Getting started is often the hardest part of writing, which is why some job seekers gravitate toward Google Docs resume templates.
It's a free tool that allows people looking for a new job to have a blueprint for writing a resume. It won't write the resume for you -- that's still up to you -- and some career experts feel that it has some serious flaws, but even if you agree with them, using it may help give you some ideas as to how your resume should look.
So if you have questions about Google Docs resume templates, here are some answers.
[See: The 25 Best Jobs of 2020.]
How Do I Access Google Docs Resume Templates?
It isn't hard, if you have a Google account. You'll want to first log into your Google account. From there, click on the Google Apps icon that is on the top right corner of your Google homepage. Then find the Google Docs app and click on that. Then select Template Gallery. After that, just scroll down, and you'll find numerous resume templates and cover letter templates with names like Swiss, Serif and Modern Writer. Scan the icons and quickly get a sense of what your template would look like -- or click on the icon, and you can get a better look at how the template will appear.
What Do Google Docs Resume Templates Look Like?
As noted, it's like a blueprint or model for what your resume -- or cover letter (Google Docs has cover letter templates, too) -- should look like. For instance, you'll see a section at the top of each resume that will have something written like:
123 Your Street
Your City, ST 12345
In place of those words, of course, you'd type your actual street, your city and state, your ZIP code and so on.
Then the same Google Docs resume template might have something written after the contact information that says "Skills" followed by "Experience."
And following those words, there may be space to add in your own details.
A Google Docs resume template is essentially a do-it-yourself resume.
What Are the Best and Worst Google Docs Resume Templates?
Actually, there is no right or wrong answer to what the best is -- or what the worst is. Some job-seeking experts will tell you, incidentally, that the last thing you should do is use a template to put together a resume because the people doing the hiring will recognize that it's a template and see you as unoriginal. Other experts will tell you it's perfectly fine to use any resume template.
"With a resume, it's the content that should stand out, not the format. Using a template is simply a way to save yourself some work, so don't worry about it looking the same as everyone else's. This is completely fine, as long as the experience and skills on the resume are stronger than theirs," says Jon Hill, chairman and CEO of The Energists, a recruiting and executive search firm for the energy industry.
So according to that thinking, whatever Google Docs resume template you like the best is the best.
"My main advice is to use a template that lets you lead with your strengths," Hill says. "Some resumes start with an objective statement, while others omit it; some put experience first, some lead with skills and some with education. There's no one correct way for everyone, but there will be one that's better for your particular skill set than others."
Hill adds that if you have limited experience or gaps in your experience, a template that puts the "skills" section first will probably be your best fit.
"This lets you highlight your strongest qualifications right upfront, rather than leading with a less-than-perfect employment history," Hill explains.
Are There Drawbacks to Using Google Docs Resume Templates?
Yes, there is a pretty significant one.
Many career experts suggest that you write a resume that will be noticed in an applicant tracking system, or ATS. It's a type of software used by recruiters and employers that helps them sort through the job applications that they receive.
Kathy Robinson, the Boston-based founder of TurningPoint, a professional network of independent career coaches, says Google Docs resume templates don't upload well into applicant tracking systems.
"If someone's applying for a role at a company that uses an applicant tracking system to receive, process and store resumes, the formatting that Google Docs relies upon may not upload into the correct fields, which may mean that the applicant misses out on being considered for the role," Robinson says.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't use Google Docs resume templates, according to Robinson.
"Google Docs resume templates are great ... until they're not. They're wonderful for any one-page resume and are best for either recent graduates who can keep their resume to one page, or creative types who need to have a stylized resume to showcase their design expertise," she says.
For people who have longer resumes and for those who are applying to a corporation that will likely use an applicant tracking system, Robinson says, "Personally, I suggest looking at Google Docs resume templates for inspiration for colors, fonts and sections, but using Microsoft Word -- which, as long as you don't use tables, photos or columns, universally translates well -- for the actual resume creation itself."
[Read: How to Write a Resume.]
How Can I Create a Strong Resume?
Matt Klein, founder of PRSNL Branding, a NYC-based global education platform and consulting studio for professionals' online personal presence, has a few suggestions.
-- Keep it short. One page, if possible.
-- Ditch the objective statement. Klein says it isn't necessary to explain your objective. "We all know it's to secure a job," he says.
-- Get rid of the "references on request" note. If employers want references, they'll ask for them. Also, if you're fighting to keep your resume to one page, eliminating it is a way to keep it shorter.
-- Include a link to a LinkedIn profile. Klein says that will increase your odds of standing out from the pack since only about half of LinkedIn users have a fully completed profile. "See your LinkedIn profile as another canvas which you can express yourself," Klein says.
-- Customize the resume as much as possible. "While one shouldn't have to do that much heavy lifting to their existing resume if they're a fit, we should see a job description as our answer key," Klein says. "Leveraging what the employer is looking for and highlighting our accomplishments to fit what they're seeking helps you stand out as the perfect match."
With Companies Using Social Media to Learn About Prospective Hires, How Important Is a Resume These Days?
It's still pretty important, according to Klein.
Whether you use a Google Docs resume template to help you with yours or not, having an updated resume that looks good should help you get noticed faster.
"On average, each job opening collects 250 resumes, the first within just 200 seconds," Klein says. "However, 90% of these resumes are not even read ... and for those that are, each is reviewed for just six seconds. After all, first impressions are made in just milliseconds." Unfortunately, the actual job search, even in the best of circumstances, takes significantly longer.