How To Choose A Resume Template
Your resume is a critical part of the job search process. You can mistake your way through an interview, and bumble your way through a cover letter, but without a high-quality resume that is filled with impressive information, you are unlikely to receive as much as a phone call back from the company. Your resume needs to be perfect, and it needs to be enough to impress any hiring manager.
Yet some people make a mistake on their resume that costs them the job before they have even filled in their name. That is because many people select the wrong resume template. Before you put one word on your resume, you need to make sure that you’ve found a template that will maximize your impact as an applicant, and provide you with the clearest and summary of your qualifications.
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What the Best Resume Template Does
Not all resume templates are created equal, and many of the ones that you receive for free – such as those available through Microsoft Word’s template list – are filled with potential problems. It’s important to understand what a resume template is supposed to do:
The best resume template is one that is completely ignored.
Your ultimate goal with your resume template selection is to choose one that will not be noticeable – one that doesn’t draw attention to itself. You want the information you put in your resume to speak for you. No resume template will get you a job, but many resume templates will prevent you from getting the job.
Your goal is to find a resume template that does the following:
- Easy to Read – You want a template with the right font, spacing, and format that it is very easy for the hiring manager to read and skim. Remember that most hiring managers will spend only a few seconds on your resume before deciding whether or not to read further. If the template is tough on their eyes or makes it difficult to find the right information, they’ll quickly move on to the next applicant.
- Easy to Remember – You don’t want your resume template to stand out. But you also want to make sure that you and your talents are easy to remember. This is one of the main flaws with choosing a generic Microsoft Word template: almost everyone uses those templates, so hiring managers that see 1,000 applicants usually skip right over them. However, it’s not just template choice. It is also design. For example, a resume template that doesn’t highlight your name is a problem, because if the hiring manager doesn’t remember your name, they won’t remember your resume.
- Professional and Clear – You’ll also want to make sure that your resume template speaks to your professionalism. There are many templates that are “fine” in a generic sense, but do something that strikes hiring managers as amateurish. For example, those that select a template with bright blue borders may both draw attention away from the words, and may give the impression that they are younger and less experienced, because these templates are more commonly used by young workers unaware that their design is too bright.
These are the most basic parts of what makes a successful resume template, and while we will go into more specific details in a moment, any resume template option that you choose should meet the above criteria. If any part of the template is difficult to read, “blah” in design, and lacks any amount of professionalism, it is highly unlikely your resume will be reviewed at all.
Specifics on What Makes a Good Resume Template
The requirements above are mandatory for any resume template selection. But for those that want to choose the absolute best template, there are other more specific considerations as well. The following are some of the criteria that you should use in your resume template selection:
- Proper Font Choice – The template must use the right font. Keep in mind, however, that the “right font” may change depending on how much information you’re putting in your resume. Most experts and hiring managers recommend you stay away from Serif Fonts (like Times New Roman), for example, because the little feet on the end of each letter can make it more difficult to read. Even some sans-serif fonts (like Ariel and Calibri) may become more difficult to read if the text is smaller. Those that tend to stick in a lot of information and then shrink the text so that it all fits in one page need to make sure that the font is still easy to read given the text size.
- The Right Space – Similarly, it is best to choose a resume template that is designed for the amount of information that you plan to place in the resume. If you are a recent graduate with limited work experience, you may benefit from a template designed with smaller margins and a more normal sized font. If you are a highly experienced employee with numerous achievements, you may need a template that has wider margins and a smaller font and utilizes space well. Select a template that speaks to the amount of information that will be on it.
- Clean and Modern – There should be no colors, no casual fonts, no strange bullet points, and usually no borders (with a few exceptions). It’s a good idea to look for a template that is considered “modern,” although above all else it should not be busy or have a messy appearance.
- Resume Best Practices – There are specific best practices that are considered critical for every resume, and your resume template should match those best practices. These include your name in a large font on top, along with your contact information. They have good headings for each section. They have all of the sections that you plan to use and none of the ones you don’t (for example, it usually should not have a “hobby” section, which some older resume templates did). Don’t let the template dictate what you put in your resume. Find a resume template that matches what you plan to put in there.
- Optional: Ready for Applicant Tracking Systems – There is also one additional piece of information that