Every job application process is different. Some use an online application form. Others might require 'pre work', a cover letter or a link to your portfolio to be attached before an application can be considered. But the one keystone to almost all applications regardless of sector is your resume.
Getting your resume right can be a daunting prospect. It's a challenge to work out how best to position your skills and experience, personality and passion, in a way that allows your character to shine through but which remains professional and thorough. From deciding on section headers, and filtering down content to the hardest hitting highlights only, right through to choosing a font and layout, creating a knockout resume that captures the attention in the right way is both art and science.
One popular way to hit the balance is to use a resume template to provide structure and style. If you're still staring at a blank page, and procrastinating your way out of writing that perfect resume, or if you think your resume could do with a reboot, then read on to see how a tailored template could make the difference for your job search.
Why choose a resume template?
When the only resume templates easily available were the standard (and by that I mean bland) options hard wired into your copy of Microsoft Word, you might have been advised against using them. One thing you don't want for your resume is 'bland' - recruiters are only human, and after seeing dozens of almost identical resumes for one position, it can be somewhat tricky to focus on the substance above the style.
These days, though, the right template can really make your resume shine.
In sectors where design and creativity are especially valued, using a template to create a stand out resume is definitely a strong idea. Even if you're not looking for a job in the creative industries, a template can help you catch the reader's attention in the all important first few seconds. A good template will also be a great guide to the sections and structure that will make your experience really stand out.
Pick carefully - many of the more stylised resume samples available are real statements, and need to fit in with your professional image and industry - and you could find a resume out there that gives you the edge.
What to consider when choosing a template
First impressions really do count. If you're looking to make an immediate impact, you need a resume that really stands out. Buying a template means that you can effectively buy in the service of professional graphic designers, for only a few dollars.
The biggest challenge might be finding the sort of template that is suited to your personality, industry and career level. To do this, find real resume samples on line for actual job seekers in your industry and select the elements that you should mirror. Do people tend to use chronological resumes or skills based? Are resumes typically stylised or more subdued? What sort of language and achievements have been chosen by others to showcase their suitability?
Next make sure that your resume matches the roles you are targeting. This is where tailoring comes into its own. Reflect back the language, tone and style of the advert for any job you apply for, and your resume should capture both your own unique approach and the culture and tone of the business. Seek feedback on your resume at every possible opportunity, from trusted colleagues, family members and recruitment specialists, and your job search will fly.
There are many templates available for purchase on Etsy, or you can get a good feel for the sort of design that you find interesting and recreate the same on your own.
- Think bold headers, images and impactful graphics; but don't let the design drown out the
- If you want to make more of an impact without creating anything too 'off the wall' then go for a splash of colour. Some of the free examples here include subdued hints of character in a very professional package!
- Choose a template which allows you to play around with the colors and fonts - a template should be a guide, not a straitjacket, and you need to be able to make amendments if they suit your personal style better.
- An infographic resume (try this one) can be a great way to summarize skills and experience if you're applying to a creative role.
- Make sure your template uses free fonts, so you don't have to then buy new ones, and also that it includes the social icons you might choose to use, to link to social network profiles for example
- Make sure you can save your resume in the correct format for applications - usually word documents are accepted by all employers.
- If you don’t have the time to fix up a template resume for yourself, then a service like Fiverr allows you to access the services of specialist resume graphic designers here and here, directly for as little as $5.
- Alternatively, through Fiverr, you can even have your resume created and proofread, all for the price of your lunch.
Get started for free!
Alternatively, if you have the skills, browse the templates you like and take inspiration from the elements that appeal into your own resume, adding colors, interesting fonts and company logos. You can use an online resume builder like Resume Genius to access resume samples by industry, or simply run a Google search for the resumes available online for genuine job seekers in the area you want to move into. Pick out the language and tone that suits both your sector and your personal style, and you’re good to go.
Grabbing the recruiter's attention is half the battle when securing your first job. Each application will have a process you need to follow, and sticking within the guidelines is crucial if you want your resume to make it as far as the hiring manager’s desk. But once you get through the initial stage of screening, your resume needs to have both the style and substance to make the reader stop everything and pick up the phone to invite you into interview.
Try out the resources here to help you make sure that your resume is strong enough to stop a recruiter in their tracks!