5 quick CV fixes in under 5 minutes

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When I started my career in recruitment, I didn’t realised just how much of my day was going to be spent correcting CVs. Luckily I had previously worked for PwC and Deloitte as an in-house Document Editor for a number of years. Therefore, I can spot even the most minor errors like extra spaces or illogical capitalisation from a mile away.

So, in the interest of helping with some quick fixes you can apply today to your CV, I’ve put together a list of 5 tips on how to make your CV appear consistent and professional.

1. Font type

Make sure your CV has the same font running throughout. Often I see people switching from Times New Roman to Arial and back. There’s really no right or wrong answer as to which font you should use, though generally Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman prove the most popular. Just please, never Comic Sans; you don’t want to be that candidate.

2. Font size

Again, ensure that you’re consistent with font size. You may decide to highlight subheadings with a slightly larger font than the body of the CV but just ensure you’re consistent throughout. If one job is written in a smaller font than another, what is this communicating to a prospective employer, that the role was less important or significant? As a general rule, font sizes 10 or 12 are most common.

3. Boxes and borders

Often a nightmare for anyone trying to format a CV. Depending on the type of CV you’re preparing you may or may not want to use boxes and different formats.

For designers, this is perfectly normal and can help to demonstrate your creative flair and thought process. For other disciplines though, it’s often better to go with a clean and simple design. I understand why people like to use boxes and borders for certain sections of their CV, however they don’t always translate when viewed with different tools, and if converting a PDF to Word, all formatting will be lost and send everything out of sync.

4. Language (US or UK)

Perhaps a smaller detail, but to keep it looking professional, be consistent. Switching between “realised” and “realized”, for example, may be seen as a candidate not paying attention to detail (so if you do this, make sure one of your listed skills isn’t “paying attention to detail”).

5. Extra touches to avoid

Depending on industry, in addition to not using borders, it’s also a good idea to not use different colours, backgrounds or clip art. Italics should also be considered twice before use.

Finally, if you have used design elements in your CV that you wish to present to an employer, it’s worth confirming with your recruiter that you do not wish for it to be formatted. Otherwise you may find they make a mess of it by converting it to another format.

So there you have it, 5 quick fixes you can apply in under 5 minutes.

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