Don’t Buy A Resume Template Until You Read This

A good resume template can be an affordable option for job seekers who want to impress hiring managers with a custom-looking, eye-appealing resume design that stands out.

As a 25-year veteran in the professional resume-writing industry, I want to be clear that the best resumes always begin with great content. If your resume content is anything less-than-powerful, I highly recommend that you schedule a free Discovery Consultation with my team at Distinctive Career Services.

Stop and read this before buying a resume template

However, if you have an existing resume and are happy with the content, but want to modernize the resume with an updated, eye-catching design, your best choice may be a professional resume template.

But, before you buy a professional resume template, STOP!

Not all resume builder templates are equal, and you need to understand why.

If you buy the wrong resume template, it can have a devastating impact on the success of your job search.

Read on to learn what to look for and what to avoid when buying a resume template.

Non-ATS-Friendly Resume Templates

Let’s start with one of the worst mistakes I see made with resume templates.

If your resume isn’t created in an ATS-friendly format, a hiring manager may never even have the chance to see it.

Virtually all recruiting firms and Fortune 500 corporations, and a growing number of smaller organizations use applicant tracking systems to sort, rank, and store the resumes they receive.

When your resume isn’t formatted in a way that is compatible with these ATS systems, it will become jumbled and inaccurately entered into the system, and this is if you are lucky. While it is rare, in the worst cases, it may not be entered at all.

Can you imagine spending six months in a job search, sending what you really believed was your carefully written and beautifully designed resume created from a template for more than 100 job opportunities?

You know you were perfectly qualified for most of them. But you never received even a single call.

What if, now nine months into your search, completely frustrated and dejected, your self-confidence flagging, you learn that your resume is not ATS compatible? You didn’t get a call because it was becoming completely jumbled when entered into applicant tracking systems. Nobody even saw it!

Sadly, this is what could happen if you buy a resume template that is not ATS-friendly. And guess what? MOST of the resume templates available for sale are NOT ATS compatible.

While I have blurred out the details, a quick search for ATS resume templates will bring you to all sorts of non-ATS-compatible resume templates created in a columnar format such as the ones you see here.

Don’t Buy A Resume Template Until You Read This

Sure, they might look “pretty,” but a beautiful resume won’t do you any good if nobody ever sees it because it has been rejected from the ATS. Columns like this are not ATS compatible.

Another common problem with resume templates are the way the resume headers are constructed. This post about creating resume headers explains this issue in detail.

Distinctive Resume Templates are different. When you use our resume builder templates, you can feel confident that your resume format is ATS-friendly.

That is because all of the Distinctive Resume Templates have been professionally designed with the goal of making them eye-catching and distinctive, while also ensuring that they are as ATS-friendly as possible.

We also provide instructions with our resume templates, to help you maintain the ATS compatibility and keyword optimization.

On the other hand, while you might find some ATS-compatible resume templates on the internet, they are usually standard, boring, cookie-cutter-looking documents that do nothing to help you stand out.

You do not need to make an either-or choice when you buy a resume template. I promise you that your resume can be beautifully designed and ATS friendly.

Even elements such as a content text box, a graphic, or a simple table can be used IF the designer knows what they are doing.

Don’t Buy A Resume Template Until You Read This
Don’t Buy A Resume Template Until You Read This

While creating the Distinctive Resume Template collections, I’ve applied the market-tested wisdom gained from 25 years of experience as a professional resume writer, combined with continuous annual training to ensure I remain on the cutting-edge of trends. Ultimately, when you use one of our resume templates, you benefit from my expertise and up-to-date knowledge.

Inflexible Resume Templates

Another big problem with many of the resume templates on the market is their inflexibility.

You are a unique individual and your resume should be a custom document meant to promote your unique value in the workplace.

A problem with templates is that most use the same resume format, the same basic resume fonts, and have the same sections arranged in the same way. When you try to add, remove, or rearrange sections you find it to be almost impossible.

Without the ability to customize the resume, you are forced to fit your experience into this rigid box that might not be best for you. The finished resume sells you short because the template you used is not flexible enough to allow you even a little creativity in how you present your qualifications.

Distinctive Resume Templates are specifically made to be flexible enough for anyone to use. It is easy to add, change, or move resume sections around and we provide video instructions that show you how to do this.

We have also categorized all our resume templates to help you choose the best template for your needs. For example, we have templates designed for executives and professionals, templates for people changing careers, templates for students and entry-level professionals, and even board resume templates. Other categories include CV templates, industry-specific resume templates, and technical resume templates.

Non-Customizable Resume Templates

Similar to the inflexibility problem with most resume templates, is the inability to customize the design.

A one-size-fits-all resume template is simply not going to help you stand out and differentiate yourself in a sea of other job seekers.

There are a lot of freely available, pre-made templates in Word, Pages, Google Docs, and other word-processing software. But guess what? These free resume templates are used by “everyone” and can be spotted a mile away. Not only do the templates look cookie-cutter, but they also make YOU look like a cookie-cutter candidate.

You need to create a resume that is as unique as you are and stands out from all the rest.  Your resume design should reflect your personality and your personal brand.

Distinctive Resume Templates aren’t just ATS-friendly, beautifully designed, and flexible. They are also highly customizable.

For example, you can easily change fonts, styles, and even the entire color scheme with just a few clicks. Do you love one of the templates but wish it was available in blue rather than green? No problem! Again, we provide video instructions to show you have to change it.

Rule-Breaking Resume Templates

Last but not least is the reason that I have advised against buying and using resume templates for most of my quarter-century career as a resume writer.

Plainly put, there are some really, really BAD resume templates out there!

Many resume builder templates use outdated layouts and resume file formats that not only won’t do you justice but will leave the poor impression that you are out-of-touch, unimaginative, and too lazy to take the time to learn what a modern resume should look like.

For example, one of the worst problems I’ve seen is also the most common. So many of the bad templates available include a space for a photo.

Again, I’ve blurred the details as my goal isn’t to shame anyone creating these templates. But, it is important that you be informed as a consumer when buying a resume template. Here are a few examples of resume templates that include photos.

Don’t Buy A Resume Template Until You Read This

No, no, no! Don’t include your photo on a resume.

Guess, what? At least in the U.S. and Canadian market, if your resume arrives with a photograph of yourself, most recruiters and hiring managers will immediately reject it.

Now, let me explain that it IS okay to include your photograph on a biography. All of our resume templates are part of a collection that includes a coordinating cover letter letterhead template and professional biography template.

Biographies typically include a professional headshot. But, as you can see from the examples below from our Blueadora collection, the resume and the biography are two different and distinct documents.

Blueadora Biography Template

Blueadora Biography Template (note: headshots are okay on biographies)

Blueadora Cover Letter Template

All template collections include a letterhead template. This is from the Blueadora Collection.

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The Bottom-Line When You Buy a Resume Template

So there you have it. Your career is too important to take any chances with! I hope the information in this article will help you to be an informed consumer when you choose and buy a resume template.

Let me conclude with something that might surprise you.

For most of the past 25 years, I have advised strongly against resume templates. From working with 10s of thousands of job hunters through the years, I know what an amazing difference a professionally written resume can make for a person.

The design, structure, and format of your resume are just part of what makes a great resume. As I started this article, the best resumes always begin with GREAT content.

But, I also know that not everyone is going to work with a professional resume writer. And, I can’t tell you how many people have come to me after a frustrating 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, or longer frustrating job search, and when I examine their resume, the primary culprit is a bad resume template!

This is the problem that Distinctive Resume Templates solve!

Try them out and please get back to me and let me know your results.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a great resume that is also ATS-friendly?

A great, ATS-friendly resume starts with excellent content. It’s not just about the design, structure, and format, but also about how you present your skills and experiences. The template you choose should be simple and clean, allowing ATS to easily read your resume, and it should present your information in a way that stands out to human readers too . Distinctive Resume Templates are designed to be ATS-friendly.

Why are some resume templates not recommended?

Some resume templates use outdated formats that can leave a poor impression, and they may also not be compatible with ATS. They might make you appear out-of-touch or unimaginative and suggest that you didn’t take the time to learn what a modern resume should look like. It’s important to choose a template that reflects current resume standards and is optimized for ATS readability.

Is it okay to include a photo in my resume?

No, it’s not recommended to include a photo in your resume, especially if you’re applying for jobs in the U.S. or Canada. Most recruiters and hiring managers may reject resumes that include a photograph of the applicant.

What should I consider when buying a resume template?

Your career is important, so you should be an informed consumer when buying an ATS-friendly resume template. Consider whether the template reflects modern resume standards, whether it allows you to present your skills and experiences effectively, whether it’s adaptable to your specific needs, and, importantly, whether it’s designed to be easily read by an ATS.

Why might a professional resume writer advise against using resume templates?

Some professional resume writers advise against using templates because they’ve seen many job hunters struggle with poorly designed or outdated templates, and especially with resume templates that are not ATS compatible. A professionally written resume, tailored to the individual and to meet current ATS standards can make a big difference in a job search. However, resume writers also recognize that not everyone will work with a professional resume writer. If you choose to write your own resume and use a resume template, it’s crucial to select a high-quality, ATS-friendly template.

About the Author: Michelle Dumas

Michelle Dumas is the founder and CEO of Distinctive Career Services, one of the internet's longest-standing and most respected professional resume writing firms. Michelle is a 6X certified and 7X award-winning resume writer and career consultant. Michelle designed and created all of the templates in the Distinctive Resume Templates Collections found at

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