Resume Templates

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

It’s easy to find hundreds of free resume templates online, but like many things you can find on the internet, a lot of resume templates are simply poor quality. So what makes a good resume template? Let’s dive in and talk about some useful pointers to differentiate the good resume templates from the bad - let’s just avoid the ugly.

First, make sure the resume template actually looks professional.
There are a lot of things that go into making a resume look professional. The first, and most important, might be consistency throughout the resume. The theme of consistency applies to multiple aspects of the document - the formatting in general via indentations, title and date placement, use of italics and bolding, margins, font choice, and so on. Aside from that, you’re pretty much free to personalize the resume to your liking, to an extent. Keep it professional regardless of industry - comic sans with bright colors is typically unacceptable, but playing with formats like the ones below are a-ok.


Second, be sure that your resume is clean, symmetrical, and generally easy to look at.
You don’t want recruiters to be straining their eyes to look at the resume template. Consistency across the board will help with this, but that’s not the only thing that goes into a good looking resume. As stated above, you want to personalize your resume but you also want that to be within reason. What I mean is you can add your personal flair to your resume, but don’t stray too far from doing something like adding a blurb about yourself on the top or side or have your name running down the side of the document. Keep in mind that this is a professional document, and a lot of recruiters aren’t necessarily looking for totally unique resumes, but adding your own flair to certain aspects of your resume can give you a competitive edge.

Check to make sure the style of the resume template fits the industry you want to go into.
This is very important. Don’t use a resume template with unique or playful design aspects to apply to a finance job. Nearly all finance recruiters are looking for one type of format, then spending about 30 seconds to skim your resume looking for prior experiences that are relevant or impressive. If you stray too far away from the unwritten rules of industry-acceptable templates, you’re effectively lowering your chances of getting a job. Is it worth it to not spend the extra few minutes doing some research to see what common templates look like?

Show your personality when choosing your resume template.
On the other hand, the less traditional the industry you’re applying to, the less traditional your resume template can look. For a more in depth discussion about this, here are some of our articles on resume formatting and design:

The Best Resume Format

Resume Design - The Backlight Guide

Resume Format

If you’re a more creative person, show that off through the look of your resume! This especially applies if you’re trying to break into a less traditional industry like graphic design, marketing, or to a small, young company or startup.

Don’t fall into the trap of making your resume template too complex.
Sometimes, less is more. As stated before, you don’t want people, especially recruiters, to look at your resume and not know where to look. If you don’t have much experience, using formatting tricks to make your resume look fuller can work, but tread that line very carefully. Fill your resume out to ensure there isn’t too much white space, but don’t overdo it with the wild formatting, making your resume look messy as opposed to full. It’s almost always better to err on the side of caution and settle for more white space on your resume if you think it’s starting to look a little busy or hard to skim.

Take a break.
Just like an essay or project, there should be many, many versions of your resume. I’ve found it to be very helpful to write up your first draft, try to optimize it as best as you can, then take a few hours or even a day or two without looking at it again. Then, come back to your resume with fresh eyes and a new perspective and look it over again! A lot of the time you’ll notice new little details that you missed after working on your resume for hours on end. It’s easy to miss things after staring at a screen for such a long time.

Show it off and talk to people!
One of the best free resources you can use to review your resume template is simply the people you know. Your friends and family will oblige by your requests to be as harsh as possible - you do want the truth after all. More specifically, you’ll want to ask for advice from people who are in similar industries to what you want to do. This also has the potential to get you a job! If your connection is impressed by your resume, they may consider forwarding it to HR and inquiring as to whether or not you’re interested in a job, so get to networking!

Now, what’s a surefire way to build an impressive resume with proven templates? Backlight. We use artificial intelligence and resume experts to build, edit, and optimize people’s resumes. Building your resume is a seriously complicated task, and without the proper training or a lot of previous experience it’s likely to take a long time. In a survey of students at a top-15 university, 79.7% of respondents said that it took them up to four weeks to build a work-ready resume! That’s a long time, and here at Backlight we aim to trim that down by at least half. Feel free to check out the rest of our site HERE and take a look at what we can do for you!