Should I Use a Resume Template?

Recruiting Agency Marketing Intern ContributorFor those who are not resume-writing experts, the right resume template can be a lifesaver. And, as a recruiting agency, Boly:Welch has seen just about every resume template out there.

This dependency on resume templates is not always a good thing — many resume templates actually hurt a jobseeker’s chances of securing interviews. Jobseekers often find resume templates online, not knowing who created the template. The people who are designing these templates often lack the knowledge of employment experts and are more focused on generating clicks to their template than helping people obtain jobs. The internet also allows for people to find resume templates that are standard in other countries, but don’t work as well in the United States.

Some experts recommend abandoning resume templates altogether. In a highly competitive market, a bad resume template can adversely impact a job search.


Creative Resume Template

Many design platforms offer creative resume templates. These templates usually look unconventional and design-focused. They usually have two columns, pictures, fancy fonts, and other design features. Admittedly, they can look good from a distance. Also, candidates in creative fields often feel pressure to show off their creativity in their resume as well as their portfolio.

However, even if you are in a creative field, a creative resume is not the best way to get the attention of a hiring manager. When a hiring manager scans your resume in an average of 6 seconds, they are basically looking for dates, titles, and basic keywords. A creative resume can distract from the content of the resume or cause someone who is skimming your resume to miss important information.

From a technology standpoint, the unconventional layout can prevent an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) from pulling information and scanning keywords. Many recruiters use an ATS to search for resumes that contain the keywords of a job they are looking to fill. In competitive fields, a template of this nature can cause an applicant to miss out on opportunities. Instead of a creative resume, showcase your creativity by linking to a portfolio.

Headshot on Resume

The topic of headshots on resumes is hotly debated among job search experts. In many countries, including a headshot on a resume is required. However, headshots on resumes are discouraged in the United States, as they are thought to reinforce implicit bias and discrimination.

Generally, since photographs on resumes could be something the hiring manager has strong feelings about, it’s best to leave off in case the hiring manager rules you out. Also, an ATS might not be able to scan a resume with a photograph, which lowers the chance of a company reaching out. Overall, appearance is not a qualification that will prove you are right for the job. Use that space to add content that will showcase your qualifications.

Infographic Resume Template

Many resumes now have a “creative” infographic template that allows jobseekers to rank how proficient they are in software, language, soft skills, or some other category. This trend makes employers cringe for a few reasons. One, this system of ranking is very subjective. How is the hiring manager going to understand the difference between a 5 or a 6 proficiency in Photoshop?

Secondly, there is research into cognitive bias that leads those who are more intelligent to rank themselves more harshly, while less gifted people rank themselves more generously. A person who is great in Excel could possibly rank themselves low due to cognitive bias.

Lastly, admitting a lack of proficiency does not help candidates, and infographics take up a ton of valuable page space. Since hiring managers only spend a small amount of time on that initial resume scan, it’s wise not waste time by including something so open to interpretation.

Colors and White Space

Some templates use colors that do not print out well in black and white. This is an issue if a hiring manager decides to print out a resume in black and white ink. If you are going to choose a color, be sure to pick a color that prints well.

White space is also important to the aesthetics of a resume, and finding a happy balance is important. Many resume templates have either too much white space or not enough white space. If there is too much white space, it can leave the impression that the applicant doesn’t have enough experience. If there is not enough white space, it can leave the person looking at the resume overwhelmed.

Address

Resume templates often have a field for inputting addresses. However, including an address can put you at a disadvantage. If a job seeker lives an hour away from a company, the hiring manager can infer that the candidate will grow tired of an hour-long commute over time.

To ensure that you are making the decision instead of having it made for you, put the city and state that you live in, omitting the exact address. If you are applying for a job out of town or out of state, it is appropriate to add a line that says “Willing to relocate,” or “Relocating to Portland in July 2019,” in addition to your current city and state. This helps the person reviewing resumes understand the full picture, and you won’t be ruled out based on location. Also, no one needs to know where you live exactly!

Where to find Helpful Resume Templates

Although you should be cautious about downloading any old resume off the internet, they do have a place. A well-designed resume, with balanced white space and clarity, can put you at a strong advantage as the hiring manager skims through a stack of resumes.

If you have a strong understanding of Microsoft Word, design your own template! However, you can also reach out to friends and family for templates that have worked for them. If you have graduated from college, many colleges have career advising centers that can help with resumes and job searches long after you have graduated.

If you decide to use a template found online, look at the template with a critical eye. Don’t feel like you have to input something for every section listed, and be sure to tailor it to your industry. If you’re looking for resume templates that are Boly:Welch-approved, email connect@bolywelch.com with the subject line “Resume Templates.” Our candidate advisor will be happy to send over a few templates! Boly:Welch also has a resource page with plenty of resume tips and tricks, along with blog posts featuring 10 essential resume tips and the nitty gritty guide to resumes. And local job board, Mac’s List, has some great articles in their resource library.