Resume Help/resume


I have a friend who is graduating and wants to write a resume but doesn't know the format.  Can you help?  Should she use a template?

Hi Bella,

The answer to the last question is a simple no.  She should not use a template.  I know there are a lot of them out there and there are people who will disagree with this approach, but my answer is based on what employers tell me.  They hate most resume templates.  The reasons are basically two-fold: (1) it makes you look lazy because you wouldn't take the time to build your own product.  If you're that lazy before even getting a job, why would an employer want to hire you?  (2) most templates contain things that employers never read.  This would include items like "Objective," "Goals," "Skills" and other such boilerplate.  No employer reads these things anymore but the people who create resume templates (graphic artists) are apparently unaware that what was true 20 years ago no longer has any validity.

The format to use is fairly simple and straight-forward - as it should be.  Create a letterhead-style at the top: choose a basic font (Arial, Times New Roman, Cambria, etc) and center the full name in all caps.  Beneath, enter a complete mailing address, email, and best phone.  Divide this from the main body with a single line.  Use this letterhead for all your documents; this helps create a consistent "brand" for everything you use in your application package.  Use the same font for all your categories (Professional Experience, Education, Publications, Awards, References) though you may want to put the headings in bold or italics for clarity.  Center each category heading and then list the appropriate entries in reverse chronological order.  If you (or your friend) use bullet items in any category, be sure these are limited to about 4-6 words each, no more.  This is a brief snapshot of your professional history, not a narrative.  Save any narrative for a cover letter.

Tell your friend I will be happy to review her resume at no charge if she'd like to send it to me at the email address below.

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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