CV Format | Everything You Need to Know (+12 Examples) – CV Nation

CV Format | How to Format Your CV (With 12 CV Examples)

The ultimate guide to CV format, with 12 professionally-formatted CV samples and a free CV template that you can download now.

CV format is one of the most fundamental aspects of CV writing. Using the appropriate CV format enables you to communicate your skills, experiences and sellable qualities in the most effective manner.

Sound CV formatting also ensures Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) – a type of recruitment screening software used by many HR departments – are able to read your CV.

In this guide, we’ll show you the best CV format for job applications in your profession and industry, as well as how to improve your CV formatting. We also provide 12 CV examples, including a free CV template that you can download now.

Types of CV

There are three main types of CVs: reverse-chronological, functional and hybrid.

How do you choose the right type of CV?

First, let’s take a look at the reverse-chronological, functional and hybrid CVs to learn how they’re structured and what their benefits are.

Reverse-Chronological CV

The reverse-chronological CV is the most commonly used type of CV. Most recruiters prefer the reverse-chronological CV because it provides all the relevant information in an easy-to-follow manner.

This type of CV focuses mostly on candidates’ work history, starting with their most recent job and working backwards.

One of the benefits of using the reverse-chronological format is that ATS can easily follow and read the sections. Using the other format may prevent ATS from determining your suitability for the job.

Benefits of the reverse-chronological CV format include:

  • Demonstrates your career progression
  • Preferred by many recruiters
  • Easily read by ATS
  • Illustrates your suitability for roles by focusing on your experience in similar roles

Of course, if your career progression has been interrupted or you’re looking for a career change, you may want to consider using one of the other CV formats.

Functional (Skills-Based) CV

The functional CV, also known as a skills-based CV, places the majority of the focus on key skills, rather than work experience. With functional CVs, a good deal of the first page is dedicated to describing key skills.

Functional CVs are ideal for those who are seeking a career-change. This is because you can describe your transferable skills in detail and show how you have used them to achieve success.

Functional CVs are also a good option for those with significant gaps in their employment history as it enables the focus to be moved away from career gaps and onto skills.

Hybrid (Combination) CV

The hybrid CV combines aspects of the reverse-chronological and functional CVs, allowing candidates to draw attention to specific sections, depending on which areas are more important for them.

Hybrid CVs often include an achievements section or a performance highlights section.

The hybrid CV is highly beneficial for those who want to illustrate certain parts of their career history while showcasing their standout achievements and unique skills.

What is the Best CV Format?

In the majority of cases, the best CV format is the reverse-chronological type of CV. These CVs start with your contact details, followed by a professional profile, and then a brief skills section (optional). Then your work experience is listed in reverse-chronological order, followed by your education section and an additional information section.

This the best CV format because most recruiters prefer it and it allows them to quickly view your career progression.


CV Sections

Traditional CVs are formatted in the following way:

- Name and Contact Details

- Professional Profile/Personal Statement

- Key Skills

- Work Experience

- Education

- Additional Information

There are a number of other sections that you may want to considering adding to your CV, depending on your experience and profession.

For example, if you’ve achieved prestigious honours and awards, you can include an honours and awards section. Further sections that may be relevant for your CV include publications, presentations, memberships, voluntary work and extra-curricular activities.


Improving Your CVs Formatting

Margins

Ideally, your CV’s margins should be between 0.5” and 1” on all sides.

If you have a lot of content to include and need more space, try narrowing your margins. Or if you’ve got a lot of white space that you’re trying to lose, you may want to consider widening your margins.

If you’re using Microsoft Word, you can change your CV’s margins by clicking ‘Layout’, then ‘Margins’, and then ‘Custom Margins’.

Heading and Borders

To make your CV look professional and easy to follow, separate your CV's different sections with professional borders. These should be positioned above or below your section headings.

To make your headers stand out, format the text in boldface and make it larger than your CV’s body text.

To add borders in Microsoft Word, highlight the heading, click ‘Design’, then click ‘Page Borders’, then choose your preferred border and click ‘OK’.

Spacing

Adding spacing between your CV’s heading, paragraphs and sections is one of the best ways of improving the format of your CV.

By introducing spacing, you’ll ensure your CV is easy to read and doesn’t contain large blocks of unattractive text.

To add spacing to your CV in word, highlight the text, click ‘Layout’, then navigate to ‘Spacing’, and select the amount of spacing you would like to add.

White Space

When preparing your CV, it’s important to find the right balance of white space. Too much white space may make your CV seem empty. Too little white space could make your CV look cluttered.

Take a look at the CV samples in this guide to see how the perfect balance of white space makes for a great reading experience.

Bullet Points

Bullet points help to break up blocks of text and make your CV easier to read. They can also make your achievements stand out.

Don’t include too many bullet points. Excessively large lists of bullet points defeats their purpose and take attention away from the key information.


12 Professionally-Formatted CV Examples

To show you what good CV formatting looks like, we’ve included 12 CV samples. These CV templates benefit from excellent formatting, so feel free to get one for yourself and improve your job search.

CV Template 1 (Free)
Free CV Template

This simple design, which uses the reverse-chronological format, showcases the candidate's experiences and qualifications in a concise manner.

This CV template is completely free. Feel free to download yours now.

CV Template 2

This traditional style CV uses the reverse-chronological format. It illustrates the individual's career progression in a simple to follow way while showcasing his ability to add value.

CV Template 3

If you like to be a bit more creative with your CV, this is the perfect template for you. It uses icons, colours, shapes and multiple columns to draw quick attention to the key information.

CV Template 4

This CV is designed to focus on education. It's a good CV format for students, especially students with no work experience.

CV Template 5

This stylish CV uses the reverse-chronological format. It's a good choice for those who have many technical skills that they want to highlight.

CV Template 6

This skills-based CV is perfect for people who are looking for a career change, have numerous career gaps or little work experience.

This is also a great CV format for graduates, as it enables them to showcase their skills obtained during their academic experiences.

CV Template 7

This CV contains multiple sections that don't contain a lot of information. The use of double columns ensures a good balance of white space and simple navigation to all sections.

CV Template 8

Professional and polished, this CV sample has a corporate feel to it. It uses a traditional format that is designed to highlight career successes and career progression.

CV Template 9

This CV is attractive, easy to follow and professionally-formatted. The contrasting colours clearly separate the sections and help the reader to quickly locate the most important details.

CV Template 10

Are you pursuing jobs in Continental Europe or the Middle East? This is an ideal CV format for Europe and Middle East applications, as the narrow column on the left-hand side allows for the inclusion of a photo and any required personal details.

Photos are usually required on CVs for applications in Continental Europe. CVs for applications in the Middle East should usually contain a photo and personal information, such as nationality.

CV Template 11

Looking for a management CV? This traditional CV focuses heavily on the candidate's work experience, enabling him to illustrate his international management experience.

CV Template 12

This voguish CV template use skill boxes and icons to effectively show off the candidate's core competencies. The CV is also easy to navigate, which is important when applying for jobs as recruiters have so many CVs to get through.


When applying for jobs, you should usually submit your CV in Word format, unless you have been requested to use a different format. PDF format is ideal for printing as documents in PDF maintain their shape on all devices.

However, ATS may struggle to read certain aspects of your CV in PDF format.

Hopefully this guide has helped you learn about CV formats and find the right CV format for you. Want to know more about CV writing? Check out our all-inclusive guide to writing a great CV.


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