5 Things to Do Before Using a Resume Builder

Lauren McAdams

A resume builder can be a helpful tool, but chances are you won’t need one if you arm yourself with some knowledge.

Below I will discuss the top five questions you should answer for yourself before jumping to a resume builder.

When job seekers start looking for work, they first think about writing a resume.

They search for “resume” online 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.

Here are five things to ask yourself before you employ a resume builder…

1) Have you read resume writing guides?

Most people who use a resume builder are flushed with urgency.

I need a job now!

they feel, and the convenience of using one is attractive.

However, if they took a minute to peruse the rest of these websites, job seekers would notice that literally all the instructions for writing their 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 as no program could.

You avoid any fees that may be charged.

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Most importantly, you can make, print, and change it however you’d like.

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2) Have you downloaded free templates and edited those?

Just like resume writing guides, most job search websites offer free-to-download examples in various formats.

At this point, you’re 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:

As long as yours looks pretty close to the template, there is no need to start from scratch or sign-up for a resume builder service.

3) Have you posted on Reddit Resumes or other forums?

r/Resumes is a wonderful resource for job seekers unsure whether their resume is strong.

It’s a whole community of job seekers and well-wishers who want to help out.

Also, several career advisors frequent the forum, offering free and practical advice.

Pro-tip: I visit the resumes subreddit just about every day.

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.

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 put your resume to the test?

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Have you sent it to different companies and hiring managers?

Have you used a cover letter as well?

Or has your 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 draft has gotten you in the door for an interview or two, it might be 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 respond 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 impressive, but it’s too general.

Perhaps you haven’t targeted it at the jobs you are applying to.

If this is the case, no resume builder will fix that.

Unfortunately, you must take the time to give each application a custom document.

If you answer no to any of these, 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, try those suggestions first.

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. 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.
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Resume builders can be an excellent tool for those who need them.

However, the fact is, lots of people who use them don’t 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.

Have you ever used a resume builder?

What was your experience like?

Tell us in the comment section!

Lauren McAdams
Lauren McAdams is a hiring manager, career consultant, and lead writer at ResumeCompanion.com. She’s been quoted by sites like Forbes, Fox Business, and TechRepublic, and her resume templates and career advice on Resume Companion have helped hundreds of applicants find their dream jobs. When she’s not busy enriching the lives of job seekers, she’s either sipping on coffee or a glass of wine - depending on the time of day of course.
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