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Advice / Job Search / Resumes

4 Surprising Career Lessons I Learned From Using a Free Resume Builder

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Over the course of my recruiter career, I’ve seen a handful of applications that have made me think, “Geez, this looks like this was generated by a robot.” So, I wasn’t shocked to recently learn free resume builders exist for job seekers who aren’t up for writing one on their own.

It makes sense—there’s a shortcut for everything on the internet. Yet, I still held fast to my belief that a hand-curated resume’s your best bet for landing a gig you really want. However, before I jumped to a sweeping declaration about how pointless a resume builder is altogether, I decided to try out LinkedIn Labs to see what it came up with. And much to my surprise, I learned a few things about my career through the draft it cranked out for me.

Which, for your convenience, you can see below:

1. My Career Trajectory Isn’t Quite as Haphazard as I Thought

I used to tell people that if you looked at my career trajectory on paper, it might not make a lot of sense at first glance. And to some degree, I haven’t necessarily had the most common path to (finally) becoming a full-time writer.

But here’s the thing: After looking at this version of my job history, a lot of my stops actually make more sense.

Most of my current position requires a lot of thinking about recruiting every single day, with a large dose of digital marketing sprinkled in, all of which I did at some point in previous roles. So, now that I’ve reviewed it, it’s clear to me that I haven’t exactly stumbled through life as recklessly as I used to think.

2. My Skills and Expertise Are More Robust Than I Thought

While I’m sure other resume builders format drafts differently, LinkedIn Labs puts your list of skills and proficiencies right at the top of the document. And when I looked at the surprisingly long list there, I realized a few things.

The first thing is that some of the skills should probably be removed (nobody needs to know that I can upload photos in iPhoto). The more interesting thing to see was just the sheer volume of things I’ve done over the course of my career.

When I’ve crafted professional resumes on my own, I’ve picked and chosen the most important bullets to cater to whatever job it was that I was applying for. However, seeing The Big List of Things I’ve Done had a profound impact on my confidence. Seriously, if you’re struggling with impostor syndrome, do this exercise and you’ll get a visual of just how many things you’ve accomplished thus far.

3. I’ve Taken a Few Things for Granted Throughout My Career

The two previous lessons ultimately brought me to this: I’ve been very lucky and I’ve taken a lot of opportunities for granted. I’m fortunate enough to enjoy everything I do at work on a daily basis, and frankly, I would not be in this position if I hadn’t had the experiences I had before I got here.

While there were times I was in positions I did not love, the builder showed me exactly how everything I did in the past contributed to getting me to this point. And again, because I’ve historically written these on my own, I’ve gotten to tell the story I wanted to tell. The version of my career showed me every single experience I’ve had, and it was hard to ignore just how lucky I’ve been.

4. I Still Needed to Prove Why I Was the Right Fit for a Position

I still think it’s important to proceed with caution when using a resume builder to actually apply to jobs because back when I was recruiting, I could tell when someone had tailored his or her resume for the role he or she was applying for—and I gave lots of brownie points for it. And in the career world, brownie points translate into your name landing in the interview pile.

Your odds of moving forward will always (always!) be higher if you make it clear to the hiring manager why you’re perfect for the role in question. (Not to mention, you’ll never make it through an ATS without the right bullet points.)

But now that I’ve used one and taken some time to actually look at what these programs can crank out, I know there are some lessons that you’ll learn. Sure, they may not be groundbreaking, but I’m willing to bet they’ll help you reflect more productively on where you are in your career today. And that’s always worth something!

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