Career & Education

The pros and cons of résumé templates

Career Advisor

Carolyn Marie Smith

Sunday, January 06, 2019

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Dear Career Advisor:

Good day. I am writing asking if it is possible to receive an updated template of a résumé. I will be applying for a professional job and would appreciate the assistance.

Thank you. God Bless.

U Taylor


Dear Ms Taylor:

Happy New Year to you!

Regrettably, we do not subscribe to the one-size-fits-all or 'latest résumé template' concept.

The use of templates has been controversial as there are arguments supporting the use, as well as very strong positions that oppose their use. Let's take a brief look at the pros and cons of résumé templates.



• Easily available and most are attractive

• Saves time – building a résumé from scratch can be time-consuming and may even prove challenging

• Allows for good utilisation of space, especially when your aim is to have a one-pager.



• Often very difficult to manipulate or personalise

• Missed opportunity for first impression — it's so easy to spot a cookie cutter résumé. A résumé built using a template is likely to convey to a recruiter that you are comfortable with just being an average person who appears comfortable taking the easy way out

• HR managers are often turned off when they see scores of résumés using the same templates downloaded from popular websites or from Microsoft Word. Traditionally, we have discouraged the wholesale use because while they appear to be a quick fix, the obvious disadvantage is that many job-seekers end up using the same popular versions.

If you want your résumé to stand out from the crowd, ensure that it sparks with your creativity and personality. At least attempt to build one from scratch. If you are really challenged managing the technology, get help. Whatever you do, ensure that the content speaks.

If you are really challenged with developing one on your own, consider the following strategies.

1. Focus on your content. Decide on the content of your résumé before you look at templates.

2. Analyse the level at which you are seeking to enter the job nmarket. For example, the résumé of a recent graduate is likely to be significantly different from a very experienced professional.

3. Determine which of your attributes you want to highlight. For example, if you are a recent graduate you may want to emphasise the cutting edge skills you have developed from your training, whereas a seasoned professional would want to highlight his or her experience.

4. Look at several samples of résumé templates to get inspiration. Select a few that have layouts and formats that you find attractive. Modify and, where possible, merge to create your own.

5. When using a template, be sure to fill out all relevant fields and delete space holder-information and sections that are not relevant to you. For example, don't leave space for zip code if your address does not contain a zip code.

Always remember that your goal is to create a personalised, attention-getting document that will form a favourable impression with the potential employer. The time and effort you devote to this project will be worth it in the long run.

All the best.


Carolyn Marie Smith is associate vice-president of student services at Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, Manchester. Submit your questions to her at

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