How should I present my CV?

If you are going for a new job, a quick Internet search will dish up countless articles telling you how to design and present a killer CV. There are many approaches, but in terms of presentation they boil down to three main forms: 

  1. The first is the traditional structure: a list of your jobs, beginning with the current or most recent and working back to your very first.
  2. Recently there has been a fashion for reversing this flow and turning the CV into more of a narrative, starting at the beginning and moving forward to where you are now, implying that your career is a developing story soon to reach its spectacular climax.
  3. The third approach is less linear, beginning with a short but bold description of what you do, followed by a finely sculpted 'mission statement' setting out your objectives, with the details of your career tucked in underneath. This gives you the opportunity to persuade the recruiter upfront how you fit the role and persuade them it’s worth the effort to read on.

Take your pick. It’s more important to keep in mind what the purpose of this document is, rather than getting hung up on a particular presentation style. An overworked manager wading through a pile of CVs is unlikely to be impressed because you’re using one rather than another. What they want is something that tells them clearly and simply what you’ve done and (therefore) what you could do for them. The rest is irrelevant.

The same applies to visual design. Keep it uncluttered and clean. Beyond that, a crisp, eye-catching CV won’t hurt your chances (particularly if you’re going for a job as a graphic designer!) but employers will see right through a fancy design if it’s not backed up by substance. 

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.