Types of CV - The three main and most popularly used variants of a CV
In many cases your CV is the first and only thing that potential employers will look at before deciding whether or not they want to see more of you by offering you that all-important interview, and for this reason, it is vital that your CV is well presented and well produced so that it is picked above all the others.
Everyone is different, has different backgrounds and different work experiences. For some, they may have stayed in the same career for most of their lives, yet developed and become experts in their field.
Others may have had several careers and jobs, but at the same time, picked up a whole host of skills and abilities that could only be gleaned from working in a number of varied fields.
These days there are three types of CV's that people use to show off their achievements and expertise. You will use the one that best suits your experience thus far.
To reflect the variety in people and their own experiences in the employment market, there are various CV formats that can be applied to each situation.
There are three main types of CV that you can use to promote yourself, your skills and attributes, and your experience to a prospective employer. Read the following before deciding which of the three best suits your circumstances and situation.
The chronological or performance CV is the most traditional and widely used format. This type of CV basically outlines your work and educational history and is ideal if you have stayed in the same career for most of your working life, steadily working your way up.
Use the chronological CV in the following situations:
- If you have steadily progressed in one chosen field and are looking for promotion or better conditions.
- If you have no gaps in your work history.
- If you want to highlight where you have worked rather than what you have achieved.
- If you are staying in the same industry.
For more details and to view a sample chronological CV, please see our guide to the chronological CV
Functional CV (Skills-based)
This type of CV focuses on and highlights the skills and achievements that you have gained throughout your whole working career irrespective of where and when you acquired them. This is useful if you do have gaps in your working career or if want to change career completely.
Use the functional CV in the following instances:
- If you want to change career fields.
- If you have gaps in your work history due to bringing up children, illness or any other reason.
- If you have little experience due to just starting out or just finishing college or university.
- If you want to show a prospective employer that you possess the correct skills for the job even though you do not have experience in that field.
For further details and to view a sample functional CV, please see our guide to the functional CV
The best of both, the combination CV is an amalgamation of the previous two formats. Slightly longer in layout; it is imperative that you grab the reader's attention from the start, as there may be a danger of him getting bored and discarding the CV without reading it in its entirety.
The combination CV should be used when you want to highlight both skills and achievements together with your impressive work history and education.
Your skills and achievements are listed first and these are then backed up by your work and educational experience, all in all leading to an extremely potent and impressive document.
If you have gaps in your work history or have changed jobs frequently, the functional CV would be better suited.
Use the combination CV when:
- You want to show that not only do you have the right skills for the job but also the work experience to support.
- You want to emphasise skills that you may not have used for a while.
- You would have used a chronological CV but want to highlight your skills too.
- Applying for managerial or executive positions.
- You have plenty of experience in the chosen field.
- If you need to "fill out" your CV!
For further details on and to see a sample combination CV, please see our combination CV
Whichever type of CV you choose to use, remember that the information displayed should be set out and presented in a clear, concise and easy to read fashion. The language style should be punchy and the text should be full of action-packed verbs.
Try to use as many facts and figures as possible to back up and provide evidence of your skills and achievements, and above all do not say anything negative or lie in your CV. The whole document, when finished, should scream, "This is the best candidate for the job! Hire this person!"