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In the course of managing my resume writing practice, prospective clients often send me their existing resumes as an aid in providing a quote for our services in writing a new resume. The vast majority of these client-submitted resumes are ineffective and contain any number of problems, including grammatical errors, inappropriate information, outdated sections, and dull content, among many others. But often, the problem is one that is obvious and yet easy to avoid–the use of a resume template.
If you are looking for a job right now, what is your goal when you send a resume? Keep in mind that while there may be signs that it is improving, the job market is still the fiercest and most competitive that many of us have seen in our lifetimes. The answer to my question, of course, is to stand out from the multitudes of other job seekers, to show how you offer a potential value offering that differentiates you from other job candidates, and to compel the recipient to pick up the phone and call you for an interview. The best professional resume writers are masters at accomplishing these goals with a creatively and strategically written and designed resume that sets you apart from and above other job seekers. But, even if you write your own resume, developing one that is specifically tailored to accentuate your unique background will draw you far stronger results than following a rigid template format.
Resume templates are inflexible and force you to present your experience in a one-size-fits-all format that doesn’t work for the vast majority of people because using one makes it hard or impossible to really showcase the top selling points in your background. Worse, rather than helping you stand out with a visually appealing, unique design and format, they make you blend in with all the other candidates. Recruiters and hiring authorities receive hundreds and hundreds of resumes for even a single job opening. They see all the templates! Do you honestly think that nobody else has used the same resume template? In a stack of resumes, the template-based resumes all look alike. Worse, the candidates who use these resumes templates risk appearing as someone who is not very creative and is not even willing to put the time and effort into creating the best possible first impression through a stand out resume. This is NOT the impression you want to make when job searching!
So, forget the resume templates! They are ineffective and at best, will needlessly prolong your job search. Worse, they could eliminate you from consideration based on the poor first impression they sometimes create. It is worth the time to develop a unique design and format that will help you highlight the positive differentiators in your background while downplaying the potential negatives. If you are set on writing your resume yourself, you can find inspiration through the many examples in my e-book 101 Before-and-After Resume Examples. Or, if you are considering professional assistance in writing your resume, Distinctive Documents can meet all of your needs. The investment you make in a professionally written resume is one that will often pay huge returns by helping you land a new job faster, many times at a salary that is higher than anticipated.