Other Online Resume Options: Using Google Docs

Originally published inĀ Job Resource Librarian
Even though I like to find new ways to help my patrons, I realize that some of my assumptions about their needs can be incorrect. Lately, when I’ve attempted to “wow” my users with an online resume builder application, a look of nervous horror crosses their faces. After the third time this happened, I began to realize why:

Most days, my patrons walk in the door with a paper copy of their resume. All they want to do is walk out the door with an electronic copy saved somewhere in cyberspace. They are not really interested in going through the trouble of using drop down menus, clicking the mouse, or doing anything that my perfect little resume wizard has provided for them. To fuss with the multiple steps of a wizard is much more complicated than opening a clean document and just starting to type.
Ironically, although it was probably created with the new computer user in mind, using an online resume builder is actually much easier for someone who is already comfortable using the computer. A perfect example would be someone who knows his way around the internet, but is not very proficient at setting up proper resume formatting. For most of my patrons, this exactly the opposite of how they feel. In my recent experience, I have realized that it is easier and more familiar to use a plain Google Doc than it is to use a wizard, a template, or anything else. And I have come to accept this because in every one-on-one that I have taught recently, I have shown people the two options, and they have overwhelmingly chosen the plain Google doc (See basic desktop below).

This is actually just as well for me because the difference between setting up a Google account versus setting up an Illinois workNet account is like night and day. Setting a new user up with a Google account is one of the easiest things one can do– except for the security code on the bottom which seems to throw everyone off. Setting up accounts with the other services require staring at a badly designed collage of confusing empty fields. I always have to explain,”No, you don’t have to put in your social security number,” or “No, just skip that field-it’s really confusing.” With Google, when assisting a new user, I can pretty much guarantee that he will be able to get back into his account after the patron is no longer with me. In two days, he will be able to use my quick tips sheet, and edit his resume as needed. Google Docs is not perfect- and as we all know, the formatting gets wonky every so often, but for the most part it’s clean and it works. And the document is downloadable in almost any format one would need. And saved easily for future use. (Below is an example of the new template gallery that is also available).

Using Google Docs (and/or their new templates) has actually been conterintuitive for me. I have tried so hard to find easy ways for people to create a resume, and I just didn’t want to succumb to Google. But after working with patrons, I’ve realized that this method is actually the closest thing to typing up a resume on a typewriter or word processor. The best part is that I can then easily show them how to download and use their resume in various formats.
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  1. Juliette, I agree with everything you write in this post and find that it mirrors my own experiences with patrons. Do you find you have better results getting patrons to use a google doc resume template or just starting from scratch with a blank document and then helping them format it afterwards with bold/italics etc? Sometimes I think the process of deleting the standard template text and inserting their own is a little overwhelming for people but maybe it’s worth the trouble in the end? Thanks so much for this blog!

  2. Woot! You’re my first official comment :-). Thanks, Abby for your comments. To answer your question, yes, in my experience, it has been easier for patrons to just type the information on a blank screen instead of using a template. This has been working best for me because I’ve been requiring people to bring in a paper resume to get them started. If they had nothing, then I think the templates would be a bit easier (a very EASY template). BTW, I promise to get the resource sheets up here in pdf format so you can print them (even though I’m sure you have your own too). Keep up the great work!