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Career Launch: Resume Templates

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Writing a job-landing resume isn't easy. Get the competitive edge with SHRM's resume templates and simplify the job search process. With multiple options for students, recent graduates and emerging professionals, choose and customize the template that best fits your professional interests to stand out in a crowded applicant pool.


Resume Templates for Students and Recent Graduates

  1. By scanning the very top of this resume, readers instantly glean important information about the candidate: SHRM-CP certification, target (and current) job title, and relevant personal attributes.
  2. When bullet points are relatively meaty, it helps to introduce them with bold type and surround them with ample white space.
  3. Adding context—the circumstances under which you were hired or specific challenges you faced—helps readers better understand your skills and value. Also, their interest is piqued if they are facing similar challenges.
  4. A 2-column format can be effective if the columns are balanced and it’s easy to find information of interest. This template uses the Tables feature, with everything in the left gray box in one cell and everything on the right in another cell.
  5. While it’s not necessary to add personal information/activities (and you shouldn’t over-emphasize them), they can reveal your character and open the door to conversation once interviewing begins.

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  1. Even a brief summary/introduction can provide important clues to your experience and value. Avoid long, dense paragraphs that are often a collection of clichés. Instead, focus on what’s notable about you.
  2. Use terms that convey you are a desirable employee (e.g., “promoted,” “recruited”).
  3. Look for interesting ways to organize and convey important job activities without bogging down your resume. In this example, four distinct areas of HR activity are called out with bullets and bold type, followed by specific duties/activities, and highlighted with a unique achievement for each.
  4. Job duties apply to many; your unique achievements apply only to you. Whenever possible, cite specific ways that you have saved time, saved money, improved a process or enhanced a business metric.
  5. If you are working toward a degree or certification, you can mention it on your resume even if you haven’t earned it yet. Be clear about the status and, if possible, provide a projected completion date.

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  1. Your summary can be just that—a concise presentation of your skills and experience that match the jobs you are targeting. A headline provides immediate focus.
  2. Make certain your unique achievements stand out, especially when you are also conveying detailed job activities. You want your readers to be able to zoom in—immediately—on the information that distinguishes you from all other candidates.
  3. The farther you get from your college years, the more you should trim details of college activities. The three items in this example are brief, but they will be eliminated in the next update.
  4. Professional affiliations indicate dedication to your profession. If you can show volunteer or leadership roles, all the better.  
  5. Even a simple design can be enhanced with the addition of color/texture, as in the rectangle at the top of this resume.

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  1. Lead with a headline that clearly defines your area(s) of expertise.
  2. Use your summary to highlight key differentiators, not to reiterate skills that every candidate will have.
  3. In the Experience section, keep the job descriptions short and separate from accomplishment statements. Make certain your bullets describe specific accomplishments, not general activities.
  4. Avoid long, dense paragraphs and bullet points. If appropriate, use sub-bullets to expand on key points while maintaining readability.
  5. Use formatting enhancements that draw attention to the most important information.

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  1. “Aspiring” is a good word to use as part of a headline when you have not (yet) held a professional position. It helps readers understand your career focus while being entirely truthful.
  2. In choosing what to highlight in your summary/introduction, think about the skills and experiences that will be most valuable in your target positions.
  3. For new grads, typically the Education section comes before Experience because it is your strongest and most recent qualification.
  4. Your college activities—whether in class or extracurricular—can flesh out your Education section so that it becomes a meaningful indicator of your future value in the workplace.
  5. Adding “extras” at the bottom of your resume can help reveal your personality and character. Often these extras are good conversation-starters for interviewers.

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  1. There are no “rules” for what your summary/introduction should include, nor the format in which you include it. Choose information that will give readers immediate and positive information about who you are and what you can do for them.
  2. Even a very subtle use of color, as in this resume’s blue lines, will help your resume stand out.
  3. Use appropriate language that will let you take credit for what you did without overstating your role. Examples in this resume: “Assisted,” “Partnered with.”
  4. Use specific numbers/results whenever you have them. They are memorable and distinctive.
  5. If your earliest career experience isn’t totally relevant, feel free to omit it or, as in this resume, mention it briefly without details. This technique is also effective if you’ve switched careers and don’t want to advertise your age. Note that year of college graduation is also omitted.

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Resume Templates for Experienced Professionals

  1. Consider including 2-4 specific “wow” achievements in abbreviated form in your summary. Keep them short and expand on them a bit in the chronological experience section.
  2. While not mandatory, include a core competency list to beef up the keyword density of your resume. Just be certain that you also incorporate keywords into job scope and accomplishments in your experience section.
  3. Communicate key information without overly long, dense text. Examples in this resume: branding statement underneath headline; brief descriptions under each company name; job-scope summaries under job titles.
  4. To save space and avoid repetition, consider grouping multiple jobs with one company into a single section and highlighting just the most important and relevant achievements.
  5. Simple formatting enhancements (reverse type, tasteful use of color) will help your resume stand out.

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  1. Your summary/introduction should be a quick snapshot—not an entire career overview. Choose information that identifies who you are, areas of expertise, and where/how you’ve delivered value.
  2. Have you considered adding an endorsement or two? It might be the perfect finishing touch to your resume—distinguishing you from every other candidate and letting the “brag” come from others rather than from you!
  3. A good way to break up what would be a long list of achievements under each position is to divide them into sections and introduce each with a relevant (keyword-rich) heading.
  4. Whenever possible, include specific results that prove the effectiveness of your ideas and actions.
  5. Minimalist formatting enhancements (double-line borders, tasteful use of color) create a distinctive resume that still exudes a conservative, professional presentation.

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  1. Whenever possible, include specific numbers and results in your achievement statements. They are much more impressive and memorable than vague statements about “significant improvement.”
  2. Dig deep to find accomplishments in multiple areas—not just your recruiting-related metrics. In this template, you’ll see achievements related to process improvement, technology implementation, marketing and business development, internal and external communications, and more.
  3. Challenge yourself to write concisely, eliminating unnecessary details so that readers can quickly grasp the meaning and value of each paragraph or bullet. In this template, nothing is longer than 2 lines.
  4. While it is perfectly fine to have a 2-page resume, avoid having just a few lines on the second page. Notice how early-career experience was briefly summarized—providing the essential information without taking up too much space.
  5. Help your resume stand out with simple formatting enhancements (shading, tasteful use of font color).

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Customizing Templates

These templates were created as a guide and inspiration for your own unique resume. In addition to writing new content that is specific to you and relevant to your goals, consider ways you can modify the design so that it, too, is unique.

You might change the font/font size, remove or edit borders or shading, and otherwise customize the design. (An easy way to instantly change the color scheme in these templates is to click the “Design” tab on the Word menu bar and then choose a different option under “Colors.”)

  • Avoid using more than two fonts, and be consistent when you use them (e.g., all headers should be same size). NO COMIC SANS!
  • Don’t overdesign or add in clip art/icons that may distract from the meat of your resume.
  • Don’t squish everything in, and leave space between sections of your resume. Most recruiters will spend 30 seconds or less scanning a resume, so make it easy for them to see your experience and/or education.
  • While the colors can be changed, don’t choose overly bright colors, especially for text elements. Often when a company prints out your resume, it’s in black and white!

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

These templates are compatible with the vast majority of ATS. Color, shading, italics, reverse text and other design enhancements—even graphics—are perfectly acceptable. No need to create a “plain-text” resume for scanning.

As you are creating your own resume, there are only a few things you need to keep in mind:

  1. It is a good practice to customize your resume to match specific job postings. If you review several postings before you begin writing, you will identify the vast majority of keywords that you will want to include in your resume, and from there individual customization should be a fairly quick process.
  2. If you want to add new content or sections to this template, do not use Microsoft Word’s “Text Box” feature. ATS will treat the box (and everything in it) as a graphic and simply skip over it, so the contents of that box will not be read. 
  3. Always follow instructions when uploading your resume and use the preferred file format (typically Word or PDF).