Your CV is most likely your first impression to potential employers / recruiters, and this means its vital to your success in securing an interview.
If you’re struggling to secure interviews with your current CV, you’re initial response might be to look at the quality of it’s content. But, I’m here to tell you there’s another factor involved – your CV format.
CV formatting can make reading a CV easier or harder, and if a recruiter’s been skimming through hundreds of CVs, it’s important we make it as easy as possible for them to read yours. But don’t worry, this blog covers exactly how to format your CV to secure more job interviews.
Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone but, we’ve even included some CV templates towards the end…
When it comes to CVs (curriculum vitae) one page is ideal however, two pages is fine as long as everything on it is relevant. This means it important that we make the most of the pages and minimize blank space. Minimizing your CV page margins will allow you to fill more of the page with compelling content to encourage the employer / recruiter to invite you to a job interview.
The top of your CV is particularly important as it’s the first part they’ll see, and some recruiters will even skip your CV without scrolling down if they don’t see enough of what they want at the top! The CV below is an example of a bad margin at the top. Take a look and see the effect it has on you – none of the important information is available at the top.
Whereas if you decrease the margin you can show important information from the very beginning, and fit more onto the page in general. Important information like your current / most recent job role or core skills should be visible straight away so recruiters can see what you’re capable of. Below is an example of a CV with decreased margins, and exactly how you can decrease them yourself!
It’s easy to think that the more contact details you add, the better off you are. Wrong!
Contact details can take up so much space. Not only do they take up the real estate they’re on, but they also leave a lot of empty white space to the side of them too. This can be really damaging as it’s pushing down important content, and hiding what might be crucial to securing your interview.
Recruiters don’t need your date of birth, social media account, full address etc – this is too much information on CV. Below is an example of how this might look and the effect it has on your formatting.
All you need is your name, mobile number and email address. You can provide additional information if it’s relevant to the role, but only if it’s relevant. For example if the role is in the middle of no where and they’re after someone who lives nearby, you could add the town or county you live in and that you have a driving license.
Remember it’s best to adapt the content in your CV for every single application, the same can be said for formatting too.
Below is an example of how less contact details can drastically improve your formatting.
Bonus Tip: I’ve used a table to spread my contact details across the top of my CV, minimising blank space even further!
Clear headers for each of your CV’s sections are vital in order to ensure it’s easy to read. Really it’s simple, if your CV is easy to read, recruiters / employers will like your CV more. However, one exception to this rule is your personal profile. Don’t get me wrong, it looks fine if you give it a heading but, I believe your name can be seen as a heading for this section.
The next 2 headings could be Skills and Work Experience. The actual wording may differ dependent on your CV, and you might put career summary, employment history, experience, etc instead of work experience. This is fine, make your CV feel like it’s your CV. Just make sure whatever content you choose to include has a clear header – 1 or 2 font sizes bigger and bold.
Below is an example of the first few sections with clear headers, look at how it divides all of the sections clearly.
Bonus Tip: I’ve chosen to use borders to make the different sections even clearer. This isn’t a must do, but it’s a stylistic choice you could explore.
Your CV should also use subheadings, a good example is for your job titles which would be a subheading within your work experience heading. Sub headings should be bold and can be bigger than your main text but, make sure its smaller than your main headings. Just like the example below.
Remember, the golden rule is to make your CV as easy as possible to read because the recruiter / employer have potentially sifted through hundreds of CVs already. You want to STAND OUT from the crowd.
With that said, one way to do so is with bullet points in your work experience descriptions. Big messy paragraphs are time consuming, hard to read, and just make the recruiter / employer reluctant to read them. Take a look at the bad examples below.
By breaking your description into short bullet points you’re making it much easier to consume, so your important skills can be picked out with speed.
The example below contains the exact same content as the example above but, see how much easier and quicker it is to read though, thanks to the bullet points.
If your CV is multiple pages long (remember we suggest 2 pages maximum), the pages will be split and read separate to each other.
Therefor it’s important your sections don’t spill across multiple pages. Look at the bad example below.
This looks untidy and might cause the recruiter / employer to doubt your ability. Luckily, you can easily split this by just moving the section across to the next page. See the example below.
Firstly it’s important to note that you should create your CV in a word processing programme such as Microsoft Word of Google Docs – both of which have free online versions. Make sure you save a copy for yourself in this format so you can continue to update your CV in the future.
But, if you submit a Microsoft Word CV and it’s opened in Google Docs, the formatting and spacing you’ve worked so hard on can change. The same can be said the other way round too. That’s why it’s important your final CV submission is saved as a PDF file. This is vital because it means the CV formatting cannot be changed and when recruiters / employers open your CV, it will look the same as when you open it.
Make sure you name your CV appropriately – FirstName LastName CV. Firstly this makes it look more professional but, it also makes it easier for the recruiter / employer to search for your CV too. Remember we want to make your CV as easy and quick as possible for them to consume!
A well formatted CV will help you to secure more interviews, which is exactly why we’ve put together two templates for you to choose from. You can download CV Template 1 here, or our CV Template 2 here, and we also suggest our full CV Guide which has examples of both templates.
Everyone’s CV should look and feel different, so try out both versions and see which CV format works best for you.
So if there’s only one thing you take away from this blog, it’s that you need to make your CV as easy as possible for the employer / recruiter to consume, and that the CV’s format matters just as much as the content does. This is also relevant to any cover letters you write too, so we’ve also explained how to write a cover letter in this blog.
Good luck with your job search!
The National Careers Service offers free advice about careers and skills to anyone aged 13 or over and living in England. To speak to a professional careers adviser, call 0800 100 900 or use webchat (8am – 8pm Monday – Friday; 10am – 5pm Saturday)