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Tips to having a great looking curriculum vitae

The look of your curriculum vitae will influence your opportunity for an interview. Whereas the format is not everything, it does pay to put one foot in the door by using a great-looking CV. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder Survey, the pressure to make a good first impression quickly is high, as 39 percent of hiring managers said they spend less than a minute looking at a resume and 23 percent spend less than 30 seconds.

In my experience reviewing curriculum vitae for close to 15 years, I believe the following are great ideas on how to make your document stand out and get noticed in less than one minute.

Use of Capital Letters

When writing your curriculum vitae use capital letters sparingly. You can use the CAPITAL letters in the headings and make them bold. Once in BOLD do not underline as this does not serve any purpose. The rest of the document should be in sentence case.

Font Type

You need to use the same type of font across the entire document. Do NOT use the non-formal font types. Suggestions for safe font types to use are Times New Roman, Arial, Gadugi, Calibri, Tahoma, and Verdana.

Font Size

Once you have selected the font type, it is important to consider the font size that you will use in your document. The best font size to use is either 10 or 11 for most font types. Avoid the temptation to use larger font sizes to make the document longer.

Bullet Points

A document that has a mass of words is not pleasing to the eye. Use bullet points rather than numbers in the sections to make your curriculum vitae look neat and attract the recruiter's attention. You should highlight your key responsibilities and achievements using this format. The bullet points used should be the same type across the entire document.

Paragraph Spacing

Avoid the temptation to use large paragraph spacing as is required in an academic paper. Instead, to make your curriculum vitae look neat, ensure that you have uniform spacing on your document preferably single or 1.5 times as a maximum. Avoid using tight spacing too as it makes the text unreadable.


It is important to consider carefully the use of color in your document. At all times, it is safe to use black colour in your curriculum vitae. If you must use a different colour to differentiate the headings, then use a dark font. This is important as the majority of recruiters will print your document in black and white and you need to have all your text viewable.


It is essential to use normal margins when creating your document. This ensures that your content is within printable range and is viewable when printed. The use of wide margins makes the document look untidy.


The use of photographs and graphics in the curriculum vitae should be discouraged at all costs unless explicitly requested by the recruiter or the employer. This has the potential for unconscious bias when shortlisting. When photographs are required to invest in a professionally done photograph that meets the requirements of the employer.

It does take time and effort to come up with an outstanding curriculum vitae. Invest that time and get that great-looking curriculum vitae so that you can make it to the next step in the recruitment process.

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