be maintained in order to earn or retain the CARW credential.
CDI reserves the right to revoke a CARW credential for any of the following: Renewal requirements are not maintained and completed within required timelines. Membership lapses due to non-renewal. Individual is found guilty in a court of law for a grievance within the industry (unprofessional, unethical, unlawful conduct and/or business practices).
If my step one resume was approved, where do I go to pay for step two?
The email you received letting you know you were ready for step two points to a page in our website Store, which can be found at the top right of every website page. However, you can also purchase it with the link below.
Do you offer training if I realize I'm not ready for certification yet?
CDI offers the Resume Mastery course with CARW certification, which is a self-paced program designed and overseen by an award-winning, published resume writer. When you sign up for the Resume Mastery course, you know you are receive the highest level of education in resume writing and design preparing you to handle challenging resumes. Your investment is also backed by personalized feedback and support from the course creator. Upon successful completion, you will earn the CARW credential.
Learn about the Resume Mastery course.
I see you have more than one resume certification, so is the CARW where I should start?
If you have at least one year of experience in writing resumes but have not obtained any resume-writing certification, the CARW will be your goal. It will show that your talents have been industry scrutinized, tested and found to be superior.
If you are confident in your abilities and have existing certification (CARW, MRW, CPRW, NCRW, CMRS, CRS, MCRS, ACRW), then you are able to pursue one of CDI's top tier credentials, which include the Certified Master Resume Writer, Certified Executive Resume Master, and/or one of our niche industry Certified Resume Specialist credentials.
What if my sample in step one is denied?
If your sample is denied, it is because the panel feels that from the sample submitted you are not yet ready to meet the requirements of CDI’s credentialing process. To assist in your development, you will be provided with feedback on where your sample did not meet the key competencies along with recommendations on how you can continue to work on your skills to further develop your resume writing. You can then resubmit your sample again at a later point at no additional charge. Should additional submissions be required later, each additional sample submission is $25 US.
What happens if my resumes in step two testing are not approved?
If your resumes are not approved you will be provided with specific feedback and recommendations on how you can improve the documents. The Committee Chair will then provide you with details on the next steps available in the accreditation process.
What happens if I fail one of the tests in step two?
If you fail to progress in any component of the certification process, do not be discouraged. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to elevate your professional skills to a whole new level. CDI’s leaders will provide you with constructive feedback and recommendations on the next steps to take using the wealth of resources available through CDI in the members’ section, via the certification manual, or through our exclusive resume writing course. We have a vested interest in helping you grow and succeed so our members can be known as the best in the business.
Why would I select the CDI certification process over competing certifications elsewhere?
The CDI Certification is one of the most respected and fastest growing in the industry and the only certifying body with two distinctive tiers (the CARW and CMRW distinguishes and celebrates advanced and expert writers).
with CDI resume writing certification you become one of the elite group of writers globally recognized as the best of the best.
Look to the page side bar (bottom of page on mobile devices) to read some of our testimonials from other CARWs on the value of this respected credential.
I am in a country outside the US. Do I have to take the exam during US business hours?
The final examination is online allowing you to complete it in your own stress-free environment at a time and place convenient to you.
I live in a country outside the US. Will the exam be relevant to me?
CDI's membership boasts career professionals from across the globe. While each country has rules and approaches to resume writing that are country-specific, CDI’s examination covers the core principles and fundamental requirements of a professional resume that are universally recognized. If you are based outside of the US, questions in the examination will be relevant to you and the clients you represent.
I don’t write resumes in or for the United States of America. What value is a certification to me?
The certifications offered by CDI are relevant to professional resume writers across the globe. CDI’s extensive membership boasts career professionals worldwide—many of whom have more than one certification and are considered trailblazers in elevating the quality and reputation of resume writing in their own countries. The value of being backed by a prominent international organization is evident as clients seek resume writers that are clearly a “class above”.
Is membership required to become certified? Do I have to maintain my membership?
The CARW is granted to CDI members in good standing. In addition to maintaining membership in CDI, you must also show evidence of continuous learning and growth to ensure you move with the times in line with the evolving job markets. Certification is a process and is your commitment to growth, not a one-time occurrence.
I’ve heard of degree mills where you can buy a degree or certification. Is the CARW resume certification like that?
No not in the least! After more than a decade, the CARW is gaining traction as the certification for best-of-breed resume writing professionals. This rapidly growing awareness reflects the rigorous, non-compromising standards CDI employs in our testing processes and our ongoing reinforcement of the need to uphold standards. Public awareness and acknowledgement continues to grow as the demand for high quality resumes intensifies in today’s competitive job market. CDI leads the way in setting benchmarks for resume writers and career professionals.
Once I sign up do I receive immediate access to my certification materials?
After you complete your payment the web cart will take you directly to the CDI website to create your account and access your step one materials and instructions. If you already have an account, just enter your details on the login page that will pop up.
You can always access your materials from your dashboard under the link titled, "Courses".
Feedback from CARWs
Ready to make the leap? Sign up for the first step of the CARW now.
*Not a Member of CDI? Membership is a prerequisite.
Non-member registration includes one year of individual membership ($347 value) to Career Directors International: Your Pathway to Success, rich with ongoing support, networking, and new information.
If you are not currently a CDI member, please select the Non-Member rate below as it includes mandatory membership. For more information on membership or to select monthly membership instead, visit the Member Benefits page.
*If you are not currently a CDI member, please select the Non-Member rate above as it includes mandatory membership. For more information on membership visit the Member Benefits page.
If I still have questions, what should I do?
Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.