5 reasons why 2-column CVs don’t work


5 reasons why 2-column CVs don’t work

“Eye-catching” designs, unusual layouts, and more and more free templates made available to the public… all of this tempts candidates to go for 2-column CVs to make their document stand out and make a better first impression on the potential employer. While this approach may seem like a good idea at first, it’s important to consider the potential drawbacks before you hit send.

1. They (often) don’t work well with ATS

Even though you should prepare a separate CV for ATS (refer to our ATS Guide for more information and tips on how to do it), it’s still a good idea to keep Applicant Tracking Systems in mind when it comes to your all-purpose CV. They are often not programmed to read the information contained in columns, which can negatively impact their evaluation of your document.

2. Difficult to read = wastes reader’s time

Two columns break up the visual field, which requires more focus and consequently more time to read. Recruiters spend on average 6 seconds reviewing your resume before they decide to look into it further or reject it on the spot. If they need additional time to figure out what’s actually going on… they’ll move on to candidates with CVs that are easier to digest.

3. Formatting gets distorted online

Your CV can look very different when someone else opens the file on their device. While the .pdf format will always keep the document neat, once you send it in an open format, 2-column CVs often get horribly scrambled up. And a messy CV makes the candidate look unprofessional. Don’t risk this happening to your document!

4. Wasted space

According to research done by CareerChoiceGuide.com, a two-column format steals 25% of the space you could otherwise put to better use, i.e. to show your competencies / achievements. And as with anything in the job search process – one must use 100% of the tools at their disposal.

5. It’s not user-friendly

When candidates decide to update their 2-column CV, they often struggle with juggling the symmetry of the text between the left and the right column. This takes away precious time that could be put into networking or applying for job ads. Therefore, it is one of the least user-friendly formats to work with.


CV for ATS – best practices

To learn more about what “the perfect CV for ATS” should look like, you can download a free ATS Guide from our blog!

Would you like to find out how your CV is doing against other candidates?