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Whether you’re just starting out in your career or you’ve been working for years and are looking to take the next step, having an effective CV is essential to your job search process – and making sure it looks the part can be key to getting recruiters’ and employers’ attention.
A well-crafted CV sets the tone for a positive reading experience. From content to look, structure and format, it’s crucial that you consider its design so that it leaves a lasting impression.
Find out more about how you can refine your CV design with top tips from experts and use our CV templates to help make yours stand out.
It’s important to get your CV design right for a range of reasons. Recruiters evaluate job seekers’ skills and qualifications from their CV, as well as seeing if they’re suitable for the role and organisation they’re applying to. The main focus of your CV should be to make sure it looks the part, so that potential employers notice it, but at the same time, it should also demonstrate all your relevant expertise and experience in an understandable, engaging way.
Your CV design is your chance to make a great first impression – recruiters and hiring managers typically spend less than ten seconds looking over a CV, so making sure yours is easily scannable, visually appealing and in the right format is essential.
Utilise these expert tips to create a perfect professional CV:
The three most common formats for CVs are chronological, combination and functional – they each put your info in different orders, so it’s important you choose a design that fits with the approach you’re taking. For example, if you’re using a functional CV, you should select a design which has enough room to display the various skills sections.
Some roles call for more classic designs, e.g. bank teller or operations manager, while others in creative industries (e.g. social media management or interior design) can afford to be a little more creative with their layout choices.
You’re welcome to get creative elsewhere on your CV but don’t mix up the headings – make sure they match standard titles such as ‘skills‘, ‘work history’ and ‘professional summary‘ or ‘CV objective’, as this will help ensure ATS (automated applicant tracking systems) can accurately assess CVs for relevance to job openings.
You’ll have the option to choose between serif and sans-serif fonts. A serif font is one that has small, decorative strokes at the end of each letter, like Times New Roman and Georgia, whereas sans serif fonts, like Arial, Helvetica and Calibri, don’t have decorative strokes.
When choosing fonts for your CV, opt for something professional, easy to read, and fits the overall style of your layout. Set the font size to 10 to 12 pt. so that it is easy to read for hiring managers. Finally, always be consistent with the font you use throughout your CV.
Use white space correctly in your CV to keep it readable. Make sure there’s appropriate spacing between sections, use proper margins (at least 1 inch on all sides) across the document, and use short phrases and utilize bullet points rather than long chunks of text. This will allow your overall layout to “breathe.”
Your contact information should always be topmost; same goes for making visually appealing but not overly flamboyant colour schemes; you can even opt for reverse type here by darkening contact section color tones whilst lightening text colors; graphic designers often employ this technique when designing printed surfaces too!
Finally, you can include icons in your contact section, such as a telephone icon next to your telephone number, or an email icon, for example. Depending on if it’s applicable and acceptable in your industry, you can even include your social media links with corresponding icons for each social media platform, such as a LinkedIn logo icon.
Whilst traditionally CVs are expected to be one page only, those who have substantial career histories might require two pages – whatever you do, make sure both pages appear seamless together in terms of their designs & styles
CVHelp has plenty of other resources and guides for presenting a professional job application.
Your CV “look” will depend upon the job you want as well as how you want to present yourself as a professional. For example, a CV for a creative occupation such as graphic designer would benefit from pops of colour and a layout that shows some creativity, while a job for a position such as accountant should feature a professional, organised appearance. But no matter what job you’re applying for, your CV should be easy to read, with each section clearly labelled, and your information provided in short bullet points and phrases. Just use our templates on this page as a guide.
Some mistakes you should avoid when designing and writing your CV include:
You shouldn’t include overly personal information on your CV, such as age, marital status, religion, birth country, or if you have children. You should also avoid including information that isn’t relevant to the job you want. For example, you might be a certified scuba diver, but it won’t set you apart from other candidates for a construction manager job.
The best CV layout for you will depend on the type of CV format you choose. The three CV formats can be defined as:
1. Chronological format: the chronological CV format is the most popular CV format used today and emphasizes a candidate’s work history, career progression and career path. This format is excellent for professionals with ample experience who want to showcase their professional achievements and career growth.
A CV design that is straightforward and uses a single column works best for the chronological CV.
2. Functional format: the functional CV format emphasizes a candidate’s skills and achievements instead of work history. This CV format is typically used by job seekers with limited or no work experience. If a job seeker has limited work experience, they need to use the functional CV format. Using the functional CV format allows you to showcase all your relevant hard skills and soft skills and provide specific examples of how those skills achieved positive professional outcomes.
A two-column CV layout that allows you to include additional CV sections seamlessly is better suited for the functional CV format.
3. Combination/Hybrid format: the combination CV, or hybrid CV, is a CV format that is the best of both CV types. It successfully fuses vital aspects and benefits of the chronological and functional formats and emphasizes a candidate’s experience, skills and accomplishments. This CV format is excellent for career professionals with a lot of work experience. It allows them to showcase their professional achievements, industry-specific skills and the results they achieved because of it.
You can use both single-column and two-column CV designs to create a combination CV, it will depend on how much information you need to include and the type of CV template you prefer.
Yes! We always recommend using a professional CV template because they’re already pre-formatted correctly and are ATS-friendly. You don’t have to worry about having the right margins, whether the font is professional or if the CV will make it past applicant tracking systems.
There are different fonts that are great to use on a CV. Our top choices are:
A great CV design will take into consideration the look, structure and format. While the perfect well-written CV sells your greatest strengths and skills, a solid CV design helps catch the attention of hiring managers and persuades them to continue reading.
Improve your layout by following these basic CV design tips:
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