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Andrew Arkley

What type of CV is right for you? Our guide

What type of CV is right for you?

One of the first questions our CV writing experts will consider on assessing your needs is what type of CV is right for you?

Even if you know the required components of a good CV, there isn’t a one-size-fits all solution. Each candidate, and every job application needs a bespoke resumé.

We’re not just talking about including or excluding specific details. We’re talking about the actual format and layout of your CV.

In this blog, we’ll cover the three most common CV types: functional (skills-based), chronological and combined – as well as a few more outside-the-box options.

Read on to find out what type of CV is right for you.

Writing a functional (skills-based) CV

A skill-based CV is the perfect platform to exemplify your skills and achievements from both your professional and personal life.

Typically, a functional CV would be suited to a situation where you’re applying for a role in a field which is quite different from your previous career or area of study. Or you might be changing careers entirely.

In this case, detailing your useful and transferable skills will interest potential employers more than your prior experience (or lack thereof).

Similarly, if you’ve taken time out from the workplace, you may feel a skills-based CV serves you better than a chronological format, where any career breaks are more evident.

In general, a skills-based CV starts with a list of skills and achievements under various headings, followed by brief educational, work experience or employment details. Any formal qualifications should be noted in this section, too.

It’s vital that you take time when selecting the skills and achievements that you include on your functional CV.

Read the job description carefully. What desired skills are flagged up? How can you demonstrate these succinctly on your CV?

Remember: Recruiters and hiring managers are almost always time poor. Go for quality over quantity when it comes to listing your skills.

For tips on delivering your key skills in person, check out our recent guide to competency-based interviews.

Writing a chronological CV

The typical chronological CV will include a personal statement with your career objectives, and then your employment history in reverse-chronological order.

You would then detail relevant job qualifications, and then your hobbies and interests.

Education would typically sit above employment history – certainly for those new to the job market having recently finished their studies. 

However, for those further along in their professional lives, A-levels – and even degree qualifications – may no longer carry the same weight.

The chronological CV is popular with employers as it gives them the chance to get a feel for your career progression. Certainly, if you have worked in the same sector for a while and want to continue to do so, then this is the best format for you.

Of course, with this type of CV there is no hiding from large gaps between roles. That doesn’t mean you can’t use the chronological format – but you should refer to the gap in your cover letter if not on the CV itself. 

Alternatively – the skills-based CV described above might be a better option.

If you’re unsure, chatting your situation through with one of our CV writing experts will help you to choose what type of CV is right for you.

Writing a combined CV

The combined CV is a mixture of both a functional and chronological CV. 

It consists of a profile, a brief skills section followed by a career history detailing responsibilities and achievements for each role.

It can be the best of both worlds – but only if it’s handled with care (or you chat to an expert for some tailored advice).

By its nature, a combined CV will often end up longer than a skills-based or chronological CV. Remembering the importance of brevity when it comes to grabbing a recruiter’s attention, you want to be sure that you’re not including too much information.

Additionally, if you’re a recent grad without much work experience, or struggling to pull together skills and achievements from previous roles, the combined CV format is likely to do more harm than good.

That said, for those with a very strong career path and achievements the combined CV is the ideal format to use. It’s a great way to show your transferable skills, without tying you to a specific sector.

As we often say: You’re not a template. Your own attributes, and the role you’re seeking will define the type of CV that’s right for you.

Something a little different

Concise, clear and to the point. Those are the usual rules of thumb when it comes to CV writing.

However, there are certain professions and employment sectors where a creative approach may get you noticed for the right reasons.

For example, if you’re a designer, you might feel your skills are best exemplified with a graphical representation, rather than a classic CV format.

We love some of these examples of eye-catching graphic designer CVs

An increasingly common creative option is the multimedia CV. They can range from a website, online portfolio or interactive presentation and are generally found in the digital or creative industries.

We’ve even heard of candidates sending in video game style cases, with their CV on a disk inside, and contact info and personal details in the “game manual”.

While we commend the time and effort a creative CV like this takes – and many employers will too – there is definitely a time and a place.

Make sure whatever type of CV you go for is industry and role appropriate.

What type of CV is right for you?

Hopefully the guide above will have given you some sense as to what type of CV is right for your situation. 

Each format can be effective if used appropriately.

If you’re at all unsure as to what type of CV is right for you then speak to one of our experts. We’d love to help you nail your CV and take that next step in your career.

Get in touch today by phone or online.

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