Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Why I love My Husband: ResumePractice.com and other tools

It seems like one can find anything she needs on the internet--except for a good place for beginning computer users to practice uploading and copying/pasting their online resumes.

I knew what I wanted my users to be able to practice, but I just couldn't find a website that allowed them to do it. To add to that, I wasn't sure I would trust a website that focused on uploading people's personal information onto their disk space.

My husband, Sam, who is a programmer, is also one of those people who just likes to solve problems. He also really enjoys designing websites that make people's lives easier (especially if it caused me to stop venting!) I kept telling him things like, "Man! It would be so great if patrons could just practice that ONE skill of uploading their resume to a website!" And "Argh! CareerBuilder has NO IDEA that people don't know how to DO this!" Sam decided that he had had enough. He basically told me that if I could mock it up, then he could build it for me.

In about two hours, I had the basic uploader idea drawn up. Two days later, I used it during my patron session, and the positive feedback began. When it comes down to it, users are AMAZED that uploading is so simple, and they are grateful for the chance to have learned it in such a safe environment.
When we first designed it, the basic site looked like this:

It turns out, the tool worked so well that when the time came to help people work with copying and pasting a text resume, I needed another way to practice that.

In some ways, that skill is harder to teach than others. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I have struggled as I have tried to show a beginning user how to download their resume in so many formats. I feel like the teacher in me knows that I am throwing too much information out there at the same time, but the pragmatist in me wants to make sure they walk away with the understanding that every online application is unfortunately, different.

This especially true with copying a pasting text into an online application. Sometimes the formatting looks great, while other times, only the most basic text is needed. Sam understood this, and we worked together to create a tool that allowed the user to see the results of their copying and pasting and then decide if he/she was happy with them.

Here are another couple of screenshots:

Although it's not perfect, it is a great starting point for people to begin to understand why having a simple resume, plus a nicely formatted resume is sometimes a necessity. This is also why using Google Docs to download the resume in a variety of different formats is extremely helpful.
ResumePractice.com is still new, but already I've heard positive feedback from others who didn't have anywhere else to go to practice these skills. Like most things nowadays, it's still evolving, so please let me know if you have any suggestions.

Oh, it will soon have a page that will house any downloadable resources that I have created.

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