How to present your CV

Written by: Peter Panayotou
Published on: 29 Feb 2016

Fancy borders? Jazzy fonts? Luminous paper? Job seekers will stop at nothing to ensure that their CV gets noticed. The content of the CV is certainly important in ensuring your CV gets read, but appearance could be equally as crucial. It can be quite difficult to be original without going over the top, so there could be a very fine line between a CV that is clearly overdone and one that has just the right balance of formatting to attract the reader’s eye. So here is a guide on how to present your CV in the best possible way.

First Impressions

It is certain that a neat, tidy and well formatted CV will attract the reader better than one that is untidy, erratic and inconsistent. A CV that looks good, and is easier to navigate, is also user friendly. Remember that a recruiter may have many other CVs to read through. A good looking, nicely crafted and professional looking document already gives the candidate an advantage for making the recruiter’s job easier.

Things that put employers off:

  • Hard to read: Font too small
  • Not enough ‘white space’: Too much information crowded onto the page
  • Lack of bullet points: Solid blocks of unbroken text
  • Hard to navigate: Unclear subheadings
  • Too cluttered: Too much use of italics/bold/underlining
  • Too long: Either too detailed or too spaced out, spread over too many pages
  • Inconsistency: The same formatting is not used throughout the document

Keep it real

Don’t be tempted to go in for gimmicks or novelties. It is always a high risk strategy to do something too way out. Generally, the style of CV should be appropriate to the nature of the role. For example, simple graphics or some creative content would be permissible if you are a graphic designer. However, this would not go down too well if you are an accountant. Try to keep the style consistent with the industry.

Top Tips for CV Presentation:

  • No longer than 2 pages in length
  • Font size: stick to 10-12 point size
  • No frivolous fonts like Comic Sans
  • No different coloured text – stick to black
  • Leave a clear blank border around the text and the edge of the page
  • Do not use tables or text boxes
  • Break down paragraphs into bulleted lists
  • Use clear subheadings, perhaps separate sections with lines across the page
  • Space out sections and paragraphs with blank carriage returns
  • Include the name at the top of each page
  • Insert numbers at the bottom of each page
  • Stick to white or neutral coloured paper (white, cream, ivory, vellum etc.)

If you can construct a neat, well-presented, corporate looking document, your CV is not only more likely to be read, it is more likely to be understood and in turn more likely to get you that all important interview. Good luck!

Next time, we will look at the increasing use of the internet and social media in the job search process.

Peter Panayotou is the Founder and Senior Consultant at The Write Stuff
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