Instamatic Resume? Not So Fast

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Fill in the blanks, click three times and you’re hired! That is basically the promise of the automated resume. The claims seek to convince you that text formatting has replaced the professional resume writer. The boasts go something like this:

“Go online and print your resume instantly!”

“Enriched with many unique features.”

“Build a professional resume in minutes.”

“Create a free resume now!”

I would be the first to put such a tool to work. The time I’d save! Instead of interviewing each client for an hour or more to understand their background and accomplishments in order to align them with their aspirations when I write their resumes, I could explore new hobbies and let the Instant Resume do its thing.

Needless to say there is no magic bullet that can write and create a high quality professional resume.

There are countless sites floating around on the Internet that tout an instamatic resume creation with promise of matching the skill of any competent resume writer. Not only is this mildly insulting, but the effects are much less encouraging to a hiring manager who can easily spot a mechanically generated resume over one where the job seeker has taken the time to present what specifically is his or her offering to a company. Worse, this sends the message to a hiring manager that the candidate is lazy—hardly something one wants for a first impression, no?

So, can these work at all? Software can take fields of text and create a predefined formatted document. But write quality prose? Not if you’re relying on it to make the best first impression and demonstrate that you are the most qualified candidate on paper. It will limit the number of interviews you receive. And then the real trouble begins.

Perhaps the language of the resume is nothing close to what the candidate uses, maybe the candidate isn’t fully aware of where all the information is within his or her resume, or worse, the resume is missing information due to a glitch in the generation software. All of these problems do happen, and I cannot begin to explain the embarrassment it can create. In some fields, it can be disastrous, especially if there are only a few companies within them and all have some relation to one another. Getting blacklisted is certainly not a comforting idea. So, think carefully first before you decide to use a resume generator. If you can handle the risks, go for it; if not, try your own hand at it, or get some professional assistance. The results of a resume that clearly highlights your accomplishments will go a long way. To persuade—in fact, to communicate effectively at all—you must shape the message to the recipient. Trust your instincts, not grandiose claims.

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