A CV allows you to show off your most relevant skills, experience, and achievements and is still one of the most valuable job-hunting tools out there. However, for the contents of your CV to really pack a punch, they have to be packaged well, with the most relevant bits of information jumping off the page.
The type of CV you use very much depends on your level of work experience and what you want to do next in your career.
Let’s take a look at four of the most commonly used templates and who they’re best suited to:
1. Chronological CV
This is the most commonly used format for a CV, which lists work experience in reverse chronological order. As work history appears at the top of the CV, below the personal profile, it makes for an easy read for time-pressed hiring managers. Key skills or core qualifications may be listed above experience. A chronological CV can be a good option for you if you have substantial work experience that is relevant to the role you’re applying to. If you lack relevant experience, have changed jobs frequently, or have unexplained employment gaps, you might want to try a different format.
2. Skills-based CV
As the name suggests, a skills-based CV focuses on your skills, strengths, and achievements. Instead of having your work experience listed at the top of your CV, a comprehensive skills section will be the first thing the recruiter will read. Write separate paragraphs for each of your transferable skills most relevant to the job you’re applying to and include a short description of how and when you used them. Then list out your work experience in reverse chronological order. A skills-based CV can be useful if you lack work experience, or lack experience in a specific role or industry, such as when you’re changing careers. It can also help you to reduce repetition if you have a lot of experience in similar roles.
3. Technical CV
A technical CV is best described as a hybrid form of the chronological and skills-based CV. It includes a short list of highly relevant technical skills below your personal profile – if you’re working in IT, for example, you may want to list the different programming languages, systems and platforms you are familiar with – followed by your work experience section. By adding in your technical skills in this way you’re not only immediately drawing attention to them, but it also saves you from having to mention them repeatedly in your work experience section.
4. Student/Graduate CV
As a student or recent graduate, you may not have that much (or any) directly relevant work experience to put on your CV, in which case it’s best to focus on your academic achievements. So, start with your personal profile, then set out your educational history where you can include any relevant/interesting details about your course. Add any relevant work or volunteering experience you may have below that. You may also want to insert a key skills section between the profile and educational summary, listing the key transferable skills you have picked up so far. It’s important that you take the time to really reflect on the experience you have; if you’re a graduate with quite a bit of work experience it’s crucial that you put this first.
To create a great CV, you firstly need to have a solid understanding of what you have to offer and what you are trying to achieve. This understanding will help you pick the type of CV that is right for you.
Once it’s all done make sure you check for any mistakes and send it to someone else for a final check if you can. Ask them what stood out for them and the impression they got from reading it and see whether that matches your objective. Make any adjustments if you need to and that’s it: you’re ready to start applying.