Free Resume Templates? Really?

The reason why so many people don’t opt for FREE resume templates is because they don’t inspire. Have you seen these stark concoctions?  It feels like some kind of Soviet beauty pageant.

Not a big fan of Wendy’s either.

But you get the point.  Templates don’t get you a call to interview.  It’s readability. And placement.  It’s the specific content of your resume that matter and where it gets placed. And after looking at the different free templates, I have to say I do not see solutions to my problems of representing myself in print.  Nothing reflects my uniqueness.  And if it does, it is often too far out.

There are things to consider when it comes to a resume format.  One, who is your audience?  In every attempt at communicating in print, your audience is the first consideration.  Are you writing to the President of the United States or to the head of Sun MicroSystems or your local city councilman or to a teacher in East Los Angeles?  Audience determines your tone.  Now if you’re unsure of what you’re writing about, then first need to take some time to gather your thoughts and the points you want to cover, but even the points you want to cover are greatly influenced by your audience.  You’re not going to include talk about condoms to daycare board members.  Does this make sense?


I’ve actually tried a similar resume style.  These don’t work.  In fact, they put the resource manager off because it is such a shameless attempt at being frou-frou.  Oh, stylistically, yes, they are quite interesting, quite out of the box, quite disappointing too. If a manager is reading a score to a hundred of these a day, do you really think that a tw0-column resume is going to make him stand up and shout?  Obscenities, maybe.  But no, it will only be received with some annoyance, because he’ll have to adjust his whole frame of mind and eyes to your arrangement when after an hour or two he’s seen only the standard one-column format.  I would not try these.  In fact, the resume I wrote with the two-column was better looking than the one above.  Mine had colored logos of the places I’d worked.  So there.  I had two resource managers tell me gently, “Ah, Sir, this format doesn’t work.”  One reason why is that you actually create a more narrow space for relevant information and elaboration on your achievements.

Here is another.



Two column resume formats don’t work, I’m tellin’ ya.  This splits the reader’s attention initially until he finds information relevant to the position he’s hiring for.

Write Code or Learn Excel? For Business, It’s Excel

Gary North  (his site is behind a paywall but is an immeasurable wealth of resources) had a subscriber write in to his forum. The subscriber wrote,

I’m 37. Should I learn how to code? Is this the lingua franca of the day irrespective of my field?

North’s full response is here behind a paywall.  But let me cite a two points of the many that were covered.

The ability to write code is more genetic than technical. Some people have an innate talent. Most do not.

. . .

If there is a lingua franca, it is spreadsheet development. It is used in every business setting. I recommend mastering Microsoft’s Excel. It is like learning a foreign language. Become fluent in this language.

Database management is another basic skill. Again, you might as well learn Microsoft’s Access. This is the program most used in business settings.

Coding places your career on the chopping block. One mistake, and the program can come crashing down . . . on you. Shooting a video is not dependent on digits.

A spreadsheet had better be accurate. So should a database. But these are normally not so crucial to an operation that a misplaced digit can collapse the project.

Simple video production is applicable in business and education. The software is cheap: under $75. Start here:

Looking for Work: It’s a Job In and of Itself

Here’s what’s required.

1)  Resume.  You’ve heard of these, yeah?

2)  Cover letter.

3)  Thank you letter.

Letters of reference are fine.  Though people often mean one for the other.  However, there is a significant difference.  Letters of Recommendation zero in on your strengths citing specific examples of them, including your demeanor, your poise, and leadership.  Letters of Reference are a lot more general and can be written by anyone whom you might have worked with.  Also, these are often courtesy letters, meaning that they are written for free.

Is that it?  Not so fast.

You’ll need to know how to present your resume.  Do you bring it in a colored manila folder?  That might pass.  It is definitely mediocre and does not send any kind of distinctive message.  But maybe you’re okay with being non-distinctive.  Remember what you’re dealing with here.  You’re dealing with your career, whether it’s just starting or whether you’re in its middle years.

And in any position, it doesn’t hurt to pretend an executive level of competency.  To that end, put your resume inside a resume portfolio. This guy makes a good case for doing just that.

What else do you need to consider when submitting these job letters to companies you want to work with?

Use a professional email address, something that begins to brand you as a professional. You’ll no longer want to rely on  That’s not going to fly.  Oh, no one will say anything to your face, but behind your back they will be rolling their eyes, laughing, or discounting you from the start.  That’s not good.  Maybe I am wrong.  Maybe the world is made of cotton candy and marshmallows and Skittles.  I have my doubts.  So protect yourself.  Be professional with every piece of paper. What goes on paper is a reflection of you.  Do not forget that.  It makes it harder for people to attack you in print if your printed paper trail is as close to immaculate and impressive as possible.  A stronger email address would be  All it has is your name.  Nothing else.  It doesn’t reveal anything about you.  It doesn’t get readers curious or suspicious or giggling. You want to manage your career, your reputation, your name, like I said, in print as best you can.