How To Create a Resume Using a Template in Word (With Tips)
Updated June 27, 2023
Employers typically form their first impressions of job candidates based on their resumes. Submitting a clean, properly formatted, well-written and error-free resume may increase your chances of securing consideration for a position and progressing toward the next step in the hiring process. Learning more about how to use resume templates in Microsoft Word can help you create an effective document that showcases your skills.
In this article, we describe the importance of a professional resume, list potential types of resume templates and offer steps you can take to create a resume using a template in Word.
"Resume Format" is the title of this infographic that shows an image of an example resume.
On the left side of the infographic, a numbered list points to each section of the resume.
Name and contact information
Summary or objective
a. Company name
b. Dates of tenure
c. Description of role and achievement
Optional (Awards & Achievements, Hobbies & Interests)
On the right side of the image is a sample resume with the name Janet Chobot and lines representing text underneath. Then the headlines Summary, Professional History, Educational History, Skills, and Awards & Achievements. Under each section are lines representing text.
Importance of an effective resume
The purpose of a resume is to highlight your most relevant skills, education and professional experiences to show employers why they may consider you for an open position.
While the content of your resume can describe your value, the design is also important. The colors, arrangement of elements, use of white space and text alignment all factor into an employer's first impression.
When creating your resume, consider tailoring the design to the position. For example, a professional applying for a graphic design role can use the opportunity to display their creativity and design skills by using color and space in a unique way.
With a template on Word, you can pre-select certain formatting and design elements, allowing you more time to focus on describing your qualifications.
Locating a resume template in Word
Microsoft offers resume templates for free through the Microsoft Word program. You can find them in the Resume Wizard by clicking "File," "New" and "Other." You can download many additional free resume templates from Microsoft Office's website.
When you open a new document in Word, you can click on the "More Templates" option and then select "Resumes and Cover Letters." As the options appear, you can browse through the offerings, click on the one that best matches your goals and then select "Create" to begin filling in your document.
Types of Microsoft Word resume templates
Before selecting a template, consider the template category that may work best for your document:
Chronological resumes organize your work history and experience in reverse-chronological order, starting with the most recent position. Below your professional history, you can list your education, skills and relevant interests.
This is the most common and traditional format. Chronological Microsoft Office resume templates are generally clean, easy to skim and professional. They're also easy to create, as you simply enter your job information, starting with your current or most recent position and working your way backward.
People tend to choose a chronological design to help them apply to traditional companies such as financial firms, educational institutions, tech companies, government agencies and nonprofits.
This template is often ideal for professionals with lengthy job histories as it showcases your career progression and growth. If you don't have much job experience, have changed jobs several times recently or have multiple gaps in your employment history, you may choose a different format.
Functional resumes emphasize your experience, skills and achievements rather than your job history and the companies you've worked for previously. This template suits individuals with less work experience, or those who are changing careers and have little to no experience in the industry to which they're applying.
It's also ideal for job seekers re-entering the workforce after significant time off, or those with gaps in their employment. When you use this format, employers can assess your skills at the top of the page and base their decision to keep reading on whether those skills align with position requirements.
Combination resumes allow for more customization, as you can combine work history with more relevant details about your skills and interests. This format gives you the opportunity to emphasize your achievements, strengths and your work history in whichever order you prefer. In most cases, you can start with a description of your qualifications and skills and follow with your work history in reverse-chronological order.
You might opt for a combination template if you're applying for a job, such as a computer programming position, that requires a highly specific set of skills. With this resume type, you can focus on your skills while also describing your previous experience. If you're just entering the job market for the first time and haven't yet built the necessary skills for a role, this may not be the best option.
Related: Combination Resume Tips and Examples
Resume template designs
As you select the ideal template type, you can also think about the design of your resume. Here are some resume design categories for you to consider:
Basic resumes are a good place to start if you're unfamiliar with Word resume templates or you're creating a resume for the first time. They're also appealing to applicants who have little job experience, are changing careers or are applying for an entry-level position or internship and prefer a more traditional look. These resumes are typically black and white and clearly state your experience, skills, achievements and career objectives.
If you have more job experience and want another way to stand out from other applicants, you may select an elegant resume design. Even if you have a lot of work experience to list, this format can impress employers without creating clutter or distractions. While they may include more color and design features than basic resumes, they can still guide the eye easily over the information without any unnecessary embellishments.
This template format is best suited to applicants with a lengthy work history. While busy hiring managers often appreciate concise resumes printed on a single page, an extra sheet might be necessary if you're applying for an upper-level management position, such as a director or VP-level role.
If your resume contains several relevant achievements and experiences that might detract from the resume's overall look when consolidated onto one page, a two-page design can look much cleaner. You can still make an effort to be concise and include only the most essential information.
Related: Q&A: Is a Two-Page Resume Okay?
Typically, it's best not to use colorful text, hard-to-read fonts and unnecessary embellishments that detract from the resume content. But creative Microsoft resume templates allow you to include just enough style to give employers a glimpse into your personality without looking unprofessional.
These templates incorporate features such as header and footer graphics while still retaining a clean, easy-to-follow design. They're best for design roles, such as an artist or graphic designer.
How to create a resume using a template in Word
Here are some steps you can take to fill out your resume once you've selected your ideal template:
1. Start with a header
This element can list your contact information, including your first and last name, email address and phone number. Depending on the template you select, this information is often bold and centered at the top of your resume. Simply add your information to the template by clicking each line and typing the required contact data.
2. Write a professional summary statement
Include one to two sentences summarizing your most relevant and impressive experience, skills and career objectives. Your template may ask you to add this information near the top of your document, right under your header.
For example, you can write, “I'm an editorial professional with more than eight years of experience working for biology publications. I am seeking a managing editor position with a scientific journal.”
3. List your work history
No matter your format, you can list your work experience in reverse-chronological order. Include your job title, company, main achievements and employment date range for each position. For each entry, add a few bullet points that describe your duties and impacts. If possible, try to include specific data to match the position requirements.
4. Include key skills
Be sure to highlight relevant skills and abilities that qualify you for the position, including and proficiencies in specific equipment and technology. Many templates include a specific section for you to reiterate your skills.
Before writing this section, read over the job description to make sure that you showcase how your skills match the position requirements. For example, if the role requires the use of a certain computer program, add your technical abilities in this section.
5. Complete the education section
This is where you can list any degrees you received. Be sure to include the institution that issued the degree or certification, as well as the years you earned your credentials. In many cases, you may want to only list your most recent degree to save space for other achievements.
6. List your certifications
If you have any relevant certifications, you can include them in this optional section. This can include required licensing in your field or any additional designations that you find relevant. Showcasing your certifications can demonstrate your dedication to your field.
To upload the template into Google Docs, go to File > Open > and select the correct downloaded file.
Resume template tips
Here are some tips for creating a standout resume using a template:
Remain concise and simple
Busy hiring managers often skim resumes to make sure applicants are qualified for a role before giving it a more in-depth review. Be sure to remove any irrelevant or out-of-date information and incorporate keywords from the job description that apply to your background.
It's critical you communicate your competence quickly and clearly. Don't try to change the template design by adding too many additional elements. This can make your document more complicated than necessary.
Give the file a specific name
Avoid submitting your resume with a generic file name, such as "resume.doc." If you upload your resume to a job search site or to an employer's application software with this title, it may get lost in the other applicants. Rename your file so it's easy to identify. Your full name or first initial followed by your last name is a good option. For example, you could write, “MatthewValdez.doc.”
It's important your resume is free of spelling or grammatical errors. Make sure you proofread and spellcheck all text before you share it with an employer. It's also helpful to have a friend or colleague review it to help catch any mistakes you might have missed.
Save it as a PDF
After you've finalized your resume, make sure you convert the document to a PDF. This safeguards it against any formatting issues and ensures the design and fonts display as you intend. Different computers and versions of Word have different font packages, and if your resume template has custom fonts or elements, saving it as a PDF can help maintain your ideal look.
After you've created the PDF, hyperlink your email address for effective communication. You can do this by opening the PDF, clicking "File", then "Content Editing", then "Add" and "Edit Link". Highlight the text you want to hyperlink, and enter your email address when prompted. This can allow a hiring manager to easily contact you by clicking on your highlighted address.
Please note that the company mentioned in this article is not associated with Indeed.
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