Our guide to the different types of CVs will help you to find the perfect fit

You're ready to start applying for new jobs… but before you can do that, you need to figure out which type of CV suits your needs. Luckily, you've come to the right place. 

CVs have changed considerably over the years. What was fashionable and on-trend 15 years ago no longer applies. But the structure of a CV has remained pretty much the same. So, how many types of CV are available today? And what purpose do each of them fill? 

Whether you're just starting out in your career as a school leaver or graduate or you're a senior executive, there are many types of CV from which to choose. The first step is getting to know what's out there and which one is your best fit.

In the following guide, we'll take a look at how many types of CV there are and what each one can deliver in terms of presenting yourself in the best possible light. By the end of this, you should have a good grasp on your options and feel ready to make the right decision. 

Different CV styles

When asking “how many types of CV are there?” you'll find three main CV styles. These are the ones which are easily recognisable to hiring managers, recruiters, and employers. For specialist roles, such as academics and medics, there are added extras which are detailed later on too. So for all you lecturers, teachers, and doctors out there, keep reading.

The chronological CV

Seen as the more traditional or classic CV style, a chronological CV (really, reverse chronological) is the most popular type of CV favoured by today's recruitment sector. 

It should have a professional profile and skills matrix. The latter lists key skills and phrases that correlate or match with the job description of the position you're applying for. You also need to include your contact details in the CV header of this format.

Once you've ticked those boxes, it's time to get down to business. This CV style works by listing your employment history, with the most recent first and then working backwards. In each case, you'll give a brief description of roles going back 10 years (or roughly three positions) underneath the job title, company name, and dates you worked there.

It's the same with the education section. This should be set out in reverse chronological order, so that your most recent qualifications are the first things that a prospective employer views. If you have multiple certificates or training, this approach means that the hiring manager can quickly determine what your most recent accolades are - at a glance. 

When to use a chronological CV: As a chronological CV is the most recognisable format, you should use this in most cases. If you've followed a linear career path and you're ready to take the next step, this type of CV will work well for you. 

The functional CV

Next up, let's talk about a functional CV. The main difference between a chronological CV and this CV is the career section. Also referred to as a skills-based CV, this type of CV focuses on your key skills and strengths, rather than going into detail about your career, and is perfect for those applicants who don't have a straightforward career path.

Put the spotlight on your talents here. While the traditional CV has a skills matrix which is just two or three words per skill, the functional CV should expand this section to really highlight and expand on each skill, both hard and soft, that you possess.

For example, instead of just writing “Safeguarding,” give more detail such as “I have always been mindful of keeping those who are vulnerable, such as small children, safe and secure in whatever situation they find themselves in.” In place of “Effective Communication,” you can add “Being bilingual, my communications skills are excellent as I'm able to articulate my thoughts to a range of different people, adapting my style to suit different circumstances.”

Equally, when you've expanded on your skills matrix, you'll find that you have less space for your work experience section. That's perfectly okay. The functional CV lends itself to having a shorter, less detailed work experience section in favour of a bigger skills section.

When to use a functional CV: If you're returning to work after a long period away from the job market, such as an illness, travelling, bringing up a family, coming out of prison, or contract work, are a recent school leaver with little work experience, or you're changing career, you need the CV to focus on your key skills, rather than your career journey.

The combined CV

As the title suggests, this CV, the third most-used type of CV, is a mixture of both the chronological CV and the functional CV. Also known as a hybrid CV, this one incorporates a lengthened skills matrix section along with a detailed career summary - an option if you want to highlight specific achievements or skills that draw attention to you.

The disadvantage of this CV type is the length. Due to its nature of combining both CVs, it's likely to end up longer than the recommended two pages. You may need to become a pro Editor to make sure that you include all the information that you want on your CV.

When to use a combined CV: If you have a lot of experience but want to highlight a particular competency to potential employers, you may find that the combined CV works best for you. Of all the types of CVs, this one offers you the best of both worlds.

Other types of CV

Looking for something a bit different? The modern world has changed the way people search for jobs. In some cases, you might find that it's appropriate to use a different type of CV than the three we've listed above. Let's take a look at some you can consider.

Video CVs are on the rise, and will certainly make you stand out from the crowd. Check that the application process will accept a video CV before going ahead, as it's still in the early stages of adoption, with the leaning more towards the creative sphere. You may want to use special software, such as Loom, to create these unique types of CVs.

An academic Curriculum Vitae might include publications, research projects, and countless qualifications, so it's accepted that it can be longer than two pages with many added sections. If you're applying for a role in the academic world, this CV works the best.

Similar to an academic CV - in the fact that length doesn't need to be restricted due to extensive clinical skills, research, audits, and presentations - a medical CV may include references too, a section not included any more on traditional CVs.

Tips for choosing the right type of CV

If you've read this far, you should be well-versed in the many different types of CVs that are out there. Should you still be wondering which is right for you, we have some tips. 

Decide how to present yourself

First up, have a careful think about how you want to present yourself, what your main strengths are, and how your career has progressed so far. It's vitally important that you start as you mean to go on, with a comprehensive strategy and an understanding of which of the different types of CV to choose. Think about what you want to show the hiring manager.

Refer back to the job description

There will be times when the job advert or description tells you which type of CV to submit. For example, you may find that the posting has a note saying that the CV should be no longer than one page. If that's the case, a chronological CV or functional CV could fit the bill. On the other hand, the advert may ask you to submit a video CV introducing yourself.

Consider your career and goals

Where is your career now… and where do you see it going? When you're working on your CV, you should know what your long-term plan is. For instance, if you are switching careers, using a functional CV may be the way to go. If you are simply looking to land a job in your chosen field and have tons of experience, you should go for a chronological CV instead. If in doubt, refer back to our guide above for advice on when to use the different types of CV.

Final steps to think about

Now that you're aware of how many types of CV there are to choose from, and which suits which particular needs, it's time to knuckle down, make your choice, and get cracking with compiling your CV - along with picking the best file format!

It can still be a minefield out there with the many types of CV available. Put your mind at ease by contacting the professionals who'll know exactly which type of CV to apply to your unique position. Request a free CV review today.

This article was originally written by Elizabeth Openshaw and has been updated by Charlotte Grainger. 

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