Great Resumes Fast » Resume Writing Tips » Are You Using A Resume Template? Better Think Twice…

If you are using a resume template, I’ve got news for you—as the hiring manager perusing your submission, I can tell.

Are you indifferently wondering, “So what?” Well let me tell you how much damage you’re doing—and how you’re hurting yourself.

A template is a template for a reason—everyone else is using it. Do you really want to look like everyone else? Any decent hiring manager is going to be able to spot a template half-a-mile away; and I don’t think you want that perception of yourself out there.

“Oh, I really want the job, but I didn’t care enough to customize my resume for the position or the company to which I’m applying.” Want to put the final nail in the coffin? Use wording from sample resumes and cover letters you’ve found online—samples that only vaguely apply to you or your abilities.

You want hiring managers to perceive you as a:
– Leader in your industry
– Creative, out-of-the-box thinker
– Thought leader
– Driver, Revenue Hunter, Champion of all things sales

Well, if your resume looks like everyone else’s, sounds like everyone else’s, and speaks like everyone else’s … they’re going to assume YOU’RE JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. Unlike being in high school, fitting in here is NOT a good idea.

Consider this: Don’t you hate it when you send an e-mail to an organization requesting information (or for any other reason that’s important to you) and you get the canned response versus the personalized reply to your situation? Sending your resume to hiring managers is no different.

Don’t send a ‘canned’ resume that is merely a knock-off of someone else’s or a template that’s used by everyone and his brother. Create a personal marketing document that separates you from the masses and positions you as a leader—and not necessarily in terms of management. You can be a leader in your industry and not be in supervisory or management roles.

Examining your resume and wondering whether it screams, ‘template’, ‘ordinary’, or ‘just like everyone else’s’? Send it in for a free resume analysis. E-mail your resume to

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Jessica Holbrook is an expert resume writer, career and personal branding strategist, author, and presenter. She has written more than 100 articles that are featured on some of the best career advice Web sites today.

As CEO of Great Resumes Fast, Jessica enjoys collaborating with forward-thinking professionals and executives, identifying their personal brand and value proposition and leveraging their unique talent, passion, and vision to position them as a leader in their industry. Her passion is helping professionals and executives uncover what makes them stand out in the crowd.

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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!


  1. Scott C Griffin on December 11, 2009 at 12:02 am

    I had employment professional take a quick look at my resume and to their amisement stated that she was glad that it wasn’t a MS template. After that she was even MORE helpful in assisting me in some of the fine tuning of my resume. I know I need additional updates and refinement. Like the article says – templates can be spotted a mile away. I vew templates as a starter – a means to get ideas.

  2. Adeola on December 11, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Your idea is so obvious, yet many still fall into the trap. This is a very insightful piece.

  3. cajrtodd on December 11, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    Thanks for the article. I concur, this is insightful.

    However, a bit of perspective is also appropriate. Independent of the use of templates, as an instance for resumes, some top-level positive advantages of a resume template are:

    – Professional organization of the data.
    – Using generally agreed to methods of presenting the data.
    – Ensuring all of the pertinent meta data is present.
    – Guiding the syntax and grammar of the data.

    Having said that, this alone places the resume writer using templates well ahead of the competition. Personal preference, in the absence of any other criteria, give me resumes that meet these objectives and I am pleased.

    Historically, having personally reviewed over 3,500 resumes in a week, seeking to fill over 130 opening for one of my clients, standardization would have helped me.

    Nevertheless, the standardized look can and should be improved upon. I would suggest the ideas of tailoring and enhancements.

  4. Sheila Howerter on December 11, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    I just read your article and I do appreciate it. I will probably use it with my students.

    Keep up the good work.

  5. PCB on December 12, 2009 at 12:30 am

    I would have to agree with cajrtodd. I have reviewed thousands of resumes in my career. Those that are overly creative can be distracting. They go against the processes that people have in place to review resumes. I would say you need to learn to be creative within the expected structure. Most certainly stay away from copy and paste. Tell your story and tailor it to be relevant to the job/position. I would agree there are certain jobs in particular industries that this level of creativity might be advisable, but to say your doing damage to yourself is a bit over stated.

  6. Susan on December 12, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    Depending upon the job and the company, it won’t matter what the resume looks like since the initial selection is based on an automated scanning system that looks for key words. If you don’t have the key words, your resume is never read by a human. That’s an even more important reason to customize the resume to be sure it includes whatever’s in the ad. Of course, better than a resume is a friend who works there who can put it on the hiring manager’s desk!

  7. Bhaskar on December 13, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Great post, and you make some interesting points about not blatantly lifting from stock resumes

    However as the previous commeters have stated having a resume that follows a standard form of layout is helpful. As a job seeker, how do I make sure that my resume strikes that fine balance between looking like a drab copy paste and a way over the top embellished source of irritation?

  8. dewapelangi on January 10, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    good idea boss, thank’s a lot for your information

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