Robots to the Rescue?
Everything’s automated now. So why not automate the process of building a new resume?
The benefits are obvious: a resume. And fast. You enter a few action verbs and phrases, pick a template, and presto, the resume gods spit out a brand-new resume for you. As a resume writer, I thought about building something like this. I still might but I always come back to the same reasons why I don’t think it’s a good idea.
They can hurt more than help.
Who Needs Them
If you’ve got a linear career path with no job gaps or short-term jobs, and your most recent position and company are directly relevant to the job you are targeting, then a resume builder should be fine for you. You should catch the attention of recruiters and HR folks easily. Well done toeing the line.
Another scenario where resume builders work well is if you’re applying internally. That is, a job opened up at your company, and you need a resume to apply for it. As long as the people doing the hiring know exactly who you are, then it’s not such an imperative that you wow them with words on your resume. A slight caveat, though: you may be surprised how little people know about what you do, including the colleagues you talk to every day.
Who Should Avoid Resume Builders
Resume builders don’t allow you to pick and choose where to put content, such as titles, company names, dates, education, certifications, and skills. You’re stuck with a template. The template decides which foot you put forward first, and that can mean a dangerous step in the wrong direction.
For example, if you have a job gap or a short-term gap, having prominent dates could be a problem. If your job titles don’t match up with the industry, showcasing titles might trip you up. If you just got a groovy new certification, but the template forces you to put it at the bottom of the resume, under your education, then you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
Resume-builders don’t allow you to have subheadings, sidebars, case studies, and other callouts in your Experience section. It’s tricks like these that help to tell an accurate story, visually and literally.
Another big gripe about resume builders: they rarely offer the option of creating a summary section. You’ll usually be allowed to create a massive keyword list, which is critical, but you won’t have a nice juicy intro on your resume saying who you are and what you’re about.
This leads me to the biggest issue with Resume Builders…
The content comes from you.
You’re already struggling with what to say. It’s hard to know what to include and what to leave out, what to infer and what to explicitly state.
No resume builder is going to help you with this.
Alternatives to Resume Builders
There are a few paths you can take to free yourself of the burden of building your own resume (or outsourcing to a bot).
- Use job listings. Pick out 3 target jobs with the exact same title at different companies and analyze the crap out of them. Highlight common keywords and come up with a short list of the highest priority job duties and qualifications (i.e. whatever they list first). This content should be on your resume. Pro tip: used a word cloud tool to see what keywords and phrases pop up the most.
- Talk to a hiring manager. They’re the ones who have all the answers. If you don’t already know someone who has hired for your specific position, line up an informational interview. Then ask this person what they’re looking for. Get the answers to the test. Then you’ll know what to say on your resume.
- Take a course. Consider enrolling in an online class about building resumes. Just make sure there is a part in the course about overcoming specific work-history challenges you may face. For example, if you have a job gap, you’re going to need to figure out how to deal with that on paper.
- Hire a resume writer. Ever tried to fix your own car or toilet and ended up with a bigger mess than when you started? The same is true with your career. Keep it in good hands, expert hands. With a good resume writer, all you have to do is talk about your jobs; they’ll know what to include and leave out, how to say it so the hiring folks will be pleased, and where to put everything on the page so that the readers’ eye is directed in the appropriate sequence.
Sometimes a robot can’t do a human’s job. When it comes to mapping out your career and telling your life’s story on 1 or 2 pages, resume builders are usually going to come up short. It’s tempting to want to believe you can magically create a winning resume with the click of a button, but…
If your career runs a path that is anything but straight and narrow, think twice before you push that button.