When job seekers start looking for work, the first thing they think to do is write a resume. They go online and search for “resume”, and are flooded with a deluge of contradictory advice, products, and resources – especially on resume builders.
While career advisors might not always agree on the best way to interview or compose a resume, there are some situations where we see eye to eye. Even though I am employed by a site with a resume builder as its centerpiece, I am here to tell you that you probably don’t need to use it.
Top 5 Questions To Ask Before Using a Resume Builder
1) Have you read resume writing guides?
Most people who use a resume builder are flushed with a sense of urgency. “I need a job now!” they feel, and the convenience of using one is attractive. However, if they’d take a minute to peruse the rest of these websites, job seekers would notice that literally all of the instructions for writing their own resume are freely available.
It might take a little longer – a few hours of work perhaps – but writing your own offers a few notable benefits. You’re able to customize it like no program could. You avoid any fees that may be charged. Most importantly, you can make, print, and change it however you’d like.
2) Have you downloaded free templates and edited those?
Just like the resume writing guides, most job search websites offer free-to-download examples in various formats. At this point, you’re basically downloading the builder with NO sign-up.
Here’s how to do it:
- Download the template you like.
- Make a copy of it.
- Open the copy and the original next to each other.
- Enter your info into the copy the same way it appears on the original template.
Here are a few great places to find FREE resume templates:
- Resume Companion
- Resume Genius
- Primer Magazine
As long as yours looks pretty close to the template, there is no need to start from scratch or sign-up for a service.
3) Have you posted on Reddit Resumes or other forums?
r/Resumes is a wonderful resource for job seekers who aren’t sure whether their resume is strong or not. It’s a whole community of job seekers and well-wishers who want to help out. Also, there are a number of career advisors who frequent the forum, offering free and practical advice.
Pro-tip: I visit the resumes sub-reddit just about everyday. No, I won’t tell you my username.
Reddit isn’t the only place for free and specific advice either. Actuarial Outpost has a robust forum, as does Wall Street Oasis. Just make an account, post your documents, and watch the critiques pour in. Just don’t have too thin of skin, okay?
4) Have you tried your own and been unsuccessful?
Another obvious question – have you actually put your resume to the test? Have you sent it to different companies and hiring managers? Have you used a cover letter as well? Or, has your own draft led to job interviews, but NO job? If you haven’t tried this stuff yet, hold off on using a resume builder – try your own first.
If your own draft has gotten you in the door for an interview or two, then it might be just fine. Your problem, if this is the case, isn’t your resume, but something about your interview style. Be sure to re-think how you are responding to questions, and check out some interview guides.
5) Have you customized your resumes for the positions you’re applying for?
Finally, maybe your resume is amazing, but it’s too general. Perhaps you haven’t targeted it at the specific jobs you are applying to. If this is the case, no resume builder is going to fix that. Unfortunately, you need to take the time and give EACH application a custom document.
If you answer no to any of these, then you don’t need a builder… YET.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t use an online service. The point is that there is A LOT to try before resorting to having a program write your resume for you. If you have answered “no” to any of the above questions, maybe try those suggestions first.
Bonus: Okay, then when should I use an online resume builder?
Of course, there is a time and a place for these services:
- If you are short on time. Like you need to send a resume in the next hour to get a job.
- If you are frustrated by the process and tired of trying to work it out when you haven’t had success.
- When you’ve tried everything above and it hasn’t worked.
Resume builders can be a wonderful tool for those who need them. However, the fact is, lots of people who use them don’t actually need to. Before you bust out your credit card and give all your info to one of these sites, try to work it out on your own first.