What’s the best CV style—chronological, functional, combination? Maybe infographic or portfolio? Learn everything about CV styles to pick the right one for your situation.
So, you need to put together a CV, but don’t know what goes where?
Fret not! Laying out a CV doesn’t have to be complicated at all. And you’re about to see how to do it in the most effective way.
In this guide we’ll show you:
- What’s the best CV layout based on your experience and skills.
- How to format a simple CV in Word (or any other text editor).
- Professional CV layout ideas to get you inspired.
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Looking for more information on CV writing? See our other articles:
Looking for more CV examples? Check out these ones:
- IT CV example
- Engineering CV example
- Student CV example
- Marketing CV example
- CV with no experience example
- Entry Level CV
- Teen CV
- No Experience CV
1. How to Lay Out Your CV Most Effectively
There are certain basic formatting rules that can help you create a basic CV layout in no time.
Set the Document Margins
If the CV is a picture of your professional life then the margins are the frame—you need to make sure they don’t dominate the whole. The best size for CV margins is 1 inch all around. If you need more space, don’t make the margins smaller than 0.5 inch.
Prepare an Eye-Catching Header
The CV header is the topmost section of a CV that includes your contact details. See to it that it has all the relevant (and up-to-date) info. Make it pop out so that the recruiter won’t have to fumble for your phone number if they want to give you a call.
Pick the Best CV Fonts
Comic Sans, Papyrus, Neuland Inline. None of those should end up on your CV. Not even if you go for the most creative CV layout. So what CV fonts to use? Simple and legible. Your CV is a professional document, so don’t spoil it with a theme park font that’s difficult to read.
Also, you need to strike the right balance between the font size and document length. Don’t make the font look minuscule to be able to fit in as much as you can on a single page (if you have too much information, write a two-page CV). For body text use the font size of 11–12pts. For section headings, use 2–4pts larger fonts.
Expert Hint: Studies reveal that it’s recommended to avoid extremes when it comes to line spacing. So stick to single-line and if your text looks too dense increase the spacing to 1.15. But avoid double-spaced lines.
Use Relevant Section Headings
The most important thing about your CV layout? It has to be scannable. One way of making it easy for the recruiter to scan is to use appropriate CV section titles. So, put the word Experience above the experience section, don’t call this section My Life in Numbers, for example. With simple headings, you can rest assured that both the ATS and recruiter will know exactly where to look for the information they’re after.
Include the Right Sections
Typically, CV layouts consist of several separate but interrelated sections. Here’s a list of most commonly used ones:
- CV Header
- Career Summary (or Objective)
- Professional Experience
- Extra Sections (e.g. Languages, Certifications, Hobbies, etc.)
Depending on the section, you will want to use different formatting to make the most of the space you have. For example, the career summary works best as a short paragraph, whereas a list of bullet points is perfect for presenting your experience and key achievements.
Set the Right Limits on Length
Einstein famously said everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. As to the length of a CV, it should be as long as necessary, but not longer. Don’t try to squeeze everything into a single page and don’t write a novel. Two pages should be more than enough to present your expertise.
2. How to Choose a Good CV Layout for Your Professional Needs
Now that you know how to format your CV layout properly, let’s have a closer look at how to make the most of your document.
There are three common CV layouts: chronological CV, functional CV, and combination CV. Each of them has certain strengths and weaknesses, and you should be aware of them before you start making your CV.
CV Layouts: Three Most Popular Types
The chronological CV is the most universal type. It’s suitable for job seekers at all stages of their careers: from students to entry-level applicants to seasoned pros. This kind of layout recounts your professional life in a reverse-chronological manner. However, since it’s based on a timeline of your employment history, it may not be the number one choice for those with employment gaps.
Here’s a chronological CV layout example:
The functional CV brings your skills to the fore. In contrast to the previous CV layout type, this one isn’t preoccupied with chronology or dates. In fact, you can skip dates entirely if you’re not comfortable using them. Functional CVs are a good choice for creatives who treat a CV as an addition to their portfolio, or those who want to mask gaps in employment.
Here’s a functional CV layout example:
The combination CV, as the name suggests, brings together the best elements of each of the other CV types. It usually consists of a large section that summarises your skills and smaller experience and education sections.
Here’s a combination CV layout example:
If you need more information on each of these types of CVs read our dedicated guide on how to choose the best CV format and our guide on how to format an American CV. If you need more inspiration, check out our CV examples.
Expert Hint: When should you use a CV, and when is it better to use a curriculum vitae? It depends. CV and CV actually have a different meaning across languages. Read about the difference between a CV and a Resume.
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3. Best CV Layout Examples: Gallery
Have a look at these CV layout ideas:
Professional CV Layout
This layout consists of three distinctive sections—each of a different colour. The main part of the CV is where the CV profile, experience, education, and certification sections are. The grey sidebar on the right gives you extra space for presenting your contact details and extra skills.
Simple CV Layout
This single-column CV layout is versatile enough to appeal to both experienced and inexperienced candidates writing an entry-level CV. Simple CV icons next to each section’s heading make it easy to navigate. The bars representing your level of proficiency make the CV skills section pop out.
Creative CV Layout
This creative CV layout incorporates an infographic-like timeline that guides the reader’s eye from section to section. The prominent CV header makes it easy for the recruiter to quickly find your personal details.
Modern CV Layout
This two-column CV layout combines modernity with classical elegance. The main CV section gives you a lot of space for the details of your experience and education. Notice how visible the job titles are. The sidebar is where you can put your contact details and accentuate key skills.
Expert Hint: Studies show that recruiters only spend about 7 seconds scanning a CV. In this time they look at specific areas and search for particular information. Use bold and italics to direct their attention to the most important bits.
Basic CV Layout
This layout is minimal in form but utilises the space on a single page to the maximum. Also, the qualifications summary section stretches from margin to margin giving you plenty of room to highlight your top achievements.
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The best CV layouts highlight just the information recruiters look for as they’re scanning the CV for the first time.
- See to it that your CV layout is simple and clear. Mark CV sections clearly and add relevant section titles.
- Stay away from fancy fonts. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
- Make sure your job titles stand out. They’re one of the things the recruiters are most interested in.
- Do add a CV summary or objective. They serve as a short overview of the entire document.
- Avoid messy look. Write short sentences and leave plenty of white space.
- Pick the right CV format. Chronological CVs are the most versatile but you may want to consider functional or combination too.
Do you have any questions? Would you like to share your observations on the best CV layouts? We’d love to hear from you! Give us a shout out in the comments below.