resumeIf you dislike the task of creating a resume from scratch, there’s a good chance that you’ve either used a pre-formatted resume template, or you’ve contemplated it. Resume templates are both easy to find and easy to use. Many word processing programs and online websites offer free resume templates, where the document has already been designed and all that is required of the applicant is to type their information into a text box. Resume templates seem to relieve the job seeker from the drudgery of meticulous formatting and the laborious  task of designing an attractive resume, but is using a resume template just as effective as creating a resume from scratch?

Using a resume template can be tempting, however before using one, be sure to take the following into consideration:

You run the risk of using the same template as another applicant:

As a career coach, I’ve reviewed several documents from different job seekers who used the exact same template to create their resume. Having a resume style that is identical to another applicant’s is one of the last things you want to happen when you’re trying to stand out from the crowd. 

The template design may not be suitable for your industry:

Your resume style should be appropriate for the industry you are seeking. Unfortunately, many resume templates incorporate bright colors and crazy fonts, which is almost never appropriate to use when applying for a professional position. Although a flashy resume template might seem like a good way to catch the hiring manager’s attention, it probably won’t have the intended positive effect. 

The use of text boxes may cause issues:

Text boxes are commonly found in resume templates as they conveniently allow the applicant to “plug in” his or her information. However, text boxes are difficult to format, and you may lose some control over your document’s formatting if you wish to make certain changes. In addition, text boxes may be problematic if the employer who is reading your document uses a different version of your software.

Resume templates may not be designed for efficient use of space:

Several resume templates do not use spacing, line breaks, and margin settings efficiently, which will often result in an excessive amount of white space. In order to effectively convey your qualifications on your resume, you will need to conserve the space and use it to list your most important professional and educational experiences. Space is very precious on your resume—use it wisely!

Your resume is the most important document of your job search, and is worth the time and energy invested. Regardless of whether or not you choose to use a resume template, make sure that your resume is both functional and applicable to your target career.

By Marcia Powers, Career Coach at American Public University

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