Looking for a new job is rarely an easy endeavor. Not only does it require extensive amounts of research just to find open positions that match your particular skills, experience, education and salary needs, but simply getting your foot in the door once you have found those job openings is a challenge in itself. Companies looking to hire go through hundreds–if not thousands–of resumes in search of the perfect candidate. This means that you can’t afford to take your resume lightly. You need to create a resume that’s easy to read, that showcases your abilities and experience, and that stands out from the crowd.
Fortunately, when it comes to writing your resume, you’re not just limited to a basic Word document. There are tons of resume templates available online that you can download for free and that can help you organize your information in a manner that is easy to read as well as aesthetically pleasing.
Creating A Resume
Before you begin downloading free resume templates, it’s important that you have an understanding of what an effective resume consists of. The following are a few important tips on how to craft a successful resume:
Selecting Your Resume Format
The format of your resume refers to the structure. While there are many formats that you can choose from, there tend to be three main formats that are most commonly accepted. These include the following:
- Reverse Chronological – A reverse chronological format lists your work experience beginning with the most recent position you held. If you have a lot of work experience, then reverse chronological format is a good option because it highlights your most important positions, which are typically the most recent. An employer seeking to fill a high-paying position that requires a lot of responsibilities will be more interested in your most recent position than they are in a job you held a decade ago.
- Functional – If you’re seeking a more skill-based job, then a functional format might be better suited to your needs. Such a resume emphasizes jobs that required certain skills, which can be helpful if you’re seeking a job that requires similar skills, if you have gaps in your employment history, or you are looking to change careers, which means your previous job skills may not match up with the skills needed in the position you’re currently seeking.
- Combined – Whereas a reverse chronological resume is more experience-based and a functional resume is more skill-based, a combined format falls somewhere in between. If you have a diverse set of skills as well as an extensive amount of job experience, a combined format might work better for you.
Organizing Your Resume Content
Once you’ve chosen your resume format, be sure that the content you include is organized. If it appears cluttered, it will be difficult for employers to read. Remember, employers are going to be reading through hundreds of resumes, which means that they will scan the resume first. If your resume is difficult to scan, they may not bother with it — or they may miss important information. To avoid this, organize your resume with clear section headings, use plenty of negative space (particularly around the margins), and choose a font that’s easy to read.
How Long Should The Resume Be
The general rule of thumb has always been to limit your resume to a single page. However, don’t be afraid to make your resume longer than a single page, especially if limiting it to a single page will require you to sacrifice important information. Just make sure that your resume isn’t over three pages long at the very most. One page is the sweet spot, but three pages is the absolute limit.
Listing Your Skills
There are two categories of skills that you will want to address: hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are the skills that you were taught, such as computer programming skills or heavy machinery operating skills. They are skills that can be taught and are usually technical-focused. Soft skills refer to skills that are learned and developed as a result of experience that can’t be taught; for example, verbal communication skills or leadership skills.
There are several ways you can list your skills. You can have two sections that outline hard skills and soft skills, you can combine them into one section, or you can write a summary of your skill, which allows you to elaborate on certain skills that may be relevant to the position you’re applying for.
Should You Use A Resume Template?
Although you can use any kind of Word document to write your resume, there are a lot of limitations to doing so. First of all, Word documents can be difficult to format when it comes to creating different sections in your resume. Secondly, it’s going to look a bit plain, which not only makes it boring to read through but also lacks a certain professional polish. Because of this, you should consider using a resume template.
The use of a resume template basically streamlines the whole process of writing a resume. Formatting your resume won’t be nearly as big of an issue if you’re using a template. Basically, you can just fill the template in with your information without having to worry about formatting details, such as alignment, margins, fonts, and the like. Not to mention that a resume template will help make your resume look much more professional.
Downloading A Resume Template
Resume templates are not difficult to find. In fact, there are thousands of resume templates available on the web, many of which you can download for free.
Free Resume Templates
Here are a few of our favorite resume templates that you can download for free:
Your resume doesn’t need to have tons of bells and whistles to be effective. If you’re applying to a position that’s more traditional or conservative, then a fancy resume can be distracting and could potentially have a negative effect on your candidacy. In such a case, a simple resume template will do. Simple resume templates use streamlined and organized layouts with just a touch of color, and are appropriate for pretty much any industry.
If you’d prefer to focus on creating a resume that’s easy to scan and read, then go with a clean resume template. A clean template uses typography, negative space, and color to create an easy-to-read as well as professional look.
Modern templates have a professional aesthetic that’s still streamlined (making it easy to showcase your skills and experience), but typically have a touch of creativity to them as well. The use of a modern template can help show employers that you’re not just a professional, but that you also stay current with the latest technology.
If you want to go with what’s been proven to work, then download a popular resume template. These tend to focus on the nuts and bolts of a resume by clearly dividing the resume into sections that are easy for employers to scan over. They definitely have a more traditional feel to them, but remain professional as well. They are appropriate for every industry.
Portfolio resume templates are unique in that they provide space for images. Images should not be added to your resume unless you’re in a creative field; for example, if you’re a photographer, graphic designer, or web designer. If this is the case, a portfolio resume template gives you the chance to show off some of your work directly.
If you’re keen on keeping your resume on page but have a lot of information that you want to include, consider a one-page resume template. The layout for a one-page resume template makes it possible to include a significant amount of information within just a single page.
If you’re applying for a position that requires creativity, you might want a resume template that reflects that. Creative templates have visual flourishes that will make your resume stand out; however, these types of templates may not be appropriate for certain industries (especially those that aren’t creative-focused, such as accounting departments).
Some careers are so different from each other that you may want to find a template that’s specifically designed for your career so that you can more effectively outline your skills and experience. For example, you may want to look into a career template if you’re a medical assistant or a customer service representative.
If you want to keep it as professional as possible but don’t want a boring resume either, consider a professional template. These resume templates boast numerous layouts with different sections to make your information easy to scan and provide a minor visual flourish as well to help your resume stand out.
Writing a resume can be a challenge for college students as they don’t have a lot of experience that they can share. A college resume template allows you to focus more on hard skills as well as soft skills in addition to achievements, awards, and references.
Microsoft Resume Template
If you’d prefer to just write your resume in Word, then take a look at some of the resume templates that Microsoft offers. They offer basic templates that include chronological templates and functional templates as well as more visually creative templates to choose from.
Tips On Using A Resume Template
If you decide to use a resume template, consider the following tips:
Keep It Simple
There are a lot of different resume templates available, some of which can be overly complex. Don’t be swayed by fancy formatting and fonts. Elements such as these can overwhelm your resume and take away from what’s important — the actual content. Not to mention that fancy formatting and fonts can get lost when you email or upload your resume. Go with something a little bit more simple so that it won’t be distracting and so that it’s easier for employers to read.
Keep It Concise
Just because you’ve worked many different jobs for many different companies over a long period doesn’t mean you have to list everything. For example, if you’re in your mid-40s and you’re applying for a high-paying management position, you probably don’t need to list that job you held while in high school. Most employers won’t expect you to go back more than 10 to 15 years in your employment history.
Make It Unique To You And The Job
The template you’re using may have some generic content filled in as examples. Make sure you replace this content with your personal information. You should also tailor the resume to reflect the job you’re applying for. If you’re applying for a position that requires specific experience and skills, then you should emphasize any jobs you held and skills you have that relate.
Give Your File A Unique Name
One of the most common mistakes you can make is not renaming the file. When you send it to an employer, they won’t know who it’s from and will have trouble retrieving it if they’ve downloaded it. Rename it using your name and the word resume together. This way, whoever opens the resume will know who it belongs to.
Check All Details
Go through your resume and make sure that all generic template content has been replaced with your personal information. Make sure that if you’re copying and pasting information from an older resume that you’ve done so in the proper sections. If you miss details like this, not only will it confuse employers, but it will indicate to them that you didn’t even bother to do a quick once over of your resume.
Proofread Before Sending
In addition to checking the details of the resume template you’re using, make sure you proofread all of your content. Don’t just assume that spell check will catch any errors — go through it yourself to make sure there are no spelling or grammar errors.
Adding A Cover Letter
While a cover letter isn’t absolutely necessary (your resume won’t be dismissed simply because you don’t have a cover letter), it will help make you stand out from all of the other job candidates. The purpose of a cover letter is to provide the employer with an introduction to who you are and why you believe that you are a good fit for the position. This helps to generate some interest in your resume as well as help to personalize it. Tips to keep in mind when creating a cover letter for your resume follow:
Keep It Short And Simple
The cover letter is an introduction, which means you won’t want to write a novel. If an employer sees pages of text preceding your resume, they’re not going to be excited about having to read it–and they probably won’t. You’re introducing yourself and explaining why you’re a good fit for the job, don’t include anything that’s irrelevant as it will bore the employer. Keep it to one page. In fact, the perfect length is probably around half a page.
Even if your resume outlines the skills and experience you have, you should still mention any specific skills and experience relevant to the position you’re applying for in your cover letter. This way, you’re essentially telling the reader you’re qualified right off the bat and they’ll keep this in mind as they look through your resume.
Create A Narrative
Your resume is already essentially a list so avoid doing the same thing with your cover letter. Instead, tell the reader a story about yourself. This means sharing how you got interested in the career you chose, what skills and experience you’ve picked up, why you want the job, and why you’re a good fit for the job. Creating a narrative will be much more engaging for the reader.
Do Your Part And Research
The cover letter shouldn’t be just about you. You should mention why you’re interested in working for the company you’re applying to. This may require you to do a little bit of research about the company, but it shows the reader that you’ve actually done the work and that you’re serious about your interest in the job and that you’re not just using the same cover letter over and over again.
Focus On Details
Small details matter. For example, instead of starting off with “to whom it may concern,” you should find out the name of the recruiter or hiring manager and address the cover letter to them. It personalizes the cover letter, which will engage the reader more. Add a call-to-action at the end encouraging the reader to contact you for more information about you (simply stating that you’re looking forward to hearing back is fine as well). Finally, proofread your cover letter for spelling errors and grammar mistakes.
What Fits You Best
Resume templates can be very helpful when it comes to streamlining the resume creation process and creating a professional looking resume to submit. However, you should only use a resume template if it’s helpful for you. If you’d prefer to create your resume from scratch without the help of a template, there’s no reason you can’t do that instead. Remember, when it comes down to it, it’s all about the actual content of your resume. While the format and look of the resume do have an impact, they are secondary to what your resume actually contains.