Even if you have no plans to enter the job market, it’s not a bad idea to have an updated resume on hand. I try to update mine at least annually, capturing accomplishments, shedding items that are no longer relevant, and generally keeping current should an internal or external opportunity arise out of luck or necessity. Here are a few tools for building and maintaining your resume.
Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.
1: Microsoft Word (free trial available)
It may seem somewhat obvious to include stalwart productivity application Microsoft Word (Figure A) on a list of resume-generating tools. But the fact is that at some point your resume is likely going to be stored or sent in the format. Even with several more advanced options available, Word still makes a fine choice for generating and maintaining resumes, and several websites, including Microsoft’s own office.microsoft.com, offer a wealth of free resume templates. Most modern versions of Word also provide built-in resume templates that are yours for the asking merely by clicking File | New and doing a bit of hunting.
While it may be tempting to choose an overly flashy template, stick to one that’s easily readable. If the reader can’t find your name or other basic data, valuable seconds are spent searching rather than exploring your qualifications.
2: Resume Builder Pro (Android, $4.99)
From a different developer than the similarly named iOS application below, Resume Builder Pro (Figure B) offers a database-driven approach to creating a resume. You populate information in individual sections, and the app then generates your resume. In this case, the resume is generated in Microsoft Word’s current .DOCX format and sent to a user-selected email address.
I have mixed feelings about this approach. On one hand, an app like this makes it easy to create a resume on the go; however, a minor update requires cruising multiple screens, and any specific formatting you’ve subsequently done in Word needs to be reapplied.
3: Resume Builder Pro/Pocket Resume (iOS, $3.99)
Despite confusing naming that does not appear to be connected to the like-named Android application above, this app (Figure C) offers a similar database-driven approach, along with the ability to import resume data from LinkedIn. The LinkedIn import function was only moderately successful, pulling a limited amount of the data I’ve entered on the service, but it did provide a start to the process.
This app also allows export as a PDF to email, Dropbox, or to a printer, although it skips the Microsoft Word option. The app provides nearly a dozen “styles” you can apply to your resume, so you may be able to live without the Word capability.
4: LinkedIn (free cross-platform apps; subscription service options available)
Like it or not, LinkedIn has become a key tool in the job seeker’s arsenal (Figure D). While it may seem like double-duty, creating a LinkedIn profile, which is essentially a glorified resume, is a necessary part of searching for a job. Thankfully, LinkedIn allows you to import an existing resume using its profile-editing interface, which is available when you create a new LinkedIn profile. Some have reported mixed success with the tool, so you may be stuck with old-fashioned copy and paste. But it’s worth getting your information on what’s turning into the de facto professional networking site. While a LinkedIn profile won’t guarantee you a job, the absence of one may be a cause for concern.
5: LinkedIn Resume Builder (free experimental software from LinkedIn Labs)
LinkedIn Labs, the R&D portion of the company that tests new software, offers the LinkedIn Resume Builder (Figure E). This free service turns your LinkedIn profile into a serviceable resume, with a variety of styles available and an ability to export as a PDF. While there is no guarantee this tool will remain free, or even remain in existence, it might help generate a formal resume quickly if you’re already a LinkedIn user with a complete profile.