How to format your CV

When it comes to recruitment, consider your CV as an advert about you. Now think, would you be interested in a product that advertised itself in a sloppy way, with spelling errors and left you guessing about what it did? No, no you wouldn’t. Therefore, make sure your advert is presented in a way that gives the best impression about your brand.

The CV is integral to any recruitment process. Follow this simple layout and you should be confident of gaining interest and interviews.

  • Name, contact details including email address and phone number
  • A brief profile about you, including your experience, key skills and aspirations. Keep it concise and relevant. No-one wants to know about the time you finished 7th in a school karate competition when you were five years old.
  • Employment history – company name, job title and dates of employment. Start with the most recent and work backwards. In bullet points, give an account of your key responsibilities and achievements. The number of bullet points should lessen the further back in your history you go.
  • Education background – university/college/school name and qualifications obtained. Again this would start with the most recent and work backwards, no need to specify the dates here.
  • Technical skills – include a list of IT systems you are familiar with, Outlook, Excel and any CRM databases.
  • References – there is absolutely no need to list referees in your CV at this point, this will come only after an offer of employment has been made.

Should you secure an interview, then your CV will make up the beginning point of the conversation – so no embellishing the truth!

Natasha Hawker, Director of Employee Matters, also offers the following advice: “Don’t waffle, check for typos, try and keep it concise; for example, ‘references available on request’. don’t include irrelevant information, such as “I moved here from South Africa 15 years ago , I was a permanent resident and am now a citizen….” – we just need to know if you have the right to work. There’s also no need or requirement to list your age, marital status or number of children.

“When it comes to hobbies, that’s really an inclusion from the past. We don’t need to know if you are interested in ballroom dancing or aerobics. We don’t really want to see ‘quirky’ stuff on a CV, because it’s meant to showcase your professional capabilities. Some people spend ages on a long sentence/mission statement with lots of adjectives at the top of their resume. However, I’m of the view that a ‘Skills Summary’ is better. Everyone can say they are a hardworking, self-starter, a driven and motivated professional who loves to solve problems and manage people effectively and so on, and so on. That just gets skipped over. and often, the important bits aren’t there. If it’s not there, we don’t know about it – recruiters aren’t mind readers!

“Finally, ask a fresh pair of eyes to look over your CV before you submit it to anyone.”

Melina Gillies, CHRP, HR Specialist at SalesUp!, adds: “Many job seekers fail to realise how much a badly formatted resume can hurt their prospects, and one of the most common ways they do this is by wasting space on irrelevant information that recruiters and hiring managers don’t need and are irrelevant to the job at hand. One of the most glaring examples is providing a full mailing address, in large font, at the top of the page.

“The top 1/3 of a resume is valuable real estate, and it’s critical to use that space to establish your credibility for the job at hand in the mere seconds that a hiring manager is looking at it before moving on. In today’s day and age, a mailing address is not required and will never be used to contact a candidate, so stick to those modes of contact that you actually use. It’s also wise to provide only one number and one email address where you can be reached to avoid confusion on both sides of the table – and ensure that any email addresses provided are professional!”