The perfect CV should be given careful consideration. A CV that is aesthetically pleasing will grab the employer’s attention at a quick glance. It will also encourage the recruiter to read the document in more detail. The aim of which is to impress the recruiter, conclude that you are a strong candidate and ultimately call you for an interview.
On the other hand, a poor CV design and layout can signal to a potential employer that the applicant is a weak candidate. It can indicate that the applicant doesn’t have an eye for detail or presentation. It may show convey poor written communication skills.
Mismatched fonts, overuse of bold, and extravagant backgrounds are common CV mistakes that can leave the recruiter dumping your CV.
Here are some tips on CV Layout Do’s and Don’ts:
CV Layout Do’s
- Do Use Templates: Do make use of professional pre-designed CV templates available from free graphic-design websites such as Canva or Design Bold. However try to customise the template as much as possible, using the template as a design and layout guide.
- Do Have a Word copy: Some companies will request a Word copy of a CV instead of a PDF document in order for their system to automatically read and process it.
- Do Keep the Length Short: The CV template should not exceed two pages in length, ideally on one A4 double-sided printed page. Recruiters are looking for key detail that is laid out concisely. Information should be presented uncluttered and the reader should be able to navigate to the most relevant parts quickly.
- Do Use Standard Fonts: Keep fonts simple, such as Times New Roman, Ariel, Calibri or Helvetica, which are easier to read and internet friendly. If you want to avoid the most used font, Times New Roman, consider using Calibri that is familiar to readers and renders well on computer screens. Headings font should be in bold and all paragraph text size should be no smaller than 12.
- Do Use typography strategically: You should use the same font size and style throughout your document but you can also use typography to separate sections, highlight key sidebar information or direct the eye.
Do Keep the format in this order:
- Contact details: include your email and mobile number. Highlight these in the sidebar, header or footer of the document. Make it easy for a recruiter to contact you. Also, include a user-friendly URL to your LinkedIn profile and/or professional website. There is much debate still
- Personal statement/Profile: include a short, snappy well-written overview of yourself. It is an outline of your experience, abilities and how they are relevant to the role. You should also include any outstanding or relevant accolades.
- Experience: present your experience history in reverse chronological order, starting with your latest role. Edit your list of experience to only those that are relevant to the role you are applying for. Include full job titles, company names, start and finish dates and a brief summary of responsibilities.
- Education: as stated above, the list of education should be in reverse chronological order. Include the name of the institution you studied, the name of the qualification, the grade awarded, start and finish dates.
- Achievements: highlight achievements and avoid writing about responsibilities. For example, an achievement may include introducing a new initiative or campaign that resulted in higher sales, lower costs, easier customer acquisition or increase in brand awareness.
- Skills: in addition to the above, it is important to highlight the relevant skills you have acquired through experience and education. These can include technical skills such as Adobe Photoshop, WordPress or SPSS and soft skills such communication, teamwork and problem-solving.
- Do Ask Someone To Proof It For You: Ask for a friend or colleague to help you proofread your draft document before sending.
CV Layout Dont’s
- Don’t Include a Photograph: Do not include a photograph of yourself. Studies have shown that this can distract recruiters from the information contained in the document.
- Don’t Overload the CV with information: the perfect CV leaves the recruiter wanting to find out more about the candidate. Don’t cram information into the two pages.
- Don’t Detail your personal interests/hobbies: Recruiters don’t care if you are an avid reader, love yoga or enjoy chess. You can discuss any relevant personal interests or hobbies briefly at the interview stage.
- Don’t List References: Do not list the names and contact details of your referees. Put ‘References are available on request’.