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Do’s and Don’ts of CV layouts

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 20 Jan 2020

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If you want your CV to do well, you need to think about what you are including and how your CV is laid out. The way your CV looks can give a lasting impression, you want it to be sleek and professional. Otherwise, it can result in the employer putting it to one side and forgetting about it. You want your CV to look like you have taken the time to make it look good and really thought about it before you have sent it to them. If you send a sloppy CV, you may be destroying your chances for success. There are some Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to CV layout, if you see any that apply to you, it may be time to revisit your CV and make some changes.


Keep it informative, short and effective – The whole point in a CV is to inform the reader. You want to tell the employer, in an easy to read way, what your experience and skills are. You don’t want to be including long, dragged out sentences on your CV, you want to get straight to the point, so they don’t put your CV down.

Choose a professional font – You want to pick a font that not only looks professional but is easy to read. It’s probably best that you don’t go for something that is completely over the top. It can easily make your CV look cluttered.

Present things in a logical order - You want to be putting your work experience in reverse chronological order, your most recent form of employment should be at the top of the experience section. It lets the employer know where you are working now and your current job title. It allows them to see how you are able to transition from your current job, to their job vacancy. The same goes for things like your education and qualifications. 

Overall, your CV should be organised in a specific order. You want your personal statement at the top of your CV, along with your contact details. This is the first thing the employer will read and it’s a critical part of your application. Then you may want to include work experience and then skills. The order in which you place things on your CV is up to you, but it has to make sense and look good as well. Using sections to break up the content on your CV is a good way of doing this.

Use bullet points – The last thing you want on your CV is a load of long-winded sentences and paragraphs. Bullet points allow the reader to skim the document easily and find relevant experience and achievements. Using bullet points means you can make your sentences shorter and only include relevant information.


Don’t squeeze too much onto one page – For some reason, job seekers seem to think that if a CV is longer than one page, it’s not useable. This leaves people scrimping for room on their ‘one-page CV’ and it can often result in it looking scruffy. If you believe that the information you are putting on your CV is all relevant and will contribute towards you reaching your job goals, then include it! It doesn’t matter if you go onto two pages (Unless the job spec specifically asks for one page). It’s not often that there is a requirement on how long your CV should be. Although, it’s always best to go back and edit your CV to make sure you NEED everything that is on there. You don’t want an excessive number of pages, but 2 is perfectly fine.

Don’t use the wrong format – Some job specs ask for your application, CV or cover letter to be provided in a specific format. This can be for various reasons. Some formats may not be compatible with the software they use and sometimes, different formats can look different when they are printed. You want to make sure that you are doing as asked, otherwise it can have a negative impact on your application.

Don’t copy the job description word for word – This may seem like an obvious point, but when you are tailoring a CV to a specific role, it can be easy to take sentences out and add them to your CV. For example, if the job spec asks for someone with ‘A keen ability to learn and communicate well within a large team’ You do not want to use the exact same working. You may want to include in your personal statement that you are keen to learn new skills and then include good communication in your skills section. Make sure you are not copying whole sentences, it can make your CV look very unprofessional.

Don’t Forget to spell check – Before you send anything to a potential employer, you want to take the time to thoroughly check through it. Once you finish writing your CV, think of it as your first draft. Good things take time and it’s important not to rush this part of an application. It is very easy to make simple mistakes, spelling mistakes or grammatical errors can happen to anyone.

The layout of your CV can determine whether you reach the next stage in the recruitment process or not. Employers want to see a CV that is both easy to read and professional looking. You don’t want to turn them away with just one glance at your CV but if it looks messy and unorganised, that may just happen. A good CV doesn’t just happen overnight, it will take time, but remain positive and you will get there.