Whether you’re working already or not, there are many reasons why you would need to update and send out your resume fairly frequently. If you’re a freelance writer like me, you send it out all the time, even when you’ve got lots of work. If you’re a recent grad or still fairly early in your career, you may be trying to land a an internship or summer position or even your first job. And if you’re further on in your career, you may be hoping to change gears and move on up.
Whatever your situation, a simple MS Word document is no longer acceptable—for lots of reasons. The most obvious one? You’re competing for the attention of someone who reads—or tosses—lots of resumes every week. Why should they give yours a second look?
Your resume needs to be beautiful to get that second look. I know what you’re thinking: how shallow! But hear me out. It has to be pretty enough to catch an employer’s attention, but compatible enough that anyone, working on any device or platform, can easily open it. It also has to be totally customized, so that it’s not only gorgeous, but also a gorgeous expression of your specific skill set. This is one document that has to be technically and stylistically appealing.
By taking the time to create something special you’ll show prospective employers that you care enough about finding work to put in that extra effort.
Here, you’ll find the top user-friendly tools for creating a resume that will truly stand out from the crowd. No graphic design experience required.
Easel.ly is one of a few resume builders that lets you create a CV in infographic form. It offers plenty of ready-made templates if you’re not sure where to start, but you can also create a resume completely from scratch. It’s pretty easy to use; you simply drag and drop elements and customize them as you go. You can see my experiment below.
I decided to spring for the upgrade and keep my design. I freelance full-time and am constantly applying for new jobs. Some are very creative, others are totally technical. For the creative positions, it helps if I don’t seem like an ex-lawyer with lots of technical skill who’s probably in her mid-forties (which I totally am). For those jobs, I like to have a funky infographic CV at the ready that seems less, well, less like that.
Use Easel.ly if:
- you’re a freelancer who does a variety of work and you need to have different resumes for different fields
- you’ve got lots of experience (awesome!) but are hoping to fit into a younger market
- you’re looking for creative work
Carrd is basically a responsive one-page website builder that you can use to either create a CV, make a holding page for a website that isn’t done yet, or make a one-page website as an interactive CV in place of a standard resume. It’s free to use and easy enough that I figured it out without once swearing (that is a low bar, trust me).
Here is the one-pager I created. I uploaded two “image” files, my QR codes for an online page where my bylined work lives, and a password protected place where my copywriting pages are housed. (I could also have uploaded a separate CV image or file without adding any work, or listed my details in the text sections).
Use Carrd if:
- you want to create an interactive web resume
- you need an online hub to link portfolios and CV details
- you need a holding page
You know what I disliked most about the above mentioned tools? I had to figure out how to use all of them before building my resume, and some of them took more time than others. You know what’s awesome about 99designs? You don’t have to do any of that and you get a much better looking end result anyway!
This is not a free tool, but the fee scale varies—you pay more or less depending on your needs. 99designs works by submitting your design needs to their vast design community through a design contest.
You can start a contest and request a simple resume or CV:
Or you can opt for something a little more involved; the kind of CV that includes some design, but is still clearly a simple CV:
You can also hire designers on 99designs to create custom infographics for you:
Depending on how far along you are in your career, you may need to really pull out the stops as you court a plum position in a new firm or look for that exciting new client. Customizing a design contest to find a designer to meet your specific needs is going to give you the most professional results for the broadest range of situations.
Use 99designs if:
- you are an experienced professional with a lot to highlight
- you are making a major change and you need to put yourself ahead of the competition
- you are early in your career and competing against many applicants
I didn’t love using ResumUP, mostly because the free version is so limited that it feels constructed solely to upsell to the next level. Check out the resume I created with the platform, which looks like I’ve been out of college for about two days:
That said, ResumUp does import your most basic profile data from LinkedIn or Facebook so you can create either an infographic or an “interactive” infographic. But to get the infographic to reflect your achievements, key values, your Myers-Briggs personality type, and even basic information like whether you’re willing to relocate, you have to upgrade. Here is my basic infographic, which says I am willing to relocate (I’m happy where I am thank you very much), notes that I have an advanced degree (but doesn’t say what I studied), and refers to me as extremely outgoing (I’m actually pretty shy). So much for accuracy!
The paid version sounds great, but I was unwilling to shell out $4 a month for it. I’d rather pay for Easel.ly or get a fantastic one-of-a-kind infographic done by a designer. There is less potential for customization on this platform than with Easel.ly, and the monthly commitment bothers me.
Use ResumUp if:
- the basic version works well for you
- you like the look of the platform’s infographics
- You’re comfortable paying a monthly fee to upgrade
Kickresume gives you the set-up for a basic resume, with attractive templates and an easy-to-use system. If you pay to upgrade, the service will import everything you need from LinkedIn; if not, you’ll be stuck doing some importing by hand. You can see the one I partially created here (I gave up!).
Use Kickresume if:
- you want a basic resume that’s still attractive
- you don’t mind doing some data inputting yourself
- you’re not at all sure how to format a resume on your own
Standard Resume delivers what it promises, allowing you to create a fairly basic resume fairly easily, though the tool doesn’t allow you to import data, which feels like an essential step in building a resume. This feature matters a lot to me because I’m left to plug and chug many years of information. It wouldn’t matter as much to someone who’s just starting out. If you’re earlier on in your career and have less information to plug in, Standard Resume is easy to use, allowing you to create a simple and nice looking result that’s easy to share.
Use Standard Resume if:
- you are early on in your career
- you’re comfortable with a basic, fairly plain resume
Vizualize.me is another way to create your CV, turning it into an infographic—almost. The cool thing about this tool that you can create your resume for free and then simply embed the code into your web page or whatever platform you’re using.
You can share your resume as a link and if you’re someone like me who often creates QR codes for business cards, websites, or CVs, you can also share your graphic this way. Visualize.me imports your information from LinkedIn so you don’t have to type it all in there, which I enjoy, as you know, and you can add custom facts to your resume—a fun feature and a neat way to set your graphic apart. Fun fact: I have published 320+ pages during the course of my career.
You can choose from six resume themes and then select fonts and color schemes. Don’t forget the colors! I hated mine at first until I realized I wasn’t doomed to black and hot pink. You can only download the infographic if you pay to upgrade.
Use Visualize.me if:
- you like to create QR codes
- you have places where you can embed the code or share the link to your resume
Sure, VisualCV extracts data from your LinkedIn profile or existing resume, but—at least in my case— it may do it incorrectly. It couldn’t read the LinkedIn source and my CV data was all wrong. I found this especially ironic, since VisualCV is known for using high-end resume-parsing technology.
Witness the carnage:
It’s possible that as a freelancer my CV is less standard in terms of its structure. If you have a more traditional work trajectory and you find that your information is accurately represented, you can choose the basic CV design you like best. You can then move onto the fun stuff, adding multimedia items like embedded videos, images, and presentations. You can publish the CV to either a private link for sharing or a public custom URL, or just export it as a PDF.
Use VisualCV if:
- you want a basic looking CV that you can use for many purposes
- you are early on in your career
The bottom line in resume builders
I (mostly) had a lot of fun messing around with these resume building tools. It’s pretty cool that you can transform your work history into something interesting, even interactive. My advice: avoid squandering the opportunity to showcase your experience and instead use one of these tools to make it work for you. Show potential employers how much effort you’re putting into your job hunt and how much you care about the opportunity they’re offering. It matters.