After the last resume writing class I taught, a woman showed me her resume, and the first thing that I noticed was the raggedness of the dates along the right margin. She had tried to use the “space” or “tab” keys to move the dates to the right margin, but they weren’t lined up quite right. Even after explaining how to set a right-hand tab stop, the document still didn’t look right. I usually don’t “fix” a person’s resume file (job searchers need to know how to do it themselves because of the need to continually update resumes), but this time I gave in and just fixed it.
Many people struggle with the idiosyncrasies of Microsoft Word when crafting their resumes. Most job seekers have never needed to master this tool, yet the necessity of a nicely formatted resume is critical in today’s job hunt. However, there are alternatives to using Word when authoring your resume. There are many “resume builder” tools on the market – online, PC-based, free, partially-free, etc. Several of these are worth considering if you are not a Word expert.
I’ve tried a number of these on-line and PC-based tools. They each offer different features and benefits. The online tools generally try to retain you as a paid subscriber — offering you free resume “building” features while limiting some advanced features such as printing, saving, distribution or phone-support options until you pay their fees. The PC-based tools generally give you the full print and save options, but you pay more when using their online features or if you want to download other templates. Both online and PC-based resume builders generally offer forums, blogs, experts or other “human help”, but most with a fee beyond the most basic support.
If you want to go the online resume builder route, the two I’ve had modest success with are Resumizer and Pongo. I like the Pongo interface better and it works well with most browsers. A drawback of Pongo is that to print or distribute your resume costs $15 monthly or $60 annually, which I find a bit high considering the average job searcher today is out of work (and money) for over six months. On the other hand, Resumizer is a free service with a more limited (less intuitive) interface than Pongo, but it provides some additional free printing/saving options (HTML, TXT, PDF, but no Word formats). Both of these tools offer various online and live support features…just make sure you take full advantage of their services if you decide to subscribe.
I also checked out a few PC-based resume tools. I’ve used Resume Maker in the past and I continue to like it, even with its quirks. With numerous print options, resume formats, online resume publishing, action word list, spell checker, contact manager, and other built-in tools, it is more “feature rich” than the online services, but limited “live” services. In addition, since I got Resume Maker Pro for a one-time cost of $11.99, it made it a very economical solution.
While these resume writing and authoring tools can format and structure your resumes nicely (better than many of us can do with Word), they still can’t solve the biggest problem with most resumes — the content. If you have gaps in your employment, these resume builders don’t know how to help you hide it. If you prefer a functional-styled resume, these tools aren’t really designed to help you build it. If your resume has terrible grammar, these tools can’t correct it. Nevertheless, for helping organize and format your resume, I think any of these can be a benefit if you’re willing to put in the time to work with them.
Bottom Line: Resume builder tools can be a benefit to those of you that are struggling to get a resume properly formatted and structured. There are many online tools on the market, but watch for the monthly fees. Try out several of them to see which you like before you subscribe. PC-based tools have been around for years and are generally more refined and full-featured, plus they only have an up-front cost rather than monthly fees. These tools can fix the weak formatting, but not the poorly written content. Make sure you read the other articles on this blog so you can develop a solid resume.
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