There are eight or so key items you need to launch a successful job search (see Why You Need a Job Search Marketing Toolkit). This includes a few key documents you will need to draft (such as your resume, cover letters and thank you letters). If you’ve drafted a resume, you know how difficult this can be (and if you haven’t, you know it will be challenging). Other key items you will need are your network, references and target markets/companies. Even if you have a version of your resume, it is probably wise to take another look and update it as necessary (another great resource is 5 Steps to a Great Resume).
The good news is that you don’t need to go it alone. There are tools you can use that will help you create most (if not all) of you documents and lists. The sites listed below are purely very high level reviews, CareerAlley does not endorse or get paid for listing any of the sites reviewed below.
Resume Writing Tools: There are lots of resume writing tools out there, some are free and some are not. Is a “fee based” resume writing tool better? Not necessarily. Following are three tools for your review.
- FormSwift for Resumes – FormSwift’s Resume Builder is also great for any job seeker. Our builder takes you section by section, line by line, so all you have to do is input your experiences. Once you are done filling out your personal info, the builder formats your resume for you, taking the stress out of worrying if your header is too large or your typeface too small. Once again, this builder is completely free – allowing you to experiment with different word choice for different job applications.
- ResumeGenius – Sample phrases, templates and guides are the main selling points of ResumeGenius. This is not a free site, so you will want to look at the various costs (at the end of this paragraph) before you complete your template. You also do not have to register if you do not want to. Start off quickly by clicking the “Write my resume now” button, next pick your template (if in doubt, select Classic for now). Next you will start to fill in the main sections of your resume (tabs for Contact Info, Work Experience, Eduction and Additional Skills. You can preview your resume as you go, add sections (I would like to point out is that “Career Objective” is generally not used anymore although it is offered as a section), save at any time as well as select the option for a professional to help write your resume (at a cost). One thing to note is that it will cost you $1.95 to download your resume and have 14 days of full access, after which you will be automatically charged $39.95 per month (unless you select the Monthly Access option for $7.95). Whether or not the cost is worth it is a personal decision. You could opt for the $1.95 14 day trial and cancel after that (or use one of the free services).
- How to Write a Resume – This site offers both a step by step resume builder as well as a cover letter tool. Start by clicking the “Start Now” and then either create a free account or log on via a variety of sites (like Facebook, Google, etc.). Once you log on, click Resume Builder and start to build your resume. There are categories on the left hand side of the screen for the different sections of your resume. Some sections allow you to use a template or you can enter the information as you see fit. There are some aspects of the site that are not free (like including references). You will also need to pay extra to get your resume or cover letter in Word or PDF format (the free option in text or html format). If you click the “click here for the full feature list”, you can see the free features versus the features that will cost extra. It looks like these are one-time fees (rather than the monthly fees that ResumeGenius charges). There is also a cover letter builder that works in a similar fashion.
Cover Letter Tools:
- FormSwift for Cover Letters – FormSwift’s Cover Letter Builder is great for any job seeker. The formatting is all pre-organized and you can change the letter copy by choosing which career stage process you are at – college student, new job seeker, returning professional, etc. Then all you have to do is input a few key words and phrases for each paragraph that personalize your story and, voila, your cover letter is all done! Last but not least, our builder is completely free, so you can make as many copies and edits as you would like, which is perfect for someone running on a tight budget while applying for jobs.
- SmartCoverLetter – Before you get started, read “What Makes a Good Cover Letter?” included on their home page. Also, this is not a free site and you will want to look at the costs before you take the time to complete the template. This overview provides some great insight into why a cover letter (not just any cover letter, but a good one) is so important. Start by clicking the “Create Letter” button, fill in your contact info and get started. Next you will see the body of (an incomplete) cover letter. You can click to fill in each section or change the template by selecting “Select Design” from the top of the page. Exporting will cost you $4.95 for 7 days and then $39.95 per month.
- The Pain-Free Cover Letter Builder -This is not so much a site as it is a free guide. The guide is very good and not too long (and it is actually free). While not a tool to guide you through the process, the guide is worth a read.
- Resumes – Knock ‘em Dead Resumes: A Killer Resume Gets More Job Interviews!
- Cover Letters – 101 Best Cover Letters
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Good luck in your search,