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What Should a CV Look Like? Good Examples & Hints

Your CV could become a golden ticket to your bright professional future. But if you make one that doesn’t look professional, you may be inadvertently harming yourself.

Maciej Duszyński, CPRW
Career Expert
What Should a CV Look Like? Good Examples & Hints

A quick look at the recruitment documents is enough for hiring manager to decide whether or not they’d like to give you a shot.

And this “quick look” lasts only about 7 seconds.

So—

Make sure your CV looks nothing short of awesome.

In this article you’ll learn:

  • What a professional CV should look like.
  • How to format it to make it look great.
  • What sections a good CV should consist of.

And if you’re looking for a step-by-step guide on how to make a perfect CV, check: CV 101—How to Write a CV [Templates and 25+ Examples]

1. What Does a Good CV Look Like?

Listen—

There’s no better way of learning what a good CV looks like than actually seeing one.

So, here it is:

This Is What a Good CV Looks Like

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Before we discuss what makes this CV example a particularly good one, consider this:

Studies show recruiters spend only about 7 seconds initially scanning a CV.

The CVs that recruiters favour have several things in common:

  • Simple layouts
  • Easily navigable sections
  • Reader-friendly headings
  • Visible job titles

In fact—

This last element is something the recruiters spend the most time looking at.

But this isn’t everything.

To fully grasp what a good CV should look like, you must also know what bad CVs have in common:

  • Insufficient white space
  • Cluttered look
  • Poor layout (e.g. no section headlines)

And—

  • Irrelevant content devoid of context

Thanks to such findings, we were able to compile a list of actionable formatting hints to help you make your job CV look professional.

So—

This is how to make your CV look great:

1. Choose the right CV margins.

Even though this may seem pretty obvious, many job seekers don’t realise that setting the wrong margins will ruin the balanced look of their CV.

So—

The optimum size for margins is one inch on each side.

If you want to find out how exactly this works, and what the other acceptable sizes for CV margins are, read our dedicated guide.

2. Set the right line spacing.

You don’t want your CV to look either crammed or empty. The safest line spacing is in the range between 1 or 1.15. 

And—

Avoid double spacing.

Even though adding white space is necessary, too much of a good thing is not such a good thing.

3. Pick the best CV fonts.

What are the best fonts for a CV?

Well—

Since we have a dedicated guide on the subject, let’s just put it this way:

Simple and easy on the recruiter’s eyes.

Helvetica, Arial, Roboto are all great choices. Comic Sans, Papyrus, and suchlike—you’d better give a wide berth to.

4. Find the best CV format for your needs.

Your CV must reflect your experience and skills in the most relevant way.

That’s why choosing the right CV style is vital. Without it, the recruiter won’t be able to find the information they’re looking for.

The three most popular CV formats are:

Each of them is suitable for different kinds of job seekers.

5. Outline your CV.

Outlining a CV is a crucial part of the CV writing process.

Once you know what sections to put on your CV, you’ll find it much easier to give the document a good flow and coherent look.

6. Fill in your CV with relevant content.

Remember:

The most effective CVs are tailored to a specific job offer.

So, see to it that you don’t send a generic-looking document to multiple employers.

Expert Hint:The length of a CV matters. As a rule, it’s best to make your CV as long as necessary but not longer. For instance, entry-level candidates or those applying for junior positions may opt for one-page CVs. However, recent studies show that recruiters may have a preference for two-page CVs, so there’s no need to cram if you find it hard to fit everything into a single page.

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2. Elements of a Professional CV

Now that you’ve seen what a good CV should look like, and learned some basic formatting rules—

Let’s see what sections a CV should consist of and what order you should put them in.

The first four sections are the most important ones on your CV, and they comprise the CV’s main body:

1. CV Header

It doesn’t matter what kind of CV you’re writing—

The topmost section is always the same, and it’s called the CV header.

It’s where you put your contact details and other basic information to let the recruiter know who you are and how to get in touch with you.

2. CV Profile

The next section of your CV is the so-called CV profile.

Think of the CV profile, as a brief rundown of your entire CV that’s supposed to serve a sales pitch of a sort.

Your CV intro can take the form of a:

3. Experience

The meat and potatoes of your CV.

The way you present your experience on a CV could be a make or break factor in your job search.

This is where you have a chance to use CV keywords in context and show the recruiter you’ve got what it takes to succeed in the role.

Expert Hint: Avoid the so-called keyword stuffing on your CV. Mindless copy-pasting sections of the original job offer into your document may help you get past the ATS scan, but you’ll be shooting yourself in the foot. Once the recruiters see what you’re up to, they may not only reject your CV but blacklist you eventually.

4. Education

Depending on how much experience you have, the education section on a CV could be either just a formality or your main selling point.

Plus, if you’re fresh out of university you may consider putting your education on a CV before the experience section.

5. Skills

The skills you put on a CV must testify to one thing—

You have the knowledge and expertise necessary to succeed in the role.

You can either place the skills section in a sidebar on your CV, just like you can see in the example above or put them in the main body if you have enough room.

6. Additional Sections

The sections listed above can be found on the vast majority of CVs.

But—

You can consider including other sections as well. Just make sure they actually add value rather than simply fill in the blank space:

Remember:

Relevance is the name of the game.

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Want to try a different look? There’s 18 more. A single click will give your document a total makeover. Pick a cover letter template here.

Key Points

Here’s all you need to remember about what a CV should look like:

  • Format your CV so that it’s reader-friendly.
  • Divide it into easy-to-find sections.
  • Make sure your job titles are well-visible.
  • Choose the best CV format for your needs.
  • Include all the relevant sections and put them in the right order.

Do you have any questions? Would you like to share your observations on what a CV should look like? We’d love to hear from you! Give us a shout out in the comments below!

About ResumeLab’s Editorial Approach

At ResumeLab, excellence lies at the heart of our values, underpinning our promise to provide outstanding career resources. Our team of career experts meticulously assesses each article in line with our editorial guidelines, guaranteeing our content's high quality and dependability. We consistently engage in original research, illuminating the nuances of the job market and earning acclaim from various influential news outlets. Our commitment to delivering professional career advice draws millions of readers to our blog annually.

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Maciej Duszyński, CPRW
Experienced in the education management industry, Maciej shares his knowledge for every step of your job hunt, from landing an internship to moving to an executive position. Maciej has helped job candidates at all stages of their career paths, from interns to directors to C-suite members, to thrive in their job. His mission is to help you find the right opportunity and create a job application that gets you the career you deserve. Maciej holds a Master’s degree in English with a specialization in communication and education management.

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