How To Craft A CV That’ll WOW Recruiters

Reading Time: 20 mins

New to the series? Catch up here!

  1. Make a Job-Search Strategy
  2. How to craft a Killer C.V
  3. Why attach a Cover Letter
  4. DIY your Portfolio
  5. Acing the Interview
  6. How to Resign gracefully


By the time you finish reading this sentence, the HR of your dream company will probably have moved on to the next C.V.

Shocked? Don’t be. Extreme competition has forced recruiters to give only seven seconds for skimming each application, and deciding if they should even take the time to look at you seriously (Ladders).

So there are hundreds of papers piling up on their inbox daily. But just a couple blinks worth of time to make your case. Do you stand a chance of getting called?

Yes, if you follow the “Power C.V structure” I’m about to share. It packs in all the big punches to WOW employers! So you can start polishing those shoes for the interview right away haha! On that hopeful note, I welcome you to the second episode of our “On The Hunt” blog series: How to craft a killer C.V.

Here’s a roadmap of this article:

  • Free resources to make a C.V
  • Ideal export format
  • Design elements (font, colour)
  • What stuff to avoid
  • Structure (organizing data)
  • Case Studies
  • FAQs
  • Conclusion

Ready to roll? Let’s go!

Free Resources

First, let’s set up our workshop. Here are some websites you may find useful while creating your C.V:

Tool Purpose Alternatives
Canva Drag-&-drop base designer: Get templates or DIY Crello, Snappa
Flaticon Flat PNG vector icons with color control Noun Project, icons8
Sejda PDF Editor: Hyperlink, compress, convert, etc. PDF Candy, iLovePDF
Grammarly Grammar & spelling checker: Run text through Hemingway Writer
Worded Resume analysis: Quality score with stat results EnhanceCV, RezScore
Venngage Infographic maker: Get creative formats inspo Visme, Adioma

Ideally, Adobe Illustrator CC (or PhotoShop) is the best design tool for C.V’s. But for those of us who don’t have the Adobe Suite, Canva is the next best shot.

Now that you’ve got the tools ready to build the document, the next item on the checklist is deciding how to export it. Although exporting is technically the last step, you need to make the decision now because your choice will dictate various elements of your design (dimensions, font size, RGB/CMYK etc.) in Illustrator/Canva.

So which file format should you use? Word? PDF? JPEG? Unless your recruiter has specifically asked for Word (.docx), you should ALWAYS send it in a PDF. That is because a PDF format locks your data, design, and structure. It’s also universal for both Mac and Windows.

With Word, there’s a risk of it loading as gibberish on the other side if your receiver doesn’t have the necessary fonts or design elements. So PDF is safer and neater!

Tools? Check. Format? Done.

Now, we’re about to get to the real meat. But before we dive into the look & feel, here’s how my C.V looks like. Feel free to refer back to it as we move through the course.



Design Elements

When you’re designing, its best to avoid using a single template because you run the risk of becoming a me-too after the hundreds of applicants who have used it before.

So instead, try to spend 2-3 days looking at different templates for inspiration. Note down the elements you like in each of them (fonts, colors, format/structure, copy, etc.). Then, try to combine all these best elements into your own unique template.

For colors, I prefer to stick to shades of blue (#233140, #03396c, #005b96, #6497b1, #b3cde0). I contrast my headers with dark maroon (#7a1129) or a bolder font to make them pop out. Whichever color combo you use, ensure that different parts of the body (header, italics, bullet copy) are easily noticeable… without being too colorful or pop-y.

For font selection, go with these if you want to play it safe:

  • Helvetica
  • Constantia
  • Garamond

But if you’re up for trying a more modern look, try these on:

  • Gotham
  • Montserrat
  • Raleway

Canva’s blog has a longer list of font options to choose from here. In any case, avoid Times New Roman, Arial, Future, Brush scripts, or worse, Comic Sans. They’re either too generic (you look lazy), or downright childish (unless you’re applying to a kindergarten).

Anyway, the good news is that you can install all the suggested fonts for free at DaFont, Font Squirrel, or 1001 Fonts.

Now that we have direction for our design, let’s start filling it up with content. Flip to the next page to continue reading. Or go back to the index to navigate this article.

Published by Manik Rege

Hey there! Full disclosure, I'm a bit of a mess. But my interests range from Career Growth Strategy to Marketing & Branding, and Animal Rights to filter coffee. Same vibe? Tweet to me @manik_rege.

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