Microsoft's resume templates aren't all that great.

Creating your resume can be a daunting task. So, if a tool that you use regularly, like Microsoft Word, has a slew of pretty cool-looking templates, why not use them? You're almost guaranteed to have a decent-looking and complete resume just by following their guidelines, right?

While all of that can be true, you may want to reconsider banking on that template to help you build a resume — especially if you want to win the job. Here's a look at the pros and cons of using Microsoft Word's resume templates. *Spoiler alert* — the cons are going to outweigh the pros.

The pros of using Microsoft Word resume templates

Templates exist for a reason, and that reason is to make things easier. Why start from scratch when you don't need to? Here are a few of the benefits you'll find when piecing your resume together with an MS Word template.

1. Professional-looking format

One of the most difficult parts of putting your resume together can be getting the formatting right. Even if you know what you want it to look like, getting the font sizes and spacing all lined up can be a giant pain. Using a template takes the guesswork out of it. You can pick one that looks the way you want it to and simply plug in your information. 

2. Built-in checklist

A template will break down all of the sections of your resume for you; your work history, skills, education, and personal information will all have designated places for you to fill out. This makes it a lot easier to plug in all of your details without forgetting crucial information in the process. 

3. Linkedin Resume Assistant

For Microsoft Office 365 subscribers, there is an option called Linkedin Resume Assistant that can help boost your resume. Simply type Linkedin into the search bar at the top of your Word document and you should see it pop up. What Resume Assistant does is look up samples of resumes for the job title you are looking for so you can see some great examples of how people are phrasing their experience. You also see a list of job skills that employers prefer, which can really help take your resume to the next level.

The cons of using Microsoft Word resume templates

After reading the pros, you may be ready to start firing up your resume in a Word template — but not so fast. There's more to consider here. Here are the cons of using Word templates.

1. You'll blend into the crowd

Hiring managers see dozens, if not hundreds, of job applications and resumes each week. Guess what? Most of those are made by using some sort of template. While the templates help you design your resume, what you need to remember is that they are also helping millions of other people design their resumes exactly the same way. When it comes to your job hunt, you don't want to blend into the crowd — you want to stand out.

2. They are not optimized for the ATS

What's worse than blending into the crowd? Not making it to the party at all. Most of today's employers use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to sort and rank all of the resumes they receive. If your resume doesn't hit the right notes for that system, it ends up in the reject pile, and the hiring manager probably won't even see it. You can be the best candidate in the world for that job, but if your resume isn't optimized for the ATS, prospective employers will never know.

3. Outdated resume styles

If you're using an MS template, you might be using a template that is out of date. Believe it or not, resumes are always evolving. Objective statements? They're a thing of the past. Including resume photos? Not unless you're an actor or model. Using a template that isn't up to speed with today's resume rules can immediately make you look out of touch — and that's not the first impression you're trying to make. 

Build a better resume

By now, you've probably figured out that it's better to skip the templates. So, where do you begin? Here are a few tips to help you build a resume that will get you through the door.

Find examples

Go online and look for people who are doing what you want to do and see if you can find some sample resumes. There are a lot of great people out there who are willing to put their resumes out there for you to see. Look at how they organize their content and phrase their successes. Then, use that to make your own information sparkle.

Start fresh

It's always tempting to simply update your old resume, but starting over may actually be more beneficial. You'd be surprised at the things that you now want to highlight and things you may leave off that were simply bogging down your old resume. Don't want to start totally from scratch? Make sure you're at least customizing your resume to fit the new jobs you are applying for. That means utilizing job descriptions to pick out the keywords you want to hit and taking note of the type of language you should use to impress. 

Optimize for the ATS

Don't think about it merely as “getting through” the ATS. How can you build your resume to impress the ATS? Do a little research and optimize your resume accordingly.

Get a second opinion

If you know a hiring pro, run your resume by them and ask for suggestions. If you don't, you can request a free resume review from TopResume. It even includes an ATS-compliance check, and will also give you objective, personalized feedback on how you can improve your resume overall.

Have your resume written by a pro

Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of writing your resume? Don't sweat it. Instead, have one of the TopResume expert resume writers help you out. Not only do our resume writers know how to get your resume through the ATS, but they also know how to make sure your resume impresses the human hiring manager on the other side. Trust us — sometimes it's best to leave it to the experts. 

Don't let those tempting MS Word resume templates ruin your chances of landing your dream job. Build a better, more original resume that will win over those hiring managers. 

Before you send your resume out into the world, make sure it's showing you at your best with a free resume review. Don't wait. 

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