If you think resume-writing is a chore or feel intimidated by the process, you might be interested in computer software designed specifically for the purpose.
At first I wasn't keen on the idea, because of the risk that all resumes would come out looking mass-produced. But after trying out three resume packages, I'm convinced of their potential.
Design is the chief virtue of the packages I examined, all of which operate on IBM-based Windows systems. They are PFS:Resume by Softkey International, WinWay Resume from WinWay Corp. and the Perfect Resume from Davidson & Associates.
People who don't have the right equipment should find out whether the public library has computers and laser printers for resume writing (mine does). Also, you can use the computers at a growing number of storefronts (print shops and small-business centers) for about $10 an hour, and many offer friendly help for job hunters.
Using the software is relatively simple. You double-click on a section of the resume and type in the essentials -- such as your name and job history. All three permit you to add, delete or edit headings. You can choose between a chronological resume, which lists your jobs by date, starting with the most recent, and a functional one organized around specific skills.
You can also experiment with the various templates or layouts that the packages supply. You just click the mouse to try out different styles and typefaces.
Unlike a live career counselor, the software can't talk over strategies or edit your work. Each package tries to make up for that with on-screen instructions and an accompanying manual. Here are some details about each of the three packages.
* PFS:Resume (Cambridge, Mass., $59.95,  227-5609): My favorite part of the package is an on-screen device called "action words," which refers to the advice that a resume should use "action verbs" to describe your job responsibilities. And this tool provides a list of them, from A to Z.
* WinWay Resume (Sacramento, Calif., $49.95,  4-WINWAY): Offers the widest assortment of real-life resumes -- most of them for non-managerial jobs. They include resumes that address difficult career situations, like frequent job changes, looking for employment in a new city and moving from the military into a civilian position.
* Perfect Resume (Torrance, Calif., $59.95,  545-7677): Its strength is career tips, contained chiefly in an on-screen tutorial.