How to select a resume template

Looking for a template to use for your resume? An internet search for ‘resume templates’ will keep you busy for the rest of your life!

An image search will instantly deliver thousands of examples with instructional boxes. Most of these are US in origin, however they can be useful in pointing out the difference between chronological and functional resumes.

There is a range of resume templates on Microsoft Word. This is the easiest place to start.

If you are applying for a public sector role, check the requirements for a resume. Many government departments list what they want in a resume. This information can guide your search for a template.

What should you consider in order to narrow your search? My four suggestions are:

Select Australian websites

While there is much to learn from US examples, time constraints and relevance suggest keeping to the local product. Government sites are a useful place to start, such as the material on the Job Jumpstart site. While this website has a strong focus on young people, it does cater for people already working. You will find several tip sheets in the Toolbox on Writing a tailored resume, Resume basics, Writing effective resumes.

With a strong youth focus, the My Future website offers a range of articles on preparing a resume.

CareerFAQs provides a range of resume templates and Career One offers examples.

Keep it simple in layout and content

Skip the templates that include a photo and a single front page for personal details. Personal details only need a few lines at the start of your resume. Your resume is not meant to reflect your graphic design skills (unless you are a graphic designer) and some fancy designs make poor use of space.

Consider seniority and career stage

Notice whether a template and examples/information are appropriate for your level of experience, the type of role you are applying for and your career stage. As template information is often of a generic nature, it may not be directly helpful.

For example, a career goal could be stated as follows:

‘A challenging career in editing where I can develop my skills and contribute to a dynamic publishing team.’

This might suit someone in the early stage of their career, but will not be appropriate to someone who has established their career and looking for advancement.

Duties and results

Look for a template that distinguishes between duties and results or responsibilities and achievements. While a resume template that offers a section on your work history is essential, many still only suggest that you list duties. If you want to make a strong case you need to show both what you do and what difference you make.

Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.