There are many possible layouts and formats when creating your curriculum vitae, but this is the CV format that is expected by professionals. Our step by step guide walks you through each section, explaining what information is required and how it should be laid out.
CV format: length
The length of a CV depends on what role you are applying for. A medical CV for example may extend to three pages in total; however this is quite unique and typically three or more pages would be overkill.
The industry standard is two pages, which is what you should certainly be aiming for if you want to attract the attention of an employer. Any more than two pages tends to lose the attention of the reader as they would typically like to be able to quickly scan through a CV to ascertain whether or not the candidate is right for the role. With literally hundreds of applications to read, the hiring manager has to make a quick judgement call on which CV to add to the ‘shortlist’ pile for a potential interview. Having three or more pages CV could mean that yours is overlooked!
For further information on the correct length of a CV, read our article ‘How long should a CV be?‘
CV format: objective statement (3 – 4 lines)
This is probably the most important part of your CV as it’s the first section the recruiter reads to start to get to know you as a person. If you fail to deliver in your statement, then the chances of them reading the rest just got a whole lot lower!
For the perfect guide on how to create a fantastic objective statement, read the relevant section of our article ‘4 super easy ways to make your CV stand out‘.
CV format: qualifications (highest level to lowest level)
This section is quite self explanatory, but it’s worth noting that you can again consider what is the most important and relevant to the role you are applying for. Typically there isn’t anything wrong with listing all of your qualifications, and ensuring that you put the most relevant to the top, perhaps giving a little more detail if appropriate. Don’t forget to also show what grade you achieved IF this would enhance the qualification.
The typical format for higher level qualifications is to give the qualification and institution where you studied – for example:
BSc Computer Science (Upper second class honours) – Jan 2013 – March 2016
University of Liverpool
For lower level qualifications, such as GCSEs and A Levels, it isn’t absolutely necessary to name your school or college. You certainly do not need to name earlier schools.
CV format: interests and hobbies
Listing sports or fitness activities amongst your interests tells your employer that you take an interest in your health = fewer sick days!
When writing your hobbies and interests section:
- List 3 – 5 hobbies
- Emphasise any health-enhancing activity (sports, fitness etc)
- Choose hobbies that put you in a good light from an employer’s perspective
- Avoid overly quirky hobbies – save these for when your new colleagues have got to know you better!
Although this section may seem quite insignificant, you’d be surprised at how often a recruiter looks at this section with a keen eye. This is probably one of the best areas of a CV for an employer to get an idea of your personality, and although it may not be entirely accurate, a picture can be drawn from here of what type of person you are.
If you enjoy volunteering at the local woodland park at the weekend, then instantly you get a sense that you are someone who is helpful and generous, and likes to work hard without expecting a huge reward other than job satisfaction.
If you are a keen reader and like to read serial killer novels, then clearly you are a nutcase and the police should be notified instantly… (just kidding of course – I love a good crime book!)
But you can see what we mean when we say how important this section could be when the employer is trying to build up a picture of what you are like in their mind. Of course, this shouldn’t make or break your chances of an interview, but you can of course highlight some great hobbies and interests which sum you up as a person.
You must avoid stating these kinds of hobbies:
I like socialising on the weekend
This basically means you like to get drunk on Saturday night!
I like hanging out with my friends
It might be true, but it doesn’t sound very interesting!
For more on preparing the interests and hobbies section, read our article ‘Does the hobbies and interests section of my CV really matter?‘
Now you know the best CV format, why not choose from our CV templates free collection?