What should my CV look like?

The dos and don’ts of formatting your CV

Should I use colour on my CV?

There’s absolutely no reason why your CV shouldn’t include a splash of colour! It’s one of the few ways that you can bring a bit of your personality to the document and it can make your CV stand out from the others in the pile.


That said, there’s a right way and a wrong way to add colour. Remember, you want to come across as a serious professional, not a child who’s just discovered all the formatting options in Word. Here are some general guidelines on using colour on your CV, to make sure you’re standing out for the right reasons:


  • Try to stick to two colours, with one of them being black
  • Use colour to highlight, not distract – the content should speak for itself
  • Make sure that the colour doesn’t detract from the readability – avoid yellow on white, for example, and ensure the CV is readable both on screen and on a printout
  • Using colour in headings can work well


Using colour on your CV won’t have any effect on its ability to be read by an
ATS – human readers should be your priority when considering the impact of colour.


Should I include a photo on my CV?

In the UK, it is strongly advised NOT to include a photo on your CV. We have anti-discrimination laws that prevent employers from judging your application based on your skin colour, age, gender, religion and other characteristics that can be deduced from a photo. While some of this information may become evident on close reading of your CV, a photo will be the first impression a recruiter gets of your and their bias, conscious or not, could affect their opinion on your suitability for the role. Additionally, if your CV is scanned into an ATS, a photo has a high chance of affecting its readability.


Should I include my logos on my CV?

A good CV should definitely not include your employers’ branding or logos from training companies! It happens more often than you’d think, as candidates hope to use the brand equity to impress future employers. But the CV should be about YOU, not them. The CV is not meant to sell your employer, it’s meant to sell you, your skills, your experience and your suitability. And don’t forget, these graphics will also negatively affect your CV’s readability when it’s scanned.


Should I use a CV template I found on the internet?

There are some eye-catching and unique templates available for free on the internet, which will certainly help your CV to stand out. There are several problems with using them, though. Firstly, the most popular ones are used by so many people that, although you think you’ve got an original, stand-out CV, there are thousands of other people using the same template and thinking the same thing. Canva and Microsoft Word are particular culprits here!


Secondly, they tend to be a one-size-fits-all approach. If you want to emphasise one section over another, add a new section or expand something, the format of the whole CV is thrown out and your document ends up looking disjointed, amateur and unfinished.


Thirdly, the vast majority of templates are created by designers, rather than by someone with an understanding of ATS. While your CV may look spectacular to a human, the ATS parsing may render it absolute nonsense and your hard work will be for nothing.


CV Shed has prepared a range of
adaptable, ATS-friendly templates, which are a cost-effective alternative to a professionally written CV and which come with a PDF copy of the eBook
Write a CV for the Modern Job Market, to help you fill out the template with impressive content.


Are the CV rules different for creative careers?

If you’re looking to progress a creative career, such as in design, fashion or animation, a traditional black and white CV may not show you off to your best advantage. CVs are becoming increasingly creative, with recent examples designed to look like computer games, printed on company packaging and displayed on billboards. Are these the CVs of the future?


Probably not. While they’re eye-catching, they can’t really be filed away neatly for future reference or taken into an interview. That’s not to say they don’t have their place and for creative careers they certainly make the applicant stand out – just be prepared to back up your creative CV with a more traditional, paper-based, content-focused CV if you decide to take this path.


Ready to write your CV?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of writing your CV, or you’re not quite sure how to present your experience, CV Shed can help! Please get in touch to
order a CV template or CV rewrite or take a look at the
website for more information.

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