This is a big moment in your life.
You’re going to start applying for a new job. This is going to be a great job. It’s gonna bring you more money and greater satisfaction. You have a very specific idea of what the next step in your career is, and you’re more than ready to take it.
There’s only one problem: you need to write a resume and you don’t know how.
The first idea that comes to mind is obvious: “I’ll just use a resume sample.”
Not so fast! Yes; a sample may help you write a decent resume. But it may also lead you in the wrong direction.
Why Are Resume Samples Dangerous?
First and foremost, employers hate resume samples. If you use a sample without any creative edits, the recruiter or hiring manager will know. Do you know how? – They’ve seen the same resume dozens (if not hundreds) of times before.
There are few reasons why that’s a problem:
- Resume samples are full of clichés. Those phrases got so boring that they may cost you an interview. Just check out a list of common cliché phrases in resumes, and compare it to the samples you find online. You’ll definitely some, if not all of them.
- Samples don’t make you stand out as a candidate. If you thought you were the only one finding and using that online resume sample, you’re in for a surprise. Most other candidates got the same idea. They found the same sample and used the exact same sentences. So you’re basically submitting a resume that’s nearly identical to someone else’s. How do you think that makes you look like? This resume will probably end up unnoticed, and the chance for an interview will go to someone who does stand out from the crowd.
Does this mean that resume samples are pure evil and you should never, ever use them? Not quite! There is a right way to use online resume samples. But you still have to be ready to invest some work in the job application document. You can’t just fill in the blanks.
How to Use Samples and Still Write a Good Resume
1. Don’t Go for the Functional Resume Format
There are three main types of resume formats that you’ll find throughout those samples:
The chronological resume emphasizes your work history, starting with the most recent position you held. Your skills and education will still be mentioned, but they won’t take the pedestal.
The functional resume, on the other hand, focuses on skills. It’s more attractive for job candidates who don’t have much work history to show off.
The combination resume is a mixed between the chronological and functional format.
Don’t use a functional resume sample! Most employers see it as a problem, since it takes information out of context. It just lists some skills, but it doesn’t show how exactly you’ve implemented those skills into practice. Even if you held a single job position, mention it before you start listing the skills.
If you really have to use a resume, the chronological format is a better choice.
2. Use the Sample as an Example; Not as a Definite Format
This is the biggest mistake that most job applicants make: they take the sample and just fill it in with their information. Such use of a template won’t get you an interview. You can take that for a fact.
The right way to approach this process is to consider the template just as an example. You can get inspired regarding the information you should include and the format you should maintain. From there on, you’ll have to customize that sample in a way that reflects your qualifications and skills. You’ll get rid of all clichés and you’ll still infuse some of your personality in it.
3. Add Some Links
Links are one of the most important ways to customize your resume. You already have a LinkedIn profile, right? If you don’t, it’s about time for you to start developing it. When the employer sees and clicks a link from your resume, you want them to see a highly professional individual, who they’d love to have in their offices. That’s how you want to present yourself online.
In addition to the LinkedIn profile, you may include links to your personal blog or website. If you’re in a creative industry, include the link to your online portfolio. And if you’re mentioning any projects you’ve been part of, link to them.
But don’t go overboard with the links. Unless you’re a social media influencer and that factor matters for the position you’re applying to, don’t link to Facebook, Twitter, or other social media profiles.
4. Be Creative
The phrases in resume templates are boring. You can do better than that! Just rephrase them in a way that sounds fresh. If you’re in a creative field, in particular, you can add multimedia elements, such as graphs or even video.
As for the content, make sure it expresses you.
5. Edit It!
Even resume templates may come with grammar and spelling issues. You shouldn’t trust them unconditionally. When you’re rephrasing the sentences and adding more of your own information, the need for editing is even greater.
Do you know what an employer hates more than a resume based on an obvious template? – A resume full of grammar and spelling mistakes. That makes the applicant look like an under-educated person, or as someone who didn’t pay attention to details.
Once you write your resume, take some time away from it. If you have an entire day, take it. Then, come back to the resume and you’ll be able to spot more of your mistakes. Go sentence by sentence, word by word. You have to make sure the resume is absolutely spotless before you submit it. And if you’re not entirely confident in your writing and editing capacity, consider hiring an online editing service to take care of this stage for you.
Remember: The Resume Has to Express You!
The person who crafted that resume template doesn’t know your career story. Sure; the blanks leave some space for you to include the details. But if that’s all you do, the resume will look dry and it will lack personality.
Templates can be effective only if you use them as an example. By the time you’re done with your resume, it should look nothing like the sample you used.