In need of a new resume and comparing options of how you will get it done? You want that resume to land you interviews for the jobs that you are applying to. And, how you create that new resume can make a big difference in how effective that resume will actually be in your job search. The following breaks down exactly what the differences are between the most common options in creating a new resume and how those options stack up.


Do It Yourself Resume

There are tons of free resources out there to create your own resume. Microsoft Word and Google Docs even have pre-built resume templates that you can use to create your own resume. These endless options and the ability to sit down and create your resume can make this the right option for many job seekers. Here are some of the other advantages to building your own resume:

  • Cheaper. The only cost out of pocket to creating your own resume is the time that you will spend doing so. This makes the DIY resume the cheapest option of the 3.
  • You are an Expert in You. No one knows your professional experience better than you. Your personal insights and knowledge can be invaluable in building the right resume for your job search.
  • Learning Opportunity. Creating your own resume can also be a great reflective exercise to identify exactly what you have done and what you want to do next. Putting pen to paper to create that resume can make it easier to articulate what your strengths are and the types of jobs that you want next.

Best for:

Creating your own resume is often the best fit for people when:

  • Required Formats. People applying internally using their internal candidate portals are often best suited to do so on their own. In these cases, people will have to log in to their employer systems and can't share access or details with people outside of the organization. However, in such cases, it may still be possible to work with a resume coach to get some guidance in how to communicate those details.
  • Unsure of Details. People that haven't gathered their basic details or experience yet will often benefit from creating their own resume first. In fact, you can't proceed to the next alternatives without having a basic sense of your details or intended direction.  
  • Time isn't an Issue. Those with the time to put in to create their own resume and to do the research to make sure that the right keywords are on the resume can find success in creating their own resume.

Not a Fit for:

Building your own resume isn't the best option for everyone. Here are the times when you shouldn't build your own resume:

  • Limited Time. If you don't have the time to create the resume yourself, then you should proceed to the next 2 options.
  • In Need of Guidance. People that want help or that need help in the process for whatever reason will often be better served by NOT building their own resume.
  • Unfamiliar with the ATS. Over 97% of Fortune 500 companies use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to manage their candidates. Nearly 60% of all businesses use some form of an ATS. These systems are all driven by keywords and job titles with specific formatting requirements. So, building your own resume is not advisable if you are not familiar with how these systems work.

If creating a resume isn't the best fit for you, then consider the following alternatives.

Online Resume Builders

A resume builder is a system or tool that will automatically generate the resume for you based on your provided information. There are many options online that provide such pre-designed resumes. Many job boards will also create a resume for you at no charge using their pre-designed resume template. In fact, job boards like Indeed and LinkedIn will create and automatically send their "resumes" when you hit "Easy Apply" or "Quick Apply." You will not even have an option to use the resume that you created outside of the job board in those cases.

So, what are the benefits of using an online resume builder?

  • Ready to Use Resume Templates. Each resume builder will offer its own unique resume templates to choose from. You will get to pick from the options and many offer free designs. Many platforms will give you the option to pay for additional formats or designs.
  • Option to customize content. You will get to enter and change your information before generating a resume with an online resume builder. Many resume builders will also give you the option to edit the files after creating them.
  • Forms. Some online resume builders will have pre-built forms to use for different professions that already have the responsibilities included. You simply need to customize the information to your experience.
  • Tips. Many online resume builders will include blogs or advice on resume writing. You can use that information will creating your resume using an online resume builder.
  • Various formats. When done, you will be able to download multiple file formats of your new resume. These are your files to use in your job search.

Best for:

Online resume builders are often the best fit for people with basic resumes or straightforward experience. These systems have tools that you can use to create a new resume and a lot of the basic information to walk you through that process. You will get to create the resume exactly how you want and have some guidance in that process with the pre-designed styles and templates.

Not a fit for:

Online resume builders aren't a fit for everyone. People who typically see limited results from a resume created by an online resume builder are:

  • Career changes. Switching out of one field to another requires a change in your thinking and the way that you communicate your experience. The online resume builder that automatically generates your resume does not have the ability to translate your prior experience to the new industry or profession that you are currently pursuing.
  • Executives. Although online resume builders are fast in delivering a new resume, an executive would still have to spend the time to create the messaging for the new resume. The time to create that messaging and to try to customize the resume created by the online resume builder (which isn't always possible) is frequently more than most executives have. Plus, there are no guarantees that the selected, customized format will be effective in your executive search.
  • Seasoned professionals. People with a lot of experience typically can't capture the entire message in the pre-built templates provided by the online resume builders. These systems also won't be able to guide you through the right way to handle some of the complex questions that can come up in conveying your information.
  • Technical and Scientific Professionals. Hiring in technical and scientific fields is driven by the substantive skills and experience that you have gained. There is a lot of information and specialization that can happen in this field and most online resume builders cannot capture the extensive level of detail that is expected for people in the technical and scientific fields.
  • Government Searches. The government hiring process is entirely unique from the private sector. You will need a different resume for this search and most online resume builders do not offer formats that are compatible with the requirements of the government hiring processes. Read more about the differences between government and private-sector resumes here.

Resume Writing Services

The purpose of a resume is to market you for the jobs that you want so that you can get interviews for the jobs that you apply to. So, a company that specializes in writing professional resumes offers benefits that DIY and online resume builders cannot. In fact, a study by The Contingent Plan shows that people that had a professionally created resume landed 2x more interviews and their job searches were 40% shorter than their DIY counterparts. Plus, the job offers that people received with professionally written resumes were higher in compensation.

Here are some of the additional benefits of a professionally written resume:

  • Customized content. A professional writing service will gather the details about your experience so that the resume best conveys your actual experience and message.
  • Objective insights. The ability to bounce ideas and experiences off of someone else that does this for a living is invaluable. That professional resume writer can communicate your experience in a way that you wouldn't be able to do on your own with their insights gained from working with people across your industry and profession.
  • Guidance through the process. A professional resume writer will create a resume for you that conveys the details that they think should be included and provide guidance on why that information should be handled that way on your resume. This personal guidance is invaluable in making sure that your resume is as effective as possible in your job search.
  • Someone to write it for you. Hiring someone to write your resume for you means exactly that. You don't have to sit and think about all the best ways to communicate what you have done. Instead, you simply have to provide that information to your professional resume writer so that they can spend the time it takes to write your resume.
  • Keywords. All applicant tracking systems (ATS) and job boards are driven by keywords to determine qualification and fit for the open positions. A professional resume writer can make sure that all of the right keywords are in the right places when they create your resume.
  • Formats Optimized for Your Search. There are lots of nice-looking resume styles out there. But, not all of those designs will work with the applicant tracking systems or for the government hiring process. Working with a professional resume writing service like The Contingent Plan means that you will get a resume format that will work for your job search.

Not a fit for:

A professional resume writing service is not right for everyone. Here are some of the times when working with a professional resume writing service isn't the best option for people:

  • Instant need for resume. There are times when job seekers simply need to submit a resume right away. That simply isn't possible when working with a professional resume writer who will take the time to craft an effective resume for your search. The Contingent Plan does offer expedited service and you can opt for that feature when working with our team. However, no quality professional resume can be created instantly.
  • Not sure what they want. A professional resume writer can only build a resume based on the information that you provide. Your resume writer can make some educated guesses about your experiences and job search. But, if you don't know what you want to do next, then it will be hard for the resume writer to determine exactly how to convey that information properly on your resume. This will often result in frustration and a lot of second-guessing as you won't be sure what to include on the resume or how to communicate your experience.
  • Cost. Not everyone can afford to hire a professional resume writing service. This is why The Contingent Plan offers affordable pricing and payment options to make our services as budget-friendly as possible without sacrificing quality.

Best for:

The people that will find the most benefit out of working with a professional resume writing service like The Contingent Plan are those that are ready to look for a new job. Job seekers that will apply to the position online or that will go through the HR processes will benefit the most from working with a professional resume writing service. As noted above, people who work with resume writing services land interviews faster and higher-paying job offers. So, if you are ready to make a move and you want to put the best options on the table for your career, then the investment in a professionally written resume is well worth it for most professionals.


Our team of professional resume writers and executive resume writers can create you a resume that gets more interviews. Get help now.

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