CV Format: Old VS. New

As technology has developed, it's thrown open the windows on the conservative world of job applications. Candidates now have a breadth of options to customize, personalize, and dazzle the eyes of recruiters and hiring managers. However, new isn’t always better and it's imperative you choose a CV format that’s a good fit for your target sector. Let’s consider some of the choices available.

Old Formats

Here are some older CV formats:

Word / PDF

Reliable, dependable, and standing the test of time, Microsoft Word will allow you to present your skills, experience and qualifications in a format that is easily absorbed by hiring managers. It will be searchable and compatible with all employer databases - key advantages. However, you still need to ensure the information is relevant and well presented. If you need help with this try using a CV Builder. Sometimes I see CVs in PDF format, which can add visual impact. However, use this format with caution because PDFs can be difficult to edit, meaning your mistakes get saved - including being born in 2013, or having great dairy (rather than diary) management skills. Pros: Very accessible and easy to read; easy to forward, store and use in interviews. Cons: Can be poorly presented. Suitable for: Almost every job role.

E-mail CVs

Copying and pasting a resume into the body of an e-mail has the advantage of being easy to read without needing to download an attachment. E-mail CVs are also searchable within an e-mail account (useful for retrieval). But, have you ever tried reading a long e-mail? It’s not an enjoyable experience. Now, imagine someone reading your CV. Pros: Very easy to send to multiple recipients. Cons: Difficult to read and often visually poor – particularly when printed out, Difficult to save and runs the risk of being quickly deleted. Suitable for: Roles requiring little experience e.g. Entry-level positions.

New Formats

As the Internet has evolved, it's allowed us to experiment with online content - including how we present our career history to potential employers. Here are some newer formats:

Visual CVs

The latest in resume presentation, Visual CVs certainly have an instinctive appeal. Their visual impact can be effective, utilizing colors, images and even music. They allow relevant links to be included, along with supporting documents like presentations and portfolios and they can also be kept up-to-date easily. Overall the user experience can be rich and quite comprehensive. Unfortunately, visual CVs have their drawbacks when they’re used as a standalone CV. While they can look great, they need the recruiter or hiring manager to keep returning to the site. If you’re a nuclear physicist or a special forces operative, this may happen, but for most roles employers will expect a more compatible CV format. Pros: Great visual appeal; updateable with provision to include a range of supporting information. Useful as an add-on to other CV formats. Cons: Difficult to integrate into other systems and databases. Requires the employer to keep returning. Suitable for: Creative roles or those requiring excellent web knowledge.

Webpage CVs

This hybrid format allows candidates to incorporate the extras that a website can provide into the traditional Word or PDF style CV. A webpage resume will generally have greater clarity than a standard CV with more content, images and colors. In addition, it’s possible to include supporting information and it is more straightforward than a visual CV to transfer information to a Word format for easy storage or sharing. Pros: Visually appealing, updateable and easier to share with recruiters and hiring managers than other web-type CVs. Cons: Will likely need to be reformatted for storage on company systems. Suitable for: Most job roles.


The number one social media platform for professionals has become an increasingly important job seeking tool. Candidates are searchable, either via the site or in general Internet searches, which means they can be found without having to register on job sites. Candidates can also demonstrate their skills and experience via recommendations and endorsements from people with direct experience. Additionally, the site acts as a premier networking tool, bringing candidates and hiring managers in ever-closer proximity. Figures from LinkedIn show there were three billion people searches conducted via the site up to September 2012 and this should grow significantly this year. Pros: Great networking tool with add-ons that help to strengthen a candidate application. Cons: Geared towards the professional market. Often needs to be used with other CV formats. Suitable for: Professional roles. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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