When they apply for a job, the majority of applicants use a template to design their resume, rather than building one from scratch. Some templates are good enough to land an excellent job because they expertly showcase your skills.
But there are thousands of templates, both online and in your Word program. How do you know which to choose? The answer depends on such variables as your job type and your years of experience.
Not all resume styles will match your job posting, nor will they be flexible enough to meet your needs. Despite the differences, all great resume templates have certain features. Here are some details to look for when you choose yours.
There’s no such thing as “the perfect resume.” An expert can take a good template and make tweaks here and there to match his or her needs. It may require adjusting some of the formatting or inserting longer sections than the resume was designed for. This kind of flexibility allows more creativity and specificity in the text.
For example, most resume experts recommend you ditch the objective statement, but templates still include one at the top of the page. When you can adjust the formatting, lead with a modern, captivating summary instead of an old-hat objective statement.
2. Design toward the job
As a general rule, resumes tend to be fairly plain. Most are written with black text, 11-point Times New Roman, and very little color. This style is recommended for regular office jobs, writers, the medical professions, and many other no-frill career tracks. But that doesn’t mean a template with a little more color and character won’t perform well in the right setting. If you’re applying for a graphic design position, it’s one thing to state you’re a creative designer and another to show it with your resume.
Choosing a template with a little more pizzazz for a position in the creative field could land the job for you. As you look for a resume template that will best reflect the position you’re applying for, consider using a free resume builder. These offer guidance, tips, suggested designs, online options, and more so you deliver a resume that’s best suited for the job in question.
3. Actionable guides
Good templates will also guide you through the resume-building process, which is especially useful if you’re new to the process of building an effective resume. The guide will walk you through the process, with captions that tell you what to write in each provided field.
It also provides a toolbar that provides tips as you go along. It might suggest quantifying a statement or using stronger verbs. It should also provide links to further resources both online and in your word processor. Not all resume templates will have this advanced feature, but those that do are incredibly handy.
4. Stand-Out features
According to studies, the average job posting receives 200 applications. In order to sift through all the candidates and make a qualified hire within a reasonable time frame, the average employer allots just six seconds to scan a resume. If it stands out or seems like a viable option, the sifter put it in the “maybe” pile for a second review later on. Others get trashed.
If you hope to merit further review, something on your resume has to catch the eye in those six seconds. This doesn’t necessarily mean a huge font for your name or bright-colored water in the foreground. When used in the wrong setting, such features can get your resume shredded instantly. Stand-out elements include uniquely shaped bullet points, a power-house font like Georgia for your name, maximized space, and applicable design features if you’re applying for a more creative position.
5. Formatting options
In high school, you were probably taught to create your resume in reverse chronological order. You start with your career objectives, followed by your level of education. Then you list your most recent work experiences in reverse chronological order.
This can be a useful format for your resume, especially if your experience correlates directly with the field you’re applying for. But it’s not the only format, and you don’t want to limit your options with a template sticks to this style.
You may have work experience that’s best suited for a functional resume, which lists professional accomplishments and work experience in order of their relevance. You might also benefit from a combination of the two, which focuses on your strongest skills while promoting your most recent experience.
Any template with advanced options for formatting is ideal because it will give you the necessary flexibility to format a successful resume.
About the author: Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.