CV templates - is using one a good idea?

By: Robert Gaines

Ask anyone if writing a CV is easy and they’ll probably answer in the negative, which is probably why the Internet is awash with a whole plethora of CV templates. Looking for your first job? Choose this one. Ready to move into a senior executive position? That template will do nicely. Indeed, what could be better than to be able to download a ready-formatted Word document with all the necessary sections just waiting to be completed with your personal details.

Well, just hang on a minute! Employers can spot a templated CV a mile off. Imagine how many people use templates from sites such as The Guardian or Monster. That same clutch of templates get used by so many candidates they become instantly recognisable. The minute an employer notices that your CV comes from a template - questions will be asked and judgements made – this candidate is lazy or incompetent or both. And that seed of doubt is likely to lead to one place only, the rejection pile.

Employers need reasons to whittle down the pile of applicants. Some will be legitimately and directly related to the available position, lack of suitable experience being one of the main ones. But employers will also find it easy to reject CVs on other grounds, such as poor spelling and grammar, and using a template falls firmly into this category. After all, if you’re not prepared to put in some effort to sell yourself and are happy to take a short cut, what does it really say about you as a candidate?

If you’re some years into your career there is one vital skill that employers will expect you to possess – the ability to think for yourself. Regardless of whether you are a creative or logical thinker, employers are looking for candidates who really know how to use their brains. Your CV is that first piece of evidence on which to assess the most fundamental personal attributes required for most jobs – the organisational, presentation, analytical and evaluation skills that are needed on a day-to-day basis.

CV hard work is required!

If you want to stand out from the crowd before you’ve even been seen, then some good, honest hard work is what’s needed to create and hone your CV. After all, recruitment generally is about finding strong individuals not clones.

In a climate where so many good candidates are chasing the same jobs it makes sense to give yourself every possible opportunity to show that you are different and worthy of an interview. And creating a CV that is unique to you is that first and most vital step towards job success.

At the same time, putting together a CV can be a challenge, so referring to a template can be a good idea as a starting point or for inspiration. It will certainly help you organise your thoughts and focus your mind if you have a structure on which to work. You can then adapt the CV for your specific requirements and take it away from a templated look.

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