What is the Best CV Layout?
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The layout of your CV is crucial to your chances of landing interviews, as employers and recruiters take just 30 to 60 seconds to decide who they want to interview.
In this article, you'll learn how to improve your CV layout and what information you must include.
There is no wrong or right layout, as there is no agreed standard for how a CV should be presented. What might work brilliantly for one person won't necessarily be the best CV layout for someone else, so please use your own judgement.
1. Name and Contact Details Must be First in any CV layout
- Make sure you include your full name and contact details at the very top of your CV, so that employers and recruiters can see these immediately.
- List both your mobile phone number and email address, as employers / recruiters may need to contact you quickly if they want to arrange an interview with you.
- Pick your own name out in a large font and make the typeface bold so that it really stands out.
2. You Must Include a Profile / Summary
- It's important to include a short profile at the top of your CV, as part of your CV layout, straight after your contact details.
- Most CVs now have a profile, which is usually very generic and could be describing anyone doing the job.
- Employers are therefore giving less credence to applicants' profiles, so you must try to make yours stand out by focussing on your most relevant skills, experience and talents, highlighting the reasons why employers should interview you.
- You need to sell yourself using words and phrases that capture the employers' attention and make you sound like the ideal candidate for the job.
3. Major Achievements are Vital in Your CV Layout
- The major achievements section should come after your profile in your CV layout and must tell an employer what you have achieved for your previous employers.
- This section is the most important section in our view, because it should tell employers the specific benefits of employing you, rather than the other applicants.
- Recent graduates or current students may not have any work related achievements, in which case you can include achievements that relate to your degree, projects, sports, clubs / societies, hobbies and interests, etc.
- Always identify achievements that show how you have used your skills and experience relevant to the jobs you're applying for to add value and make a difference.
- It's very important for you to include facts and figures, detailing how you solved and overcame problems and achieved excellent measurable results.
- You need to sell yourself as strongly as possibly, as you must convince employers that you are better than the other job applicants.
- Remember, you may be competing against 100s of applicants, so you must give employers a very compelling reason why they should interview you rather than the other applicants.
- If you can't identify impressive achievements or can't sell yourself, then please consider our professional CV service, as we know exactly how to sell you to employers, so they invite you to those all-important job interviews.
4. Career History / Work Experience
- The next section in your CV layout after your major achievements would normally be your career history, unless you're a current student or recent graduate, then you might list qualifications first.
- You may want to title this section as work experience, rather than career history, if you're a recent graduate or current student, the choice is yours.
- Jobs should be listed in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent job and then working your way backwards.
- If you've had a lot of jobs, then you may not have space to list every single job. Don't worry about this, as employers are most interested in the last couple of jobs you've had and your last 10 years of experience.
- When writing about each job, there won't be space for everything. Focus on creating skill-centred bullet points, stating how you've made a difference and added value, don't just list duties and responsibilities alone.
- Have a look at your job description (if you have one) for some ideas, but don't copy it out word-for-word, as there is nothing more boring than reading a CV that reads exactly like a job description.
- It's vital that you include as many achievements / results as you can and make the contents engaging and interesting to read.
5. Where Should You List Education / Qualifications in Your CV Layout?
For recent graduates or current students, you may want to include your education / qualifications on page 1 of your CV layout, straight after the major achievements section and before your work experience section.
It just depends on whether your education or work experience are of more importance to your next potential employer. If work experience is more important, then list it before your education, otherwise list education first.
Once you've left education and started work, you should normally list your education and qualification after your career history in your CV layout, as this is what employers generally prefer.
Bachelor degrees, masters and PhDs should all be included on your CV. But once you have these qualifications, you can omit lesser qualifications such as GCSEs if you are short of space.
6. Relevant Training Courses
- Depending on how much you have to fit into your CV layout, you may want to include a training section that includes professional training courses, seminars, workshops, etc.
- Only include the most relevant training that will be useful in your next job, don't try to include every single course that you've ever done.
- Employers are only interested in training that will be relevant to the job that they are trying to fill.
7. Should Special Skills be Listed in Your CV Layout?
- If you have any special skills, then you may need to incorporate a separate section within your CV layout that clearly details these skills.
- Special skills could include foreign language skills, IT skills or other specific skills that are relevant to the particular job that you do.
- Don't list skills that are irrelevant to the jobs you're applying for, as this wastes valuable space on your CV and can be off-putting to employers.
8. Do Hobbies and Interests Still Have a Place on Your CV?
- If you are a current student or recent graduate, then you may want to include information about your hobbies and interests, if this will help an employer.
- It's important to show any leadership or committee roles, such as captain of a sports team or events organiser of a student society, detailing your responsibilities and achievements.
- If you've been working for a number of years, then you may not have space to include your hobbies and interests, as you may need the space to detail your career history and education.
- Only include this section as part of your CV layout if you have something to say that's interesting.
9. Should References be Included in Your CV Layout?
- Most people don't need to include references on their CV, as these are not normally required until after an interview has actually taken place.
- Exceptions to this include people in both the education and medical sectors, where it is quite normal to check all references before conducting an interview.
10. How to Layout a CV and Get Far More Interviews
- Getting your layout right on your CV is a critical part of your whole job search campaign, as all sections of your CV need to work together in tandem to promote everything that you have to offer your next potential employer.
- Employers will only invite you to an interview, if you can clearly demonstrate in your CV that you are capable of doing the job that they are recruiting for better than the other applicants.
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