Resume Help/Resume template


Hi Dr. Converse,

I'm pretty sure my resume is okay since I think I found a good template to fill in.  But I don't know if it's the best one to use.  Can you give me some guidelines on what to look for in a template?  Thank you.

Hi Peggy,

This is a fairly common question and dilemma for job seekers.  The best answer I can give you is my Rule #2 for resumes: Never use a template.

The reasons are many, but I'll just summarize here.  First, while there are a lot of good templates out there, there are even more bad ones.  The problem is knowing which is which.  Remember, the people who mostly design these things are graphic artists.  They are getting paid to design something that they think is attractive and original.  Their interest is NOT in helping you find a job; it is in using their design skills to put together something that looks "cool."  Second, and even more important, when you use a template it will be obvious to the employer who sees it.  And the things that makes it obvious send a message to the employer.  The message is: I was too lazy to create my own resume format, so I used a template.

Do you know any employers who would dearly love to hire someone who has demonstrated they are lazy right from the get-go?  No, me neither.  So, take the time and create a resume that is you, and you alone.  It takes a bit more time, but if the objective is to impress potential employers, don't you think the extra time is worth it?

I can help you further with this because there are some formatting guidelines that I think every resume should follow, even as you individualize the result.  This isn't the best forum to do that, so drop me an email at and I'll send you some design features that will make your job easier and still make it your own.

Remember that, visually, a resume should appear both professional and clear.  The document needs to invite the reader in, not push him or her away.  I had one recent client whose reasoning was, even though his resume was highly cluttered, he had the space available, so why not fill it in?  My response was that white space is your friend.  Nothing will turn off a resume reviewer more quickly than a page that appears dense, dark, and has every detail of your life jammed into it.  In short, the visual aspect of a resume is nearly as important as the information it contains.  If it's too "wordy," it simply won't be read.  People who sift through job application packages often have to go through hundreds of them (I know ... I've done it many times).  They simply will not take the time to read a resume that was written without regard for how it looks.

I look forward to helping you further; drop me an email and put "Resume" in the subject box and we'll have you a great document in no time!

Best wishes,

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Ralph D. Converse, Ph.D.


I can answer questions about general job searches, resume construction, crafting an effective cover letter, and how to prepare for, and conduct, a winning interview. My speciality is the field of education, but I also have extensive background in business and administration. I know what works and what doesn't work and I can make your application package stand out from the rest ... because that is what you have to do.


I have interviewed for, and held, dozens of jobs in a career going back more than 42 years. I have taught at all educational levels including middle school, high school, community college, and university. In more than 42 years of experience on both sides of the job-search process, I have interviewed hundreds of applicants and have reviewed literally tens of thousands of job application packages. I am the author of 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them! I conduct workshops for job seekers in a variety of locations every year.

Music Educator's Journal, Teaching Music, Music and American Culture (forthcoming, 2013), Last Teacher Standing: The Job is Yours Now! and 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them!

B.A. New Mexico State University; M.Mus. Southern Illinois University; Ph.D. University of California and University of North Texas

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