A common tactic when looking for your first job is to download a resume template, spend 5 minutes filling it out, and be done. While this might tick-the-box on your job preparation to-do list quickly, it’s not going to give you the best results. To get your first job, abandoning resume templates is the best decision you can make. Below, we explain how you’re more likely to get your first job without them.
What templates cost you
Standing out (in a good way) can be the difference between getting that first job and sitting at home feeling useless. Using a resume template can leave your resume looking generic and unoriginal. Think about the sheer volume of people that use resume templates (nearly 2 million people search for them on Google every month) and the likelihood that people use the same or similar one when applying to various positions.
Resume templates can also hide your individuality. Instead of starting with you and building a resume from there, a resume template starts with its format and inserts your details later. You’re forcing yourself into a mold and hoping it fits.
Taken together, a sloppily filled out resume template makes a weak first impression. If an employer recognizes that you have used a resume template, they may perceive that as you lacking effort in your application.
Taking advice from recruiters
Recruiters are the people that hire new employees at most companies. They’re constantly seeking innovative people who will add value to the business. We recently sat down with some recruiters and asked them for advice on how to make resumes stand out. They pointed out that resumes should:
- Be specific
- Avoid cliches
- Be selfish (say who you are and what you’re looking for)
When using a resume template, it can be easy to fall into autopilot; inputting information and not thinking too much about it. With autopilot comes the depersonalised approach – we can use vague language, not give clear details on our projects and shy away from highlighting our true passions and achievements.
Avoiding a resume template can help you focus intently on your accomplishments. Perhaps you might not have any traditional experience but you have spent time volunteering or helping out in your local community. With templates and with autopilot, you’re encouraged to ignore this valuable experience.
When applying for your first job, you want every opportunity to make your application stand-out. Since you can’t do this by listing all of the previously places you’ve worked or the changes you’ve made in businesses, you need to utilise your personally crafted resume and some other skills to make yourself distinct.
Building your resume from scratch with the help of an advanced builder allows you to demonstrate the qualities that are important to you. Take the advice from the recruiters themselves: be selfish, be specific and avoid cliches. There’s no greater cliche than the first resume template you’ll find in a quick Google search.
“But what about the real-world?”
We’ve all been told that getting your first job is about applying to as many places as you can in rapid succession; the more you’re out there, the more chances you have at being hired. It makes sense that we veer towards resume templates for this reason. The faster you can put your resume together, the faster you can get it out there, and the faster you can get a job.
But this isn’t always the case. Take Robert Coombs’ robot job application story as an example. Robert built a robot that would apply to as many positions as possible on his behalf adding small variations in the resume and cover letter. One would expect that because he sent out thousands of applications he was bound to get a job – not exactly.
Robert discovered that merely churning out as many resumes as possible did not make him more likely to get hired, in fact it didn’t really work at all. After talking to recruiters he realized that networking and a more personal approach were far more effective than his approach.
When applying for a position you’re hoping to convince recruiters that you have the skills necessary to complete the job, the desire to work well within the firm and an understanding of the company’s culture. But there’s also something else – recruiters need to see who you are and not merely what you can do.
Take it from the various stories you can find in our Successful Resumes section. Recruiters favor people, not static information. Sometimes taking the time to build yourself an individualised resume from scratch and throwing out the rulebook is the best way to get the job that you want.
Entry level jobs
When applying for your first job, you’re likely applying for an entry-level position. These are jobs that typically deal in retail, the service industry, manual labour, etc.
To take one example, in 2013, Walmart opened a new store in Washington D.C. with 600 available positions. They received 23,000 applications for those 600 positions. As you can see, there are far more people applying for these jobs than there are jobs available – for that reason, you should give yourself an edge by standing out.
Given that search results often vary based on your geographical location, it’s also likely that the people in the D.C. area that applied for those positions would have all gotten similar resume template results from checking the web. So not only can templates lead to a lack of individuality, but your location can also mean that the people around you using templates will all use the same one.
Thus, moving away from resume templates can allow your application to be different from the hundreds and thousands that may come across the desk of recruiters at retail stores, restaurants and more; giving you better chances at getting noticed.
Getting the job
Resume templates can restrict your creativity. This doesn’t mean you should swear off looking for resume inspiration, however. While templates might not be your route to success, resume examples can be incredibly influential in putting you on the right track. With resume examples, you can see how others have approached getting their job and make it your own. See how Dean got his first job.