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The first stage in creating a Professional CV is to think about the design you are going to use. As with any written communication you need to put yourself in the shoes of the reader, in this case recruiters, and design your CV with them in mind. Although you want your CV to stand out from other candidates you also want to display key information in such a way that it is easy for recruiters to find.

Recruiters want to extract key information as quickly as possible. A study carried out by the recruitment company, The Ladders, revealed that the average recruiter takes only 6 seconds to scan a CV. In just 80% of this time or 4,8 seconds, they hope to find the following data:

  • the candidate’s name

  • their education

  • their current title and company

  • their previous title and company

  • the start and end dates for current and previous positions

After reviewing these areas, the study discovered that the remaining 1.2 seconds is spent looking for key skills that matched the position on offer.

To be able to do this in such a short time, recruiters generally prefer professionally designed CV’s to self-created ones as they are usually more simple, clean and compact.

So how can you make your CV look professional, stylish and easy to read? Let’s look at some areas to consider when designing your CV:


Make sure your resume is engaging and easy to read. Recruiters know what they are looking for so draw attention to the most relevant information by using white spaces, bold headlines and bullet points. Organise your CV sections so the information is easy to find. Make sure that your education and work experience are clearly visible by placing them at the top of the page.

Two column resumes are becoming more popular these days and whilst they may be more aesthetically pleasing, vital data is more readily found in a simple one column CV.

Take a look at these two example CV’s, how long does it take you to find the crucial information that recruiters need?


Fonts play an important role in CV design. When used efficiently they can help highlight key information to give recruiters what they are looking for .


Fonts vary in height and weight so the correct size to use will depend on your choice of typeface but as a basic rule aim for 10–12 pts for the longer body texts and 14-16 pts for headings.

Font types

Combining different typefaces will also help to make your headings stand out and can emphasize crucial details. For more information on font choices and pairing, see our article on THE BEST FONTS FOR MY CV.


Bold text is great for drawing particular attention to a few words and can help subtitles or dates stand out without having to enlarge them.


Italics are another option for enhancing key words but can sometimes be difficult to read. Use them sparingly, to support secondary or less important information such as the location of the University where you took your degree, or the place you worked.

Underlining Avoid underlining words or phrases in a resume or cover letter, as it just adds too much formatting and makes the document feel cluttered.


Adding colour to your resume can create a more defined look but colours can also be distracting. Use them carefully, stick to subtle colours such as greys or blues. Avoid yellow, pink and purple.

Coloured back drops can help draw attention to headings, but avoid using coloured fonts as they are difficult to read so produce the opposite effect.

Don't get put in the NO pile, make sure your CV is designed with the recruiter in mind.

If you would like more help with your CV or cover letter, take a look at our WORK PLUS courses ...


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Everything you need to know about interviews in English. Learn strategies to deal with every question and scenario you could face…

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