Your CV is a spectacular masterpiece of all your accomplishments and qualifications. Every ‘t’ crossed and every ‘i’ dotted, it is ready to be sent on its merry way to land you your dream job. Now you have one last hurdle to cross before you attach that most precious document to an email and press SEND: you have to decide which file format you are going to use.
You are considering a Word document, a plain text document, a web page, an Excel spreadsheet, a PDF file, a JPG. The internet offers its usual plethora of suggestions, and suddenly you feel the pressure that your CV must now also look spectacular. You are told that your CV must stand out from the crowd and that you must use colour and graphics and just be very clever to attract attention to your CV.
Well, here is our advice to you: Don’t. Content is king. Send your CV in plain text or a Word document.
Please allow us to explain and hopefully really help you to reach the maximum number of employers with the best possible format of your CV.
- Recruitment companies (that’s us) and most major corporations who have an in-house recruitment department, use an applicant tracking system (ATS) software. We use this marvellous technology to import your CV into our database from where all the candidates and their details and CVs are managed. All those beautiful CVs are turned into good old plain text when it is imported. Why, do you ask? Why can my special fonts and borders and logos of the companies for which I had previously worked and timelines and all those other graphics I had so painstakingly researched, designed and incorporated into my masterpiece, why can those not go into your database? This brings us to the next acronym of interest here…
- SEO: Search Engine Optimisation. Your CV is not a piece of paper in a file on a shelf. It is an electronic file in the database of every company you had applied to (both recruiters and corporations) and the only way we can find your CV is when we search for CVs that contain the selected keywords. And the database software cannot read graphics or pictures (or, for that matter, even the information contained in the header or footer sections in Word documents, so, don’t use headers and footers, ever).
- But what about PDF files, you ask? We use the Adobe add-on that converts .PDF to .DOC and 7 out of 10 times all is fine and dandy. But then those other 3 times the conversion does not render the .DOC accurately for various reasons and we end up having to ask the candidate to send us their CV in Word or plain text. We do that because we are nice people here at StaffMatters, but maybe someone not so nice will perhaps simply push a CV like that to the back of the line. You don’t want your masterpiece to end up in someone’s backburner folder, do you? So rather not give them any reason to do that to you, rather send a file that is 100% legible on any computer, in any format.
- But what about Graphic Designers or Artists or Web Designers sending their CVs, you ask? Shouldn’t their CV be an example of their artistic and design acumen, you ask? And the answer is: No. To display your design skills, compile a portfolio of your work and send that when it is requested.
The bottom line: keep the format of your CV simple and professional. A well-written, professional CV is what you need, because that means that fancy presentation will in no way prevent your CV from being entered into someone’s database and, once entered, from being found by anyone searching for your skills.