Creating an effective and professional résumé can often be a time-consuming and daunting task — whether you’re a recent graduate looking for your first “real” job or an experienced professional hoping to move on to greener pastures. But the good news is that there are many tools and resources out there that can help you through the process.
Like a résumé builder, for example — specialist software that simplifies the creation of a visually appealing résumé.
In this guide, we’ll learn all about résumé builders: what they are, whether they’re worth it, and how to choose the right one for you.
A résumé builder, or résumé maker, is an online interactive tool that you can use to quickly and easily create a résumé.
Essentially, you choose a predesigned résumé template from a range of options, and then fill it out with your contact details, career and educational background, skills, and other relevant information that will support your overall candidacy for the job you’re applying for.
That said, no two résumé builders are built the same. Some are more advanced than others, and come with enhanced features like drag-and-drop functionality, AI writing assistance, readability scoring and ATS-compliance checks. Meanwhile, some builders are catered towards specific industries, though most target all types of jobseekers.
“Okay, I know what it is,” you think to yourself. “But should I use a résumé builder?” Well, there are many advantages worth considering, such as:
1. You save time
One of the biggest benefits of using a builder is that, in doing so, you drastically decrease the amount of time you need to put a résumé together. As these tools take care of the design and formatting aspects of your résumé, all you have to do is fill in the blanks with details about your career journey. Which is quite useful if you’re not all too familiar with, say, Word’s often complicated format and layout functions.
Meanwhile, some builders provide content suggestions, prompts and examples for each section, making it easier to write impactful descriptions and bullet points — saving you even more time in the process. (This can be incredibly helpful if you’re suffering from writer’s block — just remember to rework suggestions around your own unique experiences and achievements.)
2. They’re easy to use
Most builders are developed to provide an intuitive interface with drag-and-drop functionalities and editable forms to easily develop an effective résumé. All you really have to do is complete the fields with all your information, and you’re good to go.
Some tools, meanwhile, will walk you through the creation of your résumé step by step, focusing on one section at a time, from the header to your skills — offering useful insights along the way so you know what to do and what not to do. They sometimes even include spellcheck features and will highlight any typos or grammatical errors for you to address. (Still, it’s always a good idea to manually proofread your résumé before you send it out.)
3. You have a wide array of choices
Using a résumé builder gives you access to a huge variety of designs to choose from, ranging from a couple of dozen to hundreds of templates. These designs are often customizable in terms of color and font choices, section headings, and photo and icon capabilities, allowing you to make your document truly yours according to your needs.
You’ll also (mostly) be able to find templates that are specific to your profession or industry (whether it’s marketing, nursing, acting or academia), as well as the country you’re applying for a job in.
Like with anything else, there are some potential downsides to using a résumé builder, including:
1. They often lack flexibility
Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of using a résumé builder are the limitations that come with it. While some builders allow you to change fonts, colors and layout or add extra sections, many others don’t. Meanwhile, most builders only cater for chronological résumés — although this is the most widely used résumé format, some jobseekers might benefit more from a skills-based or a combination résumé depending on their specific career situation.
You essentially lose all control over your document’s look and feel, and you’re forced to work with what’s already there — you don’t have the flexibility to make your résumé, well, yours. As a result, you can’t accurately present your unique journey, qualifications and experiences to potential employers.
2. Templates aren’t always ATS-friendly
One of the keys to a successful job application is optimizing your résumé for applicant tracking systems — specialist software that employers increasingly use in the recruitment process to filter résumés based on preset criteria and keywords. While you can tailor your résumé’s content around the job description, ATS programs are quite delicate things and will instantly reject applications that they can’t “read” due to bad formatting.
As most templates made available through résumé builders are developed by graphic designers who have no real knowledge of résumé writing best practices, they aren’t optimized for ATS software. Instead, they’re focused on aesthetics rather than overall effectiveness and impact.
One of the other disadvantages of using a builder that’s worth noting is that you run the risk of using the exact same template that other applicants are using. Ultimately, you lose your individuality because you’re unable to let your personality shine through.
3. There are hidden costs involved sometimes
What many résumé builders often tell you is that they’re free to use. But as soon as you’ve finished preparing your résumé and you try to download it, you come across a paywall that casually informs you that you must buy a subscription or pay a one-time fee to actually download or print the documents you spent hours creating. (Some builders will let you download a .txt file of your résumé for free, which isn’t at all useful for your job search.)
Others, meanwhile, will charge you to unlock “premium” features, like the ability to add custom résumé sections, access “exclusive” layout designs, and create and download an unlimited number of documents.
If you’ve decided to try out a résumé builder for yourself, you might want to consider checking out some of the most popular and reliable options (both free and paid) on the market today:
Of course, the decision is ultimately yours, and you’ll find many more résumé builders online after performing a quick Google search. Which brings us to this:
You’re truly spoiled for choice when it comes to online résumé builders, and the sheer number of options can be overwhelming. But fret not: these tips will help you make an informed decision:
1. Do your research
The first step in choosing a résumé builder is to compile a list of candidates. The internet is your friend here: a quick search for “résumé builder” or “résumé maker” in your preferred search engine will return hundreds of results.
Once you’ve got a list going, start researching each candidate. This begins by checking the builder’s features, functions and overall process, and how it will effectively help you generate a job-winning résumé. It’s also a good idea to read up on company-specific news (be sure to pay attention to any controversies or negative press). All of this will help you narrow down your options.
2. Examine the website
One of the main things that make a good résumé builder is how it presents itself online. If its website looks unprofessional and quickly thrown together, contains excessive grammar and spelling errors, provides little or vague information, and offers no way to contact the company, then you should be wary of engaging their services.
You can also use online tools like Ahrefs and Moz to determine a website’s domain authority — basically its credibility and influence. Anything that fetches a score under 50 out of 100 should be heavily scrutinized, as it could mean the website isn’t as popular or trustworthy as other similar services. Of course, newer websites typically have low DA scores, which don’t necessarily represent their reliability and overall reputation.
3. Consider your needs and goals
What’s important to remember when choosing a résumé builder is to choose the one that’s right for you. Indeed, what works for just about everyone else won’t necessarily work for you too.
Take stock of your own needs and goals, and find out how — and if — your shortlisted candidates meet them. For example, do you already have your résumé written up and just need a builder that lets you import your content into an attractive template? Or do you need a builder that offers context-relevant insights and content suggestions? Likewise, do you need a builder that offers flexibility in terms of structure and formatting?
4. Read the fine print
In 2020, a social experiment managed to persuade 99% of survey respondents to, among other ridiculous things, surrender the naming rights to their first-born child — all because they agreed to the terms and conditions without even reading them.
This is why you should always read the fine print. After all, you’re entering a legally binding contract, and you could be agreeing to things that will negatively impact you and limit your future rights — like being unable to cancel a subscription or receive a refund on the basis of a technicality.
5. Review testimonials
Before you buy any product or service, it’s always a good idea to read up on customer reviews to help you make an informed decision.
A great first place to start is the résumé builder itself — many companies post testimonials directly on their website, either as a dedicated webpage or in a featured section. Meanwhile, if you know someone who has personally used the résumé builder you’re considering, you can ask them about their first-hand experiences.
Alternatively, you can check review sites like Trustpilot and G2. But beware of fake reviews. Many disreputable companies pay people to pose as real customers and write ringing endorsements of their own services to drive sales — while giving their competitors negative testimonials just to damage their reputation.
Not 100% sold on using a résumé builder? You’ve got other options!
If you want complete control over your résumé’s design, content and presentation, you can take the traditional DIY route and craft a document exactly how you want. Granted, it’s a slightly longer process, but the effort will pay off in the long run.
Just be sure to follow résumé writing best practices and local conventions — you’ll find a whole host of articles and practical guides in our CVs & Résumés section to help you craft a job-winning document according to your experience and specific career situation.
Downloadable résumé templates
If you still want to create a résumé yourself but don’t have the basic design skills or the time needed to make it look good, you can use a premade résumé template to get you off to the right start.
Microsoft offers a range of free Word templates, though if you’re looking for ATS-friendly options, your best bet is to browse online marketplaces like Etsy and Creative Market. Our own collection of downloadable and fully customizable templates, meanwhile, come complete with step-by-step instructions and practical tips.
Professional writing services
Another alternative is to hire a professional writer. Not only do you save yourself time and effort (and the stress and confusion that often comes with writing a résumé), but you’re also more likely to land a job. In fact, a study conducted by TopResume found that jobseekers with a professionally written résumé had a 32% higher job search success rate.
At CareerAddict, our carefully vetted and industry-qualified experts can help. Whatever your career level, situation and goals, you’ll receive a personalized document that effectively markets your top skills and achievements — and gets you one step closer to your dream job.
Using a résumé builder can be a saving grace for many jobseekers who have no idea where to start and are just staring at a blank screen, waiting for inspiration to strike. But there’s a lot to consider about these tools before deciding to use one, as we’ve explored in this article.
To sum up:
- A résumé builder is an interactive tool that allows you to create a résumé with a predesigned template.
- Some of the biggest advantages of using builders are their ease of use and how they can help you save time.
- On the other hand, many builders aren’t optimized for applicant tracking systems, while hidden costs are often involved.
- You have many options to choose from, but it’s important to choose a builder that’s right for you.
- Alternatively, you can write your own résumé from scratch, download an ATS-friendly template or hire a professional writer.
Got a question or want to share your own experiences using a résumé builder? Let us know in the comments section below.