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  • Beth Eakman

5 Reasons NOT to use a template for your resume

Let's face it: writing a resume can be a loathsome task and anything that offers to make it easier sounds like a great idea--cue the templates. You can use the free ones on your documents software or buy a super cute one on Etsy, use the type-over features and Voila! Done. But, wait. Before you start, consider these five reasons NOT to use a template.

  1. They're hard to customize. Let's say you like the way your name looks in that template header, but the dates for your employment history and making a weird snake-ish shape along the right hand margin. By the time you figure out how to reformat or move those things you might as well have DIY'ed it from the get-go.

  2. They're hard to update. You need to customize your "working resume" for different jobs--moving components up or down for emphasis and adding new content. Adding a new accomplishment can shuffle the whole format. And for some professions like writers or other contract workers who are constantly adding publications or clients, that template is going to get messy.

  3. They can be hard to read. Lots of templates operate on the semi-true rule that resumes should never exceed one page. Hot tip! The research on this says that most HR managers list their preferred resume length at one page, but it's only by a couple of percentage points over two, and then three. You get the picture. Templates often try to keep to the single page by crowding text both horizontally and vertically and by using tiny eye-strain-O font sizes.

  4. Those cute design features don't help. Thanks, Pinterest! Who doesn't love some trendy pink pie charts to indicate skill levels or graphic elements to divide information? You know who doesn't love them? People who have to read them. It's going to take an extra five minutes to figure out what those infographics say and resume reading is a SKIM & SCAN task. HR readers will think, hey, what a cute design, and then thank you, next.

  5. It's not hard to DIY it! Look at templates. Fall down the mineshaft of Pinterest. Look at the templates on Etsy. Just don't use them. Decide what works for you and what doesn't and design your own resume. It'll be easier to customize and update and it'll be MUCH easier for potential employers to actually read.

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