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Why use a resume template?

Whether you’re writing a resume for the first time or are a seasoned professional, resume templates remove much of the guesswork from resume writing. They help answer common questions asked by job seekers, such as:

A good resume template will answer these questions and allow you to input your information into the appropriate spaces. For job seekers that need a helping hand, resume templates offer an affordable alternative to paid resume builder tools or professional resume writers. There are no shortage of free and affordable resume templates available online.

Types of resume templates

At its core, a resume is a simple document. As a bare minimum, any resume template should contain these three sections:

Contact Information: Name, phone number, city, state, zipcode, LinkedIn URL

Work Experience: Company name; company city and state; job title; start and end dates (months and years); description of skills used, responsibilities, and accomplishments

Education: Degree; graduation year; institution name; institution city and state

Basic sections of a resume template

There are a number of other sections that could contribute to a great resume template. Here’s a rundown of some different resume types and styles to consider when browsing templates.


One of the first decisions you need to make when choosing a resume template is which format is best for you. There are three main resume formats: chronological, functional, and hybrid (also known as combination). Each format showcases your work history and skills in a different way.

Read up on resume formats to learn which one will work best for your job search. That said, hybrid resumes are versatile and gaining popularity across industries.


Graphic resume templates are heavily designed with customized resume sections, fonts, colors, infographics and/or images. These creative resume templates can help you stand out, but might also do more harm than good.

Canva Multimedia Artist Resume Template

Graphic resume templates aren’t for everyone. Job seekers in creative fields will benefit the most from these creative resume templates. For example, a graphic designer should not only consider using a graphic resume template, but should probably design their own from scratch as a showcase of their talent.

Graphic resume templates are less effective for job seekers who aren’t in creative fields. Some downsides of graphic resume templates include:

  • Design elements could make it harder for a recruiter to notice your most important qualifications
  • Graphic resume templates can come off as unprofessional in certain settings
  • Having your photo on your resume could rule you out as recruiters try to avoid discrimination claims
  • Graphic resumes might become misformatted or cause errors within an applicant tracking system (more on that later)

Most job seekers are better off with a formal, straight-forward resume. However, if you’d still like to go bold, here are a few top sources of graphic resume templates:


Minimalist resume templates focus on a clean look and maximum readability to bring a focus to your resume’s content. Minimalist resume templates don’t have to be bland or boring. Many are elegant, modern, and professional.

Minimalist template for sale on Etsy

Minimalist resume templates leave lots of room to flesh out your resume experience section, are inherently easy to read, and are more likely to work well with the applicant tracking systems used by most large companies.

Sources for great minimalist templates:


If you’re uploading your resume into an online form as part of your job application, it is critical for your resume template to be compatible with applicant tracking systems (ATS). An expertly written resume complete with a sleek design and optimized resume keywords could still fall short if the formatting isn’t ATS compliant.

When you upload your resume, ATS parse out the text to make the it searchable for a recruiter and/or import the information into a uniform digital candidate profile. Even if you’re perfectly qualified for the job, your chances of getting a job interview are low if an ATS can’t accurately parse your resume.

ATS-friendly management resume template from Jobscan

ATS-friendly resumes are often similar to minimalist resume templates, but go a step further to account for ATS algorithms and behaviors. Among other considerations, ATS-friendly resume templates address account for the fact that:

  • Many ATS can’t handle tables or images
  • Parsing accuracy is dependant on heading names and correctly sequencing your work experience information
  • Certain resume fonts might not be displayed properly in all ATS
  • docx and pdf file types work better than others

Jobscan’s resume optimization tool helps you see if your resume template is ATS compliant.


Jobscan also offers 20 free ATS-friendly templates. Download the first three right here:

ATS-Proof Resume Templates to Download

Jobscan’s resume templates include classic formats as well as templates for executive, management, mid-career, and recent grad experience levels.

The wrong way to use a resume template


Not just any resume template you find online will help you land a job interview.

A simple Google search for “free resume templates” brings up pages and pages of questionable options. Many templates are outdated or created by people who are not experts in the field of resume writing.

An inappropriate template can cause recruiters and hiring managers to miss your best information. If you choose the first template you find, it might not showcase your top skills and attributes. In order to know which ones are trustworthy, do your research on what makes a good resume.


A big mistake job seekers make when using resume templates is simply copy and pasting all of their information into the appropriate sections and calling it a day. Recruiters and hiring managers look at resumes all day long and can tell when someone hasn’t put much effort into their resume.

Resume templates are typically made for a general audience, so tweaking the template to better showcase your skills and experience can put you ahead of the competition. For example, removing a hobbies section if you need more room for your work history, adding a space for key certifications that don’t fit in the template, or adding a skills section to better highlight your technical skills.

Resume templates are meant to be a guide to a better resume, not an unbreakable set of rules.


Hiring is expensive for companies, so they don’t want to get it wrong. For mid-range employees, it costs the company about 20% of the employee’s annual salary for hiring and training. Because they don’t want to get it wrong, recruiters and hiring managers are more likely to respond to a resume that is carefully tailored for the specific position.

This means using the job description to focus on the skills and keywords that are most important to the job. Showing that you are results-oriented is another great way show you are the best candidate. Including relevant measurable results and accomplishments on your resume help demonstrate that you understand what is most important to the company’s success.

After you’ve tailored your resume information within the template, run it through Jobscan’s resume optimization tool to see how well it matches the job.

The correct way to use a resume template

When adding your information to the resume template, think carefully about whether each piece of information is valuable for your specific audience or job. If it’s not, don’t include it.

Rather than copy and pasting your information from a previous resume or a master document into your resume, you might be successful re-typing your resume from scratch. This helps you make sure all the content you’re entering into the template is thoughtful and closely aligned with the job. Throughout this whole process, keep asking, “Does this align my work history and skills with the job I want?”

How to make your own resume template

If you’re comfortable with it, making your own template is a great way to create a resume that best showcases your unique skills and experience without looking like everyone else’s. That said, if you aren’t known for your design sense or Microsoft Word skills, you might be better off using a resume template.

Here are a few things to consider when making your own resume template:

  • Compare multiple templates for ideas
  • Include your favorite parts of each template
  • Tables help organize your information but aren’t ATS-friendly
  • Make sure you’re not forgetting any standard resume sections
  • Consider a summary statement and skills section for a modern look
  • Ensure that your formatting and style are consistent throughout
  • Be conservative with your resume fonts and only use one or two

If you’re not sure how to get a look you want, search for answers on Google and YouTube rather than settling. For example, here’s a video that shows how to right-align your work experience dates.

What is a resume builder?

A resume builder is an online tool that automatically creates a professional resume using the information you input. It is a quick and easy way to build a first draft of your resume. Some resume builders are created by experts in the field, providing you with the knowledge you need to build a resume from scratch. Plus, there are many downloadable options available for free. There are correct and incorrect ways to utilize resume builders, so check out our free resume builder reviews article to learn more.

Jobscan Learning Center The Jobscan Resume Learning Series

Part 1: Resume Writing Guide
How to write a resume that recruiters will love and is optimized for modern technology
Part 2: Resume Formats
Determining which of the three most common resume formats is right for your professional experience
Part 3: Resume Templates
How to find and utilize the best resume templates for your specific needs
Part 4: Resume Examples
Top resume examples and how to use them to create your own impactful resume

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