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Resume Templates

Jobscan's Guide to everything you need to know about resumes templates to standout to recruiters and make it past ATS

The Benefits of Using Resume Templates

Resume templates can be very helpful if you are creating a resume for the first time, changing fields, or just trying to revamp your current resume. Templates serve as a guide or outline around which you can build your professional resume. They answer common questions job seekers have such as:

Answering questions like these will help you to develop only the best information for your resume, keeping it clear and concise. Recruiters and hiring managers will take an average of six seconds to skim your resume, so filling it with key achievements from your professional history is crucial to getting an interview.

Resume templates are an inexpensive, often free, alternative to pricey online programs and resume writers. Hiring a resume writer can cost anywhere between $400-$1100, and while their expertise is generally worth the price, most of us can’t afford that level of help- especially as a job seeker. However, while resume templates are a great alternative, they can also cause problems in resume writing, but you can avoid them by following these tips..

Taking the time to learn the basic sections of a resume and how to use them correctly will add a lot of value to your resume writing process, especially when you’re deciding which resume template to use.

Illustration of the basic sections of a chronological resume

The Wrong Way to Use a Resume Template

The Wrong Template

You know how you’re always hearing, “don’t trust everything you see on the internet”? The same goes for resume templates you find online. A simple Google search for “free resume templates” brings up pages of questionable options. Many templates are outdated or created by people who are not experts in the field of resume writing. In order to know which ones are trustworthy, do your research on what makes a good resume. Sure, it takes some extra time, but if you do it once, you’ll keep that knowledge with you into the future.

The problem with using an inappropriate template is that recruiters and hiring managers can miss the best information about you. If you choose the first one you find, it might be one that doesn’t showcase your best skills and attributes. Choosing the wrong template could significantly hurt your chances of getting an interview.

Copying The Resume Template Verbatim

A major mistake job seekers make when using resume templates is copy and pasting all of their information and calling it a day. Recruiters and hiring managers look at resumes all day long, and therefore, they can tell when someone has not put too much effort into their resume. When you simply copy and paste your information into the template, there are often formatting mistakes, typos, or font differences throughout. These mistakes will make you appear lazy, and you definitely will not get an interview that way.

Recruiters and hiring managers want to see resumes that are targeted to their specific position. 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. Since templates are not typically targeted, putting in the extra effort will work in your favor. Remember, resume templates should not be thought of as a shortcut or a way around building a proper resume, they should be thought of as a tool for creating the best possible resume.

A good template is only a suggestion. If you go through it without thinking about your personal best qualities, you can yourself into trouble. Like if a resume template has space for three past job experiences, but you have only had two jobs in your field, don’t list your college babysitting job just to make it look complete.

Bad Resume to Start With

Another major mistake is copy/pasting an already poor resume into a seemingly perfect resume template. One of the biggest errors recruiters see is the lack of quantitative results in resumes. You should think in a “results-oriented” way about your accomplishments. A hiring manager is more interested in results than tasks and skills because you could have performed a task/skill poorly for all they know. So just copy/pasting your current resume into the perfect template will still do more damage than good. Test your resume before choosing a template with Jobscan’s analysis tool:


Templates are meant to be molded to fit your experiences and needs. The image below shows a resume that could easily have been made from a poor resume template. Even though it might look impressive at first glance, it is full of errors that hiring managers would notice immediately.

Don’t be a Winnie Wrong

The Correct Way to Use a Resume Template

Before choosing a resume template, you should read up on resume formats. There are three different kinds of resume formats: chronological, functional and hybrid. Each format showcases different parts of your work history and skills You’ll want to choose a template based on the format that represents your work experience in the best way possible.

After determining the best resume format for you, the next step is to compare different resume templates within that format. Once you find one that looks good to you both visually and functionally, download it. If you find more than one, download both. You can combine them later.

Next, start adding your information to the template, but do not copy and paste. As you’re inputting your experience, think carefully about whether each piece of information is valuable for your specific audience or job or not. If it’s not, don’t include it. For some people it is best to pull up a blank word document beside your chosen template, and type the new resume from scratch. Don’t forget, templates are a guide, not a rulebook. Typing from scratch based the template is a good way to make sure everything you input is thoughtful. Throughout this whole process, keep asking yourself, “does this represent my work history in its best light?”

The example below is an example of a chronological resume template. The blue headings show the framework of a good chronological resume. The information below those headings are examples of how to fill in those blocks. A framework is exactly how you should think of a resume template.


How to Make a Resume Template Your Own

Making your resume your own is very important when using a resume template. You want your resume to be clean and organized, but you don’t want it to look like every other cookie cutter resume. It should show the recruiter or hiring manager the top reasons why you are the best candidate for the position, so you don’t want it to have the same information as every other resume they see that day.

Make your resume your own by following these steps:

  1. Compare multiple templates
  2. Include your favorite parts of each template
  3. Ask friends or hiring managers friends their opinions
  4. Add a summary statement (objective statements are outdated)
  5. Leave out “interests” unless they are very impressive (i.e. Chess Champion)

Another important way to make your resume your own is to use keywords (skills). Keywords are important for two reasons. The first reason is that it is an easy way to list skills that otherwise wouldn’t have a place in your resume. The second reason is for getting through applicant tracking systems (ATS). Applicant tracking systems are a type of software used by recruiters and hiring managers to find the top contenders for a job position. It searches through thousands of submitted applications and ranks them based on keywords. So, it’s vital to make sure your resume has the correct keywords.

Jobscan has developed a tool that mimics ATS to give job seekers the knowledge they need to make it through applicant tracking systems and earn an interview. By uploading the job posting and your resume to Jobscan, you’ll find out what improvements you need to make to get through ATS. Keywords are a big part of those improvements.

Making sure your resume contents fit correctly into the template you’ve selected is another important step of making a resume template your own. Check your resume text now to check the word count using our quick Word Count tool. The average resume should have less than 750 words to make sure the content is concise and you’re sticking to a single page format. Of course there are exceptions, but checking your count before you apply is always a good idea.

Design is another way you can make your resume your own. However, you should only get creative with the visual design of your resume if you are in a creative field. Otherwise, it could take away from the information on your resume. Keep in mind that images cannot be parsed by ATS and fancy fonts will be defaulted to a standard font like Times New Roman or Arial. Whatever design changes you decide to make, the number one rule is to not let them take away from the goal of your resume, which is showing the recruiter your skills and accomplishments.

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. However, there are correct and incorrect ways of using resume builders, so check out the Resume Builders page to learn more.

20 Free No-Fail Resume Templates

It’s hard to find quality resume templates online that are ATS-proof. Too many graphics, charts, and tables can confuse the parsing capabilities of many applicant tracking systems, making your resume irrelevant. Download these resume templates, sorted by format by clicking the buttons below.

ATS-Proof Resume Templates to Download

Or you can download these ATS proof resume templates to choose from these 20 resume templates, sorted by job title.

Debra Wheatman of weighed in with her expert adivce on the contents of this page.

Free Resume Template Downloads

Some other quality resume templates can be found on the following websites:

Jobscan Learning Center The Jobscan Resume Learning Series

Part 1: Resume Writing Guide
Jobscan's Guide to Resume Writing to get you Past Computer Screeners
Part 2: Resume Formats
Jobscan's Guide to Resume Formats
Part 3: Resume Templates
Jobscan's Guide to Resume Templates
Part 4: Resume Builders
Jobscan's Guide to Resume Builders, What is a resume builder and how should you use it?
Part 5: Resume Examples
Jobscan's Guide to Resume Examples, How to Use Them Effectively and Which One is Right For You

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