Leverage these CV design tips to draw attention to key information
Recruiters often review hundreds of CVs for a single position, and studies show that they only spend an average of 7.4 initially skimming each one.
Because you don’t have much time to make a strong first impression, it is important to leverage visually appealing, effective CV design to your advantage.
Simply put, the more “skim value” your CV has, the easier it will be for readers to orient themselves and identify important information.
The last thing you want is to present a cluttered document that is difficult to read.
For this reason, we recommend making your CV as skimmable as possible.
To make your CV more skimmable, leverage the following five strategies:
1. Create overarching sections
Your CV should be structured into key sections that recruiters expect to see.
These typically include:
- Key Expertise
- Work Experience / Professional Experience
- Early Career
- Community Involvement & Leadership
- Relevant Skills
- Distinctions & Professional Associations
By organising your CV into the sections mentioned above, you'll immediately provide structure and a coherent organisational flow to your document, allowing the readers to quickly locate important information.
In addition, you'll optimise your CV for applicant tracking systems.
2. Use bullet points
Bullet points are an easy way to add skim value, as they naturally create white space and help draw attention to distinctions between separate pieces of information and experiences.
By using bullet points, you'll also find it easier to make your CV's content punchy and to the point.
This approach is much more effective than summarising your experience using bulky paragraphs.
3. Underline, bold and italicise
You can use underlining, bolding and italics to create structure within your overarching sections and highlight important information.
For example, you can put employers’ names in bold and position names in italics to create visual distinctions between different positions.
Be sure to apply these formats consistently throughout your document, however.
4. Leverage white space strategically
White space is key to increasing your CV's skim value and avoiding large blocks of text.
Try to incorporate white space wherever you can to give your content "breathing room" and avoid overwhelming the reader with too much text.
At a minimum, you should keep your margins to .5 inches on each side.
In addition, you should and spacing between each section.
If you find yourself trying to cram lots of information onto the page, forcing you to decrease font size or margins, remember that your CV does not have to include every single detail about your experience.
Instead, it should immediately appear uncluttered, straightforward and well-organised.
5. Choose your fonts wisely
Using the right fonts can also help visually break up your CV.
Don’t be afraid to use more than one font!
By using two fonts, you can introduce variety and naturally separate information.
For example, you could use one font for all of your headings, company names, position names and dates. You could use another font for your bullet points.
Make sure that both fonts you choose are clean and professional and that you apply them consistently.
We strongly recommend using serif fonts like Book Antiqua, Cambria, Garamond, Times New Roman and Georgia, as they tend to be easier to read.
No matter what fonts or structure you choose, the most important rule for a skimmable, visually-cohesive CV is to keep your formatting consistent throughout the document.
When deciding how to format your CV, remember that its primary purpose is to provide recruiters with a clear outline of your work experience and accomplishments.
By formatting your CV in a way that does part of the work for the reader, you’ll not only convey key information more effectively but will also come off more polished and professional.