Often jobseekers rush through creating a standard CV format in order to spend more time completing each section with the information they think is important for their job application. But this could be causing you to lose great opportunities! The CV layout can really make a difference to your job search.
Overlooking the significance of formatting a CV can hinder your chances of getting an interview because it is paramount to create a presentable and easy-to-read curriculum vitae that employers can understand and review quickly and efficiently.
How can you ensure your CV layout is ideal for your preferred vacancy? There are two possibilities for job seekers to make a resume with an exemplary format: Either by following this guide on how to format a CV that gives advice on how a curriculum vitae should look if you design it from scratch or by using a ready-made CV template from an online CV writer that saves time and energy.
Create a winning curriculum vitae with optimised CV formats using our online CV builder to ensure you have a highly effective job application with a HR-approved layout.
How to lay out a CV
The CV structure that is used to present your application is of vital importance because no employer is interested in a curriculum vitae that is badly laid out or confusing. Check out the following tips on how to format a CV so you can avoid making any silly mistakes.
- Use a standard, clear, professional font style and size such as Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman which is easy to understand at size 10-12 and maintain the same style type throughout your CV and if possible in your cover letter or additional documentation if required.
- If you’re creating your CV from scratch, you will need to master the margins and white space you use in order to avoid giving your application a cluttered impression which will, no doubt, put a prospective employer off of reading your CV. Align the texts with a left margin with the same line spacing throughout. Uniformity in this respect is positive because it is aesthetically pleasing and makes the key information easy to find.
- To make a good CV layout, ensure to include simple, reader-friendly titles and subheadings for each section of your application such as Work Experience, Education, Core Competencies etc.
- Another tip for making a clear CV layout is to use bullet points when describing qualities that can be listed, such as in a description of achievements and responsibilities in a job history section or for the skills section.
Types of CV formats
There are various kinds of CV formats that have different benefits for different applicants. The content for each will vary depending on the candidate and their level of work experience but there are some general rules you can follow to create one of the three main types of CV formats. Take a look at each style and find one which suits your professional profile and your needs.
The diversity used in these CV structures allows distinct candidates to present their skills, experience and achievements in a way that favours them as opposed to all conforming to one style which clearly benefits one type of job seeker.
Chronological CV format
The reverse chronological CV format is universally recognised as the most common of the three main styles and is what most people use as standard, which in some cases may be hindering the job search instead of helping, as it is not always the best style for all candidates.
Making its focus the work experience section, the chronological CV layout is ideal for professional job seekers who have a long, relevant job history that can provide evidence of their suitability for the vacancy. Here applicants must include their job title, company, location, dates and a brief description of achievements and responsibilities. Other sections are secondary to the main career trajectory part of a chronological CV structure.
Organised, as the name suggests, in reverse chronological order, jobs must be listed with the most recent or current at the top and work backwards throughout the candidate’s professional life up to a maximum of 10-15 years because beyond this is no longer relevant. Employers are interested in your recent achievements and positions therefore keep it brief and pertinent to the current vacancy.
Functional CV format
Sometimes known as the skills-based CV, the functional CV format is just that – based on skills and qualifications to show the functionality of the candidate. The emphasis is given to the qualities and training that the applicant can bring to the role, thus demonstrating their value for the company.
Often preferred by those looking to change careers or industries, or students who have limited work experience but usually have relevant knowledge and competencies.
Organised by skills as opposed to work experience, the applicant must choose 4-6 key qualities that they think are fitting for the vacancy which they possess and demonstrate how they have accomplished relevant goals using these qualities.
The functional format does not concentrate on the work experience in a chronological order but does include a brief section listing previous positions without any description, which means it’s ideal for anyone who has had a period of unemployment that could stand out as negative in a chronological format. However, employers are aware of this fact and are often suspicious of the functional CV format due to this, so be prepared to explain any absences during the interview.
Combination CV format
The combination CV format uses a blend of the two previous curriculum vitae types to create a hybrid CV that has a split focus. One part concentrates on the qualities and achievements that a candidate can demonstrate for the vacancy and the second part gives a more comprehensive previous work experience list than the functional CV but with less detail than the chronological format.
With this mix of important aspects for a job application, the ideal candidate to use the combination CV layout is a basic CV jobseeker, searching for a first job or entry-level position after graduation.
As they can incorporate different skills and accomplishments into this CV format, entry-level candidates and first-time job seekers are able to merge their experiences to create a unique job application which highlights their professional profile despite a possible lack of experience.
Best CV layout
An unclear CV will simply make its way to the bin; employers do not have the time or patience to wade through dozens or hundreds of applications trying to make sense of disorganised CVs and if you do not create a good CV layout and format it well you may miss your chance.
Depending on the company, position, industry and applicant the best CV layout could be one of many however there are ways to ensure you optimise your CV for the vacancy you’re applying for.
It takes a human resource manager an average of 6 seconds to scan your CV for the relevant information, they know exactly what they’re looking for and you need to ensure your curriculum vitae not only presents the appropriate details including keywords and qualifications but also stands out in some other manner such as through extra sections or a winning personal statement to introduce your candidacy and finally that your CV has a clear design.
One way to make sure your finished application takes all of these aspects into consideration is to produce a winning CV with an online CV builder which allows candidates to improve the readability factor by using expertly designed templates with easy to understand layouts and gives you hints on how to make a CV unique for your vacancy, professional profile and sector.
Basic CV format
A basic CV format usually takes the shape of a functional or combination CV layout and must present the candidate’s achievements, skills, academic and professional career in a clear, straightforward manner for prospective employers to find the relevant information easily and quickly.
Once a basic CV candidate knows which layout to use, they can create their effective curriculum vitae by choosing their best and most suitable assets to highlight and including these in the corresponding sections.
The basic CV format should help entry-level and first job candidates present their professional profile in a comprehensible document for job applications. This should include the main sections of work experience, education, skills and other various parts that are relevant to each individual candidate and the vacancy such as voluntary experience, publications, awards etc.
Professional CV format
A professional CV format normally uses the reverse chronological CV layout due to its emphasis of the work experience section and how this style presents the advantages of each applicant’s professional career.
Prospective employers are able to review the job history of each candidate including where they have worked, what their position was in the company, how long they were active in each post and what their related responsibilities and accomplishments were, thus allowing the human resource personnel to find appropriate candidates quickly.
Additionally the professional CV layout is usually the most suited to ensure your CV passes any Applicant Tracking Software that might be used in the application process.
It is essential to have a professional CV format which is easy to read and well presented because no employer will be drawn to a shabby or mistake-riddled curriculum vitae, therefore taking care of the professional CV structure could be the reason your CV takes you to the interview stage.
Parts of the CV
According to the needs of each individual candidate, the sections included in an effective CV can vary but there are certain parts of a CV which should at least be considered for every job seeker.
- Personal Information: At the beginning of each CV there should be an area with the applicant’s name and contact details including a professional email address, a contact telephone number whether a home or mobile number depending on your availability and a city or town. It is no longer necessary to add a full address.
- Objective: Referred to often as a personal or professional statement, the ideal way to begin your CV is with a clear introduction. The CV objective is a short paragraph of 2-3 lines that gives a summary of the candidate’s key qualities, certifications and experience relating to the vacancy.
- Education: The education section on the CV should always present the diplomas, certificates and training that the candidate has completed or is in the process of completing including dates, titles of each qualification and the awarding body as well as the grades. There is no need to include older or basic compulsory certifications if the applicant has more recent or higher educational degrees.
- Work experience: No CV is complete without at least a brief work experience section, even when using a functional CV layout. Usually it is customary to include the job title, company name, location and dates corresponding to your experience as well as a brief description of your achievements in the role.
Other: This refers to other optional parts that can be included in a CV which may be relevant to either your individual profile to help you stand out in the application process or more specific to the job on offer or the industry such as volunteer experience, publications, skills, conferences, hobbies, internships, languages etc.