Curriculum Vitae (CV) Format Guide – 21+ Tips & Templates
Would you like to make sure your CV is read by a recruiter?
It better be well formed or the chances of this happening are pretty low.
Look, unless your CV format is in place, application tracking systems won’t be able to read it (and automatically reject it).
“What are the chances of this?” You may be thinking.
Surprisingly pretty high – over 70% of job applications are disqualified due to applicant tracking systems.
Would you like to make sure your CV is not one of them? In this guide, we’ll teach you how to get it done with our 11+ CV formatting tips!
Here’s what we’re going to cover:
- CV Format Layout – How To Structure Your CV
- 11+ CV Formatting Tips – Font, Sizes, PDF – Word & More
- 4 Free Well-Formed Resume Templates
- What is the Best CV Format – Reverse Chronological or Skill Based?
So, let’s get started.
CV Format Layout – How to Structure Your CV
First of all, we need to talk about your CV format in terms of layout.
The sections you add to a professional CV are:
- Contact information.
- Personal statement.
- Work experience.
- Educational background.
- Other optional sections including languages, projects, volunteering experience and more.
Now let’s guide you through these sections one by one and explain how to do each one correctly.
#1. Contact Information
The CV contact information formatting looks as follows:
- Professional title
- Email address
- Phone number
- LinkedIn profile
Or, here’s what this looks like on a CV:
Use a professional email address such as [first name] + [last name] @ gmail.com.
Avoid silly nicknames, gamer tags, or anything else in your email address.
#2. Personal Statement
Your self-statement is a short, 50-100 word step of your professional and educational career, and is located just above your CV:
The personal statement can be written in 2 ways:
- As Resume Summary – Focuses more on your work experience and achievements.
- As CV Goal – Focuses on your expectations, goals, skills and educational background (rather than work experience or achievements).
If you have any practical work experience, you can go for a CV summary as your experience sells you as a better candidate than your education or goals.
If you do not have any work experience or are changing sectors or professions, you will only choose one CV destination.
A well written resume personal statement looks like this: What is the format of a good CV?,#How do I write a CV in South Africa 2020?,#How can I make my CV stand out visually?,#What are the steps to write a curriculum vitae?,#How do I write a CV 2020?,#How can I make my CV look attractive?,#How can I make my CV stand out 2020?,#What should you not put on a CV?,#What should be on a 2 page CV?,#How do I put my driving Licence details on my CV?,#How long should your CV be?,#Which is better CV or resume?,#What employers look for in a CV?,#Is a 1 page CV OK?,#Should you include hobbies on a CV?,#How do you format a 2 page resume?,#Is a 1.5 page resume bad?,#What should be on a one page CV?,#How do you end a CV?
- Digital marketing expert with more than 10 years of experience in media buying, looking for a Facebook advertiser position at Company X. In addition to managing the 6 figure in monthly ad spend among the past successes, my previous position of getting 2x – 3x return on ad spend.
#3. Work Experience
Format your CV work experience section as follows:
- Start with your latest job and work your way back.
- Start with the position title for each work experience entry.
- Under the title, list: name of company, dates worked.
- Finally, mention 4-6 responsibilities or achievements for each position.
We recommend that you stick to 3-4 of your last positions (not your entire career history).
Now, to really take this home, a good work experience post on CV looks like this:
When it comes to work experience, we recommend that you focus on achievements rather than responsibilities.
Look, the hiring person knows exactly what your responsibilities are – they’re hiring for the role, after all. What will make you stand out in their books is your achievements (or how you stand out from other colleagues).
#4. Educational History
Format your educational background in the following order:
- Degree name.
- University name.
- Examine the time frame.
- GPA (optional).
- Courses taken (optional).
- Honors (if relevant).
We recommend that you only list the courses taken if you have just graduated or do not have much experience in the field you are trying to find a job.
In fact, we also recommend that you avoid listing your GPA unless it’s something very impressive.
A well-formed tutorial section on CV looks like this:
If you have any work experience, put your work experience section on top of the training.
But if you’ve just graduated, do the opposite.
Listing your skills on a CV is relatively easy – just create a section called “Skills” and list them.
For your skills section, we recommend sticking to rigorous skills.
After all, the recruiter reading your resume cannot really tell if the “critical thinking” skill on your resume is really correct or is there to fill the field.
Usually, soft skills are something that recruiters evaluate during interviews, not screening.
#6. Other Optional Sections
The optional sections you can include on your resume include:
- Awards & Honors
- Extracurricular Activities
- Hobbies & Interests
- Professional Organizations
- Volunteering Experience
- Teaching Experience
If you’re preparing a functional (or skills-based) CV, you should also include a skills summary section, which we’ll cover in a moment.
Often times, the first 5 essential parts are sufficient to create a convincing resume.
The optional ones are usually more useful if you are a recent graduate looking to fill out their CV.
How to Format a CV
Here’s how you can format your CV in terms of font, margins, and layout:
- Set one-inch margins on all four sides of your CV to maximize the white space between sections.
- Select 1 or 1.15 line spacing between text and double spacing after subheadings.
- Choose a font for your entire CV and stick to it. We recommend Ubuntu, Roboto or Overpass.
- Use font size 11-12 pt for normal text and 14-16 pt for chapter headings or headings.
- Use all must-have CV sections including contact information, personal statement, work experience, educational background, and skills.
- Use bullets to explain your responsibilities and achievements for all your roles, projects, or volunteering experiences.
- Stick to the one-page CV limit or 2/3 if you have a lot of work experience.
Having trouble keeping to the single page limit? Use one of these one-page resume templates! What is the format of a good CV?,#How do I write a CV in South Africa 2020?,#How can I make my CV stand out visually?,#What are the steps to write a curriculum vitae?,#How do I write a CV 2020?,#How can I make my CV look attractive?,#How can I make my CV stand out 2020?,#What should you not put on a CV?,#What should be on a 2 page CV?,#How do I put my driving Licence details on my CV?,#How long should your CV be?,#Which is better CV or resume?,#What employers look for in a CV?,#Is a 1 page CV OK?,#Should you include hobbies on a CV?,#How do you format a 2 page resume?,#Is a 1.5 page resume bad?,#What should be on a one page CV?,#How do you end a CV?
4 Free Well-Formatted CV Templates
Formatting your CV is definitely not fun.
To make your CV look both good and ATS friendly, you need to format it to be perfect.
Want to avoid the hassle? Just use one of our well-formed CV templates! The CV is basically made for you, all you have to do is choose the right template and fill in your experience.
Some of our best free CV templates include:
#1. College CV Template – Perfect CV Format for Students
It is an excellent CV format for college, students and alumni. It focuses more on your skills rather than work experience; this is perfect for a recent graduate with almost no work background.
New graduated? Check out our guide to creating an inexperienced resume.
#2. Creative CV Template – Best CV Templates for Creative Roles
Are you looking for a CV template that shows your creativity and imagination?
Our creative CV template is designed just for that!
The template uses bright colors to make your CV stand out from the rest and comes with very eye-catching visual elements.
#3. Professional CV Template – #1 CV Format for Professionals
This CV template will showcase your years of experience in the best and professional way possible.
#4. Modern CV Template – Best CV Format for 2020
Are you looking for a CV template that will make you stand out in 2020? That’s it!
This template comes with enough images to grab the attention of recruiters, but it comes without overwhelming creativity.
Are you not into these CV templates too much? Check out 4 more on our CV templates page.
What’s the Best CV Format – Reverse Chronological or Skill-Based?
When formatting your CV, you can choose from 2 CV formats:
- Chronologically reverse
The reverse chronology is a mix of the 5 basic CV sections we mentioned earlier:
- Contact information
- Personal Statement
- Work experience
- Education History
Whereas the functionality is pretty much the same, but there is one more section – the Skill Summary. This section looks like this:
The main point of using the functional CV format is that it emphasizes skills rather than work experience.
It’s especially helpful if you’re a career changer and want your resume to focus on your skills rather than work history.
For more on functional resume, see our guide on 3 resume formats.
CV & Resume Academy – Best Career Resources
Want to learn more about CVs, resumes and how to develop your career? Check out some of our best guides:
- How to Prepare a Resume – Complete Guide. An A to Z resume is everything you need to know to create a compelling CV.
- Job Search Odyssey. Our 100% free ebook with resumes, resumes, interviews and everything you need to know for a successful career.
- 35+ Most Common Interview Questions and Answers. Would you like to be first in the upcoming interview? Learning how to answer the most common questions is a great first step!
Or, for more top-notch content, go to our career blog.
CV Formatting FAQ
Do you still have questions? Well, let’s answer now!
#1. How do you format a curriculum vitae (CV)?
The typical curriculum vitae format is:
- Contact information
- Personal statement
- Work experience
- Educational history
- Other optional sections
#2. What’s the difference between a CV and a resume?
A resume and a resume in Europe are almost the same thing and the two words are used interchangeably.
However, a CV in the USA refers not only to a summary but to a detailed document containing ALL of your professional and academic achievements.
USA CV is not limited to 1-2 page limit which means your CV can be as many pages as you need.
For more information on CV and Resume topic, check out our guide.
#3. What is a good CV format?
The best CV format is reverse chronological.
It is the person recruiters are most used to and helps you convey your experience and educational background in the best way possible.
#4. Is it OK to send a CV as a PDF?
Unless specifically stated otherwise, you’d better send your CV as a PDF.
The PDF format makes it easy to maintain your CV format and layout without disrupting your design efforts.
PDF resumes also go through most application tracking systems.
Still not sure whether to send your resume as a PDF or Word? Check out our guide.
And this is a pack!
At this point, you should know everything you need to know to format your CV well (and get the job done successfully!).
Now, let’s make a quick summary of the most important things we covered in this article:
- The most important CV sections include contact information, personal statement, work experience, educational background and skills.
- Make sure you follow best practices when formatting your CV. Use a single font, use 1 or 1.15 line spacing, and set one-inch margins on all four sides of the CV.
- Want to avoid the hassle of formatting your CV? Choose one of our CV templates and you’re ready!