I wanted to share a few tips, from a recruiter's perspective, on how to make your CV easy to read and shed some insight into the ideal formatting and content.
As a recruiter, one of the most challenging aspects of my job is often dissecting the correct information from CV's. I'm sure that almost everybody has a different ideology when it comes to formatting, visuals and content, and I'll be the first to put my hand up when I say that I've previously just thrown a bunch of words together and hoped for the best. But the fact of the matter is, the easier your resume is to digest, the more chance you have of being successful with a role. This doesn't mean it has to be boring!

A CV is typically broken down into five or six sections:
  1. Contact
  2. Intro
  3. Skills 
  4. Work History
  5. Education
  6. References (optional).
Each one of these sections should be headed with larger text and be easy to scroll to and from when required. Nobody likes a CV that's difficult to navigate through. Sometimes you just want to find where that candidate went to university, what skills they have, or where they've previously worked.
I’ve broken down each section below!
Name: make it clear, make sure it's at the top, and if you have a preferred name, use it. You'll feel a lot more comfortable speaking with someone on a first-name basis if they're referring to you as a name you prefer. Trust me, I'm called Timothy.

Phone: mobile numbers are preferred. I have legitimately seen a contact number on a CV which was for the office of their current role. This is not a good idea.

Email: again, avoid using work emails. Do you really want HR to find out that you're interviewing elsewhere before you've had the chance to tell them? Tres-awkward

Location: Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, up Schitt's creek without a paddle so largely looking for remote work. Make it clear where you are and what your options are. Are you willing to travel?

LinkedIn: Most recruiters and employers are using LinkedIn to cross-check a CV, or even to digest bad CV's (I do this every day). Make sure your work history and skills align. If anything, use LinkedIn as an inspiration for writing your CV.

GitHub/ Stack Overflow / Any coding examples: a huge plus for developers. It can often help skip an interview stage and is considered a great tool to get an insight into what you have an interest in. 

Keep it short and sweet. We don't need to know the name of your Auntie's dog. Though I would like to know this information, just not on a CV.

Highlight your forte: "Experienced Front End Developer with a strong understanding of JavaScript technologies". It's a good chance to set an impression before someone goes deep into reading your CV.

What do you want that's relative to your career? Are you wanting to stay hands-on? Do you want to lead a team? Do you want to learn new technologies? Do you want to sit in the server room eating a box of dairy lea dunkers on your own? Hope not, they're made for sharing, the point is that you have a 15-second chance to grab attention. Use it wisely. 

I come across CVs with the skills section underneath the work history, but, in my opinion, it should be a carry-on from your Intro. Think of it as; what you are (intro) to what you can do (skills).

Tables are useful in this section. Whether you're a mad-dog polyglot with every language and framework under the sun in your repertoire or a Front-End specialist in React, break it up into relevant bitesize sections. Put them in order of relevance to the role you're applying for.

If you've been exposed to lots of different languages, but you're applying to a specific role, like JavaScript Engineer, put the JS languages at the top of the list. If you have PHP, or Java, or .Net at the top, it makes you look like that's the language you're good at.

Label your skills with proficiency and years' experience: React 9/10 4 years' experience, Node 8/10 3 years' experience, AWS 7/10 2 years' experience, you can do a snazzy little percentage bar if you like, whatever floats your boat.
Work History

Make sure you list your work history in reverse-chronological order (most recent first). Track everything you do whilst employed. LinkedIn is great for this, you can add sections to employment, add hackathons you've competed in and certificates you hold. The main thing is that you have a record somewhere of everything you've worked on relative to your domain and when you did it. All the work projects, all the courses, all the team-building exercises, everything. It helps you in the long run.

To break this section down, I’ve outlined the key concepts:

Company: the full name of the company and preferably the team you worked on – if it's just one project, maybe put the position you held alongside the company.

Tenure: how long were you employed here? Bear in mind, one of the biggest killers to a CV is rubbish tenure. If you've been employed at places for short periods, it doesn't always look great. Even within the contracting space, so if you have a legit reason for leaving that place, you can always list it underneath as "reason for leaving".

Location: what city did you work in, or were you remote?

Projects: list every project you worked on throughout the time at all the companies you've been employed at. If you contributed towards something, list it, if you were the only person in the company working on it, list it. Employers like to see where you've been using your skills

Position: what position did you hold in each of these projects? It's not uncommon that you'll be promoted if you stay somewhere for long enough. Maybe you made it to lead engineer and led a small team? Maybe you started out as an intern and worked your way you. Make it clear.

Technologies: what technologies did you use on these projects. This is often where CV's get caught out, so make sure it matches your skills section. If you say you've used React for four years, but it only shows as two years on your skills section, that's going to stand out like Donald Trump at a World Peace Conference.


There is no need to go as far back as kindergarten here. I think it's safe to assume that if you went to university, you did well at school. Maybe you've done some courses that are relevant to your position and by all means add them in, but we don't need to know about the first aid course you did in 2005.
Here's a simple method to lay out your education:

  • Name of the establishment

  • Name of the course you studied

  • How long you were there for

  • The result you recieved.


I would largely say this is optional, but it's nice to have and does give the reader a positive impression. It can also save some time when it comes to reference checks.
Here’s how to layout your references:

  • Name of the referee

  • Contact phone number and email

  • Where they worked with you

  • Their relationship to you.


Some other important pointers to bear in mind:
  • Try not to go with any crazy fonts. Sure, they look cool, but people are weird, and some fonts hurt my brain. I'm sure it's the same for other people. Calibri, Ariel, you don't need an amazing font to make your CV stand out.

  • Evenly distributing your content across the CV is visually pleasing. Make sure it's spaced evenly between each section and job title, etc. and keep the text at a consistent size. Headings should be bigger, dates for tenure can be smaller, but as long as it's consistent, that's good. Think of HTML headers H1-H6.

  • Make sure any tables of content are even.

  • Try not to cram too much information into one space. It's not true what they say about a single-page CV. I'd rather read a 6-page CV easily, than a 1-page CV painfully, but if your content does fit on one page with ease, go nuts.

  • Digital CV's – I actually think this is becoming more and more common. Just bear in mind that a lot of companies use portals to view candidates, and these portals often require a PDF or Word document upload.

  • In terms of adding an artistic approach to your CV, absolutely fine, go to town on that CV. I'm all for colour and creativity, but I've definitely disregarded CVs because there's too much going on.

  • Everybody loves bullet points.

  • Avoid getting too personal. There's a whole interview designated for culture, save your Pub-Quiz accolades for that.

  • Explain your rubbish tenure. Did you have a 6-month gap between roles? Why?

  • Check, double-check and triple-check for grammar. Got a Grammar-Nazi friend? Their only use on planet earth is to check documents. I should have probably done the same for this document.

  • We don't need to know about the Maccas role you had after high school. Keep your work history relevant.
For CV tips, or if you'd like to discuss the next step in your career, please reach out to tim.h@circuitrec.com.au.


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