Choosing the Best CV Format

Your CV can be arranged in one of two basic formats: functional or chronological.

The functional CV distills your total work experience into major areas of expertise, and focuses the reader’s attention on your accumulated skills.

The chronological CV presents your skills and accomplishments within the framework of your past employers. Actually, it should be called a reverse chronological CV, since your last job should always appear first.

Although the information you furnish the reader may essentially be the same, there’s a big difference in the way the two CVs are constructed, and the type of impact each will have. My experience has shown that the chronological CV brings the best results, since it’s the most explicit description of the quality and application of your skills within a specific time frame and allows an employer to take note of achievements for each role you have had in your career and the value you have added to each firm.

The functional CV, on the other hand, works well if you’ve changed jobs or careers often, and wish to downplay your work history and highlight your level of expertise. If a prospective hiring manager is specifically interested in a steady, progressively advancing employment history (as most are), then the¬†functional CV will very likely work against you, since the format will seem confusing and might arouse suspicions as to your potential for longevity.

Either way, you should always follow the guidelines mentioned earlier regarding content and appearance.

Crafting Your CV ‘Profile’

Most employers find that a carefully worded statement of purpose will help them quickly evaluate your suitability for a given position. A profile can be particularly useful as a quick-screen device when viewed by the manager responsible for staffing several different types of positions. (‘Let’s see, PR managers in this pile, BD managers in that pile’).

While a profile gives you the advantage of targeting your employment goals, it can also work against you. A hiring manager lacking in imagination or who’s hard pressed for time will often overlook a CV with a profile that doesn’t conform to the exact specifications of a position opening. That means that if your profile reads ‘Director position with a progressive, growth-oriented company,’ you may limit your options and not be considered for the job of Head of Marketing for a company you may enjoy working for and be well suited to.

If you’re pretty sure of the exact position you want in the field or industry you’re interested in, then state it in your profile. Otherwise, broaden your profile or leave it off the CV.

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