Everything You Need To Know About an Effective CV Format
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 22 November 2022 | Published 17 August 2021
Updated 22 November 2022
Published 17 August 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
When applying for a job, most recruiters expect you to submit a curriculum vitae (CV) as a basic requirement. The professional document gives employers an effective mental picture of the skills and experience that you could bring to the role. Thus, understanding the proper CV format can help you enhance your CV to make a memorable first impression. In this article, we cover what the best CV format is, explain how to write one and share a few CV examples for your reference.
What is the best CV format?
Usually, the best CV format presents your skills and experience in a clear and concise format. Since recruiters receive dozens of CVs each day, it's important to employ the most legible format so that you can maximise your chances of being shortlisted for an interview. Paying attention to the format of your CV shows your genuine interest in the role. It can help you establish yourself as a top talent. Here's a list of sections you need to include in your CV to achieve the best format requirements:
Key skills and qualifications
Awards and recognitions
List of references
Hobbies and interests
How to format a CV
Considering the font style and size of the content on your CV may seem like minor decisions in the CV writing process, however, they are tools you can use to boost its readability. Job candidates that put in this effort not only enhance the appearance of the information on their CV but also stand out among equally qualified candidates. Review the following guidelines to understand how to format your CV properly:
1. Set one-inch margins
Before you add content to your CV, set up your document properly so that you don't need to make too many adjustments later. Browse through the page settings options on your word processing document to find more customisable tools to format your page. In your margins settings, set one-inch margins for each side. This standard margin size looks more visually appealing. It can help recruiters focus on the content of your CV, rather than the way it's formatted.
2. Use single line spacing
As a job candidate, your goal is to make your CV as detailed as possible. However, it's important to avoid cramming words onto your CV. Setting up your document with single line spacing ensures your content is more readable. This technique ensures your recruiter doesn't feel exhausted when reading about your professional background. Considering the reading habits of your recruiter can help you secure their attention so that they read your CV in its entirety.
3. Pick a legible font and text size
Often, recruiters form their first impression about your candidacy based on the appearance of your CV. This can influence their motivations to read your CV and their judgement about your character. Thus, it's essential to select a professional font for your headers and main body. Some examples of legible fonts include Calibri, Helvetica or Georgia. Try to avoid generic fonts, such as Arial and Times New Roman, as they can appear uninspiring. Use a standard black colour font in size 10- to 12-point to ensure your words are legible.
The format of your CV may change depending on your profession and industry. If you're a creative professional, experiment with different fonts, colours and layouts to show employers your talent. However, make sure to keep your format simple and readable so that it doesn't distract recruiters from the purpose of your CV.
4. Create a professional header
Create a header with your name and contact details at the top of your CV. This way, the document will automatically include your key information on every new page. This is a great navigational tool for recruiters. It allows them to find your contact details easily so that they can reach out to you with their questions or invite you for an interview.
5. Divide your CV into obvious sections
Plan the structure of your CV in advance so that you can use the space in your document efficiently. Make sure your content flows logically. Think of a CV as a story of your professional life that begins with a concise summary of your ambitions and develops into your experiences so far. Review examples of other CVs to gain a deeper understanding of an appropriate structure for yours.
6. Use your chosen format consistently
Consistency ensures your CV appears neat. Thus, remember to use the same font and text size for your headers and main body text. Use formatting tools, such as colour, spacing and other stylistic elements, similarly throughout your CV. This way, the recruiter can stay focused on the content of your CV.
7. Save your CV in the requested format
Review your job description for any specific requirements on the format of your CV. If you find no specific requests, save your CV in either a PDF format or as a word processing document. These standard file formats are available on every computer operating system. It ensures that the recruiter can open your attachment with no errors to the document's structure.
Here are some examples of CVs that adhere to professional formatting conventions for your reference:
Simple format for a CV
The following is an example of a CV with a simple format:
Hong Kong I 9999 6666 | email@example.com
Masters of Communication, 2018
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
The Chinese University of Hong Kong Center for Computational Chemistry
Research Assistant, 2018–2021
Conducted physical and chemical laboratory tests to assist research scientists in qualitative and quantitative analyses.
Operated experimental pilots and assisted in developing new chemical engineering processes.
Maintained all laboratory equipment to ensure a clean and safe work environment for students and faculty.
Key Skills Project management
Fluent in Cantonese, Mandarin and English
Awards and Honours Wolf Foundation
Wolf Prize in Medicine, 2018
Awarded to up to three individuals globally, each year, for achievements in medical science.
Publications and Presentations Understanding Auditory Sensitivity Issues in Children with Autism
2016, World Autism Organisation Conference
Professional Associations Asia-Pacific Society of Journalists and Authors, Hong Kong (2018–Present)
Grants and Scholarships The Chinese University of Hong Kong Grant for Equity and Cultural Diversity, 2016
Association for Applied Sport Psychology
Licenses and Certifications Certificate in Sociological Practice, 2015
Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology
Academic format for a CV
An academic CV is a good option for young graduates with little work experience or professionals who work in the field of education. The following is an example of a CV that's format highlights your academic achievements:
Hong Kong I 2345 2345 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Bachelors of Social Science, 2021
Major in Sociology
Minor in Criminology
City University of Hong Kong
Young Adults Support Group
Program Coordinator, 2018–2021
Designed and implement short courses to educate students on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse
Led support groups to counsel students from grassroots families and help them develop future career goals
Created and published content on company social media channels to engage with students and to build a supportive online community
Key Skills Research and analytical skills
Public speaking skills
Fluent in Cantonese, Mandarin and English
Awards and Honours City University of Hong Kong
Dean's List, 2020
Awarded to up to 10 university students each year for excellence in studies, exam performance and extra curricular activities.
Publications and Presentations An Investigation into Childhood Trauma and Criminal Behaviour
2021, World Sociology Journal
Professional Associations Future Leaders Association, Hong Kong (2019 - 2020)
Grants and Scholarships City University of Hong Kong Grant for Excellence in Learning, 2016
Licenses and Certifications Certificate in Research Skills, 2019
Diploma in Counselling Basics, 2018
Skills format for a CV
The following is an example of a CV with a format that highlights your key soft skills and technical skills:
Hong Kong I 6543 6543 | email@example.com
Bachelors of Business Administration, 2016
The University of Hong Kong
Performed administrative and secretarial support for the Vice President of a large logistics company. Coordinated and managed multiple projects.
Provided discreet secretarial and reception services for a bust family counselling center. Scheduled appointments and maintained accurate, up-to-date confidential client files.
Customer service and reception
Registered patients in hospital emergency room. Demonstrated ability to maintain composure and work efficiently in a fast-paced environment.
Conducted patient interviews to elicit necessary information for registration and to assist medical professionals in their triage process.
Team management and supervision
Promoted rapidly from admin to accounting assistant administrator at an upscale logistics firm. Oversaw all operations including payroll, invoicing and tax declaration forms.
Taken part in staff recruitment, hiring, training and scheduling. Supervised junior receptionist staff.
Accounting Assistant, Growth Logistics Company, Hong Kong
Patient Services Administrator, South Bay Clinic, Hong Kong
Receptionist, Eastern Hospital, Beijing, China
Awards and Honours
South Bay Clinic
Employee of the Year, 2019
Awarded for excellence in administrative support and employee relations management.
Grants and Scholarships The Hong Kong University Student Scholarship, 2015
Licenses and Certifications Certification in Customer Service in the Healthcare Industry, 2019
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