There are two different ways to create a resume in Microsoft Word: either by using a resume template or by creating your own resume from scratch. However, as anyone who’s used Word before knows, the program is by no means specifically designed for resume creation and it can therefore be difficult to format and style your resume exactly how you want it.
This article will cover whether or not you should use Word to create your resume, how to make a resume in Word using a template or from scratch, and how to best format your Word resume if you decide to use the program.
Should You Create a Resume in Word?
Creating a resume in Microsoft Word certainly has its pros and cons. On the plus side, it’s free, there are many different templates available both within Word and online for use with Word, and for many years it has been the go-to program for creating your own resume.
Additionally, a Word resume document can be easily edited by a recruiter if you choose to use one, whereas it’s much more difficult to make changes to a PDF or other type of document. And, if you decide to create your own Word resume without using a template, you will enjoy complete creative control – something you don’t necessarily get with a template or a resume builder tool.
However, Word has some drawbacks as well, such as the fact that many of the templates are dated and may produce a rather dull and drab end result, it can be difficult and time-consuming to make changes to a template, and the templates are not necessarily optimized for the current Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that the vast majority of companies use to filter job applicants.
Microsoft Word has a bit of a learning curve, so even something small like reordering the sections of a template can cause a major headache. Making your own resume from scratch in Word is obviously even more difficult. It not only requires experience using the program, but also some design experience in order to create a resume that is pleasing to look at, well-organized, and formatted properly so that it will pass an ATS scan.
It will also take significantly longer to create your own resume than it will to either use a Word template or to simply enter your details into a resume builder which can be frustrating when you want to begin applying for jobs immediately.
As an alternative to Microsoft Word, Jobseeker offers a resume builder tool with a library of modern, easily customizable resume templates that are ATS-optimized. It’s simple to use and you can be sure that your resume will stand out.
But, if you prefer to stick with Microsoft Word, you can certainly still create a top-notch resume. Here’s how:
How To Use a Microsoft Word Resume Template
First we’ll look at the easier way to use Word for resume creation: using a template.
Step 1: Pick a Template
Start by opening Microsoft Word and searching for ‘resume’ in the top right search bar. You can then select ‘templates’ and pick one that fits your personality, job niche, and style. For example, if you are applying for a corporate accounting job, you will likely want to select a more staid template than if you are applying for a graphic design position or another creative job.
You can also search for free downloadable templates online that are designed to be used with Word, if you don’t like any of the standard options.
Step 2: Create Your Resume Header
Once you’ve picked your favorite template and opened it, you’ll begin by completing your resume header. This contains basic information like your full name, address, email, and phone number. You may also wish to include your current job title, LinkedIn URL, personal or portfolio website URL, and/or social media links in your header if that information is relevant to your profession.
Some Word templates will include these fields, but you may have to add them manually if you’ve chosen a template that does not.
Step 3: Write Your Resume Summary Statement
Next, add your resume summary statement or a resume objective. A resume summary is appropriate for the vast majority of applicants as it sums up your professional experience and personal qualities that make you a good fit for the position. A resume objective is better suited for those who are just entering the professional world (i.e. students or recent graduates) or those who are making a career change.
Your resume summary or objective is a brief snippet just under your resume header that should be written with the goal of attracting and keeping the attention of the hiring manager who is reading it, so they don’t just flip right past your resume.
Step 4: Input Your Work Experience, Education, Skills, and Accomplishments
Finally, it’s time to enter in your work experience, education history, personal skills, and professional accomplishments. While the majority of this is filling in the blanks, you should still make these sections as compelling as possible by highlighting achievements over responsibilities and tailoring your resume to each application.
Reread the job posting that you are applying for and implement some of the key words and phrases that the employer uses – this will help you get through the ATS screening phase and it’ll let the hiring manager know that you paid attention and took the time to customize your resume.
If you don’t have a lot of work experience to highlight, include optional resume sections like languages, volunteering experience, hobbies and interests, etc. This will not only fill out your resume so it doesn’t look empty, but it will also give your potential employer a better understanding of who you are as a well-rounded person.
Remember, your resume should be a single page unless you have more than ten years of experience in your field, in which case it shouldn’t exceed two pages.
How To Create a Resume in Word Without a Template
If you prefer not to use a Word resume template, you can still use the program to create a resume. However, unless you have some design skills and a lot of patience, you’ll likely want to stick with a template or use Jobseeker’s resume builder tool.
Still want to go for it? Be sure to include all of the same sections that we outlined above and clearly label each one with a heading. You can play with the page margins and line spacing in order to fit all of your credentials on a single page, and use page borders, lines, and/or color blocks to spice up your resume and divide it into a clear, easy-to-read layout.
Word has some built-in features that lend themselves to creating an eye-catching resume, such as the column tool which allows you to format your document with one, two, or three columns, or to create a sidebar on the left or right side of the page. A sidebar is a great way to add interest to the page while still reserving the larger main column for the bulk of your information.
You can also change the alignment of the text, although only your header should be centered. Otherwise, stick with left alignment as it’s the easiest to read and the most professional.
Word has a variety of text styles available that can save you time while formatting your resume. They can be used as follows to create a uniform layout:
- Heading 1 (H1): Use H1 for your most important title, which should be your name across the top of your resume. This is the largest text in the document and it will be bold and impactful.
- Heading 2 (H2): Use H2 headings to label the sections of your resume (i.e. Work Experience, Skills, etc.). H2 text will be smaller than H1, but still bold and big enough to stand out.
- Heading 3 (H3): Use H3 headings when you are listing your job titles within your Work Experience section. This should be just barely bigger than normal text, but still bold.
- Normal text: Everything else on your resume should be written using the Normal style, including the bullet points under each job title, your resume summary, and descriptions of your skills. Use 11 or 12 as your Normal font size.
Word has default settings for each of these styles, but you can go in and set your own font, text size, color, and whether each style will be bold and/or italicized. Whatever style you decide to use, be consistent with it throughout your entire resume. This will provide clear organization and a clean look.
Formatting Your Word Resume
Whether you opt to use a template or not, here are some formatting items to keep in mind as you create your resume in Word:
Fonts and Colors
Don’t go overboard with fonts or colors in your resume – this is, after all, a business document. Choose a professional, easy-to-read font like one of the following:
- Trebuchet MS
While you can deviate from the classic black text, be sure that your resume will still be readable by using dark, muted colors like navy, dark gray, or forest green.
If you can’t resist a pop of color, consider changing the background color of your header to something that’s not garish (i.e. no hot pink or neon green) and make the header text a contrasting color, like white text on a navy background or black text on a sage green background.
Keep your Word resume layout fairly simple – include two columns at most and clearly label each section. If your resume looks like a jumbled mess, recruiters and hiring managers won’t take the time to decipher it and you’ll likely be skipped over as a candidate.
Watch for Jumps
Microsoft Word is infamous for its poor ability to handle layout changes (like moving or resizing a photo, adding a line break, etc.), so if you do decide to change a template or create your own layout, make sure that you review it closely when you’re done to ensure that nothing has sneakily moved around.
And, of course, you should thoroughly spell check your resume before you send it off to any potential employers. Nothing screams ‘unprofessional’ like misspelled words on your resume. Word has a built-in spell check feature, but you should never rely completely on that. Always read through your resume, or, if spelling isn’t your strong suit, have a friend or family member double-check it for you.
Saving Your Word Resume
In most cases, you’ll want to save your resume as a PDF as well as a Word document. Most ATSs will read PDFs, and the PDF format will prevent anything from going awry with your careful Word formatting, which can happen if you submit a Word document and the hiring manager has a different edition of the program.
It’s also a good idea to print out a few copies of your resume so that you can see how it will look when your potential employer prints it out to read it, and bring them with you if you score an interview.
Finally, save your resume with a file name like ‘JaneDoeResume’ so it’s immediately clear to the hiring manager what document they are looking at and so there won’t be any confusion in the application process.
Microsoft Word can be difficult to use for resume creation, but it can certainly be done with a template or by creating your own resume format. Just remember to keep an eye out for the infamous ‘Word jump’ as you build your document.
If creating a resume in Word is too frustrating, you can produce a polished, professional resume on Jobseeker in just a few steps. Choose from a wide selection of templates, easily change the colors and fonts to fit your tastes, and know that your resume will be ATS-optimized.