It's funny how often people ask for this stuff. A recruiter commented on my post about the one page resume saying that if you used the resume template in Microsoft Word, you have a 75% less chance of being interviewed (grrr, throwing out random, unsubstantiated numbers...wait, is this a political debate? I digress...). So I wanted to check out the templates so I could have a somewhat informed opinion and here I am back again to let you know what my opinion is.

First, let me tell you about my opinion of templates in general. Most often when someone refers to a "template", my reaction is less than positive (especially when they pronounce it like "tem-playte"...can't we all get together and agree on one pronunciation?). I've met people in life who can't get through a day without several templates. I like an occasional template, but over-standardizing can be mind-numbing.

As a recruiter, I love e-mail templates that I can use when I am sending out the same message to a number of people (like thanks for applying, etc.) but to use templates for some of the more creative aspects of the job bothers me. I've adapted though. For example, we do have some phone interview templates we use for certain types of roles. This allows us to ask consistent questions of our candidate pool. The negative side of this is that the recruiter can get so focused on the template that they forget to listen and forget to ask question probing for certain talents. So I'm a big proponent of flexible templates; which include some "must-have" questions ("Are you open to relocation, are you authorized to work...") and some additional questions you can use if you need them, but flexibility to ask questions based on the candidate's resume and then probe the answers. I don't want templates to become a crutch. I still want to use my brain in my job.

So let's talk about resume templates. I did check out the resume templates in Microsoft Word. Specifically, I looked at the resume templates for a "Marketing Manager" Resume on the Microsoft Office Online template page and I have to say that what I saw was pretty darn good (really like that first one for an experienced candidate). At the very least, it's better than most resumes that I see. There are a bunch of different templates there from different sources (independent sources...not Microsoft's recruiting department, of course). Just make sure that you pick templates that work for your background versus trying to make your background work using a specific template. Let me explain what I mean. Let's say that you are a relatively new grad. It will not make a bunch of sense to a recruiter reading your resume of you start out with a "career profile". But it would make sense if your education section came first.

The templates should just make you think about how you might want to present your background so don't feel like you have to adopt a particular template format outright. You don't have to use just one template (I would encourage you not to). I would recommend flipping through the templates available and finding elements of different templates that you like. Think about why you like them and how you can incorporate them into one document. Think about what the different formats say about how you position yourself. But don't let the templates take the creativity out of marketing you. Find the right combination of the info you want to say and how you want to present it.

Early in my recruiting career I heard some information about how the eye scans the resume. From what I remember, someone (a recruiter) reading a resume actually "reads" the top third of the first page and then scans to the bottom of the page. Then they read the very top and bottom of every subsequent page, scanning what is in between. So taking this type of thing into account is what you want to do when selecting a resume format. Develop a format that highlights strengths (don't forget to highlight results) in the top third of the first page and think about where you place the rest of it.

So the answer to the question of whether I have "a good resume template"  to use is "sorry, but no". However, realizing that most of you don't stare at resumes for the better part of the day like I do, I think there is some value in reviewing some templates online to help you visualize what your resume should look like. So by all means check them out. But make the resume yours. Put your stamp on it and make sure what people are noticing isn't the sophisticated resume format, but the sophisticated professional it represents.

PS: Gerry Crispin posted recently on the "personal" information most often found on resumes. Moral of that story is leave that stuff off your resume.