CV format: examples, templates and tips

When it comes to the first impression your CV makes on a recruiter, the formatting matters just as much as the content. Discover CV format tips, templates and examples that will help you get it right.


UK CV format

Your CV format matters more than ever

The CV format you pick can make or break your application. Don’t believe it? Just ask John.

An electrical engineer with over a decade-long experience in designing and implementing complex electrical systems, John had always been fascinated with the fast-evolving world of IT. He started dabbling with coding in his spare time. Something that led him to reconsider his career trajectory.

One day, he decided to take the plunge and enrolled in a programming boot camp, where he learned the ins and outs of software development. After working on a couple of personal projects, he felt that he was now ready to make a career change.

He sent dozens of CVs in the hope of securing an interview for a junior programmer position, without bothering with brushing up his knowledge of how to write a CV.

Weeks later, John was still hearing crickets…

Baffled by his lack of success, he went to see a career counsellor and discovered why: the chronological CV format wasn’t the best choice for someone in his position. John swiftly revamped his CV, using a modern, hybrid format instead. What happened next? Calls for interviews started pouring in over the next few days.

A well-formatted CV plays a huge role in grabbing the attention of potential employers. It helps highlight the most relevant aspects of your profile, making it easier to identify why you are the ideal candidate for the position.

In this article, we’ll go over:

  • The formatting rules that apply to every CV, no matter the sector.
  • The three most common CV formatting options and how to craft them.
  • Examples of correctly formatted CV templates for inspiration.

What is a CV format?

UK CV format
UK CV format
UK CV format

A CV format is the framework upon which your CV is built. CV formatting provides a structure for you to organise your experience, talents, and achievements so that both recruitment software and human beings can comprehend it effortlessly.

A neatly formatted CV is a jobseeker’s best friend. It makes the recruiter’s task easier and allows you to make a great first impression as they can quickly identify your relevant skills. Conversely, ill CV formatting may mean your application gets bypassed by potential employers, leaving you out of the running for the job you want.

How to format a CV

Whether you’re at the first step on the career ladder or a senior executive with years of experience, when it comes to presenting your CV to a hiring manager, the CV layout you choose can make or break your application.

Different CV formats will allow you to highlight various areas of your work history, career progression, and relevant skills.

However, all CVs should follow a few basic formatting rules:

  • Opt for a clean, uncluttered look with plenty of white space, making your CV easy on the eyes.
  • Avoid using excessive colours; stick to a simple, professional colour scheme.
  • Use a font that is easy to read and looks professional. Popular fonts for CVs include Arial, Georgia and Times New Roman.
  • Use bold fonts and italics sparingly and consistently, primarily for headings and subheadings.
  • The body of your CV should have a font size between 10 and 12 points, and the headings should be between 14 and 18 points.
  • Always keep your formatting consistent. If you have used a 16-point font for your first heading, then all headings should be in the same format.
  • It’s best to keep the content left-aligned and not justify it in the middle.
  • It’s generally recommended to use 1.7 to 2.5cm margins for your CV, though if you have more pertinent information to be included then you can reduce the margins accordingly.
  • Make use of bullet points to emphasise your primary skills or duties.
  • Ensure all hyperlinks, if any, work properly and lead to professional, relevant information.
  • Make sure to save your CV as a PDF file for the formatting to remain intact.
  • Finally, aim to ensure that the formatting of your CV matches that of your cover letter, providing a cohesive and professional appearance across all your application materials.

UK CV format - the three main types

In the UK, there are three typically-used CV formatting options: chronological CVs, skills-based CVs and hybrid CVs.

free CV templates - chronological

Chronological CV format

A chronological CV, sometimes referred to as a traditional CV, focuses on your work experience. This type of CV format is ideal for job seekers with extensive experience in a particular industry or position. It allows you to showcase your professional career in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent and history going backwards.

UK CV format - skills-based

Skills-based CV format

A skills-based CV, also known as a functional CV, focuses on your skillset, as its name implies. This CV formatting is perfect for job seekers with transferable skills or a wealth of diverse experience. It can be a good choice if you’re looking to switch sectors, make a career transition or have gaps in your job history.

UK CV format - hybrid

Hybrid CV format

A hybrid CV, sometimes also called a combination CV, can be the best way to mitigate a lack of experience and employment gaps. This CV format combines both chronological and skills-based approaches, allowing you to demonstrate your relevant skills while also presenting a comprehensive work history.

To make sure that your CV writing is compatible with your chosen format, we have detailed all three of these popular CV formats below.

CV format for jobs: examples

If you’re still unsure which is the best CV format for you, look at our CV examples. You can also examine what makes a good CV in your industry, which is an excellent approach to ensure that yours is consistent with other candidates in your sector.

Explore sample CVs on CVHelp for dozens of professions and industries to produce a CV that matches the job description perfectly. Our CV builder helps you create a perfect CV that will represent your job experience and talents in a stylish yet professional way.

Feel free to draw inspiration from these CV format examples, as they can serve as a solid foundation for your own CV.

However, always remember to tailor them to your specific needs and job aspirations, as personalization is key to standing out and getting noticed by hiring managers.

Looking for a different CV sample? CVHelp offers a variety of specific ones that further illustrate different CV formats, providing valuable insights to help tailor your CV to your unique needs and aspirations. Discover some of them below:


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How to format a chronological CV

CV format UK - chronological

The chronological CV, or traditional CV, structure emphasises your employment history. Because it lists your most recent role first and then moves back through your past jobs, it’s also known as the reverse-chronological format.

If you have seen continuous progress in your career over a number of years, the chronological format is the perfect choice. However, it can also be adapted to work for a recent graduate or a student who is seeking a new role. To make this happen, all you need to do is reorganise your curriculum vitae sections with clear headings, prioritise your educational background, and ensure everything is in reverse chronological order.

The below are the foremost used and important sections of a chronological CV:

  • Contact details, such as telephone number and email address.

  • Personal statement, with a 2 to 3-sentence overview of who you are, emphasising your talents and professional objectives.

  • Employment history and any accomplishments.

  • Educational background and professional growth.

  • A blend of your best 5 to 10 hard and soft abilities that are applicable to your job hunt.

  • Optional CV sections that can showcase projects, language skills, certificates, and voluntary experience.

The chronological CV is ideal for job seekers with a great deal of experience and many accomplishments to include in their CV so it perfectly fits the job description.

How to format a skills-based CV

CV format UK - functional

A skills-based CV, also known as a functional CV, emphasises your core talents and competencies over your professional experience. A skills-based CV is ideal for those making a career transition, graduates, those leaving the armed forces, or those who have been out of work for an extended period.

A functional CV requires the following information:

  • Contact information, such as email address and telephone number.

  • Personal statement, with a 2 to 3-sentence overview of who you are, emphasising your abilities and career ambitions.

  • A skills section which includes subcategories of your abilities, such as software or communication skills. Each section should be a combination of your soft skills and hard skills relevant to the position for which you're applying.

  • Optional CV sections, such as projects, languages, certificates, and volunteer experience.

Some recruiters dislike the functional CV as it lacks the nicely organised job history they’re used to, and some recruitment systems may not be able to read it.

However, a well-written skills-based CV works best for some candidates and job roles. For example, perhaps you’re leaving teaching for an administrative role and want to highlight portable skills, such as organisational abilities and attention to detail. Or maybe you’re leaving a hospitality role to apply for a customer service position and want to emphasise your communication and problem-solving skills.

How to format a hybrid CV

CV format UK - hybrid

The hybrid CV, also known as a combination CV, merges the best of the chronological and skills-based CVs. It works by initially highlighting your key skills and achievements, followed by a detailed job history in reverse chronological order. This format is particularly effective for experienced individuals switching industries or those with a checkered employment history as it enables them to emphasise transferable skills while showcasing their past roles and responsibilities.

Here is how you format a hybrid CV:

  • Start with your contact details, such as your telephone number and email address.

  • Next, write a personal statement, a 2 to 3-sentence summary of who you are, highlighting your key skills and career goals.

  • The next section should be your skills and achievements, where you highlight the most relevant skills and significant achievements that align with the job you are applying for.

  • Your job history follows next, starting with your most recent role and working backwards. Each job should include your job title, the name of the employer, the dates of employment, and a brief description of your duties and accomplishments.

  • List your educational history and professional development next, ensuring to highlight any degrees, certifications, or courses relevant to your job application.

  • You can then add optional sections to showcase projects, languages, certificates, and voluntary experience.

Remember, a hybrid CV might not be the perfect CV format for all job seekers or roles, but it can be a powerful tool when used correctly, especially for those with a diverse range of skills and experiences.

CV format UK
CV format UK
CV format UK

What is the best CV format
for UK?

The best CV format for the UK largely depends on the individual’s entire career history and the role they’re applying for. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer as each format possesses its own merits.

The chronological CV, showcasing your experience and accomplishments in a straightforward, historical order, is generally preferred by those with a solid job history in a specific field.

The skills-based CV is a good fit for individuals making a career pivot or for those with gaps in their employment, as it focuses more on portable skills and less on job history.

The hybrid CV is useful for those wishing to highlight specific skills and achievements while also presenting a chronological overview of their career.

Choosing the right UK CV format should be based primarily on your career history, the type of role you’re applying for, and the industry’s expectations. Understanding the nuances of each format and tailoring it to your situation will give you the best chance of standing out to potential employers.

FAQ: CV formats

Have questions? We’re here to help.

1. What format should a CV be in?

In the UK, a properly formatted CV should typically be reverse chronological, where your most recent experience is listed first. This is a good CV format if you want to effectively display your career evolution.

While the reverse chronological format is standard, a skills-based or a hybrid CV may be a better choice for certain scenarios. If you are transitioning into a new industry or have significant gaps in your job history, a skills-based CV can effectively highlight your portable skills. Similarly, a hybrid CV is beneficial when you wish to emphasize specific skills and achievements while also providing a chronological overview of your career.

2. Would a CV template be of help in formatting my CV?

Absolutely. A CV template can be tremendously helpful in formatting the different sections a curriculum vitae should contain. It provides a structured CV layout that ensures all necessary elements are included and presented in a professional manner.

Templates take the guesswork out of your job search, as they tell you what information to include and where to place it – making it easier to create a well-organized, compelling CV. This is regardless of whether you are using a simple CV template, a modern CV template or a creative CV template.

Using a professional CV template also maximises your chances of passing most applicant tracking systems (ATS). Why? Simply because templates are structured in a manner that makes it easier for the ATS to extract the necessary information, thereby improving your likelihood of advancing to the next stage of the recruitment process.

3. Which format should I save my CV in?

A PDF format is generally the best choice to maintain the formatting across different devices. However, if the job posting specifies a particular format, such as .docx, you should follow that requirement.

Always remember to tailor your CV to each specific job you apply for, highlighting the most relevant skills and experiences.

4. How to format a CV in Word?

Formatting a CV in Microsoft Word is relatively straightforward. Start by opening a new document and choosing a professional, clean template if desired.

  • First, add your contact details at the top of the page, including your name, address, phone number, and professional email address.
  • Next, write a personal profile or summary. This should be a brief snapshot of your skills, experiences, and career goals.
  • After this, list your skills and achievements. Use bullet points for clarity and to make it easy for employers to quickly scan your CV.
  • Then, you should list your work history in reverse chronological format, with your most recent job at the top. Include the name of each employer, your job title, the dates you were employed, and your responsibilities and achievements in each role.
  • Following your job history, list your educational history, again in reverse chronological order.
  • Include any relevant qualifications or certifications.
  • You can then include additional sections as needed, such as voluntary work, interests, or references. Remember to keep everything relevant to the job you’re applying for.

Throughout your CV, use consistent formatting with clear headings, bullet points, and professional font. Ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors by using Word’s spelling and grammar check. Save your CV as a PDF to maintain the formatting across different devices.

CVHelp offers many CV templates Word available that can help you with the design and CV layout.

Couldn't find the answer you're looking for? You can always contact us.

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