How to Format Your CV

You need more than just good information on your curriculum vitae to impress your potential new employer. You also need to ensure that information is presented appropriately on the page. If your document is incomprehensible to follow, then the reader may stop reading before getting to the good part. Therefore, to get the most out of your document, follow these guidelines on correct CV format.

The Ideal CV Format

Although some job applicants will feel compelled to get creative, it is best if you follow a traditional format. The very top of the page should include your contact information, including full name, email address and phone number. Next, you want a professional objective stating why you are applying to this position and where you hope to take your career.

Following that, you can get into your work history, including any career highlights or awards you have won. Some other sections you can enter after that are your research experience, teaching experience, education, professional associations you belong to, volunteer service, relevant skills and references. If this seems like a lot to include in one document, keep in mind that you only need a couple sentences or short bulleted list for each section.


Typically CVs only need to be two pages long. If you have a particularly long career and have more information to convey, then you can get away with three pages. This is why CVs are often preferable over resumes, which should generally only be a single page in length. Customary CV format lends itself to expressing more information. If you are applying for a career in academia or medicine, then you need to give the employer as much material as possible to show why you are the best fit.


An employer getting confused while reading your CV can be a real nail in the coffin when it comes to you getting the job. One way to make things clearer is to add a sense of uniformity to the document. For example, if you bold the name of one business you have worked at in the past, then you need to bold the name of every business you have worked at. This consistency makes the information easier to follow.


Your curriculum vitae is not the time to get cute with fonts. Generally, Times New Roman is the safest font to go with, but Arial and Calibri are also acceptable. In terms of size, you want to stick with text between 10 and 12 points. Anything smaller than that and the employer may be unable to read what you have. The only time when you can go slightly higher than 12 is with the section headings. Again, if you are going to make one heading a larger size, then they all need to be in that same size to achieve uniformity. In the event making the section headings larger would prevent you from including crucial information later in the document, you can also simply bold the headings to achieve the same effect.


Accuracy in terms of proper CV format entails a couple things. First, you want to make sure the information itself is correct and honest. Some job applicants may feel compelled to stretch the truth a little, but you never want to present false information on an application. It is only going to hurt you in the long run. Accuracy also means that you proofread your CV before sending it in. A few typos or grammatical errors can sink your chances of getting a job offer. It is also a good idea to give your CV to friends or associates and have them provide you with constructive criticism.


You likely are already going to spend a lot of time ensuring the best, most up-to-date information is presented on your CV. Take the time to achieve the correct CV format so that it flows beautifully. If an employer is impressed just by looking at your CV, then you are getting things started on the right foot.


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