Writing a Resume: To Template Or Not To Template?

by : Kathi MacNaughton

Are free resume templates a viable answer to preparing a killer resume?

It’s a fact that if your resume doesn’t stand out--both in terms of content AND appearance-- you’ll find it very difficult to get the job you seek.

Hiring managers get hundreds of resumes for every open position, but usually have time to interview only a handful of applicants. So, they’ll scan through the resumes as quickly as they can, looking for candidates to 'jump out' at them. At best, your resume has mere seconds to make an impression.

The best way to raise instant interest is with an eye- catching and clean design that enhances your content. Some people, such as those with experience in graphic design or desktop publishing, may be able to produce a great-looking resume on their own.

But most people need a little help. If you don’t have the innate talent or desire to play around with resume design, you have 2 basic choices:

  • Use a resume template
  • Hire a professional resume writer

Let’s start with the second option. It’s a great one, if you can afford it. Pick the right resume writer or writing service and you’ll get help not only with design, but also with your content. Plus, a professional can help you zero in on a well-focused resume for your desired career path, given your skills and experience. It’s a great way to go, but it can be pricey.

If you can’t afford to spend the money right now for a professional writer (no matter how much value it may be worth) OR you’re one of those 'do-it-yourselfers,' then a resume template is another way to go. You can buy resume template software, but it’s not necessary.

If you know how to use Microsoft Word, then you can whip up a striking resume!

Many experts warn against using MS Word resume templates. They argue that your resume will look like many others that were also prepared using Word. But what they’re really referring to with those comments are the 3 standard Word formats that come with the program. It’s true, they’re not particularly inspiring in appearance.

However, here’s another option. Use an MS Word template that is different from the standard ones. There’s nothing inherently wrong with using free resume templates. The key is to find unique templates. Here are some of the benefits of using templates:

  • They guide you in the correct format and organization, with the right headings and sections in the right order.
  • They come preset with fonts, formatting, and white space for a pleasing and sophisticated design.
  • They’re easy to use. Just type in your personal information, save and go. Also, if you want, it’s easy enough to change fonts or almost anything else to get a more unique design--if you wish.

Of course, the key is to spend enough time to find high quality free resume templates. There are many sites that offer sample resumes that they call templates, but you’d have to cut and paste them into Word to use them. Other sites, such as www.Powerful-Sample-Resume-Formats.com, provide true 'click and type' templates that are all set up for you to start filling in the content.

Ultimately, how you prepare your resume is a personal decision. But, if you’re looking for an economical solution that still gives you a measure of control, think about free resume templates. If you choose the template wisely, it’s still possible to have a standout resume that is uniquely yours.