Online Resume Wizards: The Good, Bad, and the Ugly

Originally published inĀ Job Resource Librarian
Let’s just be honest. Resumes are not that much fun to write. It always takes longer than it should to type and format it in a professional manner. Some would think that this would be especially frustrating for new computer users. In many ways technology has made life difficult for people who are not comfortable using the computer. With resume writing, however, technology has made writing and formatting a simple, but concise resume easier to do. In this blog post, I will write about a few different “resume wizards” or “resume builders” that can help a beginning user create a workable, usable electronic resume.

There are a variety of different resume creation tools. A quick Google search demonstrates that some of them like The Resume Builder charge a fee for the service, whereas others like How to Write a Resume.net are free–or so you think… The main issue with a lot of these supposedly “free” sites are that the user thinks it is free, but then when he needs to download the file in anything other than html or txt it costs $10.99 or more! Many times, this cost isn’t stated on the homepage, either, so the user will probably figure this out after he’s put all the effort into typing in the information. To be honest, this happens a lot, and I’ve ended up sorrowfully helping patrons rewrite their resumes using a different tool after they have gotten to this point.

Another option is to use the Resume Builder on Hot Jobs . Once the user logs into Yahoo, this option becomes available. The resume is easy enough to fill out, but once again, it’s the formatting of the document that is the issue. The the resume is only printable as an html or txt file. If the user selects the option to email the file, it arrives, rather unprofessionally, with both those options, with a third option of downloading it as a Google Doc. That seems like way too much effort for the possible employer, nor does it leave a very professional impression. So, once again, this tool will not help the average user create a professional looking free resume.

For me, for a resume builder to be successful, I really need it to be a) intuitive, b) free, and c) downloadable in various formats. As a result of my self-created resume builder rules, I have ended up suggesting that most beginning users (users who really do not want, or need to bother with formatting a resume on their own) use either the resume builder on Career Coach , or the Illinois workNet Online Resume Tool. Both require creating a login, but both are easy to use.

One of the drawbacks to using the Career Coach builder is that as far as I could tell, there wasn’t an easy way to email the resume, nor was there an option to download it in Word. In fact, the only download option was to a pdf. Now, I’m a fan of pdf files because they are clean, and can be opened anywhere. The only thing is that for certain circumstances, I think having the option to download into word can be really helpful, as well as look more profressional.

So, this leads us to the resume builder that I use the most often, and that is the Illinois workNet tool. Every time I have shown this resource to a patron (or librarian), they have been excited by it. The tool is a step-by-step wizard (13 steps) that allow a user to enter his information into an online form (see screenshots). The wizard then formats a resume for him. The resume itself is saved online and available for downloading in Word, rtf, html, or pdf. A partial screenshot of the pdf looks a like this:

As you can see from the pdf above, it provides a basic resume in a clean format. Many of the drop-down selectionals also link to sample text that the user has the option of choosing. The actual resume builder example is below:


Notice the “Comments” section. This customized section allows for free text, but also has the option to “Insert Sample Text.” There is also a spell checker (but no grammar checker).

One of the other benefits to using this tool is that users can save up to twenty different versions of their resume. This means if they are applying to different types of jobs, they can customize the information in the resume. The only downside to using this resource is that it takes a few clicks to get into it each time (First go to Illinois workNet, then log in, then click…then click.. then click…). This however is a small price to pay for the ease and reliability of the tool itself.
In my next post, I will focus on the next step up–resume templates.

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