CV Formats

CV Formats

A CV or resume (I’ll use the term CV), is a vital marketing tool in your job search toolbox. The aim of your CV is to provide an overview of your qualifications, skills and experience to entice an employer or recruiter to invite you to an interview. There are three main CV formats or styles:


In a chronological CV, your employment history is listed in reverse chronological order, beginning with your current or most recent position. Your education/qualifications along with any other information will follow also in reverse chronological order.

• Traditional format which many employers favour because it’s easy for them to see your career progression
• Easy for the reader to find their way around

• Can be difficult to highlight your relevant key skills especially if they have been gained outside of your work history
• If your most relevant experience is dated it’s difficult to hide this


In contrast to a chronological CV, a functional or skills-based CV is arranged to highlight your skills, experience and attributes by listing these along with your achievements and, if applicable, specific projects you have worked on. This format works best if you’re a freelancer or contractor, have gaps in your employment history or are changing careers. Bullet-points work best making it easy for the reader to see key information.

• Enables you to highlight your key skills, attributes and relevant experience
• Great for those with a wide range of skills to break them down into skills areas to provide more detail
• Perfect for those who have haven’t followed a linear career path

• Traditionalists might find it difficult to follow
• Can be seen as an attempt to hide details such as employment gaps and lack of experience


Bringing together the elements of a functional and chronological CV is has become the most popular format as it enables you to highlight your key skills before following a more traditional, reverse chronological pattern. Since CVs are typically skimmed for just a matter of seconds by employers, using this format is a good way to ensure they see all the most relevant information on the front page.

• Enables you to highlight key skills while maintaining a traditional, reverse chronological format
• Makes it easier for an employer to see what you have to offer as a potential employee
• Shows you are able to convey complex information in a simplified way

• If not laid out correctly, there’s a risk of creating a CV that is difficult to read and understand
• Can annoy traditionalists who expect to see a traditional (ie. chronological) layout

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Which format do you prefer? Tell us in the comments section below.

Lisa LaRue, MCareerDev, BSocSc(Couns), DipCareerGuid, MCDI is a Career Development Consultant & Career Coach at CareerWorx

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