As a job-seeker, one has an incredibly short space of time to demonstrate the suitability of their skills and experience. By paying attention to CV layout, an individual can significantly boost their chances of progression.
Studies have shown that recruiters/readers will spend less time on CVs that appear densely packed with information. The reader’s impression will be shaped by the layout and font chosen, the visual appeal of the document, as well as the clarity of the structure. And this is before they have even started reading the content!
Choose the right margin
Ideally the margin should be the standard A4 size with 15 cm from left to right and 25 cm from top to bottom. This creates a professional look by allowing for a reasonable border all around. Where CVs use narrower margins the result can often make the document look cluttered.
The font you use needs to be easy to read, both on screen and on paper. Times New Roman used to be a traditional favourite and it works on paper but is slightly harder to read on screen. Try using Calibri, Arial or Geneva, all of which work well on both hard and soft copy.
CVs can sometimes benefit from using a little colour to increase the visual appeal. However, this should be used very sparingly; really just for your name and perhaps section titles. Bear in mind that most CVs will be in hard copy format during interviews and what looks good on a screen may not translate well when printed out in black and white from a trusty laser printer.
Format – Chronological or Skills-based?
Chronological CVs are the most commonly used format and usually display education and qualifications towards the top of a CV, followed by career history details. This type of resume works well when describing a traditional career path, incorporating promotions and logical job moves.
On the other hand, skills-based CVs highlight a person’s strongest competencies on the first page, before their career history and usually including examples of when the person has demonstrated these skills. They are useful when trying to move into a different type of role or industry or where there are career gaps.
Which one to choose will be determined by your own career history. If this has followed a traditional route then a chronological CV will often be the strongest choice, whereas if your career has been a little different, the skills-based may show you in a better light.
In choosing a layout your priority must be to create a CV that makes it easy for the reader to find key details. Doing this is more likely to make a recruiter look on your CV favourably; possibly moving it from the ‘Maybe’ to the ‘Yes’ column!