Using an online resume generator
The good, the bad and the ugly. We tried it so you don’t have to.
By Jacquie Liversidge
There are now hundreds of websites that offer free or cheap visually stunning resume builders and templates which promise to make your resume stand out from the crowd.
We went through an online resume generator called Canva, and wrote down some of our thoughts into seven main criticisms:
Whilst the templates look incredible, the designs are rarely optimised for when it comes time to print your resume, and trust me—resumes still get printed by employers! Most employers aren’t employers millennials (…yet).
The template I played around was a free template available on popular design website Canva, and whilst the resume looked fantastic on the screen, on printing the document I found that the contact details were chopped from the top, the coloured border was cut by the printer and the bright colours all blended together on my black and white printer.
Want to minimise risk? Optimise your resume for a black and white printer.
Ultimately, the print version of the resume had the appearance of a poorly formatted and poorly thought-out document.
2. Industry targeted
Attempting to write the resume from the point of view of an accountant, I found that the template completely restricted my ability to develop and neatly present industry specific content.
Being limited to the existing formatting, on attempting to enter a skills section geared towards accounting I was faced with having to duplicate sections in order to retain consistent appearance, and then reformatting the whole document.
“Further, I could not find a free or low-cost resume builder that allowed you to download your completed resume in Word anywhere.”
3. Page length
Something I discovered when playing around with the resume template was the improper use of ‘white space’ on the page—there were sections of colour blocks without text, a section for a photo to upload and peculiar formatting for listing job responsibilities down only one half of the page.
A photo should never be included—don’t give the employer the opportunity to discriminate against you before you get to interview! If they desperately want to find out what you look like, they can easily source your Facebook and LinkedIn.
Removing the photo section was not possible, and left the resume with a rather large blank section which I could not remove.
Moreover, I found that the formatting only allowed me to enter a limited number of previous positions before the page length exceeded 4 pages. Keeping page length down to a minimum is crucial for getting employers to read the content.
4. No future editing and improper file types
Once I had punched the content into the resume template, I attempted to download the content and could only retrieve these in these PNG or PDF format. Most online applications will allow PDF; but Word is preferred, and often required for government.
Further, I could not find a free or low-cost resume builder that allowed you to download your completed resume in Word anywhere.
5. Applicant Tracking System (ATS) failure
Applicant Tracking System’s (ATS) are software that parse the text of your resume for relevance to the job. This is made very difficult when the text is not linear, is disrupted by blocks of colour and images and is not formatted in such a way that the ATS can scan with ease.
6. Improper section suggestions
Sections like ‘Core Skills’ and ‘Executive Summary’ are largely useless now as these are too generic. You’re much better going with a broader ‘Skills’ section where you can split your skills into different areas, enabling the employer to scan the information and find what they need as quickly as possible.
7. Content limitations
This didn’t impress me much either. Largely, there are limited text sections and no emphasis on longer content. Most are geared towards one-page documents, and whilst in former times a one page resume was preferred, I have not seen a single application in the last three years that has asked for a one page resume. For example, NSW Government have a 5-page limit on resumes, and Tasmania Government don’t outline any limitation.
Overall, I ultimately felt that the great majority of resume templates were more harmful than good. If you are forced to use a resume template from an online resume builder, either due to not having a Word processing program or being limited to having only your smartphone at your disposal, I would advise you to seek out a template that is linear with minimal images and blocks of colours.
Microsoft Office’s Word program offers a range of templates which are far more relevant than online builders, and have a LinkedIn helper which can be better in the future. These are still not easy to edit and format, but it is a much safer option than using an online resume builder.
We hope this helps with making a decision about putting together your resume.
As always, happy hunting!