CV Templates: How to Use Them And Powerful Examples

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Read this guide from Coursera to discover how to use CV templates to improve your chances of crafting a winning CV. We explore why you should use a CV template, how to choose the right one for you, and how to tailor your CV to job roles.

[Featured Image] Job applicant working on a CV in response to a  job posting.

CV templates and how you craft a high-quality CV that attracts the attention of recruitment professionals.

Knowing how to format your CV makes it that much easier to create a winning CV that can translate into an interview. While some people have a knack for writing CVs, it’s always a good idea to have a read around and look for some guidance on structure and format. In this article, you’ll get just that as we describe how to create and use a CV template.

What exactly is a CV?

A curriculum vitae, or CV, is an important document that should be given when applying for a job. This document serves as your first impression, along with your cover letter, and it highlights details about your education, work experience, skills, and other career achievements.

What is a CV template?

Tailoring a CV for each job application makes sense, as it allows you to highlight your best qualifications for each job. However, a lot of people don't know how to create a good CV. This is where a CV template comes in handy. A CV template is a pre-drafted sample of a CV that can be used as a reference guide on how to build your own CV.

Use your CV as a template and tailor it to job roles

You need to tailor your CV to the job description for a job and highlight the things which make you the best candidate for that particular role. The more relevant information that you can put on your CV, the better your chances of getting invited in for an interview. Moreover, the more prominent you make the core competencies for a role on your CV the more likely you are to attract the attention of the recruiter.

When you create your CV, whether from a free CV template, a premium template, or from scratch, you should try and make it versatile. Think about how you can switch bits over, raise skills to the top half of the front page, and highlight different achievements for different applications. 

Why use a CV template?

A CV template will help you organise your information and make sure you include all of the necessary sections in your CV. 

A good CV template may also include instructions on how to fill out each section of the document, which will save you time from having to look up additional articles on how to properly write out your information. Some CV template tools online give you a form to fill in to guide you through the entire process.

How to choose a CV template

Choosing the best CV template for your needs involves a combination of factors, from the look and feel to the information you include. While you may think that choosing a CV template is purely an aesthetic decision, it's important to consider other factors as well, including:

Style. The style of your CV has a direct bearing on how you are perceived by an employer. There are two main types of CV styles; chronological and functional. 

  • A chronological CV typically lists your previous work history in reverse chronological order (from most recent to least). 

  • A functional CV focuses on skills and qualifications that an employer is likely to view as relevant to the role being applied for. This style may be used instead of or alongside a chronological CV.

When choosing a CV template, make sure you are opting for the right kind for your sector. If in doubt, ask colleagues, HR professionals in your niche, or recruitment consultants if you can see some example CVs from your niche, or if they can give you a CV template to use as a basis for your CV. 

Aesthetics. The aesthetics of your CV should reflect the role you are applying for. If you are applying for a job in a creative industry, you would do well to choose a sophisticated, modern template with plenty of white space and striking graphics. On the other hand, if you are applying for a job in a more traditional field such as banking or finance, a more formal design may be best suited to the role.

Practicality. Your CV template should also be practical from a layout perspective. A table-based layout makes it easy for you to move text from section to section and helps you to keep the format uniform and nice looking. 

Here are some more practical tips for your CV

  • When you are writing a CV, it is important that you keep it simple and straightforward. Do not clutter your CV with information that is irrelevant for the position that you are applying to.

  • The layout and design of your CV should be consistent throughout in terms of headings, typeface, and format. It should have a clear format and be free from any grammatical errors or typos. Have a friend proofread it before sending it out.

  • Consider using bullets when presenting information about your competencies, education, and qualifications so that it is easy to skim, read and understand.

  • There should be sufficient margins on all four sides of each page so that there is some white space, as well as plenty of space between each section of text on the page. This will make it much easier to read when printed.

  • Keep your CV brief but informative by not going into too much detail about any one subject (for example, do not include every single project in which you lead a team of developers). Use highlights and keep your CV to two pages.

Ready to get started?

A well-written, error-free CV is the key to making an impact with potential employers. A strong CV will set you apart from other candidates and give them something extra to consider when it comes down to selecting who will move forward in the selection process.

If you need help producing your CV, cover letter, or with general career strategy, then why not consider the 10-hour career planning course featured on Coursera.

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