You’re on the job hunt once again. This time, it’s serious: whether you’re going for a promising side hustle or your first professional job, you want to land this more than anything else. The problem is that you’re only great at the job, not at resume writing. Resume Genius supposedly takes the guesswork out of resume-building, but does it live up to the hype? We delved deep into the Resume Genius business model to find out. Read on for an honest Resume Genius review.
What’s Resume Genius?
Resume engines are pieces of software that automatically add your information to a resume. This isn’t a hard task for a computer because all resumes contain a few basic elements:
- Your name
- Your contact information
- Work experience
- Good skills that you can bring to an employer
- Information about your previous jobs
- Educational experiences you’ve had
As long as a resume engine has this data, it can arrange it on the page any way you’d like.
Of course, you could accomplish this too as long as you had the tech skills; resume building from scratch is partially a matter of how well you can use the ruler function in your word processor. The reason that resume engines like Resume Genius exist is that many people don’t feel comfortable formatting a document by themselves. Formatting is the process of making computerized text look a certain way. It can involve bullets, tabs, indents, and tables in Microsoft Word, LibreOffice, or another word processing program. Resume Genius and other tools of its type do all of that for you.
Resume Genius isn’t a writing service. That is, it doesn’t create the content of your resume, generate a persuasive essay, or adapt your cover letter, resume, and CV based on the business profiles of the places that you want to work for.
Resume Genius Services
The basic purpose of Resume Genius is to format a clean, modern resume based on your information. The site’s advertising also suggests that Resume Genius generates an unusually professional resume. While this is debatable, Resume Genius accomplishes what it sets out to do.
Resume Genius gives you a wide variety of templates to choose from. They’re generally quite plain, featuring the standard array of your name, contact info, and points, but you can sometimes change font colors or page structures. The Taj Mahal template, for example, shows your contact information on the side of the page rather than at the top. To help you decide on a template, Resume Genius shows you samples, resume examples that stand as typical specimens of what you’ll customize with your info.
You’ll start making your resume before Resume Genius asks you to make a free account with Facebook or Google. The default format that this service uses is the reverse chronological resume – that is, your most recent job and education information will appear first on the page. (A chronological resume would begin with your oldest work and proceed to your most recent.) If you’re not a user of either of these services, you’ll need to slog through an email signup process. This part is free, but don’t be fooled. Resume Genius will want money from you immediately after you write a resume.
Once you’ve made an account, ResumeGenius asks you a series of questions about your education and experience. When you give it information about a job you have or had, it will give you the chance to add bullet points or use premade ones that are relevant to the job. For example, if you indicate that you want to create a sales associate resume, the service would offer you a list of stock objectives and accomplishments relevant to that career. The material for a housekeeper resume would look different. The process of creating a resume can take as little as ten minutes if you already know what you want on your resume. After that, the billing begins.
The subscription plan
This is where using Resume Genius gets significantly dicier than we like. This service is a subscription. Even if you go for the 14-day $1.95 trial, it won’t give you your resume unless you give it your credit card number first. Furthermore, there’s a huge “gotcha” built into the low-cost trial. After those first two weeks are up, your Resume Genius subscription will start renewing itself automatically for the low, low price of $39.95 per month.
After you pick your jaw up off the floor, consider the people who might fall for this business model:
- People without strong computer skills, like older people and people with limited educational experience.
- Rattled job seekers who are nervous about being on the market again.
- Young people who have never made a resume and are desperate to do it “right.”
We assume that job seekers who find work quickly using Resume Genius’s services would cancel their subscription tout suite, ideally before the trial period ran out. But what if a job seeker’s search drags on for longer than two weeks? There’s a significant danger of forgetting the subscription. Even if you watch your expenditures like a hawk, it’s easy for a Resume Genius subscription to slip through the cracks.
But at least on the 14-day trial plan, you can cancel any time. The $7.95 monthly plan comes out to $95.40 per year, and according to Ripoff Report, they may refuse to refund you the advance payment if you decide you don’t like the service.
To a stressed-out job seeker or someone who’s not too computer-literate, that two-week trial period looks like a good deal. Some people might even mistake the $1.95 “most popular” trial price for a one-time resume download fee.
What you get for all of this rigamarole is just a functional resume. In the screenshot above, you can see a sample that the writer of this piece cooked up in five minutes. Employers won’t complain, but it also won’t blow your hiring manager’s mind. If you feel you can’t write a resume by yourself, that might look impressive, but the most advanced thing that Resume Genius did for this example was to add a line below the address. The rest of the formatting was accomplished with bold, capitalized, and centered font.
What else do you get for the price?
If Resume Genius only offered resumes, then it would be difficult to recommend it for the price. However, while resumes are what made this service famous, resumes aren’t all that it provides; it also claims to offer resume reviews and personalized job searches. The fact that Resume Genius offers reviews might be the more valuable service. Job searching is an anxious time, and if you don’t have many friends or family members willing (or able) to give you good advice about your career, then you may wonder if you’re doing everything right. Resume Genius apparently provides this service through one-on-one career counselors available online.
That said, many schools provide this service, too. Career centers at colleges and universities often welcome alumni, and even high school career counselors will sometimes make time for alumni. If you’ve never had higher education, you could even try reaching out to a community college. As public institutions, they may be either willing to help or to point you toward someone who can.
Although Resume Genius addresses curriculum vitae in a blog post, it doesn’t appear that it helps you create your own. If you’re applying for work in Europe, this might not be the tool that you want to choose. If you need to use a CV template, there are free, Word-compatible ones available for download on CV Template Master. (Just watch out for the banner ads!)
Letters, cover and otherwise
Resume Genius also provides some free information covering letter writing. You don’t need a subscription to see their thoughts on how to write a cover letter. Templates and sample letters are available for free download, and surprisingly, there are no apparent gotchas attached. The free templates are particularly useful. If you’re not comfortable using a template, you can also base your cover letter on the sample they provide in the post. There are no full application examples available on the site, but even a complete newbie to the world of job searching can usually cook up a cover letter for resume based applications after reading through a few posts.
The only caveat to this otherwise valuable gift is that using the provided samples without changing them is likely to damage your reputation with a hiring manager. Even if you’re not a confident writer, it’s always better to submit a thank-you in your voice. Anyway, you can’t risk running into someone else who is aware of Resume Genius and has seen their sample business letters! For the surest route to success, download the templates, which you can edit in either Microsoft Word or its free clone, LibreOffice, and follow the instructions.
Resume Genius doesn’t necessarily help with more specific requirements of your job search. For example, if you needed to write an essay to secure a job at a particularly desirable position, Resume Genius probably couldn’t help you. In that case, writing ability may be one of the job skills that your employer wants to test you on anyway.
Look for links to Resume Genius’s letter-writing posts at the bottom of their main page.
Terms and Services
If you’re going ahead with a Resume Genius subscription, you’d better know what you’re signing up for. Here are the key points.
Resume Genius considers its site’s content its intellectual property. This is reasonable and normal, but it does include the resume designs and the canned text that you can use to populate your resume points. As long as you’re not using Resume Genius to sell resumes to other people, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Your resume is their resume
According to section 6 of Resume Genius’s terms, any resume that you upload or make using this site is actually the property of Resume Genius.
That means that Resume Genius could theoretically use your resume for their marketing purposes. They could even sell it to someone else if they wanted. Technically, according to these terms, it’s not your resume; it’s theirs. Later in the same section, Resume Genius confirms its right to sell, copy, reproduce, retitle, and archive anything you put on the site, including forum posts, at its discretion. That includes your name and your company’s name, cover letter samples, resume points, and anything else you write on Resume Genius. Yikes. The reasons for this probably have to do with Resume Genius’s ability to sell you your own resume at a tremendous markup, but it’s still a bit creepy.
Resume Genius roundup
Resume Genius seems to do an adequate job of formatting a standard resume. Its templates are bland but produce perfectly acceptable outcomes. The service itself presents testimonials, glowing reviews, and boasts about client placements in Fortune 500 companies. That, combined with their glossy and attractive website, might woo customers who would otherwise balk at the expensive, spring-it-on-you subscription model.
Resume Genius is easy to use. That may be its most attractive quality. If you want a resume made fast, then this offer might look tempting. However, we can’t recommend it.
It’s easy to imagine a situation where a desperate, anxious job searcher, newly laid off, logs onto the Internet to get a quickie resume and ends up accidentally hooking themselves on a monthly payment that they can’t afford. Resume Genius takes this imaginary scenario and brings it to life. The fact that Resume Genius charges almost $40 per month (!) to people who may well be out of work (!!) and does so in such a sneaky way (!!!) suggests that they’re more interested in parting you from your money than they are in helping you out. If you’ve ever been sucked into a subscription you don’t want, then you know that disentangling yourself can mean calls to customer service and several repeated attempts.
Why do people use this service?
There are a few ways that people might find themselves with a Resume Genius subscription.
- The Resume Genius “free” account trick initially makes them think they’re going to get something for nothing.
- They don’t know of any other services that offer resume help.
- The job search process feels intimidating to them.
- They don’t realize that they’re signing up for the subscription instead of just buying a copy of their resume.
- They assume that they’ll remember to cancel before they have to pay the monthly fee.
Granted, the Resume Genius cover letter help is a great resource. It’s a little surprising that this company, which otherwise seems intent on parting you with as much of your money as possible as quickly as it can, gives away cover letter samples for free. That said, it is a great draw and maybe a way that Resume Genius tries to entice people to sign up for its service.
College students who have never had a “real job” before may be at risk of falling for Resume Genius and services like it. If you’re a student or a recent grad, be aware that you may not be as experience-less as you might think! We’ve written before about how simultaneous work and study can boost your resume. Click over to find out how entry-level jobs can make you shine for future employers.
Should You Subscribe to Resume Genius?
Even though it offers one-on-one resume consultations, Resume Genius probably isn’t worth the cost for most people. This honeypot of an online service only looks good until the first monthly payment disappears from your account, and as we all know, it’s too easy to forget about subscriptions during stressful life changes. Even if you don’t forget, do you need one more thing to do on top of your job search? You have better things to worry about than a resume service sucking your bank account dry. Plus, there are some cheaper alternatives out there that you should look into first.
Resume Genius Alternatives
Resume Genius has some competitors that offer similar services for a vastly smaller amount of money. Many operate on a similar gotcha subscription model – that is, they let you make a resume, then charge you a monthly fee for the privilege of downloading it. You don’t need that headache. We found some better resume builders that are free and make better, more interesting resumes.
This resume builder is one of the best-kept secrets in career counseling. It’s 100% free to use if you access it through a public library, provides users with two clean, generic resume formats, and lets you customize a wide range of prewritten resume points for a broad selection of careers. You can also buy a $10.99/month individual subscription. (This is the cheapest rate we’ve found so far for resume subscription services on the Internet.) While it’s not the flashiest-looking tool out there, it gets the job done. Like Resume Genius, Cypress won’t let you make a CV.
You might know Canva as the freemium web-based graphic design service, but it also makes some very stylish, out-of-the-box resumes. These range in style from minimalist to ornate. To use the templates, you’ll need a Canva account and a good artistic eye. Remember, a retailer or standard BBB business won’t necessarily be interested in a flashy resume, just like a web designer might look for one with extra pizzazz.
Canva downloads are free, giving it an edge over Resume Genius from a dollars and cents perspective, but it does require more tech skills to use. If you’re artistically inclined and computer-savvy, you can even create a resume from scratch using the many graphic design tools available on this site. Try Canva if you want to approach your resume creatively.
Microsoft Word and LibreOffice Templates
If you have Microsoft Word already, then you’re in luck: there are free resume templates available online for you. Just follow this link and download the one you like. The tricky formatting is all done for you, and your only job is to fill in the information. There are free LibreOffice resume templates available too. Just download them, open them, and fill in the necessary data.
Like using Canva, this strategy is probably best for people who feel OK about their ability with technology. You don’t need to be a hacker to use a template, though. If you want some free tech help, consider calling your local library and seeing if they have an expert available to guide you.
Schools, Libraries, and Community Centers
We’ve mentioned a few times that schools will often help alumni with their resumes. If you don’t have that option or don’t like it, consider hiring a graduate student to assist you. Even if you pay them $20, that’s less than Resume Genius would charge you for the same service. You’ll get a deal, the student will get a meal, and everybody will come away happy.
While you’re calling libraries about Cypress Resume, ask if you can get a person on staff to help you with your resume. Librarians are often computer-literate and often happy to help with resume formatting for free. Make sure to call and tell them what you need. Be prepared to save your resume electronically to a cloud drive or a USB. It’s fine to have one printout of your resume, but you should be updating it with every job, so having a digital copy is important too.
If you live in an area with a community center, reach out to them and see if they have a career or resume day. (We’ve written about resume writing as one of many ways to give back to your community!) If they don’t, they may know of organizations that do.
Look for YouTube tutorials
There is a lot of good help on YouTube. If you’re completely lost and have no idea how even to start your resume, look for tutorials on this subject. Here’s a good one to get you started.
The Final Word
Don’t waste your time with Resume Genius. Even among other resume engines that charge a monthly subscription fee using a similar model, Resume Genius is one of the most expensive services that you can choose. Even if you don’t care about the money, consider that what Resume Genius offers is fairly straightforward. You can get it less expensively from one of its competitors, from Canva or a free Microsoft Word template.
If you’re out of work now or otherwise not in a position to afford a subscription whose annual cost would be more than $400, then please avoid this product. There are better ways to get a resume that don’t involve sapping your finite funds. You don’t know how long you’ll be out of work, but you can probably think of something better to do with $40 every month rather than spend it on an unnecessary resume service.
Don’t subscribe to Resume Genius. Instead, check out Cypress, Canva, your local public library, or the free templates we linked above.