There's this wonderful illustration about nature I want to share in relation to the effectiveness of resume templates. Zebras have these great stripes that cause them to blend into their herds. It's actually a lifesaving feature when being attacked by a predator. Related: The Worst Resume Advice I've EVER Heard I equate resume templates to a Zebra's stripes—really great for camouflage and blending into a “herd" of other job seekers. Not so great for standing out from the pack.
Resume Templates Are Not A Fast FixTemplates are designed to make life easy and quick. Isn't that what we all want? A quick and easy way to get the job done. Or, in this case, find a job. The problem with that logic is that many of the things that really matter in life are neither quick nor easy. It takes time to cultivate relationships, to raise and nurture children, and to build a career. While job searching should never take as long as raising children (Lord, I hope not!), it does take time—as should the proper and effective development of your resume. Using a resume template—while appearing “quick and easy"—really just prolongs the job search process, dragging it out by many more months.
The Goal Of A ResumeIf the ultimate goal of your resume is to show a potential employer how you're the best fit for the position, part of that goal is demonstrating your distinctiveness as a candidate—articulating the benefits the employer would receive upon choosing you over another viable job seeker. Templates undermine your very ability to do that. Instead of creating opportunities to distinguish yourself among your peers, it instead aims to blend you into a crowd of other seemingly qualified individuals—thus making your efforts to stand out futile.
So, What's The Solution?Ditch the resume template and customize your resume instead. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Include a specific job title or target job at the top of the resume.
- Create a career summary that isn't mundane. As you write your career summary ask yourself this question: Can this statement apply to another job seeker? if so, nix the line or find a way to make it more specific to you.
- Focus on value and benefits. Write benefit-rich statements that show the employer the experience and expertise you bring to the table. In the working world the best predictor of future success is looking at past achievements.
- Answer questions. Ask yourself how much, how many, and how often. This will help you to quantify—or put a number to—almost anything on your resume.