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What you need to know about using a CV or Resume template

Hannah Mason • Nov 04, 2021

What you need to know about using a CV or Resume template

Hannah Mason • Nov 04, 2021

The most difficult part of writing a CV is getting started.

Not only do you need to think through what you’re going to write, you also need to work out how you are going to create a document that looks professional and stands out (in a good way) to potential employers.

There are many different ways to go about this; you could hire a professional CV Writer, you could watch some tutorials, or you could just give it a go and hope for the best. Be honest, I think most of us have done this at some point.

However, a great option that's often overlooked is using a template. A CV template (or resume template) is a really great way to shortcut the process of creating your CV. Many of the complicated formatting and styling elements are already taken care of, and the layout will give you an indication of what content you should be providing.

CV templates are a cost-effective option that will see you benefit from the expertise of a professional, without paying for a one-on-one consultation. If you decided this is the right approach for you, the next question will be ‘how do I choose the right template?’

Choosing a CV template can be wrought with its own challenges, there are so many options and it can be difficult to distinguish between which templates are helpful and which ones would be a hindrance.

Below, I am going to cover a few points to help you pick the right template, for you:

Choose the creator wisely

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. Whilst you want an attractive document, 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 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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Make sure it 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 is pulled through to create a snapshot profile of your application. If the information on your CV is not readable by recruitment software, it can lead to your application being overlooked.

An ATS friendly template will usually be a Word document. Graphic design programmes such as Canva or Photoshop are not ideal for creating an ATS friendly CV.

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.

Like the template below, all of our designs are created in MS Word, are ATS friendly and avoid problematic design elements such as sidebars, tables and images.

CV or resume template by The English Meeting Room
Click here to download this template today

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.

Pick a 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 template that will be flexible to fit around your content. Many 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 template.

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.

Like the example below, you can make an impact and demonstrate your creative side without using sidebars or making your CV too cluttered and overly complicated.

An example of a creative CV or resume template
Click here to download this template today

Ensure the 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 templates should only be used for creative professions, whereas other roles should stick to a more classic 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.

Here is a template that I created with senior roles in mind. You will notice that the layout is simple and the design is very classic and focused on communicating seniority, expertise and professionalism. As a senior 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.

An example of a senior resume or CV template
Click to download this template today

So there you have it

You don't have to spend a lot of money to create a CV or resume that's going to get you interviews. Just make sure that you do some research before you download and begin using a CV or resume template. We have recently partnered with Job Search Journey to make our CV and resume templates accessible to a wider audience.

If you are looking for a CV or resume template today then click here for some great options.