CV stands for Curriculum Vitae, which means ‘course of life’. It is a document used to give an overview of somebody’s work history and experience, so an employer can find out what experience you already have.
As well as work history, your CV should include some information about your personal qualities and skills. Anything you have done outside of work or education, like volunteering or sports, can help to build a better picture of you as an employee.
There are some key bits of information essential to include in a CV outside of the main body. These include full name, contact information, address, date of birth, national insurance number, qualifications, education and referees.
Types of CV’s
It is well known that CV’s are used to apply for jobs of all kinds. But with so many different types of jobs, it can be useful to know what type of CV to use for different scenarios. For example, you may not use the same CV for a job in a café as you would for a career in the NHS.
Here we are going to focus on the two main types of CV, both of which are adaptable to any scenario.
1. Chronological (traditional)
This is the most common type of CV, and hence one you will probably be familiar with already. For this kind of CV, you list your relevant work experience and roles in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent position.
This CV is beneficial when you have plenty of experience in the role you are applying for; the employer doesn’t need any convincing that you are equipped to do this role. For example, if you are applying for a job in a restaurant and all your experience over the last five years has been in hospitality, this CV is perfect for displaying your skills. You can also highlight your career progression easily, showing how you have developed.
A chronological CV is excellent when you have been in continuous employment. If you have had career breaks for any reason, list these between the jobs, so the employer knows why you were not in work, e.g. maternity/paternity leave, or full-time studying.
2. Skills-based (functional)
This CV format emphasises your skills and personal qualities, rather than your work experience. It is an excellent CV to choose if you haven’t had much experience, if you are changing your career and want to highlight your transferable skills, or you have a collection of shorter employment/voluntary days that you want to group.
This can be an effective way to work with what you already have and curate the best CV possible for the role. It can be hard when you are trying to get work experience, but by highlighting your skills this way, you can show employers how much you have to offer.
This CV type might need to be adapted more than others for each role you apply for so the correct skills are at the forefront. For example, if you apply for an IT using a skills-based CV, don’t use the same CV for a job in retail.
Other CV styles include creative which is perfect for jobs in the creative industry that want to see your flair and style. And academic which are suitable for employment in academia; these CV’s highlight your academic success and specific research areas.
Tips on how to write a good CV
- Keep it as concise and snappy as possible, especially for jobs where your experience may not be as relevant. If an employer is faced with three pages of long text, they won’t even bother trying to find your skills and experience. Make it as easy for them as possible by highlighting the most relevant parts of your history.
- Adapt your CV for each role to shine a light on the most valuable parts of your work history. You do not need to include every activity or scheme you have done since childhood if they aren’t relevant to the job.
- Choose a layout that works for you, with headings and paragraphs for the different sections. If you have an impressive academic record, have a clear area at the top with your qualifications. Or, if you feel your interests and hobbies are relevant to a job, then create a short paragraph for this at the top.
- Update it regularly. You don’t want to come back to an old CV three years later and find it has no relevance to your life and skills anymore. Every time you get a new job, or a unique experience, add it to your CV. Even if you don’t think you’ll be applying for jobs anytime soon.
For more help with job applications, visit our page on Cover letters.