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Resume as a Service

Published: 12/26/2020

Sometime in my job hunt last year I realized that the process of sending/editing resume's is a giant PIA. So I'm setting out to fix the problem for other developers

Earlier this year when Covid took over the world, I like many others got laid off from my tech job where I was a contractor. I wasn't upset or angry at the company, rather I was upset and angry at the though of me having to edit and send out countless copies of my resume to potential employers.

I got through it, though the entire experience put a bad taste in my mouth. Here I was building compex software to accomplish ground breaking things at work, but the hiring process still involved spending hours of time dealing with editing and formatting your resume, and then reformatting when Google Docs inevatably messes up.

After getting hired I started to play around with some ideas for how to solve this resume madness problem. My first solution was to write my resume in Markdown, then convert it to HTML, DOCX and PDF formats. This system worked pretty well and I still use it today (you can check it out here).

My V1 solution solved the major headache of formatting. Formatting a document in MS Word or Google Docs is equivalent to pulling teeth in my book, it's painful, inconsistent and the result is very brittle which makes updates damn near impossible. With V1 I was able to have granular control over the formatting by using Markdown.

However a second and more glaring problem existed: it was still very difficult and time consuming to send employers and recruiters a tailored version of my resume. While the formatting issue allowed me to move quicker on edits, I was still having to:

  1. Edit the markdown doc
  2. Convert the doc to PDF
  3. Send the doc to the recruiter

That doesn't sound too bad if you are sending out resume's on a small scale, but being newly unemployed in the middle of a global pandemic meant that I was talking to 50-100 companies rather than just a handful. When you get to that scale things start to break down, not during the editing process, but after the fact.

Often times I would have to send the same copy of a resume to multiple people within a company, multiply that times 10 companies and suddently you're dealing with 10 variants of your resume going to 50 different people and a single fuck up can cause you to loose out on a position.

So this year I will be building V2 of my resume framework. This new framework retains the benefit of controlling your Resume formatting and will attempt to solve the latter problem: verioning and variants of resumes.

The Idea

So how will this new solution look? For now that is still somewhat up in the air but here is the plan:

  • git will be used as a backend, storing all variants of the resume, and creating new variants using branching and/or tagging. Git has shown to excel for tasks such as this and it also costs virtually nothing.
  • CMS or Command Line Tools: I will probably start with CLI tools then move to building a custom CMS. Netlify proved that you can build a competent CMS using git as a backend and the plan will be to either fork Netlify CMS or build something from scratch.
  • The frontend will be built as an SPA using GatsbyJS. Gatsby here is a very appealing option as it has GraphQL under the hood for querying data.

Other Challenges

There will be a littany of other challenges I will face building this new system. Two such challenges are: opinionation in the frontend and conversion. Lets start with Opinionation.

The frontend is natually going to be opinionated in that it will look like my ideal resume format, but you will likely hate it and want something else. Here there is going to be a fine balancing act of providing easy building blocks for those that need to get up and running quickly while at the same time providing customization to those that want to build something more custom.

The last challenge is conversion. V1 uses Pandoc to convert Markdown into HTML and other formats. This is a pain point for users as they will have to install Pandoc and all of it's dependencies before they can convert, for some this isn't a big deal but if you don't already have a Python enviorment setup it can become a real challenge.

Getting to work

I am already working on V2 of my resume framework. I will post updates as the work progresses. Until next time!