Resume Builders: Are Free Resume Builders Really Free or Good?
I'm writing this because I've been reading online resume builder reviews where people talk about what they feel are deceptive marketing promises from "free" or relatively low-cost online resume builder companies. Should you trust any of these resume help products? Can they really offer job seekers professional-quality resumes?
Well, the answer isn't a simple yes or no. Let's say a qualified maybe … plus a buyer beware and AWARE. To help you understand more about what you can or can't expect, first a few facts.
What can automated resume builders do?
Resume builders can help people prepare their resumes … but you need to participate. Job seekers can't expect them, all on their own, to deliver a quality finished product, especially for such a modest amount. In contrast, professional resume writing services can run hundreds of dollars or more!
Ideally, good online resume builders assist you in organizing your thoughts and in creating a professional-looking resume (will still need your input and editing). At the very least, they should be able to get you started in the right direction, providing a framework (format) and guiding you through the resume writing process.
What can't resume builders do?
They can't decide what information about you is truly important for targeting jobs you want. There's an old phrase GIGO – meaning garbage in and garbage out. An automated process can't think or judge quality nor effectiveness for your individual needs.
They will offer you the ability to input critical information about you and your accomplishments (with some offering canned phrases), but it's you and your eyes that need to help customize it in a way that works for you. You can't expect them to magically do it all. Even the good ones.
What about those "free" resume builders?
So. You see an ad on some website or get a search result pointing you to a FREE resume builder. Wuhoo! You need help, but why pay for it? And look at all those amazing promises!
But often, the free part only lets you try it out, not print or download so you can continue working. I mean these companies are in it to make money, so I'm not against charging. It's just you don't always see the small print or warnings (if they exist) that you'll be charged. Sometimes EVERY month.
They also may not have the best quality resume templates (even if they say they do) or real resume professionals to help you make sure (including careful proofreading) that the product is a good one. But the biggest problem is, if you're not a resume pro, how can you know any of that and protect yourself?
What kind of resume builder service can I trust?
There are resume builders that charge one flat fee upfront, with "no hidden fees." Personally, I'd prefer that. While I make it a habit not to recommend specific products on this site, it's worth keeping that in mind when looking. And pay special attention to any hard sells or any unprofessional-looking search result promotions.
But flat rate or not, you still need to be an active player in something so important that's being created on your behalf. Take time to make sure you're entering information that speaks as directly as possible to requirements for jobs you want NOW, not just what you did in the past.
Also, with cautions in mind even for not-quite-free resume builders, if you still want to try them, make sure to monitor your credit card. And read everything they show or send you (small print too) very carefully — even things like permission to use your resume. [You want to make sure your resume is not used by the company without specific, considered permission.]
A few more thoughts
I've spoken to people from those almost, kinda, but-not-really-free resume builders, as well as from services with no hidden fees. And I want to be fair. What I've presented here represents how I see things. There may be some well-intended kinda free companies that actually offer a pretty good product.
But I would, at the very least, take a moment or two to research whatever company you're thinking of working with, whether it's a resume builder (free or paid) or even fee-based professional resume writing services. And I would read the small print VERY carefully and ask questions where you can.
All that said, no matter how you go about it, be sure to participate in the process and guide it to the best of your ability, so your resume represents you well. The more your resume fits you and the jobs you apply for, the better your chances at finding the right job.