If you want to write a CV that impresses employers and wins job interviews, starting the process with a professional CV layout is essential.
When your CV has a logical structure and clear formatting, the employer can easily spot your relevant skills and qualifications. Furthermore, you’ll show you know how to present key information in a clear, concise format — a highly desirable skill in every industry.
An effective CV layout should include a:
- CV header with your contact information
- concise personal statement outlining your key qualities
- summary of your relevant work experience
- education section listing your formal qualifications
- skills section highlighting any key abilities that will help you succeed in the role
Best CV layout example for most job applications
If you’ve got a little bit of work experience and are applying for an entry-level or mid-level job, this example is the best CV format for you.
Feel free to download this layout as a Word (docx) file to quickly personalise it and ensure your experience and skills are formatted clearly and professionally.
This layout is effective because it uses a chronological CV format, which means it lists your work experience in reverse, starting with your most recent job.
The chronological CV layout is appropriate for any industry or employer. However, depending on your specific situation, other layouts may be more appropriate. For example, a skills-based CV layout may be more helpful if you’re starting a new career, whereas a visual CV layout is more effective for pursuing opportunities in creative fields.
Employers in certain industries expect applicants to lay out their CVs differently from standard job applications. Check job-specific CV examples to see what standards are in place in your industry.
6 alternative CV layouts for specific situations
Depending on your situation, a simple CV layout might not be the best way to structure your application. You might need a CV that helps you:
- emphasise core skills for your first-ever job
- explain a major industry or career change
- summarise various skills or achievements for a highly technical or senior role
These alternative CV layouts are useful resources for tailoring your CV structure to your specific needs as a job candidate. You can download each CV layout as a template and personalise it with your information.
1. Skills-based CV format for no-experience job applicants
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.
Here’s how a skills-based CV is laid out:
2. Education-focused CV layout for students and recent graduates
Fresh out of uni and starting your career? Writing your internship CV? The best CV format for you is one that leads with your skills or education.
As you’ve just graduated, you won’t have much relevant work experience yet. So instead, advertise the skills and knowledge you gained on your course by highlighting them at the top of your student CV. That way, the employer will notice them sooner.
You can also include optional details, such as relevant units, projects, or your dissertation title. Such information showcases how your degree and college or secondary school qualifications have prepared you for the job.
Here’s what your graduate CV might look like when laid out to push your education:
3. Professional CV layout for experienced workers
When hiring for more senior positions, employers pivot toward your work history and previous achievements.
A chronological CV format will do the trick when applying for a management position, but some additional adjustments will maximise your self-marketing potential.
This sample management CV shows how a stripped-down design helps emphasise your extensive work experience and create a strong career arc demonstrating your readiness to take on greater responsibility.
4. Creative CV layout for artists, writers, and designers
If you’re looking for work in a creative field, you should organise your CV around your key skills and achievements.
For example, if you’re making a copywriter CV and can write in multiple foreign languages, you should add a languages section to your CV. Likewise, if you’re a graphic designer, add a section highlighting the tools or design software you’re proficient in.
Furthermore, if you’re working in a visual field, consider using graphic elements or CV icons to make the structure of your CV easy to scan for key information, like the creative layout below:
5. CV layout for IT jobs
A projects section is one of the best ways to show what returns you’ll offer if you’re added to their team:
6. One-page CV layout
If you’re early in your career or writing your first CV, you might be unable to fill out a two-page CV.
So instead, format your experience and skills using a one-page CV layout like the one below.
One-page CVs are more concise and less detailed than longer CVs, but with careful formatting, they can look to the point and professional.
This one-page layout uses a colourful header and twin-column format to make the applicant’s profile easy to scan for key information:
6 essential formatting tips for laying out your CV
Regardless of the layout you choose, there are a few things you should always be mindful of when formatting your CV’s contents.
Here are six tips to help you ensure that your CV formatting is clean, professional, and easy for the employer to follow.
1. Make sure you have the right amount of white space
CVs that don’t have enough white space look crowded and are difficult to read.
Help the employer scan your CV for key details by setting margins between 1.27–2.5 cm.
The standard margin size for UK CVs is 2.5 cm. But if you’re trying to fit more professional details onto the pages, you can reduce the margins to 1.27 cm on all sides.
Your line spacing should be between 1–1.5, which will neatly space information without making your CV feel too tight or spread out.
2. Use an appropriate font and text size
Use an easy-to-read CV font, so employers have no issues reviewing your qualifications.
The Best Fonts for a CV
- Times New Roman
You should size standard text at 10–12 points. You can write section headers in a larger font size (e.g., 14–16 points) and size your name up to 30 points.
You can use one font for section headers and a different font for standard text. But make sure your font choices look professional and complement each other.
3. Make easy-to-skim section headers
Clearly label your CV sections with headers (and subheaders where applicable) so recruiters can quickly find the information they’re looking for. You can make your headings stand out with:
- bold and italic text
- all capital letters
- appropriate colours (like dark blue or green)
- design elements like lines, coloured bars, and icons
Here’s a UK CV template with a layout that features clear section headings:
4. Ensure your CV’s length reflects your experience
The standard CV length is two pages, which is typically enough space for all necessary CV sections.
But a one-page CV is acceptable if you’re a recent graduate or have no experience.
Writing a three-page CV or longer is appropriate if you’re:
- applying for executive or senior positions
- writing an academic CV
- addressing a specific skill set
- including previous projects and publications related to your target role
5. Set clear, readable columns
Columns can be a useful way to demonstrate your design skills and fit more information on your CV. However, you should ensure that your columns are still easy to scan for information.
For multi-column CVs, use a 1:2 ratio column, where one column is double the width of the other. Then, put your most important CV section (normally work experience) in the wider column so it catches the employer’s attention.
Here’s an example of how properly formatted columns look on a CV:
6. Save your CV as a PDF
Sending your CV in PDF format ensures it retains its formatting no matter what computer the employer uses. So you don’t need to worry about your fonts, graphics, or white space looking different when the employer looks at your CV.
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 six common questions about laying out and formatting your CV:
1. How should I structure a CV?
You can structure a professional CV that impresses employers by dividing your document into the following sections:
- Header — with your full name and relevant personal details, such as your email and phone number
- Personal statement — summarising your key qualifications in 2–4 sentences
- Work experience section — listing your relevant employment history, including the employer name, employment dates, job location, and 3–5 responsibilities or achievements
- Education section — specifying any degrees, school qualifications, or formal training you’ve received
- Skills section — highlighting any hard or soft skills that are important to the role
- Hobbies and interests — telling the employer about your favourite hobbies and interests outside of work
2. 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 against you.
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
Here’s an example of what an old work experience entry should look like:
3. What’s the best format for a CV?
The best CV format for most job applications is the chronological CV format (also known as the reverse chronological format).
The chronological format organises your work experience in reverse, starting with the most recent job you did.
Most employers will be familiar with the chronological format, making it appropriate for any industry if you have some previous work experience.
If you haven’t got any work experience at all, or are applying for a job in a new field, a skills-based format might be a better choice for you.
4. Where can I download a chronological CV template?
You can download a chronological template from a free CV templates library.
The chronological CV 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. Therefore, the best CV template libraries for UK jobs offer various designs that follow the chronological CV format, the standard CV layout in Britain.
5. 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.
6. How do I make my CV look good visually?
Here are a few things you can do to make your CV look good visually:
- Use a clean CV layout with clear section headings and an easy-to-follow structure
- Choose a professional font like Times New Roman, Arial, or Verdana, and use it consistently throughout the document
- Make sure you have enough white space by setting your margins between 1.27–2.5 cm
- Use colour wisely, for example, by using sober professional hues like navy blue or burgundy to highlight section headers (stick to a black-and-white CV for traditional employers)