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Learning how to successfully format a CV is essential if you want to stand out among the competition.
You may have included all the right information, but if it’s not easy to read, your chances of making it to the top of the hiring manager’s pile are slim. This is doubly unfortunate if you’ve taken the time to list your duties at your previous role in great detail: you’re clearly qualified for the job at hand, but you may be shooting yourself in the proverbial foot by failing to format.
The good news? CV formatting is one of the easiest stages of the job application process. All you need to do is make sure that your CV is easy to skim through in just a few minutes.
To turn your CV into an interview-scoring machine, just follow these simple steps:
1. Break it up into clearly defined sections
Your recruiter will want to know, at a glance, where all the relevant information on your CV is. Put your profile at the top, followed by your skills, education, employment history then hobbies/interests. Then, define the headings of each section in bold, or underline them. This will make it nice and easy for your readers to comb through your CV for the most important pieces of information.
2. Opt for a Word document
If you’ve got Photoshop, Google Docs or Notepad, you may be tempted to wow your recruiter with your design skills. If you’re planning on doing this, be sure to send over a duplicate of your CV in the recruiter’s best friend, our plain ol’ Word. While more complicated types of program are great for creative work, it is notoriously difficult to transfer these files using CV formatting software. Moreover, Word is editable. If you’re sending your CV to an agency first, they will likely want to make a few tweaks, such as adding the company header, footer and logo, to your CV. To make this easier for them, send over a Word version of your CV alongside your main showpiece.
3. Use bullet points when describing your duties
Want to impress any hiring manager in record time? List your duties in concise, bullet-point form. This will break up the information and make it easy to digest. It may feel like you’re compromising on quality by cutting down those long sentences but trust us, your readers will be grateful! If you’ve written your duties in long paragraphs, start by bullet pointing each sentence. Then, see how you can make those individual sentences even more concise. For more tips on how to make your CV dynamic and engaging, have a read of our guide to writing a CV [link to CV article].
4. Use a professional typeface
For some very specific companies or creative roles, it might, just might, be acceptable to use comic sans, in a parallel universe, perhaps. But, on the whole, your best bet is to stick with a good, old-fashioned typeface like Calibri, Arial, Times New Roman, or Helvetica, in a size 10 or 12 font. This will reassure whoever’s reading your CV that you’re professional, serious about the role you’re applying for and have good presentation skills. On that note…
5. Use traditional colours
Again, unless you’re applying to be an art teacher, keep things zebra-style, i.e. black and white. A plain white background and black font will be more than enough to ensure your recruiter that you are a mature and personable individual. Of course, if you’re applying for a design role and are confident in your artwork ability, the case is somewhat different. But, for the majority of us, black and white will do.
6. Include your name in your filename
This will make life a lot easier for whoever is dealing with your CV at the other end. A simple “[your name] CV” will make sure your CV is easy to find, save and send to potential employers! Make sure you remove any notes to yourself you may have left in your file name, e.g. “CV draft 2”. That way, when you list “attention to detail” in your skills, your reader will have hard evidence of your ability to notice the little things!
7. Be a wise white-space user
A great way to make your CV visually appealing is to put a bit of thought into your use of margins. To get the balance right, keep them around 2.5cm. It may seem like a good idea to minimize them so as to get as much information on the page as possible, but this will make your CV look cluttered. Make sure they’re at least 1.27cm, so that you have just enough white space to ensure your CV is easy on the eye.
If you’re still struggling to get to grips with the ins and outs of CV formatting then simply send your CV to us! Let us know what type of work you’re looking for and our awesome team will format your CV for you for free. Just send it to [email protected] and we’ll forward it on to the relevant department.