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Resume Formats & Templates

Summary

Your resume should be easy to read, summarize your accomplishments and skills, and highlight relevant experience. It is often the first chance that an employer has to learn about who you are, your skills, and what other experience you may bring to the company. Every employer may have a different strategy or hiring process. Still, one thing remains, each one uses resumes during the hiring process to determine if an applicant has the skills necessary to fill the position.

Formats

Whether you are starting fresh with a resume or updating a format you have previously used, you should have several copies of your resume available for various purposes.

Why is there a need for multiple resumes, and how should they be different?

Use a .docx document

Start with having a simple .docx document without significant formattings such as Headers, Footers, or Tables. The reason for this is you need a copy of your resume that you can upload into a hiring website such as Indeed, Monster.com, LinkedIn, and employer application websites.

Sites like these and employers often use an applicant tracking system (ATS) software. Companies use ATS to not only track applicants but also as a filter method. The ATS searches each resume for keywords specific to the position, and forwards the applicants that it determines have the most relevant resumes based on what it finds. If your resume can not scan properly, you might miss out on an opportunity without your resume having a chance to get into a hiring manager or recruiter's hands.

Need more help on how to make sure your resume gets past the ATS software?

Use a PDF document

So if you have a .docx file, why have a PDF file? PDFs are best at keeping your format intact overall; the .docx format is the most accurately scanned by the ATS software. There are several reasons why a PDF document can come in handy. If you are emailing your resume directly to an internal or external recruiter or the job posting asks for a specific file type such as PDF.

So why does it matter if you are sending it to a recruiter?

  • You want your formatting to look as good to them as it does to you. If you send a Word doc or Pages doc and the recruiter does not have that program, your formatting could look like an entirely different document when they open it in another program.
  • You want to make sure you know what is precisely on the resume forwarded to the hiring manager. It doesn't happen often, but there is a temptation for misguided recruiters to add keywords to a resume to help candidates look like a better fit.

Templates

Templates of any kind exist to make your life easier. Resume templates are perfect for helping you organize your information while making it look attractive. Whether using Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or Apple Pages, there are default resume templates for you to choose from when you get started. Need something more custom? A quick Google search for "free resume templates" can bring you a variety of options, you can also purchase templates if you want a specific look.

So are there any downfalls to using a template?

  • Templates are so popular that they can often become cookie-cutter and easy to recognize. You probably aren't the only person using the template you selected.
  • Templates often use formatting techniques with headers, footers, and tables, which do not work well with ATS software.

So how can you use a template and still stand out?

  • Customize the font selections. Changing fonts can be a simple trick to change up a template just enough to make it feel like one of a kind.
  • Change up the colors. Not a fan of green? Don't worry; you aren't stuck with it. Changing up the colors on your resume is another way that can make it feel custom, and you can even match the colors from your portfolio if you want to go that extra step.

Need help finding the right template? Here are some resources to help you make the right decision for you:

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