A resume is a vital piece of document that showcases a person’s skills, qualifications, work experience, and achievements for recruiters and potential employers. It’s often the determining factor of whether or not a candidate gets invited for an interview. Therefore, a well-crafted and professional-looking resume can give a job seeker a competitive edge in the job market.
However, creating a resume from scratch can be a daunting task, especially for individuals who lack writing skills or are unsure of what to include or exclude. This is why many job seekers turn to free resume templates, which are readily available online.
While free resume templates seem like a convenient and cost-effective option, there are a few red flags to watch out for when using them. In this article, we’ll discuss ten reasons why using a free resume template might not be the best decision for job seekers. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of what to be cautious of and how to make your resume stand out from the crowd.
Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Free Resume Template
When it comes to choosing a free resume template, there are a few common misconceptions that could potentially harm your chances of getting hired. As an experienced copywriter and subject matter expert, I’ve seen these mistakes time and time again, and it’s important to be aware of them to ensure your resume stands out in a crowded job market.
Common Misconceptions about Free Resume Templates
First, let’s address some common misconceptions about free resume templates. Many job seekers believe that using a free template is the easy and convenient option, and that all templates are created equal. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. There are a variety of free resume templates available online, but not all of them are created equal. Some may be poorly designed or outdated, which could make your resume look unprofessional or unappealing to potential employers.
Furthermore, some job seekers think that using a free template will save them time and effort in the job search process. While it’s true that using a template can be a time-saver, it’s important to put in the effort to customize it for each job application. Using the same template for every job you apply for will not set you apart from the competition and could potentially harm your chances of getting hired.
Mistakes that Could Potentially Harm Your Chances of Getting Hired
Now, let’s talk about specific mistakes to avoid when choosing a free resume template. First and foremost, avoid templates that are too generic or basic. These types of templates may not adequately highlight your skills and qualifications, and could make your resume blend in with others that have similar layouts.
Another common mistake is choosing a template that is too flashy or visually overwhelming. While it’s important to have an eye-catching resume, using too many colors, graphics, or fonts can distract from the content of your resume and make it difficult for employers to quickly scan and understand your qualifications.
Finally, be wary of templates that are not ATS-friendly. ATS, or applicant tracking systems, are used by many employers to quickly scan and sort resumes based on specific keywords and qualifications. If your resume is not formatted correctly or uses incompatible fonts or file types, it may get filtered out by these systems before ever reaching a human hiring manager.
It’s important to do your research and choose a high-quality, customizable free resume template that fits your unique skills and qualifications. By avoiding common misconceptions and mistakes, you can create a resume that stands out and increases your chances of getting hired.
Red Flag #1: Outdated Formats
When it comes to job hunting, your resume serves as a marketing tool that showcases your qualifications and expertise to potential employers. Using an outdated format can be a major red flag that can hurt your job application.
Outdated formats could indicate that you are not up to date with the latest industry practices and trends, or worse, that you lack the necessary skills to perform the job. It may also show a lack of attention to detail or inability to adapt to change.
Here are some examples of outdated formats to avoid:
1. Chronological format with objective statement
The chronological format, which lists your previous work experience in reverse chronological order, has been around for quite some time, but is becoming less popular. Objectives statements, which used to be common, are no longer used because they focus on what you want rather than what you can offer the employer. Employers want to know what you can do for them.
2. One-size-fits-all templates
Using templates from free resume builders can be quick and easy, but the templates often have an outdated design and format. Plus, if you choose a template that is heavily used, your resume might blend in with others, making it harder for employers to remember your name and qualifications.
3. Overly decorative, creative resumes
While it’s important to stand out, excessively creative resumes with fancy graphics and fonts can be distracting and difficult to read. Not all applicant tracking systems (ATS) can pick up images and graphics, which means your resume might not even make it through the system.
The bottom line is that sticking to an outdated format can make it difficult for you to stand out from the competition when applying for a new job. Employers are looking for candidates who are up to date with industry practices and who can demonstrate advanced skills and expertise. By avoiding outdated formats and using a modern, professionally designed resume template, you can demonstrate that you are a qualified candidate that any employer would be lucky to have.
Red Flag #2: Lack of Customizability
When it comes to creating a compelling and effective resume, customization is key. A generic and impersonal template may not accurately represent your skills, qualifications, and experience. Additionally, it may not catch the attention of the hiring manager or recruiter.
Customization allows you to tailor your resume to a specific job application, showcasing the qualifications and experiences that are most relevant to the position. It also lets you highlight your unique skills and accomplishments, setting you apart from other candidates.
So, how do you determine if a template is customizable? Here are some things to look for:
Editable sections: Check if the template has editable sections such as profile summary, work experience, education, and skills. If these sections are fixed, you may not be able to add or remove information as needed.
Design elements: Look for a template that allows flexibility in design elements, such as color schemes, fonts, and layout. Being able to customize the visual aspect of your resume can help it stand out and leave a lasting impression.
File format: Make sure the template is available in a file format that you can easily edit, such as a Word or Google Docs format. Avoid templates that are only available in PDF or image format, as these may be difficult to customize.
Support and documentation: Check if the template comes with support or documentation that can guide you through the customization process. Templates that offer step-by-step instructions or video tutorials may be easier to customize.
Customizing your resume is crucial for making a strong impression on potential employers. To avoid the red flag of lack of customizability in free resume templates, make sure to look for templates with editable sections, flexible design elements, a customizable file format, and ample support and documentation.
Red Flag #3: Poor Font Choices
When it comes to creating a resume, font choices play a vital role in determining its readability. The font you choose can have a significant impact on how the information on your resume is perceived by the recruiter or hiring manager. It is important to avoid using fonts that are hard to read, outdated, or unprofessional.
Poor font choices can make the text appear cramped or cluttered and make the resume difficult to read. An overly stylized font may make the resume look unprofessional, while an extremely plain font may seem boring and unremarkable. Therefore, it is important to choose a font that is easy on the eyes and has a professional look.
Here are some fonts that you should avoid using on your resume:
Comic Sans: This font is considered unprofessional and unsuitable for a resume. It is informal and childish and can make you look unserious.
Times New Roman: This font is outdated and has been overused for years. It is also considered too formal and may make the resume look too traditional.
Courier / Courier New: This font is too monotonous and may make the resume look like it lacks personality.
Script fonts: While script fonts may seem elegant and sophisticated, they are difficult to read and may make your information appear hard to understand.
Fancy fonts: Avoid using fonts that are too ornate, as they may be difficult to read and may overwhelm the reader.
Instead, use clean, classic fonts such as Arial, Calibri, Verdana, or Helvetica. These fonts are easy to read and widely accepted in the professional world.
Remember that your resume is a representation of your professional identity. Therefore, it is crucial to avoid poor font choices that may leave a negative impression on the recruiter or hiring manager. Choose a font that best represents your professional image and highlights your skills and achievements.
Red Flag #4: Inadequate Sections
When it comes to creating a proper resume, including the right sections is essential for showcasing your skills and experiences. However, some free resume templates available online may overlook necessary sections, which can result in an inadequate and unprofessional-looking resume. In this section, we will discuss how to identify necessary sections for your resume and provide examples of inadequate ones to avoid.
How to Determine Which Sections Are Necessary in a Resume
The first step in determining which sections to include in your resume is to carefully review the job description and identify the key skills and experiences that are required for the role. This will help you tailor your resume to match the job requirements and provide relevant information that will help you stand out to potential employers.
Some standard resume sections that should not be overlooked include:
Header: This should contain your name, contact information, and professional title.
Summary/Objective: A short paragraph that highlights your relevant skills and experiences for the role.
Education: Information on your academic background, including degrees and certifications.
Experience: Lists your previous work experiences, typically in reverse chronological order, and includes the job title, company name, location, dates of employment, and job duties and accomplishments.
Skills: A bullet-point list of relevant skills you possess that align with the job requirements.
Aside from the sections listed above, there may be other sections that are necessary for certain roles, such as a Portfolio section for graphic designers or a Research section for scientists.
Examples of Inadequate Sections to Look Out For
While identifying the necessary sections for your resume is important, knowing what sections to avoid is just as crucial. Here are some examples of inadequate sections that you should watch out for:
References: Including references is outdated and has become unnecessary. Instead, employers will request references if they decide to move forward with your application.
Personal Information: Information such as your age, marital status, and religious beliefs are not relevant to the job and can unintentionally lead to discrimination.
Objective Statements: An objective statement that is too vague or doesn’t align with the job requirements can detract from your application.
Career Highlights: While it may seem relevant to highlight your accomplishments, the Experience section already accomplishes this. Adding a separate section may confuse employers and make your resume feel cluttered.
By ensuring that you include the appropriate sections and avoiding inadequate ones, you can create a professional-looking resume that effectively showcases your skills and experiences to potential employers.
Red Flag #5: Over-Reliance on Design Elements
Resume templates are a great way to streamline the resume creation process, but they can be a double-edged sword if not used correctly. One of the biggest pitfalls to watch out for when using free resume templates is over-reliance on design elements.
While visually appealing design elements can make your resume stand out, too much of it may lead to a distracting effect. Over-the-top design can overshadow the content, making it difficult for the employer to focus on the critical aspects of your resume. Remember, the purpose of your resume is to showcase your skills and experience, not your design sense.
It is essential to strike a balance between design and content to make your resume effective. One way to determine if design elements are overused is with the “squint test.” It involves stepping back and squinting at your resume as if you were an employer who had only a few seconds to read it. When you do this, the design elements should become blurred, and the content should be highlighted.
If you notice that the design elements are still prominent after squinting, it’s a sign that they may be overpowering the content. Examples of design elements that could distract from the content include graphic borders, elaborate fonts, excessive use of colors, and overly stylized icons.
Another way to determine if design elements are overused is to consider your industry. If you’re applying for a creative position like graphic design, fashion, or advertising, a resume with a stylish design could help showcase your creativity. However, if you’re applying for a more traditional job like accounting or law, a minimalist design may be more appropriate.
While design elements can make a resume visually appealing, too much of it can hurt the overall effectiveness of your resume. Stick to a clean design that highlights your content and avoid anything that could potentially distract an employer. Remember, the purpose of your resume is to showcase your skills and experience, not your design sense.
Red Flag #6: Misuse of White Space
White space, also known as negative space, refers to the areas of a resume that are left blank. When used correctly, white space can improve the readability and overall appearance of a resume. However, when misused, white space can detract from the content and make the resume appear unprofessional.
Proper use of white space can help a resume by making it easier to navigate and improving the overall visual appeal. A well-spaced resume allows the eye to move across the page smoothly and helps to separate different sections of the resume. Additionally, white space can help draw attention to important information, such as headings or job titles, and make it stand out from the rest of the text.
On the other hand, misuse of white space can make a resume appear unbalanced and unprofessional. For example, having too much white space can be distracting and make the resume seem sparse or incomplete. Conversely, having too little white space can make the resume appear cluttered and difficult to navigate. Improper use of white space can also make it difficult for the reader to focus on the content, causing them to lose interest and potentially miss important information.
One common mistake is using excessive white space in an attempt to make the resume appear longer. This can be achieved by simply increasing the font size or line spacing, but it can make the resume appear unprofessional and cluttered. Similarly, using uneven spacing between sections of the resume can make it seem disjointed and difficult to read.
Another example of misusing white space is using a design that places large blocks of text next to large areas of white space. This can make the resume appear unbalanced and make it difficult for the reader to follow the flow of information. Additionally, using too much white space around bullet points can make them look disconnected from the rest of the text, reducing their impact.
While white space can be an effective tool for improving the overall appearance of a resume, it must be used carefully and strategically. Too much or too little white space, or uneven spacing, can detract from the content and make the resume appear unprofessional. Job seekers should ensure that their resumes strike a balance between readability and visual appeal.
Red Flag #7: Non-Traditional Formats
Using a non-traditional resume format may seem like a creative way to stand out from the competition. However, it can also backfire and harm your chances of getting selected for an interview.
Recruiters and hiring managers are accustomed to seeing traditional resume formats that are easy to read and follow. When you use a non-traditional format, such as an infographic, video, or social media profile, it may confuse or distract the recruiter from your actual qualifications and work experience. Additionally, non-traditional formats may be overlooked by applicant tracking systems (ATS) that recruiters use to scan resumes for specific keywords.
To avoid the risk of hindering your chances of getting hired, it’s best to stick to traditional formats such as chronological or functional resumes, which are easy to read, follow, and are ATS-friendly. Here are some examples of non-traditional formats to avoid:
- Infographic resumes: These visually-rich resumes may be appealing, but they often lack the necessary detail and substance needed to showcase your skills and work experience.
- Video resumes: Although video is a popular medium, video resumes may not be the best choice. They require the candidate to have strong video production skills, and it may not be feasible for hiring managers to watch lengthy videos.
- Social media resumes: Using your social media profile as your resume can present challenges. It may not showcase your skills and experience as effectively as a traditional resume. Plus, unless you have a large following, it’s unlikely that the right people will see it.
By avoiding non-traditional formats and sticking to the tried-and-true traditional formats, you increase the chances of getting noticed and landing a job interview.
Red Flag #8: Lack of Consistency
Consistency is a key factor in creating a successful resume. Without it, your document may appear cluttered, unprofessional, and difficult to read. Hiring managers want to see that you’re detail-oriented and take pride in your work. Inconsistency can send the opposite message, no matter how impressive your experience may be.
The importance of consistency in a resume
Consistency makes your resume appear more polished and professional. A well-designed resume with consistent formatting and style signals to the employer that you’re organized and capable of producing high-quality work.
Consistency also makes your resume easier to read. When you’re using the same fonts, sizes, and margins throughout, the hiring manager doesn’t have to work as hard to digest the information. This is especially true if they’re reviewing a stack of resumes and need to quickly scan for the most relevant information.
How to determine if a template lacks consistency
When evaluating a template, look for uniformity in the overall design, formatting, and typography. Here are some specific examples of what to watch out for:
- Inconsistent fonts: If a template uses multiple fonts throughout, it can be jarring to the eye and make your resume look unprofessional. Stick with one font for headings and another for body text to create a cohesive look.
- Inconsistent spacing: Uneven spacing between sections or paragraphs can also make a template look sloppy. Make sure that each element on the page is evenly spaced and aligned to create a clean, organized look.
- Inconsistent formatting: If some of your headings are bolded and underlined while others are only bolded, your resume will look disjointed. Make sure that similar items are formatted consistently throughout the document.
- Inconsistent alignment: It’s important to keep your text aligned to the left or centered throughout. If some sections are left-aligned and others are centered, it can create an unprofessional appearance.
A lack of consistency in a resume template can be a major red flag for potential employers. It’s important to choose a template that is well-designed, organized, and easy to read. By paying attention to the overall look and feel of your resume, you can ensure that it presents you in the best possible light to hiring managers.
Red Flag #9: Limited File Types
When it comes to submitting a resume, the file type you choose could affect your chances of landing the job. Some companies have automated systems that only accept certain types of files, while others may prefer a specific format that is more accessible or easier to read.
Using the wrong file type could result in your resume being rejected before anyone has even had a chance to view it. To ensure maximum success, it’s important to choose a file type that is widely accepted and easily readable by most systems.
How the file type of a resume could impact its success
The file type of your resume can greatly impact its success by affecting its accessibility and readability. For example, a PDF file may look great on your computer screen, but it may not be compatible with certain applicant tracking systems or may appear distorted when opened on a mobile device.
On the other hand, a Word document may be more accessible but can sometimes look different when opened on different computers or versions of Microsoft Word. This can be especially problematic if the resume formatting becomes skewed, making it difficult to read and negatively impacting the impression you make on potential employers.
Examples of file types to avoid
There are certain file types that you should avoid using when submitting your resume. These include:
- Image files such as JPG or PNG, as these cannot be read by applicant tracking systems and may not be easily opened on all devices.
- Pages files, as these are exclusive to Mac computers and may not be opened on PCs or other devices.
- Text files such as TXT or RTF, as these lack formatting and may not display properly. Additionally, some applicant tracking systems cannot parse information from these formats.
When submitting your resume, be sure to choose a file type that is widely accepted and easily readable on most systems. Avoid using file types that may be incompatible or distorted when opened, as this can negatively impact your chances of landing the job.
- The Ultimate Guide to Being a Courier in 2023
- Creating Flight Attendant Resume: Guide and Examples
- Interview Follow-Up: How & When to Check After an Interview
- Write a Winning Letter of Interest: Guide and Sample
- Starting Your Career as a Carpenter in 2023