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Blue Sky Resumes is a small team of professional writers and job search experts. We offer one-of-a-kind resumes, smart career advice and fantastic customer service. This is our blog.


Microsoft Word Resume Templates – Just Say No!


Please make this a New Year’s Resolution: “I will not try to find a job by doing exactly what everyone else does, because I know that the result will be that I look just like everyone else.”

Microsoft Resume Templates – Just Say No!

According to Google, one of the most popular searches on resume writing is “Microsoft Word Resume Templates.”Ā 

That means that literally millions of people typed into Google the equivalent of ‘please help me to look like millions of other people.’

There’s a recipe for success!

Maybe people look for resume templates because of a lack of confidence. (“I’m not sure how a resume is supposed to look, so this will at least mean I look professional”). But think about the recipient for a minute. Think about the jaded HR rep or head hunter or line manager who sees hundreds of resumes for every vacancy and who has seen thousands of resumes just like yours over the years. At best, she won’t really notice you. At worst she’ll think you’re either lazy or unimaginative … or both.

And here’s another problem – those templates are so out of date. I don’t know what year they were first created – maybe 1927? They just scream “I am old-fashioned.”

And the third problem? Starting with a resume template and then trying to shoehorn your own story in is exactly backwards.

The right way to create an effective resume is to start with your story. Decide what you want to say. Decide what your audience wants to hear. Then create a resume structure that helps to communicate that message. Don’t get caught up in rules or standards. Just ask yourself: ‘what is the message I need to communicate to the people who make hiring decisions?’ Then let that determine what your resume looks like.

Your own design will always be more eye-catching than something created up by a Microsoft engineer who drew the short straw on assignments. So, please trust yourself … and step away from the Microsoft Word resume templates.

Read more about Resume Writing.

Blue Sky Resumes

About the Author

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive. Her industry experience includes music, video games, fashion and advertising. She lived and worked in the US for many years, but moved back to her native UK in 2012, where she now lives in the Yorkshire countryside. In addition to her full-time role with Blue Sky, she's a professional artist, so you can imagine why she couldn't answer the 'what do you do with your free time' question! Contact Louise by email.

6 comments on “Microsoft Word Resume Templates – Just Say No!”

  1. Manoj says:

    I don’t completely agree to that. Haveing your resume in the same format with rest of the world makes it easy for recruiters and automated tools to scan through and pull relevant information.

  2. Louise says:

    Hi Manoj,

    It’s true that if everyone’s resumes were all exactly the same it would be easier for recruiters to find what they want – but a good resume design should do more than just share facts with recruiters (many of whom will use those facts to screen you out). It should highlight what makes you unique and able to add value. How can you do that if you look like everyone else?

    As for the automated tools – they aren’t looking at your resume design anyway so it doesn’t make any difference. But they are looking for keywords. If you have used a template that doesn’t let you highlight all your skills, some of the keywords may be missing.

    In the end, your job isn’t to make it easy for recruiters to see the facts of your history – your job is to show recruiters why you are the perfect person for the position. You can’t do that if you look and sound like everyone else.

  3. I agree completely. Using a “prefab” resume template guarantees that you will not stand out from any other resume in the pile. I have followed (and given) this advice for years but I’m amazed just how frequently they are still used.

    Anyway, keep up the good work.

    Trevor

  4. Louise says:

    Hi Trevor,

    I know how you feel. I tend to think it’s a confidence issue more than anything else. Resume writing is one of those things everyone has to do, and yet most of us don’t have a clue what’s expected.

    Thanks for the kind words šŸ™‚

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