iStock_000012300632XSmallWhen someone opens an envelope or looks at your files on their PC, what they see in front of them delivers an impression of you as a potential employee or colleague. Before they even get to reading the content, the visual attractiveness of your documents ( or lack thereof) will lead them to begin formulating an opinion about you. You need to take care of the look and style of your CV to make sure it is attractive and easy to read.

Here are our top tips:

  • Impact at outset: Start with your name (in bold text, 20 pts) and your personal details can be “boxed” underneath and in a smaller size. You do not need to use “Currriculum Vitae” or “CV “as a heading.
  • To photo or not to photo: Opinions vary on the inclusion of photographs (there are advantages and disadvantages) but if you do use a photo, make sure it is professional in tone and style and that the resolution is suitable.
  • Make good use of headings: Separate out sections, highlight key information and differentiate different types of information by consistent use of bold, italic styles or a slightly larger font height. Underlining looks messy.
  • Font style: Choose one font that is simple, clear and readable.  Sans Serif fonts such as Arial, Calibri, Trebuchet MS work nicely. Take care with Serif fonts such as Times New Roman – they can sometimes look old-fashioned and a bit complicated.
  • Font size: Select a font size that ensures ease of reading but balances this with compactness.  Making things smaller may help you to hit the target of a two-page CV but a reader who has to decipher small print will be frustrated. In most cases, smaller than 10pts will be too small.
  • Bullet where appropriate: Using bullet points can make dense information easier to read and more accessible.
  • Leave “white space”: Make sure that the margins and paragraph spacing leave sufficient white space to avoid your CV looking cluttered and overloaded.
  • Use colour discreetly: It is probably safer to stick to black or shades of grey but limited use of one discreet colour ( e.g. a dark blue) may provide a “lift” for some headings or the bullet points provided you don’t overuse it.
  • One sided-print /pdf format: format to print on one side only. If sending in an e-mail, send a pdf file to ensure it prints out at the other end JUST as you you intended.
  • Hard copies in good quality: If you are sending out by regular mail, print out a high quality version on good quality white paper and send out unfolded in an A4 envelope.

Following these simple guidelines will make sure you send out something you can be proud of.