Whilst the vast majority of people understand the importance of a professional and legible CV format, there are a minority of people, on the other hand, who are obsessed in their quest for a wow factor and make the mistake of trying to force the issue in an effort to make their CV stand out from the crowd.

However, this can (and usually does) backfire, and bright colours and elaborate graphics for example can actually be a deterrent to employers.

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The most effective CVs are not those with neon flashing lights, huge bold fonts or fantastical claims. Such CVs usually just frustrate employers. The most effective CVs are actually the ones which tell the employer the things they want to hear in a concise, legible and proactive manner. To this aim, black font on white paper is the most conventional, and it is also usually the most successful. Similarly, bullet points (and in particular single line bullet points) are conventional, because they are tried and tested method of getting better results. Amongst other things, neat single line bulleted achievements not only help keep your CV highly legible, but they also help get your message across far more effectively than the alternative of multiline or cluttered paragraphs. Length is also an important factor and it is important that you do not go beyond the recommended two page maximum.

The fact remains that a CV is not a work of fiction, it is a factual document which presents your skills, work experience and attributes to employers. The best way to present them is in a professional format that is easy to read and a good length. People who try overcomplicating things, and adding things unnecessarily, usually become unstuck.

If ever a CV does wow an employer, it usually doesn't do so by elaborate graphics, it does so by sheer dint of the quality of the achievements. If the achievements are clear, and easy to read, and the candidate has some excellent relevant work achievements, then all that counts for infinitely more than a CV with big bold letters, flashing lights and just a few achievements.

It's the actual achievements (and significantly how they are proactively transformed into powerful sales messages) which wow over and above anything else.

Of course turning job roles or even achievements which are already decent into concise, legible and ultimately more powerful sales messages is far easier said than done. In fact it is a specialist skill, which is where the best, highly experienced CV writers come in extremely useful.

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The above original content is based on extracts from a comprehensive CV book by Paul Hichens, who is one of our senior consultants.

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