Turn recruiters' heads for the right reasons (not the wrong ones!)

First impressions matter. Recruiters spend an average of five to seven seconds looking at each CV that comes their way. That's not a whole load of time. Ensuring that your application catches their attention is the aim of the game. However, that's often easier said than done. 

It's not just about writing an impressive CV – you also need to ensure that it looks good. Getting that right means using a design that is at once attractive and quickly legible. Mess it up, and your application could end up in the ”no” pile faster than you expect. 

So, could a CV template be the answer you've been looking for? In this guide, we'll look at what a template is, its advantages and disadvantages, and whether you should use one.

What is a CV template?

Creating your own CV can be tough, especially if you don't know where to start. If you're new to applying for jobs, you may not be sure how to make your application presentable. In general, a well-made CV needs to look professional, easy-to-read, and concise. That may sound straightforward enough, but you'd be surprised at how many people get it wrong. 

Laying out a document that fits the bill can be tricky, if you're not a graphic designer. That's where templates come into play. The truth is that there are many places you can download free CV templates that you can use. In a matter of seconds, you can edit these templates to suit your needs. 

Sites like Canva and other online platforms have a range of choices. While that may seem like a quick and simple solution, it may not be the smartest move. Free templates are widespread, but they often don't do the job they're supposed to. The easiest option isn't always the best.

Advantages to using a CV template 

Thinking about using a CV template? Before you go any further, let's delve into the advantages of doing so. There's a reason that so many people use these documents to create their CVs. With that in mind, here are some of the pros to doing just that: 

Some CV templates are free

Needless to say, one of the major reasons that so many people use CV templates is because they're free. At the touch of a button, you can find a bunch of free-to-use options and that means that you don't have to invest any money in creating your application. 

It can be a quick solution 

When you're in a hurry, using a CV template may seem like an attractive option. The reason is that you can usually find templates online in minutes. You don't have to waste hour upon hour designing your own document. Someone else can do the hard work for you. 

No design expertise needed 

Know nothing about the world of design? If you don't know your Illustrator from your Photoshop, it's likely that you don't have a clue how to design an eye-catching CV. For that reason, using a CV template may seem like a good move. Then, you simply have to worry about the wording.

Disadvantages to using a CV template 

Now that you understand why so many people use a CV template, let's talk about some of the major disadvantages here. While finding a free template online may be a quick way to go, it might not make the impression you expect. Here are some of the major drawbacks: 

There's a lot of overlap

Think you've found the perfect CV template? Yes, you and every other candidate. The most popular free templates are just that – popular. The chances are, the recruiter has seen the design you have picked 10 times before. That's bad news when it comes to making sure that your application stands out.

Free templates can be messy 

The last thing you want is to put a hiring manager off by presenting them with an overly busy design. Often enough, free CV templates will look jazzy and colourful. However, you're not trying to create a work of art. This is a professional document and it needs to look like one. Make the mistake of choosing a complicated template and it could harm your chances. 

You get zero expert support 

Downloading a free template and editing it yourself is fast. However, one of the biggest drawbacks here is that you don't get any expert support along the way. You're going into this process without anyone by your side to guide the way. If you're new to the job search world, you might make some of the most common mistakes on your CV. 

They aren't optimised for Applicant Tracking Systems

Most CV templates available on the internet aren't designed with Applicant Tracking Systems in mind. That means that when your CV is scanned in, your beautiful layout and carefully chosen words could end up as unintelligible nonsense! Templates incorporating a lot of design elements, such as graphics, shapes, tables, charts, and images, are particular culprits. 

Should you use a CV template?

Now for the verdict: Should you use a free CV template? The short answer is no. 

While templates have their place and may be a quick option, they aren't always the most effective way to go. Since your CV is the first thing that hiring managers see when you apply, you need to make sure that yours stands out – for all the right reasons. You may think that a template will help you do that, but you could end up with an application that looks the same as a bunch of others. Additionally, all too many of these templates are busy, use too many design features and read poorly when scanned. These extras are enough to put any employer off. 

Creating a winning CV is all about showcasing your education, experience, and expertise. You need to prioritise the most valuable information and lay it out in the best possible format. That in itself is an art form. Learning the basic design rules will help you to get it right the first time around. 

Alternatively, you can use a CV writing service to help you along the way. Leaving the job to the experts means that you can focus on what matters: finding your next dream job. 


Crafting a CV that will win you an interview takes time, expertise, and energy. Before you go ahead and start applying for roles, you need to make sure that you have all of the above. Getting this step of the job search right could make a huge difference. Of course, should you need some help along the way, we're here to help. 

At TopCV, our expert CV writing services are easy-to-use and affordable – we even offer a free review! Check it out today and supercharge your job search.

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