Even the best CV in the world can be let down by poor presentation. So how can you ensure you stand out from the crowd and make yours the one an employer decides to pursue? 5 simple tips to create a well presented CV.
Our handy 5-step guide has some really simple things you can do…
The main thing to remember for good CV presentation and writing is to understand how the brain processes information. Too much text and colour and the viewer will become overloaded. Try and keep things clear, clean and easy to understand. Whether you’re looking to land a Finance Analyst role or an Account Director position, these tips will ensure you get the interviews you want.
Step 1 | Keep it short and sweet
The most effective CVs aren’t just informative, they’re also concise. Aim to keep your CV to one page, or two at the very most, with the most relevant information at the top of the page. Introduce a small bit of colour, such as on headings, or divider lines to break up text, but only use one other colour with black – never use the full rainbow! The top of your CV should host an impressive profile which has the effect of drawing the reader in and making them want to learn more about you.
Detail any professional memberships (e.g. the Law Society) or qualifications you possess, such as the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). List your degree, A-levels and GCSEs; when discussing the former, mention the areas of law that you studied while at university and state your dissertation title.
Step 2 | Present things in a logical order
Use sufficient spacing, clear section headings (e.g. work experience, education) and a reverse chronological order to keep things clear and easily legible. And always make sure you highlight your most recent achievements. Make sure you demonstrate your array of skills and knowledge within accountancy or law in a professional yet easy-to-read manner.
For accounting examinations, state the examining body, the start date, the date of completion and the examinations passed. Add in your professional accounting qualification (AAT / CIMA / ACCA / ACA Part-Qualified or Qualified). If you’re Part-Qualified, state specifically how many exams you have completed and how many you have remaining, it’s ok to still be developing your skills.
Step 3 | Choose a professional font
A professional font ensures that your CV can be easily read and simply scanned. The biggest mistake here is using too large a font size for body text. 9pt or 10pt for body text is easily readable, try not to go any bigger. Remember: Comic Sans is not your friend and looks tacky. Use the legible fonts such as Arial, Calibri or Source Sans. Feel free to use slightly more unusual (yet legible) ones for headings, such as Rockwell/Georgia. Keep the body font clear and use a trusted typeface (eg Arial or Garamond). And never use more than two fonts – it is too hard to read a CV with lots of fonts.
Step 4 | Play to your strengths
Format your CV to maximise the impact of your application. For example, if you feel a lack of experience is holding you back, lead with education instead. As long as you can relate it back to the role in question, how you order the sections is up to you. Use tinted sidebars or pastel colour to break up the text. Include your qualification in your personal profile (that you’re a CIMA / ACCA / ACA Part-Qualified or Qualified Accountant) This immediately asserts your expertise alongside your personality. Prospective employers want to know if you have the right skills and how quickly you can hit the ground running, so highlighting any experience of accountancy systems and programmes on your CV is advantageous.
Step 5 | Use bullet points and icons
They’re a great way to draw attention to any key facts or relevant information, allowing a hiring manager to skim the document easily and find your significant achievements without having to wade through the hyperbole. Icons and infographic symbols can also add an illustrative feel to the CV, steering away from long lines of text. Keep the text aligned consistently throughout. Left aligned or justified is usually the easiest to read.