No matter what industry you work in (or your experience level in that industry), a plain, black-and-white resume written in Times New Roman font can actually weaken a job application.
But just because resumes have gotten more creative doesn’t mean you need special design software to make your application stand out. On the contrary, writing your resume in good old Microsoft Word is still the perfect way to develop your personal brand, while also communicating your experience and career goals.
Read on to find out how to make your resume in word, then download one of these amazing resume templates that open directly in Microsoft Word.
How to Make a Resume in Word
Open Microsoft Word on your computer.
Select either "Basic Resume" or "Bold Resume" from the template menu.
Fill in your name and contact information at the top.
Draft a brief summary of your experience and goals.
Enter your school and latest education.
Describe each job you've held using the lines prompted on the template.
List all relevant skills.
Describe any relevant accolades and accomplishments.
1. Open Microsoft Word on your computer.
If you have Microsoft Word installed on your computer, open the program and let it load for a moment. There will be a couple of helpful options waiting for you on the first screen, specifically for resume creation.
2. Select either "Basic Resume" or "Bold Resume" from the template menu.
Once you've launched MS Word, a window of templates will appear. Scroll down until you see the template options designed for resumes -- there will be at least two of them. Double-click the one that suits your style and personal brand, but don't be too particular about design just yet ... you can customize these templates quite a bit.
10 Free Resume Templates
Fill out the form to access your resume templates.
3. Fill in your name and contact information at the top.
When your resume template opens, you'll see placeholder text for each line of your resume, starting with your first and last name at the top. Delete this header text and enter your name, as well as any contact information by which you want the recruiter to contact you.
4. Draft a brief summary of your experience and goals.
Use the first line below your name and contact info to describe who you are, what you do, and what you're looking for in your career.
5. Enter your school and latest education.
List any relevant degrees or certificates you received through schooling. You can safely exclude secondary education if you've graduated from an accredited college.
6. Describe each job you've held using the lines prompted on the template.
Your professional experience is frequently the most important section of your resume, so feel free to rank this section above your skills and education, depending on how many jobs you previously held.
7. List all relevant skills.
If you have experience in certain software, exercises, problem-solving, or management techniques, use them to populate your skills. Your resume's "Skills" section helps reveal what all of your previous jobs or related experiences have in common, based on what they taught you and what you provided them.
8. Describe any relevant accolades and accomplishments.
Finish out your resume with any personal accomplishments or accolades you think a hiring manager in your industry would appreciate. Although this section shouldn't include a Most Improved recognition from little league, for example, it should definitely include your Marketer of the Month award from your last position.
Free Resume Templates That Download in Word
Of course, if you’re already employed full-time, it’s hard to find the time to apply to a new job opportunity, let alone update your resume to reflect your qualifications. Luckily, there are numerous publishers out there who've created incredible resume templates for quick editing and formatting in Word.
To keep you from hunting the internet for the resume templates that are both free and compatible with MS Word, we’ve listed 19 more options below for you to customize with your own information right now. Some of them come with variations so you can pick your favorite design. Four of them cater specifically to marketers.
They’re so nice, you won’t believe they open up in Microsoft Word once you download them.
1. Monogram Header Resume Template
We'll start with a simple one. This is a HubSpot exclusive resume template that is simple and clean with attractive monogrammed headers to call out each section of the resume. The rest of the design relies on a simple serif font for easy reading, which is a good thing considering that hiring managers only take 7.4 seconds to evaluate a resume. You want your experience section to be easily scannable.
Pulling your more text-heavy information off to the side in an attractive color-blocked sidebar, this resume lets your experience stand for itself in white space at the top. It's also easily customizable with no difficult-to-manipulate tables or formatting. The sidebars are in movable text boxes that can even be removed if you wish.
This resume takes on a different look than most resumes, centered around a single bar. This makes the resume more visually striking, which could draw attention as hiring managers are evaluating candidates. It also puts emphasis on the objective with your chronological experience supporting it underneath. All of this is in an attractive serif font that is elegant and classy.
Speaking of serif font, this resume puts forward an element of grace and formality with its font choices. It's perfect for individuals who are looking for more organic color than the ones more typically found in resumes, and the colors are also easily changed in Microsoft Word's theme settings. It also includes a skill-level bar, adding a nice visual touch to the template.
This resume template is available from Microsoft itself, and it’s one of many free templates the company has prepared for those who depend on Microsoft Office tools to create content. Yes, it is written in Times New Roman — don’t freak out. Designs like this can borrow an old-school typeface and still impress recruiters with a clean layout and subtle use of color. You can also change the font if you wish (and the same goes for every template in our list).
The digital marketing resume below comes from our own collection of resume templates, all of which open directly in MS Word. Coming with two pages total, this sheet holds a wealth of information and offers the perfect amount of style while maintaining professionalism. Mid-level marketers all the way up to CMOs can find this template valuable.
This template is the perfect balance of creative and modest -- best for the professional who wants to seem casual, thoughtful, but not over the top. Not only does it feature a space for a headshot on the top-left, but you can customize the color of that entire panel. Created by Zoki Design, the resume template also comes with a matching cover letter template.
The Black and White resume template below suits professionals who prefer using color and shading to add structure to their resume. The black banner at the top contrasts the applicant's name nicely to help make him/her more memorable to recruiters. The gray banner just below the header is perfect for a summary or career objective — it makes one's goals known but doesn't overpower the experience listed below it.
The illustration on the top-left of this template shows who the designers at Hloom had in mind for this resume: civil engineers. But because it’s a Word document, that graphic is easy to edit and replace with an image that represents your line of work. Are you an analytics buff? Design a clever bar or line graph icon and place it next to your name in blue (or whatever color you’d like!).
Red color never fails to stick out on a sheet of paper, especially if it's included in small amounts. The resume template for email marketers, below, captures that balance. In addition to the professional title in the top-righthand corner, this template also stands out with a thin sans-serif font, helping make a lot of text easier for a recruiter to digest and read through.
This one, also from Hloom, gives you exactly what the name suggests: ample space for the info you need, with headers that pop just enough to get your employer’s attention. Although the template fits a ton of text, its soft color palate prevents the document from seeming overwhelming.
Ironically, a dark background could be just the thing to ensure your resume doesn't fall into the black hole of resumes piled on the hiring manager's desk. Using soft, yellow font, the resume template below inverts the usual color scheme of a resume without trying too hard to be creative.
Similar to the Simple and Clean template mentioned earlier, this resume design by Nowpixelse communicates a truly professional tone. The template’s muted colors work very well with the side panel layered over the top header.
Here's another resume template dedicated to the digital marketer. This sheet offers all the inbound marketing language you need to express your values as a passionate, brand-loyal professional. Similar to a few other templates on this list, it also uses just a dash of vibrant color in the applicant's name at the top (where it matters most).
This is another sharp template that offers a basic but confident design for any professional. The warm-colored panel on the right-hand side is pre-formatted for a written profile, where you can write a summary of your background or a form letter to each employer. Just be sure to personalize this messaging to each new recipient so it works for the job you’re applying to. This template is available on Freesumes, and is free to users once they share the page to Facebook or Twitter.
There isn't a better name for the template below. The Spick and Span resume might be the cleanest-looking sheet on this list. It uses boldface, all-caps, and gray typeface to structure various headers of the document differently and maximize the hiring manager's reading experience. And all that minimalism makes the professional headshot at the top pop off the page.
Similar to the Centered Bar resume earlier in the post, Hloom’s Timeline template is a super simple but creative way to tell your story. You can convey your progression through various jobs you’ve held on one side of the vertical line, and more static elements of your background — such as skills and education — on the other.
This basic resume template is suited for content producers at all stages in their career. By spreading out the header and "Skills" text horizontally, the resume below fits a lot of crucial information comfortably on one page (of course, it also comes with a second page if you need it).
This is perhaps the most imaginative of all the Word-based resume templates on this list — with both a skills meter and a comic headshot. The template was designed by Venkata Naresh and comes with 12 different versions of the design you see below. Have you created a Bitmoji of yourself? Do you think your employer would find it creative? Match the template and add it as your photo.
The curriculum vitae-style resume below flips the typical two-column resume so the basic applicant information is listed across the right side, rather than the left. Feel free to change the color of this sidebar in Microsoft Word if dark-red isn't your thing — the template can pull off any color you wish.
This template, also offered on Freesumes, dares to use yellow as the dominant color — but doesn’t sacrifice professionalism in the process. The document anchors the education section to a thick, bright banner across the bottom, but you can likely change this to a skills section with some simple editing in Microsoft Word.
This resume template has quite a flashy header — no photography pun intended — but it’s not just for photographers. What makes this resume unique is the space for references on the lower right-hand side. Does your field need others to vouch for your experience? This resume gives you room for three solid recommendations.
This one was designed by the stationery experts at MOO and is offered for download by Microsoft. Simple but vibrant, this template hugs the text with an artistic header and footer — great for recent graduates who need to fill empty space on the page.
This resume embraces simplicity with a slight touch of color to make things a bit more interesting. It also nicely sections off Skills and Education notes from the Work History list. With LiveCareer.com, you can generate a template with your basic information and then download it to add small details.
This NovoResume.com template is colorful and includes a place for your headshot which could make you look both interesting and confident to an employer. A colorful format like this might be great for someone in the media or advertising industry that wants to keep their job application visually memorable to prospective employers.
If you're looking for simplicity and efficiency rather than something colorful, consider this Elegant Resume Template from Jofibo. With Jofibo, you can select this or other similar templates on the website, enter your information, and then download it quickly and easily.
Canva, an easy-to-use design template website, offers a few great resume templates. One of them is this simple resume with a touch of color in the background. Because of the color and image, it's pretty memorable. But, for those who prefer a more conservative resume look, this template is fairly simple.
This resume is great for people in the technical space because it adds a touch of color and feels more compact, which will force you to get right to the point about your key skills, certifications, and work experiences.
29. Cream and Green Account Executive Resume Template
This resume is also downloadable and editable on Canva. It was created for account executives but could also be great for graphic designers or people working in visual fields due to its unique, but still professional, color scheme.
Remember, once you’ve finished personalizing your resume, you’re not ready to submit an application yet. To ensure your resume’s format stays the same for everyone who receives it, save the document as a PDF. Best case scenario? Even the hiring manager won’t believe your resume came from Word.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in 2018 but was updated in May 2020 for comprehensiveness.
Originally published May 28, 2020 3:00:00 PM, updated May 28 2020