Do you really need to spend hours creating a résumé from scratch? After all, you probably have better things to do. Good news: You can build a résumé from a template.
Starting with a template is efficient; it lets you focus on your résumé’s content and keywords, which are ultimately more important than its design.
However, there are literally thousands of free (or inexpensive) résumé templates available on the web. How do you choose between them? Here are some tips on selecting the one that best showcases your talents.
Choosing the Best Template
Stick to the fundamentals when selecting a template, advised Austin Belcak, founder of Cultivated Culture. For instance, experienced tech pros should look for a format that begins with a profile summary, rather than an objective statement, and allows you to insert or add a bulleted list of relevant accomplishments.
Also, try to find a template that has a track record of success, as confirmed by candidates who landed jobs and interviews or recruiter endorsements.
Unless you intend to email your résumé or bring it with you to an interview, choose an ATS-compatible format, noted certified professional résumé writer Al Palumbo. Even though modern résumé screening software is getting more sophisticated, an applicant tracking system (ATS) may not read information contained in text boxes, headers, tables, charts or graphs. (To make sure you’re compatible, run your draft through a free ATS checker.)
To avoid discrimination, you shouldn’t include a photo of yourself (if you are applying to jobs in the U.S.) or your street address; just your city and state.
Consider your position level, target industry, company and role, noted Cara Heilmann, executive career coach and founder of Ready Reset Go. Find a format that highlights your strengths and downplays your weaknesses.
Your location also makes a difference, Heilmann said. For instance, one-page résumés are all the rage in the Silicon Valley, following the release of the Elon Musk version.
Entry Level IT
If you’re looking for your first job in programming, IT support or development, many of the free, entry-level templates from Primer Magazine will fit the bill. This template for an entry-level programmer from Résumé-Now covers everything you need, too. And this template for a recent CS grad from Kick Résumé may get you an interview; but to hook the reviewer, consider adding a profile. This résumé landed Belcak interviews and offers at Microsoft, Google and Twitter; it’s suitable for professionals who are looking to leverage experience gained during an internship or entry-level job.
If you’re worried that a template-produced résumé may look too generic or canned, Heilmann suggests that you try changing the font or colors.
The templates available through free résumé builder CV Owl will work for many mid-career software engineers and developers. We also like this MS Word template from RésuméGenius; many of their templates provide a space for achievements in the opening summary.
The templates on Zety have great eye appeal, but to really wow the reviewer, project-management candidates should quantify the bullets in their experience section, or add accomplishments and impact bullets to each project or job. If you prefer a more traditional style, consider this template from MyPerfectRésumé, or peruse the excellent collection from across the web housed on Template.net.
Anyone in a creative position needs a résumé that highlights their artistic skills, but it’s important to have a basic version, as well. Consider this traditional style from MyPerfectRésumé or this one from Creative Market. For your creative version, check out the templates on Canva or Freesumes.
This basic template from Résumé-Now is a good choice because it starts with a summary; we also like this one from RésuméTemplates 101, although experienced pros should place their education near the end of the document (and it costs $9.95).
Information Security Pro
This information systems security analyst résumé from An Expert Résumé won an award back in 2010; a free download (PDF) is available on SampleTemplates. Another good option is this template for an information security manager from WorkBloom, which comes with a matching cover letter.