Canva CV templates – a recruiter’s perspective

As recruiter I review 100s of CVs. Many of them are excellent, however many I see are filled with information that is irrelevant to the role being applied to or don’t provide enough information.

Others have great content but are just really poorly laid out. Full of errors in spelling and grammar that distract from the great content and can make the candidate appear unprofessional.

What has really caused me grief recently though is the surge in Canva formatted CVs. I know I’m not alone and have spoken with many other recruiters and clients that don’t like them.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Canva, I use it all the time. It’s a fabulous graphic design tool for us non-graphic designers. But when putting together your CV, it’s MUCH more important to focus your time and effort on the content and putting your best self forward for the role. Otherwise, how do you stand out from other candidates when your CV looks like everyone else’s!

Here are a few of the reasons why I would suggest you avoid using a Canva template for your CV and some tips for improving what goes in:

The template states your soft skills – it doesn’t give examples

The CV may include what I call subjective lines or pictures of your soft skills. Below is an example of what I’m referring to. What it does not tell me is how you manage your time or any other soft skill you mention. To be honest, I ignore these types of pictures. Also, the CRMs that recruiters use don’t like them and I do not search for candidates under “self-management” or “problem solving.” Make sure you give examples to demonstrate the ‘how’ instead.

2 column formats are not ideal

I have a problem with 2 column formats. I find it really hard to read, scan and can’t easily find where to start.  It doesn’t communicate your story about your career well.2 columns may be useful for saving space but can look like you’re trying to cram too much information in. I have really only seen a couple of CVs where this was not the case.

Most people (including recruiters and clients – we’re people too!) have been brought up reading across the entire page so reading small columns with crammed in information doesn’t help me to retain the information, particularly when I’m doing an initial scan of the content.  Applicant Tracking Systems (automated software that some recruiters use) are often not programmed to scan 2 columns either.

Good formatting is about drawing attention to your strongest content so focus your efforts here instead.

Same same – the format takes away from the content

The problem that comes with Canva templates is that as soon as I see it, I know it’s a Canva template and I see many CVs using the same Canva templates. Many of these templates don’t cover all of the details that I want to see.

What I want is that the template is modified to suit the content and not that you’ve modified the content to suit the template.

Only 1 or 2 pages is too brief

I find many of the Canva templates for CVs are only 1 or 2 pages. What this means is that I often don’t get a full CV or resume but more of a short bio of you. This is ok to be used at certain times, but for most roles you still need to have a full CV.

1-2 pages is too light on real detail, and real achievements may be excluded due to the formatting. You risk leaving things out to fit the format, rather than the information dictating the format.

CVs should be 3 -5 pages depending on your level of experience. If you’re asked for 2 pages though only do 2 pages. (See my previous blog on CVs versus resumes)

Applicant Tracking Systems – CRM scanning

There are also reported issues with software systems incorrectly scanning the headings and information in Canva templates. This incorrect data is then entered into the recruiter database. You may be missing out on important opportunities as your profile either has the wrong information or not enough information to be picked up by the hiring manager when they are doing a keyword search on a role.

What should a CV/resume do?

Ultimately the aim of a CV is to make you stand out from the crowd and land yourself an interview. It should highlight to me, particularly on the first page, what value you can bring to the role. This is what I’m looking for and why the content is much more important than the format. Albeit having a neat and tidy and professionally presented CV is important.

It should include the jobs you have held, the companies you have worked for and show me very quickly that you have the skills and experience to do the job that I am advertising.


A CV should not be based on formatting alone but based on your expertise clearly articulated to create impact. Through personalised coaching, mexec’s jobstrategyTM program can work closely with you to delve into what you can offer an employer and make sure your CV stands out from others. We’ll work with you to help get that interview and hopefully, land your ideal role.

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