How to Format a CV: Proper formatting makes your CV scannable by ATS bots and easy to read for human recruiters. Formatting your CV correctly is necessary to make your document clear, professional and easy to read.
CV is the document that provides employers with a detailed account of your professional and educational history to decide whether you’re a good fit for a job. Outside of the U.S., the terms “CV” and “resume” are often used interchangeably, meaning your one-page resume is typically appropriate for a job application when the employer requests a CV.
There are three CV primary format options to choose from: chronological, functional and combination. In this article, we discuss how to create a compelling CV, how to Format a CV and examples.
Out of the three main traditional styles, chronological CV is the only one that can be easily adapted to virtually any profession, industry or career situation. The chronological CV is the most common format of them all and for good reason, too.
What to include on a CV
Your CV should include the following sections:
- Contact information: Include your full name, address, phone number and email address.
- Academic history: List all schooling from high school through postdoctoral (if applicable). Include the title of the degree you earned, the year you graduated and the name of the school.
- Professional experience: Include the organization where you worked, the job title, the dates you were employed and a summary of your experience and achievements.
- Qualifications and skills: List a combination of hard and soft skills you’ve developed throughout your career.
- Awards and honors: For each award, add the name, year received, the organization that gave you the award and any pertinent details (such as how often it’s presented).
- Publications and presentations: For publications, provide a full citation including your co-authors, date, summary, volume, page, DOI number. For presentations, provide the title, date and venue where you presented.
- Professional associations: List the organization’s name, location or chapter and the dates of active membership.
- Grants and scholarships: Provide the name of the grant or scholarship, date awarded and the institution that provided the award.
- Licenses and certifications: Include the name of the license or certificate, the date you earned it and the institution that awarded it.
How to write a modern CV
When it comes to formatting your CV, there are four more factors you’ll need to consider:
- Ditch the objective and replace with a professional summary.
A professional summary, sometimes also referred to as a summary of qualifications, is a short overview of your top skills and accomplishments and is intended to catch the attention of potential employers.
- Choose the right font type and size
Your CV should be legible and easy to follow. To improve readability, it’s best to choose font between 10 and 13 points. It should be clean and simple without much detail or decor. Some examples of good fonts for your CV are; Arial, Times New Roman, etc.
- Check your margins
A good rule of thumb is to keep your margins between .5 – 1 inch. Margins that are too large will leave too much white space while margins that are too small can make the page look busy and overfilled. Both may be distracting or off-putting to recruiters and hiring managers.
- Utilize your space effectively
CVs can become lengthy, especially if you’ve been in your industry for several years and have amassed a great deal of experience. To ensure you’re using space effectively and your CV is easy to read, consider using the following techniques:
- Organize with bulleted lists: Make lists, (such as your collection of skills or awards) easier to consume by adding small bullets.
- Use section headers: Distinguish section headers from the rest of your CV content by making them bolder, larger or underlined.
- Bold keywords: In addition to section headers, consider bolding other important words, such as your name and job titles, to set them apart.
- Remove irrelevant information: Use the limited space on your CV to promote only the most relevant and impressive information about your background. Remove experience older than 15 years and dates from your education section if you have five or more years of professional experience.
Before you send your CV to employers, take time to carefully check your spelling, grammar and syntax. A clean, error-free CV increases readability and demonstrates professionalism. Recruit a trusted friend, family member or colleague to review your resume. A fresh set of eyes often catches mistakes you may have missed.
A well-composed CV shares all the most essential information employers need when considering you for job opportunities. By making sure your CV is comprehensive, correctly formatted and easy to read, you’re one step closer to landing the job you want.
Below is a Sample of Chronological Curriculum Vitae (CV) format
How to Format a CV
- Set one-inch margins on all sides.
- Use 1.0 or 1.15 line spacing.
- Pick a good font for a CV and stick to it on the whole document.
- Create a professional CV header format for your contact details.
- Divide your CV into legible sections: Contact Information, Personal Statement, Work Experience, Education, Skills, Additional Information.
- Make section headings slightly larger than the rest of the contents.
- Add a blank line before and after each heading.
- Save your CV in PDF to keep your formatting intact.
Follow the steps above, and you’ll create an eye-pleasing CV. Recruiters will appreciate a well-organized layout and you’ll give yourself a good chance of passing the Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) CV scan.
Making Your CV via ATS
An applicant tracking system is a common tool used by companies to quickly and efficiently identify qualified candidates. CVs built with both the ATS and role-specific keywords in mind rank higher than others even though your CV will likely be scanned with ATS software, you can use this to your advantage when you know strategies to ensure your CV is ranked higher:
- Incorporate ATS keywords: ATS keywords are specific words or phrases employers identify as requirements for a specific position. These can include words that identify qualified candidates based on education, skills, experience and the industry or position.
- Avoid complex formatting: Tables, columns, headers and footers might seem like great methods of organizing complex information on a CV, however not all applicant tracking systems can parse this information correctly. When an ATS translates this type of formatting, the information within such complex formatting can get scattered or lost and can result in missing some of your most critical information.
- Save your CV in the right file format: While a PDF format might seem like the best format for your CV to save your formatting, not all ATSs can parse this format correctly. To ensure that all of the information on your CV is able to be scanned correctly, choose a .docx format.
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