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How to Choose a CV Template for MS Word

Hannah Mason

How to Choose a CV Template for MS Word

Hannah Mason • Sep 04, 2023

People often want to know how to make a CV in word, my suggestion is to use a professional CV template. A professional CV template for MS Word, makes the process of creating a great CV so much easier!

There are many great CV templates on the market that are designed to be edited in MS Word. However, there are also some CV templates out there that should be avoided.

In this article I'm going to equip you with the knowledge you need to choose the very best CV template for your job search.

Disclosure: We are affiliates for some of the products and services referenced in this article. Learn more over here.

Professional CV templates make writing your CV so much easier

Formatting a CV in MS Word can actually be quite difficult, esspecially if you want your CV to be ATS-compliant.

A CV template designed for MS Word will remove all of the formatting stress, allowing you to focus on adding great content.

This is the main reason that I have dedicated so much of time to creating CV templates that are both compatible with MS Word, and incorporate all of the best practice techniques that only a professional CV writer can offer.

But before you run off and just download any old template, we need to talk about how to go about choosing the right CV template.

What is a professional CV template?

Firstly let's talk about what a professional CV template is.

When I use the phrase 'professional CV template' I am referring to a CV template that has been created by a professional CV writer.

You see, it's very easy to make something look good, but it's another thing understanding exactly how to CV should function.

Knowing how the information should flow, how to position the most relevant information and having insight into what a recruiter of HR professional will be expecting to see is something that most people don't have.

A word of warning

Be wary of CV templates that have been created by graphic designers with no HR or recruitment experience.

There are an endless supply of CV templates to choose from, and most of these have not been created by professional CV writers.

Whilst they may look nice, they often do not comply with the typical standards that make a CV effective.

With that said, finding the right CV template can make a huge difference to your job search, without costing you much money.

In fact, you can download professionally made CV templates for as little as $10-$20 which is a fraction of the price of hiring a professional CV writer.

How should you choose a CV template?

If you follow these four simple rules you won't go too far wrong when looking for a Microsoft Word compatible CV template.

1. Research the creator of the CV template

As I have already said, there is no limit to who can create and publish a CV or resume template online.

The internet is an open marketplace with no rules to entry.

Search ‘resume templates’ on Etsy and you’ll return over 20,000 results.

From my research, most creators are either Graphic Designers or CV Writers.

The problem is, you'll find many CV templates created by people who have no professional CV writing or recruitment experience.

Whilst many CV templates designed by Graphic Designers look pretty, proceed with caution.

These designs are often very focussed on the ‘look’ of the CV and are not very functional when it comes to making the most out of your content.

So rule number one is simple, do some research into the person who created the template.

• What's their background? 

• Are they a professional CV writer? 

• Do they have any HR or recruitment experience?

• Does their LinkedIn profile have some good LinkedIn recommendations? 

• Does their store have good reviews? 

• Has the CV template been designed to be used in MS Word? This is important as most recruiters use MS Word to view the CVs that are sent to them.

Don't waste your time with a CV template that's been created by an amateur, it's not worth it!

You want an attractive document, but, it’s important the design complements your content and makes it shine, it shouldn’t overwhelm it.

Your best bet, is to choose a CV template that has been designed by someone with expertise in CVs, ideally a professional and experienced CV Writer.

These CV templates are much more likely to be designed with functionality in mind and in line with the most up-to-date recruitment trends.

Do your research to ensure the person you are buying from has expertise in CV writing and the recruitment process before purchasing their product.

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2. Make sure your CV Template is ATS-friendly

Most recruiters will use an Applicant Tracking System to organise the CVs they receive. Whilst there are many types of software with different functionalities, it is best to prepare your CV in such a way that the content is ‘readable’ in any programme.

This is because information contained in your CV may be searched for keywords or your CV may be ranked based on relevance compared to the job you have applied for.

You may also find that key information from your CV template is pulled through to create a snapshot profile of your application.

If the information on your CV is not readable by recruitment software (ATS), it can lead to your application being overlooked.

An ATS-compliant CV template will usually be a MS Word document.

Graphic design programmes such as Canva or Photoshop are not ideal for creating an ATS CV template.

It is also best to avoid designs that rely too heavily on graphic elements as ATS can only interpret words, not pictures.

I’d also suggest you pick a design that avoids tables and sidebar sections as sometimes these design elements do not parse correctly.

All of my designs are created in MS Word, are ATS friendly and avoid problematic design elements such as sidebars, tables and images.

If you are not sure if your CV is ATS friendly, select all the information and copy and paste it into a plain text document. If it still makes sense, it is ATS friendly.

If the information has come through jumbled or missing elements, then the likelihood is, this is what is parsing through to the ATS.

3. Pick a CV template design that will fit your content

Everyone’s career is unique and your CV needs to tell YOUR story. Therefore, it’s important to pick a CV template that will be flexible to fit around your content.

Many CV templates have design elements that are restrictive, such as text boxes that can’t be expanded, or sidebars that make you squeeze information in.

You don’t want to be in a situation where you are deleting important information in order to fit a CV template that you simply like the look of.

I recommend picking a design that doesn’t use text boxes and that will allow you to add or delete sections as needed.

This way you can use the template to help you tell your story, your way.

You can make an impact and demonstrate your creative side without using sidebars or making your CV too cluttered and overly complicated.

4. Ensure the CV template Is suitable for your industry and seniority

How you style and design your CV or resume can signal a lot about you as a candidate.

It’s important that the message your design communicates is aligned to the roles you are targeting.

As a general rule, more creative CV templates should only be used for creative professions, whereas other roles should stick to a more classic CV design.

If you are a senior professional, then be cautious to pick a design that is not overly gimmicky or too youthful. This can minimise your seniority and signal you lack gravitas.

As a senior or executive candidate you should come across more serious and your experience should speak for itself. The general rule is substance over style.

That being said, some subtle design elements will help your results shine through and will make the document easy to digest.

A Modern Executive CV Template - Download For MS Word


You don't have to spend a lot of money to create a professional CV that's going to get you interviews.

Just make sure that you do some research before you download and begin using a CV template.

All of my CV templates incorporate all of the above principles, as well as the best practice techniques that I use when creating bespoke CVs for my executive clients.

You can download your own professional CV template here today.