Resume Help/Template


Dear Ralph,

I get conflicting advise on resume templates.  Can you suggest the best ones to use?  Thanks.

Hi Allen,

My most direct answer to your question is: don't use a template.  In fact, in one of my books, that is the second rule of resume writing.  Don't use a template.  

Job applicants have made these things popular because they see them as a way to create a "professional looking" resume and save time.  Select one that looks "cool" and just fill it in.  What could be the problem with that, right?

There are two major problems:  First, the people who create resume templates are not job-search experts; they are graphic artists.  Their job is to create eye-catching items that job seekers will use (either for a fee or for no charge) and thereby enable them to keep their own jobs.  In other words, they don't necessarily have your interest at heart.  Most of these templates contain categories that HR departments and institutions who advertise jobs don't even consider anymore.  Things like "Summary of Qualifications" or "Objectives" or some such description were probably okay twenty years ago, but no one who reviews job applications wants to see them today.  They are meaningless and do little to help your case.

Second, using a resume template makes you appear lazy.  You didn't want to do the work of creating your own resume from the ground up, so you resorted to a fill-in-the-blank approach.  And believe me when I tell you that it is very obvious when an applicant has used a resume template.  I have reviewed tens of thousands of these things over the years and the difference is very, very clear.  So, do the work yourself or have a professional writer do one for you.  But don't use a template. If a prospective employer senses that you have been lazy in creating your own resume (in other words, you took the easy way out), why would they want to hire you?  You are telling them something about your approach to your work that isn't very flattering.

You want your resume to stand out for the right reasons.  There are very successful ways of creating professional resumes without resorting to templates.  Just because you think your resume might "look cool" is no reason to use a template.  When you do that, you are trying to make your resume stand out for all the WRONG reasons.  And that is something you do NOT want.  Make your resume stand out because it demonstrates that you are the best candidate for the job.  If you want to know how to do that, drop me a follow-up question.

If you have additional questions or would like me to look at  your resume, send it as an attachment to the email address below and I'll be happy to give you a critique.

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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