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Career Clinic - CV Formatting

  CV Formatting


CV Formatting – just because Word has the function it does not mean you have to use it!     

As exam season is officially upon us and the summer months mean people’s job searches take on a new lease of life, many will be looking at a CV refresh or update.  Now we may have harped on about this before but it is always necessary to say it again.  KEEP IT SIMPLE!

White space, professional fonts and basic bullet point skills is the look not only recruiters and employers want to see, but is increasingly important to accommodate the now common place use of Applicant Tracking Systems and key word algorithms in recruitment software and on line CV databases.  The systems are often unable to pick up text in boxes or obscure fonts, which means your CV may well be missed when searched.

Beyond that, your over-complicated and overly-formatted CV may well be missed by the human eye as well. Many people seem to think that a ‘jazzed up’ CV will get them noticed by recruiters and/or future employers, and it might, but generally for all the wrong reasons.  Will a decorative border highlight your skillset?  Do boxes or tables make you better at your job? Do you really stand out as a candidate because you have used fancy bullet points? No!  More often than not it is difficult to read, distracts from the content, and particularly for the roles which fall within corporate, professional and financial services sectors it only highlights your lack of insight into your audience.

So resist the temptation to demonstrate your ability to use every function available to you on Microsoft Word – just keep it simple!

Top Tips:

  • Keep the formatting in the same simple font: italics, scripts and comic sans are not ideal

  • Use a consistent sized text in black only 
  • Don't include any type of coloured background or patterns so that the text is clear and there is plenty of white space
  • Bullet point duties to ensure key points are easily understood by the reader
  • Don't overcrowd a page with pictures or graphs
  • Try to make relevant headings bold, e.g. employer, position, education
  • Make sure the page can be read fluently from top to bottom
  • Don’t put your text in boxes or tables
  • Send as a Word document not a PDF
  • Save the document using your full name rather than “My CV”
  • And finally, we do not require a photo of you!


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