How Useful Are Sample Resumes?


How Useful Are Sample Resumes?

If you do a quick Internet search for sample resumes, you will see that there are literally millions of sites out there offering samples and even resume templates. At first glance, this wealth of options might seem like a windfall…after all, a resume is just a description of your skills and training compiled together on a piece of paper. It can’t be that difficult to write a resume, right? And certainly with so many sample resumes out there, you should be able to find one to “borrow” from.

Years ago, that might have been true, but the job market is much more complicated and competitive today. Additionally, during economic downturns like the one we are emerging from, competition for jobs increases significantly. In these tough times, you need your chief marketing tool — your resume package — to work hard for you. Free resume templates and home-made documents, according to Career Services Specialist Linda Domenitz, do not help you stand out from the 200+ resumes employers typically received per want-ad. In fact, she estimates that between 85% and 95% of all resumes end up in the trash.

What Can You Learn?

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The truth is that recruiters and hiring managers receive dozens, even hundreds, of resumes daily, whether or not they have open positions. In an effort to cull the pile down to a reasonable number, they simply toss any resume that doesn’t meet their standards of quality, appearance, content, and sophistication. And it’s estimated that they make this decision within just 15 to 20 seconds. If you want your resume to actually be read you need to do much better than just plug your information into a borrowed resume sample.

You need to have a well-organized, stylistically correct, and visually attractive resume package — including cover letter, thank you letter, social media profile, and other supporting documents — that advertises the best things about you to even get your resume noticed.

Can get this from a random sample you picked out on the Internet?

Chances are that most people can’t. Writing resumes is like any other skill: It has to be learned and practiced before showing good results. While a sample resume can give you a basic understanding of the different types of resumes, what kind of information to include, and maybe even how to organize it, it can’t tell you what will work best for you.

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Instead of viewing all those sample resumes as end products, think of them as a starting point. If like many people, you are a visual learner, looking over a few sample resumes can help ease your mind: You can see how the formats have changed and maybe even start to get a picture of how your new resume will look.

Ultimately, though, your resume package needs to be tailored to your specific challenges:

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No college degree, gap in employment, career switch…whatever your problems may be. Your resume should not be generic like the sample resume from the Internet; it should reflect your personality (creative or technical), take into account your level of seniority (college graduate versus executive), and even the type of industry or company you want to target (fitting into a corporate culture is often the most important thing you can demonstrate).

When it comes to your resume, the devil is in the details. Recruiters get annoyed by small things that you may not think of — like whether or not the text on your cover letter and resume is the same size, if your margins are off, or if your employment dates don’t match up.

Why would you leave all of this to chance with some sample you found on the Internet? Do like you do when your car breaks down; you take it to a mechanic. Take your resume to a resume professional to see why it’s not performing the way it should and to give it, what is probably a much-needed tune-up.