You only have one chance at a first impression. That is true in life, and it is true in job searches as well.

A prospective employee’s first impression typically comes in the form of an electronically submitted resume. A solid resume is usually the gateway to phone interviews, in-person interviews and hopefully, a job offer.

Unfortunately, many job applicants approach their resume as a form that has to be filled out, instead of an advertisement for their personal brand. Many applicants only ever receive the automated response from HR, which says something to the effect of, “Thanks for applying and we will be in touch.” This is the dreaded generic reply.

Human resources professionals are sent dozens or even hundreds of resumes for each job opening. How can you make yours stand out while remaining professional and informative? How can this one file ensure you move beyond the automated reply and into the interview process?

Here is a look at five samples that will help you create a resume that makes a positive first impression.

Primer Magazine
Primer Magazine has a dozen free templates to choose from, as well as some good tips on composing the best representation of yourself.

A common resume mistake is to present a page so filled with text that its reader nearly goes cross-eyed. It’s a good idea to highlight your name vertically, instead of horizontally, and therefore offers a strong positive contrast to text-heavy alternatives. It also ensures that there is some white space on the page, letting the viewer’s eyes rest and better absorb the information.

Creative Market
Creative Market has over 1,600 resume templates from independent graphic designers.

Seeing is believing, right? If you are applying to a job in a traditional field, like law or finance, a professional headshot may be an added benefit. Looking for a job in a more creative field? You can use the photo to show your artistic talent. Either way, you will most likely be one of the only people including a photo on their resume.

Graphics Fuel
It should be no surprise that a site called Graphics Fuel offers an image-based template in a Photoshop file format.

Resumes should offer an informative snapshot of your career, not a novella with every detail of your day job. Why not make your resume look more like an infographic than a traditional CV? When choosing to employ this image-heavy route, just make sure that you still include enough information to convey your education and experience. Don’t rely totally on style over substance.

Messy Jessy
Messy Jessy is the personal blog of a young woman from Buffalo, New York, so her approach to resume design is personal and adaptable.

Maybe the idea of plugging your own information into an already set template doesn’t fit your needs or your style. If that’s the case, a do-it-yourself design could be for you. Using PicMonkey, you can adjust colors, fonts, backgrounds and spacing to make the layout and design your own.

The Muse
The Must offers a helpful list of the 41 Best Resume Templates Ever, ranging from the basic to the bold.

Are you interested in a field where colors and images just don’t fit with the corporate culture? Maybe your personality is more little black dress than hot pink jumpsuit. Traditional resume templates from The Muse dress up the resume a bit, with different texts or subtle color use, while still maintaining a familiar overall look and feel.

 

Remember that not all of these templates are created in programs that have spell check, so type your content out in Microsoft Word first, or have an eagle-eyed editor look over your work. No matter how well designed, a resume that has errors is sure to be placed in the “no” pile right away.

Also, these templates come in many file formats, so be sure to convert your final version to a PDF before sending. You do not want all of your hard work to be unreadable because the HR contact does not have Photoshop.

As a recent college grad or someone looking to find a new job, you can give yourself a leg up by putting extra time and effort into the first point of contact with a new employer: the resume.