Is it ever a good idea to use a resume template?

If you are in the process of searching for a new job, it’s important that you take the time to create or update your resume. Having a well-designed resume that highlights your skills and abilities is an essential part of standing out when applying for jobs. If you are looking for something different than what can be found in Microsoft Word but still want something professionally done, a resume template could be the answer. 

Manning Global sat down with three top-rated resume writers to get their thoughts on resume templates and if it’s ever a good idea to use them…

What’s the value of having your resume professionally written?

Adrienne: A good resume writer is more than just a typist – they are a career storyteller. They can help you evaluate your unique offerings, identify and build your personal brand, and unearth strong and related career achievements to shape a story that resonates with target employers. A resume is only as good as the content within it, and partnering with a resume writer ensures that you not only position your best career content, but it is done so in a professional and modern format. 

Virginia: Writing your own story is HARD – because we are talking about being objective about one’s own blood, sweat, and tears. The task becomes an even taller order when one’s career journey is non-linear, contains a few ups and downs, or what might be perceived as red flags. An experienced resume writer understands how to craft the narrative to position the job seeker optimally for the job target, and the strategy needed to mitigate red flags. 

Sarah: A well trained resume writer can unearth your “greatness”. My method for resume writing involves a ninety minute to two hour intake interview.  It’s during that interview that executives often tell me that I prompt them to share stories that they forgot existed. A great professional resume writer helps ensure that the narrative is centered around the future or target role. It’s hard to read the label when you are inside the jar– it can be helpful to have someone else draw out the story.

One of the biggest downsides of using a resume writer is the cost. Resume writing services range from about $300 to 3,000. Are templates a great option for those who can’t afford custom work?

Adrienne: Yes, resume templates are a great option for job seekers on a budget. If the resume template is designed to work with your career history, and you are comfortable writing about yourself in a compelling and succinct manner, a template can be both a time and money saver. 

Virginia: When you are clear on your job target, have a strong sense of how you added value in each role, are able to articulate achievements and are comfortable writing about yourself, then a resume template is a great option.

What should you look for when choosing a resume template?

Sarah: Designing and formatting a resume can take anywhere from two to four hours.  A well designed resume can save you time. When you are choosing the right format, the most important thing to look for is that the design is application tracking system (ATS) friendly. A lot of resumes that I see on websites like Etsy are visually attractive and stand out in a stack, but may not perform as well. The other thing to consider is that you want the content to be the star on your resume not the design. Design elements should be there to magnify the text or draw the readers in to what you want the end user to read. 

Adrienne. The internet is full of resume templates, but not all are created equal. When searching for a resume template, look for one that isn’t just nice to look at. It should also be easy to use and ultimately easy to read. How the resume looks will be secondary to the content you place within it. You want to be able to populate the file easily, it needs key sections (Experience, Education, Skills), and most importantly it should be in a format that is easy for ATS to parse. For example, a JPG image won’t perform well in ATS. Ideally, look for a resume template in Word (.docx) that you can then turn into a PDF, if preferred (and if the system accepts it).

Are there things that you should avoid?

Virginia: At some point in the job search process, you will likely upload your resume to a job board or a company’s careers portal where ATS software will organize them and scan for keywords. It’s a good idea to avoid templates heavy on design and that leave little room for content — as most ATS cannot read any sort of graphic, nor anything inside a text box. 

Where should job seekers go to find quality resume templates?

Adrienne: One of the best resources for a variety of resume templates, for different industries, occupations, and career levels, that are also very affordable is These resume templates have been built by experienced resume writers, many with hiring and recruiting backgrounds.

What is your best advice for a job seeker looking to customise a resume template that they purchased off the internet?

Virginia: For greatest ROI, customise the resume headline to align each and every job target, and write a brief summary directly below it to tell the reader how you are a natural fit for the role. Make sure you include 3-5 bullets that showcase the impact you made in each. Lastly, ensure the first bullet the reader sees reflects one of the most compelling achievements. 

Adrienne: Focus on the quality of the content you share in the file over the look or the design. A nice-looking resume may attract the reader’s attention, but lack of detail and related examples of career success, won’t hold the reader’s attention. A great resume answers the reader’s primary question: “how can you help me?”. Ensure your resume is heavily centered on the value you offer each organization.

Sarah: Remember that free doesn’t always mean free. Some websites offer free resume templates but sell your data to third parties.  Make sure that you purchase a template from a reputable company with information about their founders and leadership team on their site.

Head to – the world’s first marketplace for job seekers – for more resources to support your complete job search journey, from application to offer.

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