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Selecting a CV Format

To get yourself noticed it is important to use a CV format which will best represent you in the jobs market.

There are any number of ways of laying out a CV, but these can in fact be reduced to 5 basic examples: Chronological CV (traditional approach - superseded by the Performance CV), Functional CV, Performance CV (an updated form of the Chronological CV), Targeted CV and Alternative CV. Each of these formats has its advantages and disadvantages (see below).

Within our CV writing service we find the Performance CV works best for most people, assuming they are staying in the same field. If this format is unsuitable for you then you could try either the Functional or Targeted CV formats and see which reads / looks better for you.

Even if you create a Performance CV for yourself, there are times when a Functional or Targeted CV may help you secure an interview when a Performance CV would completely fail.

Performance CV

In a Performance CV your employment history is shown in reverse chronological order, with your most recent job first. Job titles and company names are strongly emphasised and duties and achievements are described under each job title.

You should use a Performance CV when you are seeking a job which is directly in line with your past experiences or your last employer was a household name. As a professional CV writing company, we use a Performance CV for almost every client - so this format comes highly recommended.

The only difference between a traditional style Chronological CV and a Performance CV is that the Performance CV highlights a list of your major achievements near the start of your CV (typically after the Profile / Summary).

Advantages:

  1. If you are planning to stay in the same field/work area.
  2. If you want to show-off your promotions.
  3. If the name of your last employer is highly prestigious.
  4. Most people prefer this format to the other formats listed here because it is easy to see who you have worked for and what you did in each particular job.

Disadvantages:

  1. If you are planning to change career direction.
  2. If you have frequently changed employer.
  3. If your work history has been patchy in recent years, either through unemployment, redundancy, self-employment, ill health, etc.
  4. If you do not have many achievements (you could just leave out the achievements section as in a traditional Chronological CV) or your achievements are not in line with what you want to do now - either leave out the achievements section or consider using a Functional or Targeted CV.

Functional CV

This type of CV highlights the main functions/achievements of your whole career and it can therefore be very useful if you have had a varied career or you are seeking a change of career direction. In this format, job titles and company names are given less dominance or even omitted in some cases.

As CV writers ourselves, we'd advise extreme caution in using this type of CV, as employers and recruiters typically hate functional CVs, as they have been used to cover up poor work histories.

Advantages:

  1. If you want to emphasise abilities and achievements that have not been used in your most recent job(s).
  2. If you are changing career direction.
  3. If you have had a large number of jobs and you would prefer to describe the experience you have gained in total.
  4. If you want to include voluntary/unpaid experience.
  5. If your work history has been patchy in recent years, either through unemployment, redundancy, self-employment, ill health, etc.

Disadvantages:

  1. If you want to highlight promotions/career growth - you could include this sort of information on the second page of your CV, but it would not be as prominent as on a Performance CV.
  2. If your most recent employer is highly prestigious, because their name will not be prominently displayed on the first page. You can get round this by putting their name in both the profile and cover letter.
  3. If your job has only a limited number of functions.
  4. Unusual CV format - may not be liked by everyone.

Targeted CV

This type of CV emphasises your abilities and achievements which are directly relevant to a specific job target. It is best used when you are planning a change of career direction.

Advantages:

  1. If you want to emphasise abilities and achievements that have not been used in your most recent job(s).
  2. If you are changing career direction.
  3. If you have had a large number of jobs and you would prefer to describe the experience you have gained in total.
  4. If you want to include voluntary/unpaid experience.
  5. If your work history has been patchy in recent years, either through unemployment, redundancy, self-employment, ill health, etc.
  6. If you have several completely different job targets and you need a CV for each.

Disadvantages:

  1. If you want to highlight promotions/career growth - you could include this sort of information on the second page of your CV, but it would not be as prominent as on a Performance CV.
  2. If your most recent employer is highly prestigious, because their name will not be prominently displayed on the first page. You can get round this by putting their name in both the profile and cover letter.
  3. Unusual CV format - may not be liked by everyone.

Alternative CV

This sort of CV is suitable for creative careers in, for example, writing, public relations and fashion designers. It is not suitable for senior managers/executives who would be better advised to use the Performance CV.

Advantages:

  1. If the job requires exceptional talent in either the written or visual mediums.
  2. If you will be applying directly to the person you will be working for.

Disadvantages:

  1. Not to be used if you are seeking a management position.
  2. If you are planning to apply through normal channels such as advertised vacancies/the HR Department.
  3. This CV format may fail utterly if your ideas are not well received by the recipient of your CV.

Other how to write a CV pages that you may wish to visit:

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