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The right CV format can highlight your strengths as a candidate or downplay your weaknesses, giving you an advantage in your job hunt.

Here are the 7 best CV formats of 2024, beginning with our top recommendation:

Ideal CV format example

The chronological CV format is what most job seekers should be using when they write their CVs. It uses a simple layout and lists your work experience in reverse order, starting with your most recent (or current) job at the top.

Example image of a CV using chronological format with work history listed in reverse-chronological order.
Download this CV format example.

When to use a chronological CV:

  • your work experience is your biggest selling point
  • you’ve held similar jobs so far in your career
  • you can demonstrate your career progression

We recommend that almost all job seekers use the chronological CV format, because it’s the most effective at highlighting how you’ve advanced in your career.

However, depending on your specific situation, you may want to format your CV in a different way. If the chronological CV format doesn’t seem right for you, take a look below for several more downloadable CV templates.

6 CV templates with different formatting

Here are six additional CV layouts you can use depending on your experience level and unique circumstances:

Skills-based CV Layout

If you’re writing a CV with no experience or you’re switching careers, a skills-based CV layout can help you make up for your lack of work experience.

Skills-based CVs emphasise what you know and what you can do by making your skills section the largest and most detailed part of your CV:

Example of a skills-based CV format highlighting a candidate's key skills on a template with a black header and light gray sidebar.
Download this CV format example.

When to use a skills-based CV:

  • you’ve got large career gaps
  • you’d like to make a career change
  • your broad skills are more relevant than your list of previous jobs

One-page CV Layout

If you’re early in your career or writing your first CV, you might find writing a two-page CV difficult.

So instead, format your experience and skills using a one-page CV layout like the one below:

Example of a one-page CV format for a student that elaborates on their relevant experience, skills, and education.
Download this CV layout example.

When to use a one-page CV layout:

  • you’ve had some work experience but not enough to create a two-page CV
  • all of your achievements, qualifications, and work experience fit nicely on one page
  • you don’t have any work experience gaps

Two-page CV Layout

It’s standard for CVs to be two pages, but remember that two-page CV layouts are better suited to candidates with more professional experience who need the space to highlight their qualifications, like in this example:

Example of a two-page CV format with a two-toned gray border, with the first page including the candidate's summary and work experience.
Download this CV layout example.

When to use a two-page CV layout:

  • you can’t fit all of your CV sections onto one page
  • you have additional sections to include, like certifications or publications
  • you have 3 or more roles to list

Education-focused CV Layout

If you’re a student or recently graduated, choose a CV layout that prioritises your education section, like this template below:

Example of an education-focused CV format that includes the candidate's summary at the top, followed by a large education section.
Download this CV layout example.

When to use an education-focused CV layout:

  • you’re still in uni or just recently graduated
  • your education is more relevant to your target job than your previous roles

Certifications-focused CV Layout

If you’ve got certifications that are essential for your target role and you want to make sure employers see them, use a CV format that focuses on a dedicated certifications section, like this:

Example of a CV using a format that focuses on the candidates certificates, placed at the top alongside their contact information.
Download this CV layout example.

When to use a certifications-focused CV layout:

  • you work in a field where certifications are required
  • your certifications make you a more competitive candidate
  • your certifications help you overcome a lack of experience

Experienced professional CV Layout

As an experienced candidate, you should opt for a CV template that gives you space to write a compelling personal statement and elaborate on your professional achievements, like this one:

Example of a CV format for an experienced professional that includes a bold summary at the top and extensive work experience section, with summaries of the company and the role listed for each position.
Download this CV layout example.

When to use an experienced professional CV layout:

  • you want to focus on your numerous professional achievements
  • the central focus of your CV is your work experience
  • you want to highlight your career progression, including promotions

How to format your CV

Follow these steps to ensure that your CV formatting is clean, professional, and easy for employers to follow:

Include sections that highlight your relevant qualifications

At a minimum, the best CV layout should include these six CV sections:

An example of the best CV layout for general job applications. The image shows a chronological CV with colourful annotations highlighting each section.

On top of these essential sections, you should also include any additional information that strengthens the case for your candidacy.

For example, you could add a section for:

  • Volunteer work
  • Certifications
  • Publications
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Internships
  • Personal projects

Just make sure when adding sections to your CV, that each part:

  • doesn’t look cramped
  • is easy to locate and read
  • is placed according to its importance (with more important sections near the top, less important sections near the bottom or on the second page)

Set your font and margins

When formatting your CV, make sure you use the right amount of white space. For the UK, set your margins at 1.25–2.5 cm.

After setting your margins, choose an appropriate CV font and text size. 10–12 points is fine for your CV body text, with 1–1.15 line spacing. Bigger font sizes (e.g., 16 points for section headers and 30 points for your name) are also appropriate to help parts of your CV stand out.

Make it easy to read

Formatting your CV is all about making it as easy as possible for employers to find and read your information. Here are some tips to streamline your CV and provide the best reading experience:

  • Make easy-to-skim section headers: make section headers stand out with bold, italics, and underlined text.
  • Ensure your CV’s length reflects your experience: a standard CV is two pages, but a 1-page CV is okay if you’re new to the job market. Three pages or longer is fine for senior candidates or academic applicants.
  • Keep your CV bullet points concise: each bullet should ideally by 2–3 lines in length.
  • Break up text: avoid using large blocks of text, opting instead for lists, shorter sentences, and emphasis using bold or italics where appropriate.
  • Save your CV as a PDF: sending your CV in PDF format ensures it retains its formatting no matter what computer the employer uses.

Double check everything

Once you’ve finished laying out your CV, use this checklist to make sure you remembered everything:

CV format checklist

Font

  • Professional font used – like Calibri, Cambria, or Lato
  • Font size is between 10 and 12 points

Margins and Spacing

  • Margins are between 1.25 and 2.5 cm
  • Used 1.0 line spacing

Contact Details

  • Name is large and stands out
  • Name, email, and phone number are at the top
  • Optional details like your address, LinkedIn, and website are added

Introduction

  • Personal statement is 3–5 lines long
  • Highlights key achievements, with numbers where appropriate
  • Summarises your main qualifications

Work History

  • Lists achievements not duties
  • Includes specific numbers where applicable
  • Listed 3–6 bullet points under each entry
  • Uses strong action verbs

Skills

  • Skills from the job advert have been added (and demonstrated in the work history section)

Education

  • Includes your highest qualification, institution name, and result or grade

File

  • CV file is a PDF (or Word document if requested)
  • Uses a professional file name, like Forename-Surname-CV-Job-Title.pdf

Miscellaneous

  • Includes appropriate optional sections (e.g., languages, hobbies, and voluntary work)
  • Added a bit of professional colour (e.g., dark green) to stand out

Worried you might forget one or two of these formatting rules? Use an online CV maker and have your application formatted automatically.

Frequently asked questions about CV layouts

Below are the answers to common questions about laying out and formatting your CV:

1. What’s the best CV format for the UK?

For most job applications, the best CV format is the chronological CV format (also known as the reverse chronological format).

The chronological format organises your work experience in reverse, starting with your most recent job.

All employers are familiar with this CV layout, making it appropriate for any industry as long as you have some previous work experience.

If you haven’t got any work experience, or you’re applying for a job in a new field, a skills-based CV format might be a better choice for you.

A comparison between a dull CV and an eye-catching CV, with a button that leads to the CV Genius CV maker.

2. Where can I download a chronological CV template?

You can download a chronological template from a free CV templates library.

The chronological format is the most common CV format that job applicants use, but it’s also one of the easiest to adjust for different jobs, industries, and company cultures. Our CV template library offers a range of professional CV designs that follow the chronological format, so you have plenty of options to choose from.

If you plan on sending a cover letter with your CV, write it on a downloadable cover letter template that matches your CV template design. This approach will make your application look cohesive and emphasise your attention to detail.

3. How should I structure my CV?

You can structure a professional CV by dividing your document into the following sections:

  1. Header — with your full name and relevant personal details, such as your email and phone number
  2. Personal statement — summarising your key qualifications in 2–4 sentences
  3. Work experience section — listing your relevant employment history, including the employer name, employment dates, job location, and 3–5 responsibilities or achievements
  4. Education section — specifying any degrees, school qualifications, or formal training you’ve received
  5. Skills section — highlighting any hard or soft skills that are important to the role
  6. Hobbies and interests — telling the employer about your favourite hobbies and interests outside of work

4. Should I put references on my CV?

Generally, you shouldn’t put references on your CV. You also don’t need to include the phrase ‘References available on request.’

When you send in your CV, employers are mainly interested in your skills and previous work experience.

And because the proper CV length is only 1–2 pages, you don’t have a lot of space. So focus on emphasising the traits that make you a good fit for the role. If the employer is interested in your application, they’ll ask you to provide references later.

5. How far back should a CV go?

Generally speaking, you only need to include the last 15 years of your work experience.

It’s perfectly acceptable to include jobs you did earlier in your career if they’re very relevant to the job you’re going for. Otherwise, leave them off because they hint at your age, potentially leading to age discrimination.

If you do include these experiences, you don’t need to include as much detail because they happened a long time ago.

For work experience entries over 15 years old, all you need to include is:

  • your job title
  • dates of employment (just including years is fine)
  • employer
  • location
Headshot of Corissa Peterson, standing in front of a bush and smiling slightly, with short brown hair.

Corissa is a Career Counsellor and CV Expert at CV Genius, where she loves equipping others with the tools they need to pursue their dreams. She graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a degree in Philosophy and a certificate in Peace and Conflict Studies. She is a Certified Professional Resume Writer with the PARWCC.