Improving CV Presentation

Many people have a CV that could be improved in relation to presentation. That said, CVs come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and formats, and the solution may differ from one person to the next.

Common problems with presentation

Dated formats

One very common problem is the use of dated CV formats – of which there are still a great many in circulation. Some people feel more comfortable using the same CV format that they have done for years, or even decades. Also, some jobseekers prefer a more traditional look. Things like this are subjective, and ultimately the decision is yours. However, just be aware that if your CV looks dated then it’s probably not going to achieve that first impression that you wanted to send out to employers – and especially not when applying to forward facing, modern employers.

Long CVs

The recommended maximum length for a CV is two pages, and presentation-wise nothing beats a really stylish one page CV.

On the other side of the coin, the longer a CV is the more it tends to negatively impact on presentation. So much so that long CVs can often be a deterrent to read – something which in CV terms is potentially fatal!

Cluttered CVs

If your CV is cluttered then pretty much immediately it has a negative impact on presentation and first impressions. This is fairly common knowledge, but it is surprising just how many people apply for good jobs with CVs than are cluttered and not presentable.

The solution to this is either;
- using a better format
- improving your writing so that you say more but in fewer words
or better still both of the above!

Overcomplicated CVs

Some CVs are too complicated and this frequently negatively impacts on presentation. People overcomplicate CVs in all manner of ways, including the content, however from a presentation perspective, common issues include inserting graphics, including ungainly tables and adding colourful fonts. Sometimes people also exacerbate matters further by over using effects such as bold and italics.

CV that are all the same font can sometimes be a bit plain/dull/boring, so sometimes it does make sense to enhance things. At the same time, need to get the balance right, and many people don’t.

Lack of care and attention

Some CVs would be quite well presented if it were not for a lack of care and attention. Surprisingly a great many CVs lose impact due to a broad range of issues such as not lining things up properly, jumbling up font sizes and including various inconsistencies such as inconsistent in the spacing.

If you look at the majority of CVs is likely that you will find at least some examples of lack of attention to detail. A surprising amount jobseekers either don’t seem to care, or don’t seem to pick up on matters of fine detail.

The only trouble is it doesn’t mean to say that employers don’t care or that employers don’t pick up on the fine detail – because they do!

Dangers of improving presentation!

This sounds like a contradiction in terms. And it is certainly a strange title. However, to elaborate…
Many people know for example that if their CV is too long then this is a problem. Similarly, most jobseekers know that cluttered CVs are not the best, overcomplicated CVs are highly problematic and that dated formats are probably a bad idea.

With this in mind on other candidates set to work changing things, but they tend to do quite haphazardly and without any thought about the potential consequences.

So for example, a common mistake is to resort to tiny font sizes in order to refine a CV a better length. This isn’t fixing the problem. All it does is swap one problem with a different one. Similarly, some people update their dated CVs to the most modern looking format they can find, such as one of the highly graphic formats. This is all well and good inasmuch as it arguably looks better, but what people tend to forget (or not realise) is that there are usually repercussions associated with changing your CV to a highly graphic format. Amongst other things, a significant proportion of employers prefer more formal/conventional looking CVs, there is also usually less space for text, which in turn eats into your all-important selling space, and additionally, the file size of some highly graphic formats are so large that they can’t be sent (or received) reliably by e-mail. Obviously this is a major problem because it means your application may never get read!

Overall, there is far more to improving your CV presentation than meets the eye. In some respects it is a bit of a minefield because even some of the solutions are fraught with potential danger if you do not know what you’re doing.

At the same time, if your CV is lacking presentation-wise then you really are better off being proactive about it than just sitting on the fence and hoping no one will notice – because they almost certainly will. And immediately!