Why Resume Examples Are Better Than Resume Templates

5 September 2018 Reading Time: 6 minutes

When it’s time to create a resume, the first search most people make is for a template. That’s not surprising, resume templates are a quick fix, they tell you exactly what to do. If your goal is to save time, they’re perfect. But if your goal is to get hired, taking the time to look at resume examples and create something worthy of the job you want is the better bet.

Resume examples vs. resume templates

Resume examples and templates differ in their objective. While templates are used as a “fill-in-the-gaps” one-stop fix, resume examples are about giving people the freedom to build their own version of a successful resume. They differ in their approach. Templates are akin to when your older sibling does your homework for you while resume examples are when your tutor shows you how to do it. Building a resume with influence from successful resume examples will bring better results than inputting your information into a resume template.

The disadvantages of resume templates

1. They produce carbon copies

Resume templates lead the user towards producing an exact copy. When given a template, there is little-to-no room for you to make any additions or bring in individuality. Templates force you to input your details into a previously formed mold that might not be the best fit for you.

Recruiters who constantly see the same resume come across their desk will begin to lose interest. Typically, a resume is looked at for less than six seconds. The worst thing you can do when trying to get noticed is fit in with the crowd.

Anything you can do to catch the recruiter’s eye as they’re quickly skimming through hundreds of resumes will be an advantage. Templates prevent you from capitalizing on this advantage as you become one of many people that have used “best marketing resume” or something similar.

2. They’re unnecessarily restrictive

Resume templates tell you what should go on a resume and don’t give any debate to additional sections or the omission of others. In reality, there are very few instances where a resume needs a specific section. On top of that, who says that a section has to have a certain title? You might not have technical skills, you might have industry expertise and so on.

Templates prevent you from going outside of the box and force you to paint-by-numbers in your resume building. Where recruiters favour creative thinking (practically everywhere), this is not the image you want to project.

3. They leave personality behind

Templates are built to be one-size-fits all. By their very nature, they’re not personality or individuality-driven. Personality has been the driving factor in many people getting their jobs, however. Personality led to Sam getting hired at Spotify, Dean getting hired at Enhancv, Louis getting hired at Hotjar, and more.

Your personality can help you set yourself apart from competition more than experience, especially in oversaturated fields. Choosing to use a resume template as a quick-fix will cause you to lose that competitive edge.

4. Loss of flexibility

The center of your resume should be you. When using a resume template, all decisions are left to the template maker. This means the font used, the number of sections, the type of sections, the type of content in those sections, and more are taken out of your control. Moreover, reworking a resume template with a strict format can be quite time-consuming. There are few avenues for you to personalize your resume when conforming to a template.

Recruiters look for you to do three main things when assessing a resume:

  • Be specific
  • Be selfish
  • Avoid clichés

To satisfy those criteria, you do not need a resume template. In fact, using a resume template almost entirely guarantees you will do the opposite. Resume templates are generic to fit wide audiences, aren’t personalized (not selfish) and rely heavily on buzzwords and cliches. Every resume should be tailored specifically to the position you’re applying for. Templates ignore this advice and hope that if you throw enough at the wall, something will stick. This isn’t the case.

5. False sense of security

If you’re looking for a resume template, chances are you’re not very confident in your ability to write your own. Resume templates can alleviate some anxieties as they claim to be the key to getting hired. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. The issue with resume templates is they suggest there is one way to create a successful resume. The reality is quite the opposite.

Using a resume template can put you on autopilot and prevent you from thinking critically on what you’re including. Moreover, resume templates can include sections that you don’t have a lot of experience with. If you’re under the impression that this is the way resumes should be written, you can fall into the trap of padding your resume out with irrelevant and non-impactful information in these sections. This type of uniform thinking will leave a poor impression on the recruiter and will cost you opportunities in getting hired.

The advantages of resume examples

1. They provide inspiration

There’s nothing worse than staring at a blank piece of paper with no idea where to go with it. Resume examples are great for showing you how someone has tackled this issue before and for giving you an idea of where you might take it to tell your story.

In contrast to templates, resume examples give you the foundation you can build off of, not on top of. This allows you to craft a resume that shows who you are and what you have accomplished in a researched way that is true to you.

Daniel built a customer support resume using Enhancv’s examples which got him hired at Intercom.

Enhancv Why Resume Examples Are Better Than Resume Templates resume examples

2. Language

Resumes can differ from sector-to-sector. Public sector resumes, for example, differ substantially from private-sector resumes. Without seeing these specifics in action, we can struggle with the language expected by a recruiter and fall short of the mark.

As opposed to templates, resume examples show the type of language used for industry-specific resumes in real-life scenarios. You get to see how real people have navigated their resume with this specific language how this has been successful in getting their job.

Pavel’s data scientist resume gives an insight into how one may approach a data science resume and the type of language and needed to succeed in the field.

Enhancv Why Resume Examples Are Better Than Resume Templates resume examples

3. They leave room for improvement

Used correctly, a resume example can show you trends in your field which can apply towards improving your resume. Alternatively, you can spot things that resumes in your area don’t do and use that to stand out. They essentially provide a base from which you can apply your own style.

Templates, on the other hand, are static and are very rarely updated as time goes on. There’s no way to get a real idea of trends in the area from them for this reason.

Avery noticed that volunteering resume examples rarely quantify their achievements or relate them to the position they’re hoping to secure. They improved upon this in their own volunteer resume.

Enhancv Why Resume Examples Are Better Than Resume Templates resume examples

4. They put you inside the mind of the recruiter

Reviewing others’ resumes gives you a look into the life of a recruiter. Scouring through example resumes shows you how you can come across to a third-party and what elements of a resume make it stand out to an individual person. If you’re attracted to a resume example, chances are it will attract other people – including the recruiter.

Resume templates typically leave details out, have blank spaces or are half-formed. They don’t show you what it’s like to be a recruiter being dealt fully-crafted resumes. On top of that, there’s greater risk of erroneous details when crafting a resume using a template. If a template includes a certain section – and this template claims that this is the way your resume should look – you’re forced to fill it out. However, this might not be the best decision for your individual situation. Where your template might suggest you need prior experience, you may have volunteering projects and so on.

Sam’s career change resume is eye-catching and detailed. From reviewing her resume, we get to see what it would be like if we were recruiters reviewing our own and we get an insight into what things grab our attention most.

Enhancv Why Resume Examples Are Better Than Resume Templates resume examples

Long live the resume example

Overall, it’s clear that there is far more to be lost than gained when using a resume template. If you’re seeking a guide on how to put your resume together, or even an idea of how someone has approached putting a specific resume together, resume examples are the way to go. Luckily, Enhancv have a collection over several successful resume examples that span Tech, Customer Service, Medicine, Sales, Volunteering, and more.

Dean O'Reilly

Psychology student with keen interest in academic research. Currently exploring the world of marketing distribution and content creation with Enhancv to help people get closer to the job of their dreams. Read more about my journey to Enhancv on Fast Company or Gay Times.

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