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Writing an effective CV: Part 1 – Format and presentation

Published on: 7 Apr 2017

As the average recruiter takes just six seconds to make an initial decision on a CV, deciding what to include can be difficult. How can you make sure yours makes the right impact? In this four part series, The Planner's Matt Moody talks to a variety of people to pin down the perfect planning CV.

Part 1. Format and presentation

As jobseekers resort to increasingly quirky application methods in an effort to stand out from the crowd, it’s easy to think of CVs as redundant in 2017. That might be true of the creative industries, but don’t start delivering your applications by drone just yet – when it comes to planning, less is often more.

  • Hard copy can show commitment if you’re applying speculatively. For advertised planning roles, “time is of the essence, and an email will likely hit home first,” says David Bainbridge.
  • “If your CV takes too long to arrive, interview slots may already be taken,” says Henry Taylor. “Hard copies risk getting lost or not reaching the right person – there’s probably a protocol, so always follow instructions.”
  • It’s best to save your CV in PDF format – Word documents can be edited, so are less secure.
  • There are no hard and fast presentation rules – simple and concise is the key. “Simple formatting has worked best for me,” says Eleanor Gingell, “although there’s definitely a place for bullet points and bold text to make certain sections stand out.”
  • Layout is a matter of personal preference, but “planners are judged by their attention to detail”, says Taylor, so it’s imperative that your CV is clear, accurate and easy to scan


David Bainbridge [square]David Bainbridge is a planning consultant and partner at property consultancy Bidwells LLP.

Eleanor Gingell [square]


Eleanor Gingell has recently taken up a new role as a planner with the Department of Communities and Local Government. She is a former recipient of the British Empire Medal for services to planning. Eleanor’s views are her own and not those of her employer.

CJ Obi [square]CJ Obi (left) and Henry Taylor (right) are recruiters at Osborne Richardson, a recruitment consultancy that specialises in planning.Henry Taylor [square]