The Pitfalls of Buying A Resume Template
Warning: It won't take you as far as you thought!
Lately, I see tons of resume templates for sale online. Many people see it as a quick fix to update their resume with minimal effort and cost. They're fancy; there are some that are modern, some that are simple. The variety is pretty impressive. That being said, while many look beautiful, they don't help you in the job search game like you would hope.
The idea of buying a template is great in theory: especially if you're not sure how to improve your resume. It seems like a great way to update it, particularly when you're not sure what the current trends are or don't have the time to build a template for yourself. Many designers construct templates for sale on their Etsy or personal websites as easy income and then spread them around Pinterest. Their focus is only the aesthetic appeal. Their intention is good but will fall short of the true goal of a resume, which is the content. This is not to blast all resume template developers. Some do a wonderful job of crafting their templates. But, sussing out who's built it well and whether it works for your industry is not always easy at first glance when you're not an expert on resumes.
There are four main factors as to why buying a template is not a fix-all solution. Give some consideration to these viewpoints before you make a purchase.
1. Flash & Awe
Many people are drawn to buying a template because it looks attractive. They think it looks modern or cutting-edge or more artistic than their current resume. They feel like this gives them a leg up or helps them stand out from the pack. Again good in theory, but is not the best way to develop a resume.
I firmly believe that creative resumes should be left for creative jobs. For everyone else, it should be formatted professionally, with plenty of white space, and easy to read. There should be a consistency in the flow but as far as fancy headlines, bold colors, distinctive bullets, etc.… It's not going to buy you into the interview pile.
You need to also keep in mind that using a design in an attempt to stand out may actually hurt you. These are for sale on the Internet to anyone. You could end up having the same “ dynamic” design as another person applying for the same job. Then it's very obvious that you both purchased a template. Particularly something to caution against when you are in a creative industry! It looks like you didn't have an idea of your own. You may think that there is a one in a million chance of that happening, but I can tell you I've seen it with my own clients and chuckled to myself when they explain they've bought an ‘eye-catching’ template.
Some templates are built in ways that are not conducive to online applicant systems and don't allow you to populate information into forms as they should online. I've seen templates that use text boxes, which seem to overlap, weird bullets that you can't really select or remove, and shapes that interfere with readability. A document should not be difficult to manipulate and have the ability for the user to adjust it as necessary. The idea of buying a template usually goes hand in hand with the idea of simplicity and being able to put your own information in easily. This isn't always the case. In the long run, you're actually creating more of a headache for yourself. I can testify from experience that the struggle is real!
3. Outdated Sections
If you're not up on what your industry or a resume, in general, should include, buying a template with old-fashioned or outdated headlines may truly date you in the eyes of an employer. When someone is selling a template they give the impression that they are an expert or have done their homework. Making that assumption can put you in a bad situation when adding in your own content. For example, having an objective statement in the template makes the buyer feel like they should include that statement on their resume. There’s space for it, right? This is a bad idea. (More about that particular issue here). When the template is including specific sections, it feels like an endorsement from the author and can perpetuate bad behaviors on a resume. Unless you know what to look for when assessing the template, you may pay for things that you don't need or may feel encouraged by the person you're buying from to put information on your resume that shouldn't be included. That template may not have been researched or have any justification for its layout and they're hocking it to you. Don't get confused or bamboozled into buying a bad design.
4. Finally, and most importantly: Content
A resume template is just that, a template. It doesn't come with any information or guidance as to what to include or omit. It doesn’t magically address all the failures of your previous resume. It alone will not convince anyone to hire you. Even a beautiful template can be ignored or find its way into the trash because the content stinks. You could have the most gorgeous, flawlessly aligned, perfectly formatted resume template but without content that proves skill, accomplishment, and strong supporting information, you may as well burn the money you used to buy it.
While looks do matter when it comes to your resume, content will always be king. If you don't know what you should be saying or just going to copy and paste your job description into this new fancy template, you're not going to get any better offers than you have been getting previously. You're paying for looks and not substance. It would be best to invest a little more and hire a service: have a document created especially for you with specific content built for your industry, and that still looks great.
To quote Taylor Swift, “Band-Aids don't fix bullet holes”. That's all that a template is. Save your money and invest in a service to write your resume correctly and optimize it for your field. This investment will serve you well for many years to come.