How Should I Format My CV? Our Tips on Best CV Formats for 2020
Last year, we came across an article in The Wall Street Journal titled “Résumés Are Starting to Look Like Instagram—and Sometimes Even Tinder.”
Given that we often get questions from our clients about the best CV format to use, we wanted to share our insights on the topic.
Simply put, your CV is a professional document.
As such, we always recommend a modern yet conservative CV format.
From our experience and discussions with recruiters, CVs that incorporate photos, graphics, logos and colours do attract attention - but often not in a good way.
Based on the (predominantly negative) reactions that we’ve seen from recruiters with regard to graphic CVs, we strongly recommend playing it safe.
By using standard CV formatting, you’re able to achieve the following outcomes:
1) Demonstrate your professionalism
Your number one priority when applying for a job is to be taken seriously.
Your CV is typically your first (and potentially last) impression.
Keep it classy.
2) Allow your experience to speak for itself
You don't need to use gimmicks to stand out.
Instead, leverage impactful design elements and powerful phrasing that highlights your main accomplishments and the value you bring to an organisation.
3) Optimize your CV for ATS screenings
Many applicant tracking systems cannot accurately read information from CVs with symbols, logos, tables or multiple columns.
They only pull text, so your effort spent making your CV look pretty will likely go to waste anyway.
By keeping your format simple, you'll help your CV beat the bots.
4) Avoid negative reactions from recruiters
If an element of your CV even has the potential to make someone cringe or roll their eyes, it's best to avoid it.
5) Leverage the minimal space you have available most effectively
Trying to impress recruiters with "cool" designs wastes time that you could use to further refine and elevate your content.
Design elements also often take up excessive space that could otherwise be used to convey additional skills and accomplishments.
6) Eliminate any potential recruitment bias
As The Wall Street Journal says, "The flashy résumés are colliding with efforts by employers to strip down CVs to their most basic elements—coding skills, college degrees, work histories—to reduce bias in hiring."
While we acknowledge that graphic CVs are becoming more common and some candidates (such as those quoted in the article) have had success using them, we believe doing so is too risky a move.
Maybe they’ll become an accepted practice in the recruitment industry moving forward - and rest assured that we’re always monitoring the latest trends - but for now, keep it simple.
Land the interview first.
Then, you can showcase your personality and likeability during the interview.
But don’t attempt to do so using bitmojis and hearts on your CV.
You don’t want it to be overlooked.
As Katie Burke, Chief People Officer of HubSpot, put it, “Photos belong on your personal social-media accounts and online-dating profiles, not your résumé.”
“What you look like has zero impact on what you can do in a role, so photos, bitmojis and other gimmicks often detract from someone’s candidacy versus adding to it.”
When push comes to shove, you’re being hired based on your ability to do the job - not on your ability to put together a cute, Instagramable CV.
About CV Pilots
CV Pilots is an award-winning executive CV writing firm and a proud member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches. Our previous clients include CEOs and senior executives at the world's leading companies.
As a professional services firm, we take your reputation seriously. We are committed to delivering writing excellence and superior service while operating with integrity and discretion. Recruitment firms we partner with also trust us to consistently deliver quality documents for their clients.
Our writers have studied at top-tier universities and have strong writing backgrounds coupled with industry experience.
Here's how we can help you:
CV, Cover Letter and LinkedIn Writing Services: If you are looking for end-to-end support, hire one of our professional CV writers to rewrite your documents from the ground up.
Executive CV Template Downloads: If you plan to prepare your own CV, consider using one of our classic, ATS-friendly CV templates for Microsoft Word.