Your CV should lay out the entirety of your educational and professional experience, as well as your skills, achievements, licences, and certifications. This vital professional document encompasses everything that makes you valuable to an employer in 2021, so make sure you format it properly.
The Standard CV Layout
From top to bottom, we’ve outlined the best CV layout for the majority of UK job hunters. If you’re only interested in the layout, take a look at our CV format infographic. Or if you want to know what to detail in each section, read on for more information.
1. CV Title
Regardless of your preferred CV layout, you should always format your CV with your personal details at the top. Critical contact information to provide employers includes your:
- Email address
- Mobile phone number
Additional details you can put in your CV header if they make you a more compelling candidate are your:
- LinkedIn profile
- Professional website or portfolio
- Postal address
- Current job title
2. Personal statement
A CV personal statement is a three-sentence paragraph (or three-to-four bullets) you place just below your personal details. Your statement should summarise your professional experience, expertise, achievements, and main career goal — providing the reader with a quick overview of what to expect in your CV.
3. Work experience
Professional experience is usually more relevant to your job hunt than your educational background, so if you have plenty of experience related to your desired job, place it directly underneath your personal statement.
Begin with your most recent job title at the top, and descend chronologically. Go as far back as necessary — if you’ve been working for several decades you don’t need to mention positions you held just after uni unless they’re extremely relevant to the job you want.
Each job title you list should also include the dates you worked there, as well as bullet points detailing the duties and achievements associated with the position. When possible, use numbers to add some colour and context (i.e. rather than ‘trained new employees’, say ‘trained four new employees over two years’).
Unless you lack professional experience or are applying to a teaching or research role in a university position, your education details should follow your experience section on your CV.
Place your highest degree at the top here and descend chronologically. For example, if you have a Master’s degree, place it above your Bachelor’s. For your university degree, include your university’s name, degree title and classification, dissertation topic, and relevant modules. When listing your A-levels and GCSEs, name the school where you studied for them and your grades.
Skills for a CV generally include soft skills (such as communication, organisation, and time management) and hard skills (like foreign languages, computer applications, and software).
The skills you list in your CV’s skills section should be some of your greatest professional abilities — ones relevant to the position you want. On a standard CV layout, you should list your skills as bullets in one or two columns.
6. Additional sections
You can also include minor additional sections at the bottom of your CV to highlight other professional qualifications. Just make sure the placement of those sections in your CV’s format is based on their relevance to the job you want (with the most relevant listed first).
Some details you can list in these additional sections include:
- Professional certifications
- Associations and memberships
- Additional training and coursework
- Conferences you’ve attended
- Hobbies and interests
However, note that there are instances where these details are more vital to a specific job, and should thus be formatted elsewhere on your CV. For instance, if you’re writing an academic CV, your publications should directly follow your education and experience sections.
How to Properly Format Your CV
In addition to the structure of your CV, the formatting details (like font, font size, margins, and more) are important. While these details aren’t as significant as the content of your CV, they still impact the employer’s first impression of you and set the tone for your application.
Here’s how to layout your CV in 2021 to the best effect:
1. Choose an appropriate CV font
The best font for your CV is:
- Easy to read
- Appropriate for the job you want
For the majority of your CV, the font size should be between 10 and 12 points. Just make sure everything is readable, because some font styles are smaller than others.
If you’re worried the font you’re using on your CV is hard to read or too informal, pick a different font. Here’s a list of professional CV fonts that work for just about any industry:
- Times New Roman
2. Use 1.27–2.5 cm margins, 1–1.5 line spacing
2.5 cm margins are the standard for most printed documents in the UK, and they’re also standard for CVs. However, if you’re trying to fit more of your professional details onto one page, you can reduce the margins to 1.27 cm on all sides. Don’t shrink them any more than that, or your CV will appear jam-packed.
Use single or 1.5 line spacing to neatly condense information without making your CV feel too tight (or spread out).
3. Make the title of each section clear and consistent
To make the titles of your CV sections clear, follow standard naming conventions. Don’t get creative here, aim for clarity. ‘Key Skills’ is a clear section name, ‘Things I’m good at’ is not.
Section titles that appear on a normal CV layout include:
- Contact Information
- Personal Statement
- Licences & Certifications
- Hobbies & Interests
To be consistent, use the same font, font size, and font colour for each section. This makes it easy for the reader to navigate through the pages of your CV, and locate the information they’re curious about.
Skills-based CV Layout
If your job-related skills make you a more attractive candidate than your work experience, or if you have a spotty work history (with periods of unemployment), a skills based CV layout is a good option for you.
The format of a skills-based CV is similar to the standard CV layout. However, the main difference is that a skills-based CV includes a large skills section and a small experience section (rather than the other way around).
Under each skill you include in your skills-based CV format, provide examples of when you used that particular skill. And for each example, include a number if possible, because numbers provide the reader with more context.