Would you go to a job interview in torn clothes?

No, you wouldn’t.

 

Would you apply for a job with a disorganised CV that has information all over the place?

No, you shouldn’t.

 

How you present your CV is just as important as what you write in it.

 

CV layout

Choosing a CV layout for yourself

There are no golden rules regarding CV layouts.

The only ‘right’ one is the one that gets you invited to job interviews. These tend to be those that make your CV readable, scannable and easy to follow.

Don’t be afraid to play around with styles and formats until you feel you’ve got it right.

 

On this page you will learn about;

  • The various CV layouts you can use to present yourself to employers.
  • How to choose the most suitable one for your circumstances.

1. How do you layout a CV?

Ultimately this depends on what you are trying to fit into it.

When deciding which format to choose, you need to take into consideration length and relevancy of your work experience, academic qualifications and skills sets.

You need a CV layout that will prioritize and bring to the recruiters attention information that will win you a job interview.

 

The basic layout of a standard CV;

Here are the mandatory sections in a typical CV and the order they should be in;

 

1.   Your Name, Job Title and Contact details

2.  Personal Statement

3.  Work Experience

4.  Skills

5.  Education

6.  Hobbies (optional)

7.  References

 

TIPS ON LAYING OUT YOUR CV

 

Keep it simple

You want to create a CV that is a pleasant reading experience and easily scannable.

The best way to do this is to make it as straightforward as possible, where one section naturally leads onto another.

Keep it plain by avoiding;

  • Eccentric designs that can be distracting.
  • Flashy fonts
  • Confusing columns
  • Unusual formats
  • Tables and boxes
  • Photos or headshots of yourself
  • Coloured paper

 

Have your sections in order

How you order your various sections depends on the type of CV you’re writing i.e. Chronological or Functional etc.

It’s important to get this right because sections not only organise and break up your CV but also help to draw attention to your best-selling points.

 

 

CV layouts for different types of jobseekers;

 

  1. Experienced job seekers CV Layout
  • Personal statement
  • Work experience
  • Skills
  • Education

 

  1. Graduates or Entry Level applicants CV Layout
  • Introduce yourself
  • Education
  • Awards
  • Skills

 

  1. Career changers CV Layout
  • Objective
  • Relevant experience
  • Additional experience
  • Skills
  • Certifications

 

  1. Academic candidates CV Layout
  • Career statement
  • Academic qualifications
  • Awards, Certifications and Distinctions
  • Research Activity
  • Professional experience

 

Align your sections and text

Ensure consistency by aligning all your sections, headings and text the same way.

 

Most CVs are left aligned
The text and headings for many CVs are left-aligned and justified. It makes a document easier to read.

 

CV Header
Your Name, Job Title and Contact details can be (and usually are) centre aligned.

 

RELATED:  Should text be justified in a CV?

 

Top of the page

This is the most prominent part of your CV and the first thing a recruiter will see.

Because it has the potential to make a big impact from the moment it is opened, it must closely mirror the needs of the recruiter.

 

It’s three main parts are;

1.  Your name and professional title

2. Contact details

3. Personal statement

 

Make the most of this key quarter by writing something that grabs the recruiter’s attention and gets them interested in your application.

 

Minimise contact details
Save space by not including your full address. Instead, just give your email, one phone number and City or town name.

 

Name and contact details font size
Make it easier for recruiters to instantly identify who the CV belongs to by using;

  • A font-size of 20 points
  • Bold type characters to make the words heavier

 

Centre align the top text
Your name, title and contact details can be centre aligned.

 

Use lowercase not capitals
No need to capitalise your name or job title in the CV headings as apart from everything else it can seem you are shouting.

 

Personal statement
Capture the busy HR Managers attention with a persuasive profile that quickly explains the benefits of hiring you. Excite them with upbeat language that describes your relevant skills and future potential.

 

Read the job advert
Optimise your Personal Statement further by including keywords and phrases copied from the job description. This will help to instantly show you as a suitable candidate who has exactly what the employer has specifically asked for.

 

Avoid ‘CV’ or ‘Curriculum Vitae’
Everyone knows what the document is, so there’s no need to have any of the following words in big bold letters at the top;

  • CV
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Confidential

 

Break up text

A recruiters worst nightmare is seeing huge chunks of text in front of them.

Large walls of writing are hard to read and difficult for the human eye to scan. Increasing the chances of your CV getting binned.

Break up what you want to say and help the reader to quickly navigate your CV, by using;

  • short sentences
  • paragraphs
  • bullet points

 

 

Bullet points

These are an excellent way of focusing the readers attention on a short sentence.

Use them to highlight specific skills or relevant duties that the recruiter wants.

 

TIPS WHEN USING BULLET POINTS

 

List in order of importance
Give the most relevant information in your first bullet point.

 

Action words
Start each sentence with an action verb, such as;

  • Acquired
  • Assessed
  • Coordinated
  • Transformed

 

Avoid
Using passive phrases such as;

  • ‘I had to…,’
  • ‘I was required to…’

 

Work duties
Only list a maximum of four bullet points per place that you worked for.

 

Be brief
Keep sentences to one line by only including information that is necessary.

 

Spacing

Line space is an underused factor that can have an immediate effect on a CVs appearance.

Used in the right places they can make a document more visually appealing.

Those CVs that don’t utilise line spacing properly can end up looking like an unappealing chunk of content.

White space can be used between;

  • Headings
  • Sentences
  • Sections
  • Bullet points

 

Size to use between text
Aim for 1.0 or 1.15 line spacing.

Tip – Play around with the size and adjust accordingly to the space you have available.

 

Size between headings
Use double lines after each subheading.

 

How to change line spacing

1.  Select the sentence or paragraphs you want to update.

2.  Then click the;

  • Home tab
  • Line and Paragraph Spacing Line
  • Paragraph Spacing button

3.  Now choose an option in the Line spacing box.

 

Uniformity
Keep the line breaks the same size throughout your CV.

 

Avoid lots of white space
Creating too much can make your CV look empty and barren.

 

Fonts

Go for conservative, slick and professional fonts such as;

  • Arial
  • Cambria
  • Calibri
  • Garamond
  • Times New Roman
  • Helvetica

 

What to avoid
Stay away from thin, light and complex fonts that are difficult to read or scan on both paper and a computer screen. Examples;

  • Serif
  • Sans serif
  • Comic Sans
  • Brush script

 

Font size
The best font size for your CV is anything between 10 and 12 points.

 

 

Underlining, bold and italics

Keep these to a minimum and only use them to guide the reader’s eyes to your most relevant competencies.

 

 

Tables

Disadvantages of tables
Tables and cells should be avoided if you intend to send your CV via email in MS Word format.

 

This is because the format of a cell or table can change drastically if the recipient’s computer is set up differently from yours or if they lack software that can display tables.

 

However, if you intend to have your CV as a PDF document, then there should be no problems with compatibility, so tables and cells will not pose a problem in any PDF CVs.

 

Advantages of tables
Also note that tables are useful because many people tend to scan a document rather than read it, in instances like this tables are excellent tools for quickly highlighting important information.

 

Headings

Make your CV easier to browse by placing headings above specific sections.

Both main headers and subheadings can be used to introduce your;

  • Personal summary
  • Career history
  • Academic qualifications
  • Skills
  • Competencies
  • Hobbies
  • Achievements
  • References

 

CAPITALS or lowercase headings
When writing them use big bold letters in either CAPITALS or lowercase.

Tip – If you do use capitals then remember that a spell check may ignore any errors, so carefully proofread them yourself.

 

Heading sizes
A font size of 14–16 points should be used.

 

Page margins

Avoid having a CV that is crammed to the edges with text.

Do this by ensuring your margins on all four sides are;

  • No larger than 1 inch
  • No smaller than 0.5 inches.

 

Watch out for…

  • Wide margins can make you CV look barren.
  • Narrow margins can make you CV look cluttered.

The trick is to get the balance right between not leaving too much white space and having too little white space.

 

Why people lower (narrow) their margins
It’s an effective way of quickly making more room in a CV, giving you extra space to include extra information.

 

Why people broaden (widen) their margins
It creates more white space which can make a CV less crowded and full.

 

RELATED:  What margins should a CV have

 

Consistency in a 2 Page CV

If you have a two-page CV (like most people), then make sure the margins, fonts, headers and spacing etc are the same on both pages.

2. CV layout for experienced job seeker

Most professional and experienced job seekers use the Chronological CV layout. This is because it places more emphasis on a candidates work experience rather than their competencies or qualifications.

 

It’s the most commonly used format and its basic setup is;

 

1.  CV Header with Name, job title and contact information

2.  Personal Statement

3.  Work Experience

4.  Education

5.  Skills

6.  Additional Sections such as; Hobbies, Interests, Achievements. Languages etc

3. CV layout for job seeker with NO experience

If you have little or no work experience then use a Functional CV layout.

They place more priority on a job seekers education, skills and future potential.

Mostly used by people such as the long term unemployed, school leavers and graduates etc.

It’s also suitable for people who have frequently changed jobs.

 

The standard layout is;

 

1.  CV Header with Name and contact information

2.  Personal Statement or CV Summary

3.  Skills

4.  Education

5.  Work Experience (if any)

6.  Additional Sections such as; Hobbies, Interests, Achievements. Languages etc

4. Chronological CV layout

The Chronological CV is one of the most popular and widely used layouts.

 

Recruiters like it because it allows them to quickly absorb information about the candidate in an easy-to follow manner.

 

Also known as;

  • Traditional CV
  • Reverse chronological CV

 

As they focus more on a applicants work experience they are best for job seekers who have had long stable careers.

 

They are ideal for people with:

  • A consistent work history.
  • No gaps between jobs.
  • All levels of experience.

 

Basic layout of a Chronological CV;

1.  Name and contact information

2.  Personal Summary or objective

3.  Work experience

4.  Educational history

5.  Skills and abilities

6.  References

5. Functional CV layout

These place most of the focus on a candidates’ skills rather than their work experience.

 

They are ideal for;

  • People with little or no work experience
  • Entry level candidates
  • People re-joining the workforce after a long absence.
  • School leavers
  • Recent graduates

 

Also known as;

  • Skills based CV

 

Basic format of a Functional CV;

1.  Contact Details

2.  Professional Profile/Personal Statement

3.  Skills and Achievements

4.  Work Experience (if any)

5.  Education

6.  Hobbies / Additional Information

 

RELATED;  Functional CV

6. Targeted CV layout

These are focused on, written for and aimed at one particular job role only.

Every sentence, paragraph and section within it should be developed with the target job and prospective employer in mind.

 

How to layout a targeted CV

First, carefully read the job advert and note down the skills and work experience the recruiter is looking for.

Then decide which is more important to the employer your skills or experience?

Now you can lay out your CV based on their needs.

 

If you think they are more interested in your skill sets then put the skills set section above your work experience (like a functional CV).

Example

1.  Contact Details

2.  Professional Profile/Personal Statement

3.  Skills and Achievements

4.  Work Experience (if any)

5.  Education

6.  Hobbies / Additional Information

 

If you think they are more interested in your work experience then put your career history above your skills sets (like a functional CV).

Example;

1.  Name and contact information

2.  Personal Summary or objective

3.  Work experience

4.  Educational history

5.  Skills and abilities

6.  References

 

Advantages of a targeted CV
If done properly and depending on the circumstances they can increase your ratio of job application to job interview.

This is because very few job seekers are prepared to spend the time and effort writing a completely targeted CV, so if you have one it is almost certain to stand out.

7. Performance CV layout

As the name suggests this sort of resume shows off your past performance and is ideal for people who have a long career history.

It is essentially a mix of both the chronological and functional CV layout.

The designs aim is to make the employer feel confident that the person they eventually employ will improve the company and take problems off their hands.

 

This format is good for highlighting your:

  • Key achievements from previous jobs.

 

Not suitable for:

  • Graduates.
  • School leavers.
  • People with little or no work experience.

8. Student CV layout

With a lack of real life work experience, a mixed functional and skills based CV layout is the most suitable format for entry level applicants.

Aim to create a layout that focuses on your abilities, transferable skills and future potential.

 

Basic layout for a student CV

1.  CV Header – Name and contact details

2.  Personal summary

3.  Transferable skills

4.  Education

5.  Additional sections (see below)

 

Alternatives to work experience

Instead of your career history create special sections for part-time or unpaid activities, such as;

  • Traineeships
  • Work placements

 

Hobbies that show your team player

These can demonstrate you’re a social person and team player who can fit in anywhere. Insert sections for;

  • Sports team member
  • Club member
  • Charity work
  • Writing a blog

 

Other sections you can include;

  • Achievements
  • Knowledge of
  • Personal skills

9. Academic CV layout

These are based on the Chronological CV format.

With one main difference, they are typically longer than 2 pages.

This is because of the need to supply supporting academic qualifications and research material etc. Meaning you can adapt the order and leave out sections if need be.

As you can see from the list below, they start and end like other CVs, but have extra sections in the middle.

 

Basic layout of a Academic CV;

 

1.  Name and contact information

2.  Personal Summary or objective

3.  Work experience

4.  Educational history

5.  Awards and funding

6.  Research experience

7.  Publications

8.  Professional memberships

9.  Skills and abilities

10.  Research

11. References

 

Length

Usually 3 – 5 pages long.

10. Europass CV format

This is a standardised Europe-wide CV template that is used in over 20 Continental European countries.

 

Layout

The layout is always inn reverse chronological order, listing the most recent work experience first followed by the others.

 

Basic layout of a Chronological CV;

1.  Name and contact information

2.  Photo

3.  Personal Summary or objective

4.  Work experience

5.  Educational history

6.  Skills and abilities

7.  References

 

Photos

A headshot or photo is usually included, alongside the candidates’ name and contact details.