I am all for trying to save money. When I go shopping I will buy the stuff that is on sale or a no-name brand to get the better deal. But in some cases, it’s not worth it. I have to buy the name brand ketchup or my kids won’t eat it. There is no point in buying something if it doesn’t get used right? The same goes for a resume. You could opt for the cheap template but don’t expect potential employers to eat it up.
Templates are easy. Not much skill is required and they allow you to get things done fast. We use templates all the time in things like email, budgeting, business proposals, etc. They are a “set it and forget it” type of thing. Once they are set up and look good we can copy over the important stuff and we’re done.
So why not use templates for writing your resume?
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Some templates look great. You will find this especially with paid template providers. They are trying to win your business by evoking emotion based on the visual aesthetics. But selecting a resume based on appearance alone can be a huge mistake. It is best to steer clear of anything too fancy. According to Debbie Millman, President at Sterling Brands said “Substance over style is the rule for ALL resumes” in a Forbes article titled Will A Graphic Resume Get You The Job? The Experts Respond.
Templates should make your life easier but most of the time this is not the case and you will have wished you had a professional create it for you. With some free and paid templates, the formatting may look good, but some online applicant tracking systems (also known as ATS systems) don’t allow you to populate information into forms the way they should. You may also want to read “Optimizing Resumes for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)” from UIC Career Services.
- Can’t read text boxes
- Crazy bullets/graphics you can’t delete
- Shapes that mess up the readability
- Can’t read headers or footers
- Some fonts don’t display
These are only a few issues you may run into and they tend to be more of a headache than what they are worth.
Sections tend to be outdated. For example, you may find a template with an “Objective” area. Should you fill out that area? It’s in the template so it must be a best practice on resume writing right? False! The Objective area on a resume went out of style for most types of resumes years ago and is considered a huge waste of space. Unless you are a professional resume writer, there is no way you could know this without doing some research. if you downloaded a free template or even purchased one and it happened to have this section included, you would probably use it.
Of course there are still instances when someone might use the Objective section today. It is typically used for a student resume, first-time worker, and sometimes with labourers, construction, retail, and even servers.
You know the books “Where is Waldo”? You have to look very closely at each page to find the little fellow dressed in his red and white striped sweater with a hat and glasses. The problem was he was mixed in amongst the rest of the clutter on the page. Don’t let this happen with your resume. When you and a hundred other applicants submit your resumes, each a template, it tends to have the same effect on the hiring person. They then need to sift through all the clutter to find the right person. Your resume needs to stand out and build your professional brand.
Imagine you are browsing Facebook and every post you see looks the exact same. You keep scrolling, don’t you? But when you come to something that is different, you stop and look. Why? Because it’s interesting. Resume templates are boring. The last place you want to be boring is on your resume, this will force the hiring manager to keep scrolling.
Have a red flag in you working history? A template will not help you but a professional resume writer knows how to handle these situations.
- Gaps in employment
- Hopping from job to job
- Concerns about your age
- Career changes
- Lack of education or over-qualification
A template will not be able to guide you through these situations. Only a professional resume writer understands the ins and outs of these issues and how to handle them.
There are free and paid resume templates out there that you can download. There are also resume examples. You must check first to be sure that you have full permission to use these files because these resumes are for reference only and meant to help inspire you. You still need to write your resume yourself to identify who you are and what you have to offer. Your resume must market your skills and help you stand out from the crowd.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some good templates out there. However, you are going to pay almost as much for those online replicas as you would for a professional writer to create it for you. You know the old saying “you get what you pay for.”
The bottom line is that you will still have to write the content yourself if using a template. This is easier said than done. Do you know the latest industry trends or keywords to optimize? Don’t skimp on the resume! This piece of paper is what separates you from where you are and where you want to be. Be the Heinz ketchup in the aisle of no-name brand resumes!