Planning a better future
Planning a better future

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Planning a better future

6.4 Examples of different types of CV

There’s no right or wrong way to write a CV. The right one is the one that works for you in your situation and succeeds in getting you interviews. Here we will just provide some guidelines on good practice and offer some examples of possible formats:

  • chronological
  • functional
  • targeted.

We will also show some examples of targeted CVs for specific purposes. Most people tend to prefer one style over the others, but whichever format you choose, it should be flexible enough to allow modification to match the job you’re seeking.

For most jobs you need to make a decision about the kind of CV to use, as most employers will not specify. However, some job areas have expectations that a particular format is used. When researching jobs, look at what the expectations might be. It is important that you find out if there is a preferred format for the type of job that you are applying for by doing further research into the job and if necessary seeking advice from a careers adviser (or the professional body, if there is one). For instance, some professions, such as the legal profession, prefer CVs in a chronological format. When you have work experience that is directly relevant, it is useful to highlight this in a separate section as it draws attention to it.

The chronological CV

You are probably most familiar with a chronological CV. This lists jobs by date, beginning with the most recent, showing the name of each employer, where you worked, the period you were employed, your job title(s), responsibilities and key achievements.

The advantages of a chronological CV are that it:

  • can be very easy to produce
  • has for many years been recognised as a standard approach to CVs
  • allows prospective employers to see very quickly how an individual has progressed and increased responsibility.

However, the disadvantages to a chronological CV are that any gaps in your employment stand out.

As a result, if you’ve changed jobs frequently, it can suggest instability and will require explanation, particularly if you’ve changed profession or career direction. In addition, with a chronological CV, it isn’t always easy to spot key achievements or skills that might get ‘buried’ under different job titles.

The functional CV

A functional CV focuses attention on your skills and achievements, presented according to the function or responsibilities you’ve undertaken rather than according to individual jobs. This CV shows that you’re conscious of the demands of the prospective employer and of what you have to offer. Its advantages are that:

  • it can highlight your skills rather than job changes
  • if your current or most recent experience isn’t related to the position you’re applying for, it allows you to place more emphasis on relevant strengths and experience from earlier periods
  • you can group different achievements together to match the job that you are applying for.

The disadvantages are that it takes more thought to prepare a functional CV and you have to ensure that it is clear and relevant to the chosen job without looking as though you might be hiding something.

The targeted CV

A targeted CV is even more closely matched to the needs of a particular employer, with the skills required and the evidence of them clearly laid out at the beginning, followed by the details, dates and so on. It combines elements from both the chronological and the functional CV. Most candidates for managerial posts use this format. The advantages are that:

  • it focuses straight away on your strengths
  • it is more likely to catch the reader’s interest
  • you can adapt it to suit the job you’re after without sacrificing quality
  • you can lead the reader in the direction you want to go – your skills and achievements.

The disadvantages are that, like the functional CV, this one isn’t easy to prepare. It has to change to match each job, with all the time, effort and skill that implies.

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