Even the best written CV in the world can be let down by the lack of presentation.
And although the content is undoubtedly of paramount importance, a CV has to be both well written and presented professionally in order to catch a recruiter’s eye and make the most of an application.
It is worth noting that, when it comes to formatting, the approach may depend on the industry. But there are a few simple rules which should generally be adhered to, and if implemented correctly could dramatically increase your chances of success.
Here’s our list of CV layout do’s and dont’s:
Keep it short and sweet. The most effective CVs aren’t just informative, they’re also concise. Try and get straight to the most pertinent points, and ideally take up no more than two sides of A4.
Choose a professional font. A professional font ensures that your CV can be easily read and simply scanned. Remember: Comic Sans is not your friend.
Present things in a logical order. Use sufficient spacing, clear section headings (e.g. work experience, education) and a reverse chronological order to keep things clear and easily legible. Also highlight your most recent achievements.
Play to your strengths. Format your CV to maximise the impact of your application. For example, if you feel a lack of experience is holding you back, lead with education instead. As long as you can relate it back to the role in question, how you order the sections is very much up to you.
Use bullet points. They’re a great way to draw attention to any key facts or relevant information, allowing a hiring manager to skim the document easily and find out your significant achievements without having to wade through the hyperbole.
Other things to do: Include contact details, keep email address professional (email@example.com does not count), maintain consistent formatting, ask someone to check.
Be afraid of white space. Don’t fear the gaps. Even if you think your CV looks quite bare, as long as you’ve included all the relevant information and applicable, quantifiable achievements, you needn’t worry. Remember: Sometimes less is more.
Try to include too much. The ideal CV should be a checklist of all of your accomplishments. It should not be your life story. Tailoring your CV to the role is a great way to skim some of the fat and keep all waffle to a minimum.
Include irrelevant information. Before including any points in your application, ask the same question: will it help you get the role. If the answer is no, take it out. Hobbies and interests are a great example. If they don’t help you stand out, don’t waste valuable space.
Forget your cover letter. Although it is often seen as a different entity all together, your cover letter is attached to your CV and both are vital in helping you clinch the right role. Utilise yours properly, and your CV becomes the perfect document to reinforce your talent. Oh, they didn’t say include one? Still do. Every extra opportunity to sell yourself should be taken.
Experiment with size. You may think that changing font size is a great way to fit your CV onto two pages. But whether you’re using large font to make your application seem longer or you’re using smaller font to make sure everything fits, you’re not fooling anyone. See also, margin size.
What information should I include on my CV?
Personal Details: It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to include their name, email, contact phone number and address. Make sure these are clearly marked at the top of your CV.
Personal Statement: Although optional, many jobseekers choose to include a personal statement in their CV as it’s a good opportunity to tell an employer about your suitability for the job.
Keep it short and sweet and be sure to demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment to the role and the company.
Work Experience: This section includes any work experience that you have in the field you are applying for. When listing these work experiences include your job title, time in the post, responsibilities and the name of your organisation. Remember to list your most recent role first.
Achievements: List relevant skills and achievements from previous jobs, giving clear examples of how you would apply these to the new role.
Education: List formal qualifications and any training and development undertaken, either independently or during previous periods of employment.
Hobbies and Interests: Only include if the skills or teamwork concerned are relevant for the job. There is no point listing that you’re sociable or that you enjoy going to the cinema for the sake of it.
Any extra information, such as reasons for a career change or reasons for gaps in career history should be added as required.