Frequently Asked Questions

As you can imagine, over 30 years, we’ve been asked a lot of questions. We’ve compiled the ones we’ve received the most, and answered them here to save you time.

HELP! Can you meet my job application deadline? Applications close in a week!

The short answer, is, unfortunately, no. Our packages take time and effort from both of us to get right. We give your project everything we’ve got; we leave no stone unturned in unearthing information that builds a compelling case for your services from start-to-finish, and we give you the time you need to remember your career in detail. This takes time. (Generally about four weeks for basic packages and up to six weeks for our full multi-service packages). Communicating your unique promise of value is our aim. Every word, every phrase and every strategy counts towards your career success; no shortcuts, no compromises. Just like a finely-tailored suit or a custom-made car, your resume will fit seamlessly between where you are now, and where you’re going. Our long list of projects at any one time leaves no time for urgent work. Your next career move needs to be well thought-out, strategically planned and prepared because the most successful candidates are always those who plan their career moves strategically weeks and months before they need to start in earnest

How do I go about getting you to write for me? How does your service work?

  • You decide you love us and desperately want us to work for you.
  • You select and pay for the package that best suits your needs using Visa, Mastercard, PayPal (or PayPal Pay in 4).
  • We ask you a lot of questions via our online worksheets which you complete.
  • We place your project on the writing queue and when we’re up to you, Gayle starts writing.
  • Your resume is presented for review. Two drafts, and sign off. Done!

What about I offer you a deal? When I get a job, I’ll pay you double! Or I’ll send four people to you if you give me a discount!

We love to receive referrals thanks! But we have our own rewards programs for our loyal customers. As for discounts, when you purchase resume or coaching services, it’s not like buying a washing machine or TV. There’s no middleman or wholesale-to-retail mark-ups to be discounted. Writing and coaching is a specialist service that has taken more than three decades and countless training hours to hone and refine. Please don’t ask us to take less. Our guess is you wouldn’t be happy to arrive at the pay office and have the payroll officer trying to discount your pay!

I’m an executive lion tamer with a background in creating widgets. Have you written for my occupation before?

We’ve been in business since 1990 and we’ve written more than 15,000 resumes. From programmers to executives, from marketing managers to sound engineers and all points in between, it would be a rare job that hasn’t passed Gayle’s desk. Today we’ve settled comfortably in the management and executive arena, across a wide range of industries from IT to sales and marketing, events management, retail, logistics, and more. With a global network of specialists at our disposal, in-depth insight is never further than an email away.

I’ve had my resume written by someone else and it’s awful. Can you fix it?

Yes… and no. First, we’ve seen a lot of bad resumes over the years… and yes, some of those resumes have been from professional writing firms. That’s often because people can call themselves anything they like and there are some who fail to grasp what you do and what’s important to you. However, sometimes job seekers can be overly critical too or just simply not possess the knowledge of contemporary job search. We believe it’s more important to test the market with your resume before you shop it around to another resume writer. You never know—what you like personally and what the market wants, can be complete opposites! So this is what we’ll do: if you bring the resume to us, we’ll look at it dispassionately and ask ourselves: is the resume poorly written, not targeted to your goal or in line with current trends? Could we make a difference and do it better? Are you being reasonable in your dislike of the document or is your assessment coloured by a lack of knowledge, a dislike of the service you used, or an unachievable aim for perfection? Is your job target achievable and finally, are you willing to devote the time and effort to do it all again? Once we review the situation, we’ll give you a frank assessment of what we consider the next steps to be. Please note that we never ‘update’ a resume written by another firm. If we think we can help, we’ll be rewriting it from scratch. If you don’t like it then there’s no point ‘rearranging a few words’ and hoping it will be transformed. It won’t.

I hear a lot about Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and I’m concerned about formatting

A scannable resume or an ATS resume meant for automated tracking systems, is needed when a job applicant is applying online or when that type of resume is requested. Professional resume writers advise their clients to first have a visual resume—one that combines visual impact, spatial segmentation of content for readability, and strategic branding to tease out the job seeker’s unique value. To complement this resume, a scannable version is often needed. Depending on the method of job search this may be an ATS resume which is customized for each position or it might simply be a plain text resume. Both of these require “dumbing down” the format by stripping out the elements that make it friendly for a human while ensuring the keywords are needed to match the job ad. There are also methods whereby a visual resume that is ATS friendly can be created—although it is time-consuming and difficult to edit if you are not an expert with Microsoft Word (ask us about this service though!) When opportunities emerge for a job seeker where there is limited certainty on what version to use, it is a good idea to send both. A simple line in the cover letter stating, “For your convenience, I have also included an ATS-friendly resume” will suffice. Special thanks to

If I don’t get a job or an interview, it’s your fault. Right?

Wrong. Some services provide an interview guarantee. It’s marketing. That’s fine—whatever works for them. The only problem is some services say they’ll write it again if you don’t get an interview! Write it again? Inconvenience you while they think of another strategy? No way, that’s not for us at all. We do it right the first time! What we cannot do, is step in and stop you applying for a job outside the scope of the resume, or spelling the search consultant’s name incorrectly, or applying for jobs where there are hundreds or thousands of applicants, or stopping you making changes to your beautiful document that look amateurish or that damage a document’s format. We simply cannot guarantee what we cannot control. We can, however, control the development process and ensure that the documents are the best they can be to represent you. We’ll work with you on the part we can control until we are sure you’re over-the-moon with the outcome.

Do you guarantee employment?

If we could guarantee employment, all governments would hire us to eliminate unemployment worldwide. The pay would be better and we’d be basking in the glory of solving a global problem. The answer is, of course, no. Nobody can.

I am a people person. I like looking deep into the eyes of a resume writer. When and where do we meet?

We love people too. In fact, we work with people right around the world—from Australia to Venezuela, from London to California, Spain to Thailand, China to France. There has not yet been one client who felt that their resume was in any way compromised by not hopping on a jet to spend time with us personally. Once you experience virtual collaborations you’ll be amazed at how immediate, individualised and convenient these type of communications are. Time zones are not an issue, you don’t need to take the time out of your busy day to meet with us and wrack your brains to come up with examples of achievements before the meeting draws to a close. Seriously, you have better things to do with your time. Trust us, our system works astonishingly well.

What is the difference between a cover letter and an enote?

A traditional cover letter is around a page long and it typically accompanies a resume. It can be written to apply for advertised roles, or simply to target companies that you have researched and would like to work for. The cover letter speaks of your background and highlights achievements. It is an excellent vehicle for explaining difficult issues that are not in your resume such as: why you’re applying for a job in a different state, or industry, or for a role you’ve not held before. An E-Note is the cover letter of the digital age. Focused on clarity, power, and rapid reading, the E-note is used in the body of an email or to paste in a job board field when submitting an application. There is room for both of them in the world of job search, and the E-note is rapidly becoming the default. Both documents are included in the Ultimate Influence package. We have written an article about E-notes to tell you more in our blog. Read it 

How do I pay for my resume? Is this a secure site?

We commence work upon receipt of your payment. Our payment gateway is managed on a secure server and encrypted to bank standards. Your credit card details are not held on our servers but are transferred encrypted by the financial gateway and the credit card companies. Top Margin accepts Visa, MasterCard, Amex, ApplePay, GooglePay and PayPal. You may also take advantage of your Internet banking system to transfer funds directly into our account if you are in Australia. Sorry—no cheques, money orders, or bank cheques accepted.

Some of the words on this site are spelled incorrectly!

Well-meaning people raise this issue from time-to-time. Mostly we receive such comments from our North American visitors who believe that words such as centre (center), organised (organized), specialise (specialize), recognise (recognize), colour (color), licence (license), defence (defense), aluminium (aluminum), travelling (traveling) and so on are not spelled correctly. Top Margin is an Australian company. Australians adopt the Australian-English spelling style. Americans have adopted the American/English spelling style. As we are primarily talking to our Australian audiences, we use the spelling adopted by our country. However, we are also experts in writing for the North American market, so please be assured that when we create a resume for you, we’ll spell it

I want a refund as I’ve changed my mind

Sorry, no. Top Margin is not selling a refrigerator, TV or washing machine. We are developing documents specifically for you based on your experience, training and career desires. We can’t resell this service to anyone else if you change your mind. However, we are relentless in ensuring you are entirely happy with the package you purchase. You will be asked to sign off on the document(s) only when they are complete and you are satisfied.

I cancelled my order before we started because I changed my mind/couldn’t be bothered filling in forms or didn’t read the website properly. Why the admin charge?

It is one thing to click on submit twice and incur a double charge by mistake. That happens and we’re not about to penalise you for it. We’re all human and we’ve all had this happen at one time or another. Clearly, we’re not going to charge for a mistake and we’ll refund your payment promptly. It is another thing to order a resume, have us raise an invoice in our accounting software, send you welcome emails, provide information on how things are going to work, set up your file, place your project on the writing schedule, send you documents, create a collaboration area for you, and do all of that, only for you to say… “hmmm, I just saw another service that I like better”, or “I decided I really don’t like working on computers” or “I didn’t realise I actually had to participate in this” or “On reflection, I think I’ll stay where I am”. That’s all well and good but we’ve just a good deal of time devoted entirely to you. Time we could have been helping someone else. It really is only fair that if you change your mind, you put matters right. After all, we didn’t change our minds! We are serious about your job search and keen to get started. Don’t worry, we are fair and it is only a minimal fee; a small token that to be honest doesn’t really come close to the effort we expend. We’re like you. All we ask is to be paid for the work we do for you. Nothing more, nothing less.

Are hard copies included?

Very few job seekers print and send their applications by mail these days and even if they do, the most inexpensive printers produce laser-like results. Most job seekers today are used to uploading resumes to job sites or attaching to an email. It’s quick, easy and convenient. Paper copies and folders tend to be of a different, slower era (maybe you remember it—it was in the distant past when the post office used to deliver on time!) Top Margin is also acutely aware of resources and we take pride in using a minimum amount of paper, toners and ink as we have become close to the utopia of a “paperless” office.

Could you look at my resume and critique it?

Yes! Our fee for a resume review is here. (Existing Resume Review/Critique). We review your current resume and return the document to you with comments and tracked changes in MS Word. We are also happy to review your Linkedin profile. For the resume service, we will also provide you with a one-page summary that provides a rationale for the recommendations we have made. It is up to you whether you want to adopt some, none or all of the recommendations. To provide you with a guide to see, understand and act on our suggestions better, we include in the price, a bonus! The ebook version of Gayle’s published book, PS… You Need a Resume! No generic reports for us! This is YOUR resume and the recommendations are personalised for you. We do not have a free service.

What currency are the packages in?

Our site transacts services in Australian dollars and 10% GST (Goods and Services Tax) is added at checkout.


These acronyms represent our training and examinations over 30 years. The CMRW (Certified Master Resume Writer) is an elite credential held by just a handful of professionals worldwide and delegated by Career Directors International. Other equally respected industry credentials can be reviewed and verified at Career Directors International.

I would like to start my own resume writing business—can you train or mentor me?

Of course! As a mentor of up-and-coming talent, Gayle Howard has helped many people enter the world of resume writing and boost their potential to generate an income with proven tools and techniques. Resume writing can be an amazing career for the right people and Gayle can help you save time and money by providing you with the knowledge she’s gained as a top-tier resume writer for more than 30 years. Gayle’s trains and mentors, and she provides supervised feedback on assignments and quizzes. You can view it here:

Why all the awards? Isn’t this just self-gratification?

In just about every walk of life and every career profession, there is someone who excels. Someone who stands up; elevates the reputation of the industry and achieves recognition from his or her peers. The Nobel Peace Prize recognises individuals who excel in making our world a better place; the Oscars, Grammys and Emmys acknowledge superior acting and musical performances; the Pulitzer Prize rewards contemporary writing; and the Archibald, artistic merit. The list of industries that publicly acknowledge professional excellence that in turn, inspires others to strive for similar success, is endless.The ultimate beneficiaries of our expertise, our clients, are our greatest personal reward for the efforts we expend in pursuing excellence and maximising our skills. But it is not just about personal rewards. It is about elevating the profile of the industry and raising the bar for others to aspire. The resume-writing industry is strengthened by people invested in surpassing clients’ expectations. Not just anyone can excel in the art of resume writing. The fast turnover of fly-by-night businesses run by stay-at-home mums and students armed with Word templates and computers will tell you that. Recognition is about separating the talented from the run of the mill and inspiring professionals to reach for the sky.

Self-promotion? Hardly! Certification and professional affiliation are about giving back to the industry in a tangible way so that you, the client, can benefit from the knowledge and quality of the person who serves you.