resume templateWhen clients send me their resumes in a template that they downloaded from the Internet, I immediately copy and paste the information into a Word document, and work on the resume in Word. Sometimes, when we’re done with the content, the client asks when I’m going to make it look “nice,” or “more professional.” I’m not. My advice is to stick to Word and never use a resume template.

Why am I so insistent that you not use a resume template? Several reasons.

For one – and I say this as a human resources professional who has hired hundreds of candidates – no recruiter or HR manager hires a candidate because their resume was pretty. Obviously, typos and poor writing are no-nos, but other than that, what we’re looking for is a well-written value proposition that answers one critical question: “is this person the answer to my problem?” (the problem is the need to fill an open req).

Secondly, the more formatted the resume template, the harder it is for ATS software to parse. This means that key information can be lost. Take resume templates that use headers and footers (this is true for Word docs, as well); ATS just doesn’t read headers and footers. And what critical information is typically in the header? Your name? Your contact information?

For those who believe that a simple Word document doesn’t cut it, I have news for you: it does. The simplicity, the clean appearance – these attributes allow the reader to focus on the important stuff , namely, the content.

Some clients in creative fields worry that since they are evaluated on their design expertise that a plain Word doc sends the wrong message. There are two ways around this: have two versions – the Word doc for uploading to ATS and a design-worthy version that you can PDF and email directly to hiring managers and network connections. The other strategy is to embed a link to your online portfolio into the resume.

So avoid resume templates and stick to what works.

Do you need help crafting a resume that gets you interviews? Read about my process and pricing.