Great Resumes Fast » Resume Writing Tips » Are Executive Resume Templates Worth Using?

When you’re working on your resume, you’re probably looking for any way to make the process easier, or for any way that you can be sure you’re on the right track with format, layout, and the information you’re including. Writing your resume can be daunting, no matter what stage of your career you are at. But an executive resume, given its competition from other executives, can be even more intimidating to write.

A free resume template, whether from Microsoft Word’s options or from an internet source might seem like one way to knock off the big step of determining the best executive resume format, and allow you to just start plugging in your information.

But is this the best way to go for advancing your career at the executive or C-suite level?

question yourself_Are Executive Resume Templates Worth Using

An Executive Resume Template Will Make Your Life Easier, but at What Cost?

With all the resources available through software and the internet today, it might seem silly that I’d advise you against using a resume template to create an executive resume. Consider this, though—many other people applying for the same job are probably using a resume (or even cover letter) template and just plugging in their information. Do you want to end up with a resume or other career document that has the same look and feel as your competitors’?

Also, consider the fact that while this might be the first resume you have written in ten years, and one of only a few that you will be sending to prospective employers, hiring managers, or recruiters, it will be one of many—possibly thousands—that they have looked at during the hiring process for different jobs this year alone. As a former human resources professional myself, I can tell you that we can easily identify when someone has just filled in the blanks in a resume template.

Using a resume template to get you jump-started is perfectly fine—especially if you are having trouble getting started writing a resume at all. But if you literally think inside the box, and just fill in your information, you will end up with a boring resume that doesn’t showcase your unique professional experience and qualifications and the value that you can bring to the company you are applying to. And it will be much harder to get an interview.

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Why Does My Executive Resume Need to Be Unique?

When you’ve reached the executive level, or are applying for your first executive-level position, you have a wealth of experience that you need to properly showcase to a prospective employer. That experience and your skill set cannot be properly communicated within the confines of a template that someone else has created. Companies want to see how you fit within their culture, not just how many years of experience you have.

In short, your executive resume needs to convey your personal brand, and copying resume samples just won’t let you do that effectively.

Effectively showcasing your personal brand when you create a resume may mean incorporating visual elements, or rearranging sections of the resume to more prominently display the most relevant information about your career and key accomplishments to an employer.

It also means getting rid of the old-fashioned career objective statement in exchange for an executive summary that doubles as a personal branding statement at the top of your resume. If you haven’t written a resume in several years, this element might be new to you—but it’s an important change to note.

For more tips on incorporating your personal brand into your resume, check out this article from the Great Resumes Fast blog:

When I say that your resume needs to be unique, I don’t just mean that it needs to convey your unique brand, I also mean that it needs to be unique to the company and executive position you are applying to.

You might find a resume template that works well for a master resume, but as you tailor your resume for individual jobs and move information around, add new information, add or change visual elements, etc. you will probably find that what works for one company won’t necessarily work for another. You need to leave yourself open to being able to reformat as needed. Locking yourself into one template could make your life more difficult in the end, especially if you have many transferable skills and are applying to positions across a wide spectrum of industries.

There’s no question that writing an effective resume takes work, but remember, you are investing in your long-term career goals. Isn’t that worth putting the time, effort, and work into?

Are Executive Resume Templates Worth Using

Start with a Template, but Don’t Stick to It 100%

Now, I’m not trying to say that you should avoid looking at executive resume templates or resume samples or treat them like they are going to ruin your career. Heck, we even have a resume sample page on the Great Resumes Fast website! Resume templates and resume samples can absolutely be helpful for your application process.

If you’re looking in the right places—trusted career sources—it can be easier to figure out the best practices for writing and formatting an executive resume, as well as get ideas about how to best tell the story of your career path and the skills you can bring to your next job.

What you should not do with a resume template or sample is take one and just swap out the generic information for your own, or fill in the blanks where the instructions tell you to. A template might be a one-page resume, or a two-page resume, but until you know what you need to put in the resume you don’t know what length is going to work best. A one-page resume is not a hard-and-fast rule—in fact, by the time you have reached the executive level, a hiring manager will want to see two pages’ worth of information about your career.

To write a compelling, effective executive resume, you need to start by not even thinking about the format you’ll be using. You need to start with a list of your accomplishments, your skills, your work experience, and what your career goals are. You need to craft your personal brand, and do research on company culture. Wondering how to best compile this information for yourself? Start with the questions I lay out in this article:

By the time you’ve answered these, you will have a better understanding of the information that you need to include on your resume(s) and how to present it to best impress a potential employer or recruiter.

Once you have this in mind, then you can start looking for a resume template or sample that can act as a guide for your executive resume. Don’t fall into the trap of finding a template or sample that boxes you in to a specific way of presenting information just because it looks easy to use, or because the format impresses you.

Yes, layout, format, design, font, etc., are all important aspects of your resume, but if you don’t have the strong language and relevant accomplishments to include on your resume, it doesn’t matter.

If you start out knowing what you need to include, it will be much easier for you to effectively start with an executive template as a basic outline, but then be able to adapt it to your needs so it no longer looks like a template.

Don’t show an employer that you take the easy way out by blatantly using an executive resume template—it’s not a good look, and it won’t get them to pay any more attention to your resume than they do to the dozens of other unoriginal template-based resumes they receive.

How Can I Adapt an Executive Resume Template to Be More Original?

Here are a few tips I have for making a resume better show your brand and stand out to a professional employer, while keeping it professional:

• Incorporate visual elements such as charts or graphs that use numbers to demonstrate your accomplishments. An eye-catching resume will help you stand out.
• Include social proof—quotes from past employers or clients that speak to your abilities.
• Add a little color to emphasize points or to distinguish section headings from your resume content.
• Use a combination of paragraphs and bullet points (for further explanation, see this article:
• If you find a couple of templates whose designs you really like, mix and match until you find a format that works for getting your message across.

Remember, applying for jobs is about marketing yourself. It’s easy to tell when one company rips off another’s ad campaign, right? Or, you know when an ad is so boring you don’t even remember what it’s for or immediately change the channel or flip the page without paying attention to it? Don’t let that happen to you. Be the applicant whose executive resume stands out and makes a hiring manager sit up and pay attention.

If you’d like to work with a professional resume writer to create a resume that gets attention and helps you achieve your career goals, the team of certified and professional resume writers at Great Resumes Fast can do just that for you. At Great Resumes Fast, a resume writer will work with you directly to create a resume personalized for your work history and your career goals.

Or, if writing an executive resume is a challenge you are looking forward to taking on, be sure take advantage of the literally hundreds of resume writing tips we have on our blog:

Are you tired of your resume being rejected by applicant tracking systems? I know how frustrating it is to submit your resume and receive no response. I hate seeing qualified people never breakthrough the screening process. It shouldn’t be that way. That’s why I created this guide and I encourage you to download the FREE PDF so you can start seeing better resume response rates!

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About the author

Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast

Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.

What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.

You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!

I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!


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