CV style – how looks can help

When it comes to a CV, there's nothing more important than the words you use. That means things like accurate, brief and exciting overviews of your experience.

But if you want to give your CV a helping hand, looks can also play a part. Here are just some of the things to keep in mind.

Length

A pile of densely printed pages or a simple, two sided sheet? You probably already know that if you want to attract the right kind of attention, the latter option is the way to go. Yes, boiling everything down to two sides might be a bit of a task, but it's a useful one, which will help you to think about the most effective way your CV can present your skills and experience to someone who might be in a position to hire.

Fonts

Fonts are another element that will make a big difference to the look of a CV. One thing's for sure – if you try and follow the two page rule by using miniscule text, you could well simply irritate a reader. Use a nice, normal sized font such as size 11, remembering that different fonts work well at different sizes.

Look at how the CV looks both on a screen and printed off – if you struggle to read it fast, someone else might do to.

The style of font to choose is also an interesting question. Letters are like little artworks, the style they have can convey different meanings. Something streamlined and elegant is usually a good way to go, unless you're really sure that you can create a positive impact with something a little less conventional. Minimalism is also a safe look – so don't mix fonts, but rather use bold or underlined versions of the same typeface if you want things like headings to stand out, or a font size that's a little larger.

Layout

General tips to keep in mind are that when text is too dense, it can be harder to read. Paragraphs of three or four lines will make it clear you know how to control your writing so it's in easily managed sections. Start a new paragraph when you change topic in some way – but remember that too short can look as bad as too long when it comes to these bodies of words.

The white space created when you use paragraphs well will help make the document look like less of a chore to take-in. For the same reason, use well-sized margins around you page.

Heading

The top of your CV should make it clear who you are and what the document is – don't just leap into your experience without this.

State your name, and provide some basic contact details – making this stand out from the rest of the text.

Under this, it's possible you might want to provide something of a summary, to make points in your CV stand out all the more. A list of three stand-out features, such as your most relevant experience, a prize you've been awarded and something about your enthusiasm for the role you're applying for, could help.

Alignment

If you see yourself as something of a graphic design whiz and want to align text in a slightly unusual way – to the centre, or to the right, for example – then go ahead. Otherwise, the safest bet might be to stick to aligning text to the left, so it creates a straight edge towards the left hand side of the page.

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