Your resume is your introduction to a potential employer. A weak or ineffective resume will make the wrong first impression and will likely prevent you from getting a job.
It’s not something that you can just quickly throw together or copy off of Google. Developing a strong resume takes time, as it’s unique to you and your experiences.
That’s why it’s essential to get help with your resume, especially if you’ve been looking for a job for a while.
The good news is there are plenty of free and affordable ways you can get resume help.
DIY Free Resume Help
Making an effective resume can feel complex, but it doesn’t have to be.
This is particularly true if you are updating your current resume, when you’re applying for student jobs or entry-level-type jobs, or have a straightforward work history.
If you’re comfortable with the more “do-it-yourself” approach and are looking for a bit of help, here are a few of your options:
Your Friends and Family
At a minimum, you should have another person review your resume. They can help you catch typos and other grammatical mistakes, even if they know nothing about writing resumes or the industry you’re applying for.
Sometimes not knowing much about your chosen field is a good thing. The person reviewing your resume can pinpoint any time you use industry jargon or acronyms which may be unclear. Someone in the HR department may not be familiar with these terms, either.
You should be using keywords from the job posting or job description to help avoid any confusion.
Your friends and family can also tell you whether or not your resume passes the 6-second glance test. If they can’t tell you within a few seconds what type of job you’re trying to get, your resume isn’t doing its job and needs fixing.
Asking a trusted colleague or co-worker for help with your resume is smart because they know more about the industry and job responsibilities. This is particularly true for specialized and technical roles.
You do need to be careful, though. Unless you are applying for a promotion or internal transfer, you might not want your coworkers to know that you are applying for jobs elsewhere. This information could get back to your manager, and you probably don’t want that to happen.
You could reach out to a former colleague or someone from your network instead.
Grammarly is a free program that is essentially an elevated spell-checker and grammar-checker. It will catch the common writing mistakes for you and offer suggestions to make your sentences more concise. The clearer and easier your resume is, the better.
You can use Grammarly with the browser extension, copy and paste your text into their website editor, in Google Docs, or install the Microsoft Word and Outlook add-in. It even works on your text messages and social media updates if you download the app on your phone!
If you do a lot of writing, the paid premium version is absolutely worth it, in my opinion. I use Grammarly every day on every article, email, and resume I write at my day job and for this blog.
Yes, strangers in the Reddit Resumes community will help you with your resume. With over 285,000 members, you can “Post your résumé for critique, critique someone else’s, or look for examples of résumés in your field.”
And I have to say, as a long-time lurker and occasional commenter, I have been really impressed with the advice people in this community give.
You can upload a version of your resume (with your personal details removed), and people will offer their advice and suggestions.
If you’re not comfortable posting your own resume, browsing through the threads is also incredibly helpful, especially if you can find people applying to similar jobs.
Career blogs offer tons of advice and resources, usually for free. You can browse through the articles for resume tips or sign up for their email lists and job-related resources.
Some resources and services may come at a cost, but signing up to an email list is usually all you need to get access.
Resume & ATS Scanning Websites
There are plenty of free (or free trial) sites that will review your resume and compare it to the specific job posting you’re applying for. The algorithms will tell you exactly what needs work, as well as what keywords you’re missing.
Most employers use scanning software (Applicant Tracking Systems or ATS) to initially screen applications. While these scanners won’t catch spelling mistakes or other errors, they will tell you if you are using the right keywords for the job. And you need those keywords to make it to the next step in the hiring process.
Sites like ResumeWorded.com, Jobscan.co, and ResyMatch.io are my personal favorite and are easy to use. (You will need to create a free account, but they don’t ask for a credit card or any payment info.)
Assisted Free Resume Help
You don’t have to search for a job alone. There are many different ways you can get assisted, professional help with your resume and job hunting for free.
Employment centers, unemployment centers, career centers, American Job Centers, employment agencies, employment assessment centers, training centers, skill development centers, workforce development…
No matter what they’re called, these organizations are government-funded and free for everyone to use.
The specific services offered at each location will vary, but generally speaking, you can expect to find:
- Access to computers, photocopiers, printers, fax machines, and telephones
- Local job postings and online job banks
- Resources and templates for creating a resume and cover letter
- Resume samples
- Interview preparation tips
- Information on the labor market
- Workshops on various job-related topics
- Referrals to other agencies and support services
- Career assessment tests
- Skills training and identification
- Staff available to answer your questions and assist you
Employment counseling may also be available, but there might be eligibility criteria (such as being unemployed, working part-time, or within a specific age group).
And as a bonus, if your local center also works with hiring managers and employers, you can get access to job opportunities in the hidden job market.
Social Service Organizations
If you belong to a specific demographic, many social service organizations provide career and job search support. These groups include:
- Immigrants, refugees, and newcomers
- People with disabilities
- People with mental health illnesses
- People with criminal records
- Youth (typically ages 15-25, but can go up to age 29)
- People of Aboriginal descent
- Homeless people or those living in shelters
- People with barriers to employment
Most libraries offer training workshops on various topics, including filing your taxes and writing resumes. Unlike the do-it-yourself approach, attending workshops gives you the chance to ask questions and get the specific answers you need.
Libraries usually provide job-related information, resume examples, and helpful links on their website. They also have books and other resources to help with your career development beyond the hiring process.
You should also ask or check out what other free training courses they offer or can refer you to. Learning new job skills will make your resume stronger!
Adult Education Centers & Literacy Centers
Continuing education centers and community centers run various workshops, including job readiness, soft skill development, resume and cover letter assistance, and job searching tips. Depending on the center, they may also provide free career coaching.
If your local adult education or literacy groups don’t offer these services, they can tell where you can go to get free resume help.
The employment center I work at has a close partnership with all education, upgrading, and training service providers in our region and will often run workshops for their participants.
College Career Services
If you are a student, soon-to-be grad, recent grad, or alumni, see what career services your college or university provides.
A benefit of working with your school’s career center is that they will be more familiar with the degree or diploma program you took and can provide more targeted assistance.
Also known as temp agencies, staffing agencies are designed to match job seekers with employers who are hiring.
As a job seeker, you can meet with a recruiter (for free) who will ask about your skills and experience. They will do a resume critique and provide feedback on how to make your resume stronger, as well as what types of jobs you’re best suited for.
If there is a match between your qualifications and an open vacancy, you may not even need to worry about fixing your resume. You could be hired directly for the role!
EMSI Skills is a free skills-based resume builder and optimizer with over 30,000+ skills in its library. Their tools make it easy to add your in-demand and related skills to your resume.
The other resume builders I recommend are not free, but they are super affordable starting at only $3.
Resume Companion, My Perfect Resume, and Zety are very similar, and I like them all a lot. They will walk you through building your resume and cover letter and provide helpful tips and examples that you can click to add. The sites also let you quickly change your template with the click of a button.
A 14-day trial (which may be all you need) is only $3, or pay $96 per year.
My Perfect Resume also has a Chrome extension that works with the major job sites (including Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Monster, Snagajob, and more) that will auto-fill your applications. That alone is worth a few bucks a month, isn’t it?
Resumonk is another good option. It has a simple interface that provides resume writing tips, and you can import your LinkedIn profile to make the process even faster. There is a limited free option, but otherwise, it costs $29 per year or $99 for lifetime access.
Professional Resume Writers
If you really just want your resume written for you, getting a professional resume writer might be worth the investment (especially if it means you get hired). Depending on what level you are at and what is included, expect to pay anywhere from $100 – $500.
You can get a free resume review through the Job Sauce that includes a phone consultation with a real person and resume expert (US only). They also offer professional resume writing starting at $250 but have mixed reviews.
Resume Writers has been around since 1999 and is also considered one of the top resume writing services. They charge $170 – $300 for a resume and cover letter that will be delivered to you within 72 hours.
If you prefer to work with someone who knows more about your local economy, search online for “professional resume writers near me” and read through the reviews.
Unfortunately, anyone can call themselves a professional resume writer, even if they don’t have the qualifications. So if you decide to go this way, asking for a personal recommendation is your best bet, if you know anyone who has hired a resume writer before.
There are plenty of options available to you to get free help with your resume and job search. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of them so that you can stop looking and start working at a job you enjoy!
Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.