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Building your CV? Here are the Ins and Outs of CV Formatting

“A well-structured CV represents effort and time given into crafting yourself.”

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BY Jared Carl Millan - 19 Sep 2017

Building your CV? Here are the Ins and Outs of CV Formatting

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

You may know what your CV may contain, which ones to highlight and which ones to play down. You may already know how long it will run and the kind of paper on which to print it. But when it comes to building your CV, should you include a photo of yourself or not? What’s the right typeface to use (serif or sans-serif), and what size?

More importantly, how should it be presented on a purely aesthetic level?

You may think that these stuff are trivial. After all, a CV should be about its content, not its design. But you may be surprised that a lot of employers consider this aspect when they decided whether or not to call a candidate in for an interview.

“The role of formatting represents how much the candidate would like the job,” says Rina Loh, co-founder at FoodZaps.com. “A well-structured CV represents effort and time given into crafting yourself.”

So as a candidate, you should therefore spend an extra effort making sure that it is visually appealing. You can start by selecting one of the classic serif typefaces for your CV. Serif fonts are those that have extra tails in their letters such as Times New Roman and Garamond. Not only are they clean, but they also offer an air of professionalism about them.

As much as possible, stick to one typeface throughout the CV, or if you must, you can use two at the most. “I wouldn't read a CV with too many fonts and colors,” says Alessia Anniballo, general manager at District6.co. “There are tons of free templates around. If a person can't dedicate 10 minutes of time to find and modify a nice template, there is no reason for me to waste my time reading that CV.”

On the other hand, sans serif typefaces like Arial, Tahoma, and Century Gothic can also be used given that they are used cleanly, coherently, and in an understated style.

There also has to be a clear sense of hierarchy in your CV. Your name and personal information should be located at the very top, and appear as the most important part of the whole document.

Furthermore, headings such as your education, past experiences, and qualifications should stand out, either by emboldening, underlining, or italicizing them. And each section must be distinctly separate from the rest.

For Joel Leong, co-founder and CEO of GroupHunt.sg, “Formatting is like a first impression. I don't need a CV to be visually striking, but it needs to be clear, concise, and easy to read. Having a well-formatted CV shows me that you care and that you're likely able to understand customer needs.”

As for the format of the CV itself, it’s more debatable and open to interpretation. However, the rule of the thumb is that you want the most important information to be read first. It is a good idea to place your contact information, value statement, and experience in the first half of the page, while education, core strength, and honors at the bottom.

As for whether you should include your photo in your CV, it’s best that you trust your gut; there are no clear rules for this. However, if you think that your physical appearance is necessary for the job you’re applying for, by all means, do it.

At the end of the day, you should remember that CVs are all about content. “It's simply about making a CV easier to read. Readability matters just as much as the content itself. And that has nothing to do with a beautiful CV design,” says Keith Wang, co-founder at Opinir.com.