Posted December 16, 2014 by

College Students: Can You Use a Resume Template?

Mark Slack

Mark Slack

Getting ready to find your first internship or job? You probably have a lot of questions about how and where to begin.

Allow me to answer the following question, which will save you time and effort for the rest of your career: can you use a downloaded resume template?

The answer is yes, you absolutely can. Here are some myths about resume templates that need to be dispelled so that you don’t waste your time formatting a resume, or buying one for an outrageous price.

Myth 1: The Legend of the Bored and Hypercritical Hiring Manager

The myth goes something like this: At any job you apply for, there’s going to be a hiring manager who has looked through so many resumes that he/she has literally memorized every resume template on the web.

Therefore, if you apply with a resume template, this magical hiring manager will think to his/herself, “This person is lazy, and probably won’t be a good worker,” and poof, your resume ends up in the trash.

Why it’s ridiculous:

First of all, there are so many resume templates on the web that it would be impossible to memorize all of them. Secondly, throwing a resume out because it seems like the applicant didn’t create it his/herself would be hiring malpractice.

Hiring managers are looking for people with job relevant skills, abilities, and experiences – they are not looking for the ability to create a resume on Microsoft Word.

A hiring manager that used this kind of silly filter would get fired quickly for incompetence.

Myth 2: The Horror of the Un-optimized Resume Template

The second myth about resume templates is that they are not optimized to be read by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). ATS is software that can read your resume and determine if the keywords and key phrases on your resume are relevant to the job you’re applying for. If your resume seems to be irrelevant, the ATS robot will reject you.

Some people will have you believe that resume templates are not optimized for ATS, meaning your resume will be instantly rejected before it’s even viewed by a human.

Why it’s ridiculous:

It is true that you should be careful about what kind of resume template you download, but that doesn’t mean that all templates are bad. In fact, most resume templates on the web are ATS optimized.

The way to ensure that you’re picking a resume template that’s ATS optimized is to choose ones that have normal headings like Education, Professional Experience (or Work Experience), Skills, Awards, Publications, and other commonly used and accepted resume headings. In addition, don’t pick a resume template with images of any kind.

Note: Although they look cool, you should stay away from infographic resumes. These resumes have too many images and artifacts that can interfere with ATS operations.

Myth 3: The Boundless Magic of the Professional Resume Writer

Professional resume writers will insist that downloading a free resume template will be detrimental to your chances of landing an interview because they have special knowledge about what hiring manager’s want to see.

Why it’s ridiculous:

Consider how many clients a professional resume writer has – do you think they have the time to go through designing new resumes for each client? Of course not. In other words, they’re using resume templates too! In some cases, they may even be using resume templates that they downloaded from the Internet, and are simply charging you an arm and a leg to organize it for you.

There are a lot of great resume templates on the web, so save yourself some time and effort and simply download one. Many of them are really well designed, and will set your resume above your competition. However, it’s also fine to be unique and original, so create your own if you feel so inclined.

The important thing to remember is that the resume is just your key to landing an interview. Set yourself up for success by getting as many interviews as possible, and choosing the company that suits you best.

Byline: Mark Slack is a resume expert and career advisor at Resume Genius, home of the world’s smartest resume maker. He’s an avid hiker, biker, and fluent in Mandarin.

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