You don't get a second chance to make a first impression. So since a resume typically provides the initial glimpse of an applicant, the document needs to showcase skills in the best possible light. People unsure how to tackle this challenge often find templates helpful.
"When attempting to prepare a resume oneself, either for the first time or upon returning to a search after some time, it is hard to know where to begin,"says career expert Lavie Margolin, author of Mastering the Job Interview. "Rather than conducting guess work, a template gives you not only a starting point but a structure."
Don't for a minute, though, think that using a template means creating a cookie-cutter resume. Consider a template a guide that ensures necessary information gets included and a visually-appealing end product gets created.
Design decisions commonly encountered when using a template include:
Take a look at layouts available. What "speaks" to you? Perhaps you are trying to secure a job in a conservative field, and a traditional arrangement jives with the seriousness of the position. Or, maybe you're a creative type and want a resume that reflects your ability to think outside of the box. An unconventional two-column set up or a resume with your initials in a box next to your contact info might better suit your style.
Again, experiment to find what works for your personality and occupation. Whichever font you choose, however, needs to be easily readable or you run the risk of busy hiring managers tossing your resume aside.
Arial, Times New Roman, and Helvetica are three tried-and-true fonts that look professional and also tend to be handled well when employers use an ATS (applicant tracking system) to scan resumes electronically before passing along only the most promising to an actual human reader.
Black remains the safest and most common choice. For individuals who would like to try out a bit of color, however, templates prove very useful by offering ideas on how to add a splash tastefully, such as only on your name or for section headers.
Margins, spacing, and headers
A good resume allows employers to find relevant information quickly. Suitable spacing between items and clear headers identifying the type of information presented in a given section assist in this process. Likewise, appropriate white space at the top, bottom, and sides pleases a reader's eyes. Templates aid in creating this visual appeal.
A well-designed resume means little if it lacks substantial content. As Margolin notes, "A template is just that — it is a tool for you not only to fill in and complete but to customize to your needs. Make sure your most relevant skills and experiences stand out in the document."
As the template walks you through various sections – such as contact information, work history, education, and skills – always keep your reader in mind. A resume must speak to the needs of the unique job at hand. Look carefully at the job posting to determine what's most important to this specific employer. Use language that mirrors what this company wants. The great thing about templates is they simplify the customization process, so creating a job-specific document each time isn't so laborious.
One final word
A resume created through the use of a template is only as good as what the creator inputs. In addition to making sure you are using strategic keywords that help you come off as a good match, double-check your basic information. An interested potential employer cannot reach you if you made a typo on your email address or accidentally put in your old phone number!