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Should I use Canva to design my CV?

Navigating the recruitment process can be intimidating at the best of times, but with a proliferation of advice on how to spice up your CV, it is easy to make some basic mistakes. Online platforms such as Canva offer a simple way to bring professional graphic design to your documents, but unfortunately there are several reasons this is a big mistake when it comes to creating your CV. At CareerWise, we are experts in all things recruitment. Here is our advice about whether to use design tools such as Canva when creating your CV.

why you shouldnt use canva for a cv

What is Canva?

Canva is an online design tool. It can be really useful to help you give a professional graphic design look when working on everything from invitations to social media posts. Using templates, and clever design aids such as rulers for placement, even the most design-illiterate can create something that looks eye-catching and attractive. There are both free and paid versions of Canva.

So why not use Canva to create a CV that looks amazing?

It seems like a great idea to use such an easy online tool to make your CV stand out visually. But it isn’t. This is because most companies use Applicant Tracking Systems to pre-screen job applications. An ATS system is designed to scan the text of a document – not graphics! The computer will not register text that is presented in a graphic format, such as within text boxes and tables. Every section of text in a Canva design, whether you use their template or start from scratch, uses a text box. This means that not only will your beautiful design not be appreciated, but it may well work against you! The computer simply won’t register most of the content of your CV, and your application will therefore likely be rejected before it even gets in-front of a real person.

As well as the problem with ATS scanning, Canva templates aren’t built by CV experts. They often give a misguided impression of what you need to include on your CV, with outdated options such as including a photo or resume objectives. Additionally, you export a document from Canva as a .pdf, .jpeg, or .png, but you want your CV to be in .doc or .docx format, as this is the most easily readable by ATS.

Is there ever a place for a Canva CV?

Perhaps if you are emailing your CV directly to a contact, or you know you are already through the ATS round and want to email a fancier CV, there would be a case for using a Canva design. But even if you know your document won’t be confusing a computer, it is important to be aware of the pitfalls of Canva designs. Don’t include unnecessary sections, concentrate on the text rather than graphics, and keep it clear. Make sure you don’t overwhelm your reader with busy design but instead give them excellent, concise and informative content.

So how should I design my CV?

The best programmes to use to create your CV are still Word, Google Docs, or another text document programme. Simplicity is the key. Think function over style, and make sure you have plenty of information that directly mentions the keywords from the job description. Clear headings are also important. To make the very best CV, your format will be unique to you – rather than using someone else’s template, you will include your strongest information first, and give plenty of detail in your key areas of experience. A pre-existing template simply won’t be structured to make the most of your particular career. Depending on your personal achievements, you may want to begin by highlighting an award, your education, or a strong testimonial.

How can I tell if my CV will get through an ATS?

There is a really useful online tool called Jobscan. You can upload your CV and it will assess how well your document will do in an ATS. Jobscan then guides you to improve your ATS ranking. This can be extremely helpful when you are preparing an important application, giving you the best chance of getting through the initial rounds of selection.

Are you looking for a job in Ireland?

Call CareerWise today. We are experts in all things recruitment, and can help you through your jobseeking journey. From guiding you with crafting the perfect CV, through to the interview process and salaries, our friendly team of recruitment professionals are here to help.


Cork Office

CareerWise Recruitment. EastGate Village, EastGate, Little Island, Cork.

Phone: +353 (0) 21 206 1900