The perfect CV layout
Writing a great CV can be one of the toughest hurdles during a job hunt. Most employers will scan a CV in seconds or filter it through a keyword tool to whittle down hundreds of applications to the few suitable candidates. This in itself can be a pretty daunting reality when you’re looking for work, which is why we’ve put together this all-you-need-to-know CV layout guide to enhance your position in today’s jobs market.
What makes a great CV layout?
There are a few simple rules that everyone should follow when putting together their CV:
Keep it short and sweet - You’ll need a concise CV to cut through the noise. Get straight to the point and omit any work experience that is totally irrelevant to the role you’re pursuing. Up to 2 sides of an A4 Word Doc in length is fine.
Present in a logical order – Put yourself in the shoes of employers. They’ll be looking for work experience and skills before your hobbies outside of work – which is a questionable addition anyway. Presentation should include clear spacing, bold headlines and uniformity throughout. Hiring managers can pick up on the tiniest things as negative signs, like inconsistent full stops and bullet points.
But, play to your strengths – If you have just graduated, you may not have the experience behind you to lead your pitch. In which case, list education and extra-curricular achievements first, and anything you feel matches the requirements of a role.
Simplicity – Although this is a proposal of sorts, any kind of branding or design alongside the text can distract from the task at hand, which is to sell your skills and experience. Stick to a simple white Word Doc with black text. Many templates include a box for a profile image, but it’s not needed.
What to include
Here’s a non-fuss breakdown of what to include from the top of the page through to the bottom. Again, if you’re a graduate, swap work experience with relative education, achievements and a few relevant interests.
- Contact details – Name, home address, mobile number (so they can catch you on the go), the link to your Twitter page.
- Introduction (approx. 2-4 sentences) – Summation of what you do, who you are, your career aspirations and suitability for the role.
- Skills – A top-line breakdown of key industry skills that are relevant to the employer and role. Use the featured skills and endorsements on LinkedIn as a guide. On a side note, some opt to include IT skills in a separate list given the importance of these attributes in today’s workplace.
- Employment History – Start and end dates are important features to remember here. List the most fundamental requirements of the role in bullets to keep the length to a minimum.
- References – List two references which are most relevant to the role. Include their name, role and email address in two columns to cut length. If you’re applying for an internship, hiring managers won’t expect you to have an industry reference, but teachers or well-regarded figures in the local community like a family friend who is a business owner are fine.
- Testimonial – It’s nice to end with a glowing testimonial, ideally from an industry professional, or to include one within your references section.
- Education – Depending on your length of time in an industry and the role you’re applying for, employers will either look at education first or gloss over it in favour of work experience. For example, recruiters looking to hire for a senior role will look at skills and experience first. That is a judgement call for you to make.
When in doubt, look at another CV for reference
Senior figures in your life can provide documentation and advice, based on decades of experience in the workplace. Talk to your parents, family friends or even local business owners for guidance.
Often you’ll find that, although the content of each CV will differ, the same principles of CV writing will have been applied and fine-tuned for maximum effect.
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