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Which CV format will work best for you?

Do you know that there are a number of different ways to lay out your CV? Depending on your career situation, there might be a more appropriate format that will bring you better results.

Professional CV writing services like Bradley CVs are often asked about the advantages and disadvantages of each CV format, so it's important to consider them all before reaching a decision on which will work for you.

Chronological CV

If you're planning to change jobs but continue working in the same field, the Chronological CV is probably the best option. This is the most traditional format and the one you're probably most familiar with. It's also good if you're changing fields but remaining in a very similar kind of job. Your career history is shown in reverse chronological order, with a strong emphasis on job titles and the names of your employers. This is good if your current or previous employers are well-known organisations. It also shows your career development clearly, meaning that promotions show up well. People like the Chronological CV because it is clear and easy to read.

The chronological CV is the format we use most often in our own CV service. However, there are times when the Chronological CV isn't going to be the best format for you, and when a Functional, Targeted or Alternative CV may be more successful in securing interviews.

Functional CV

If you've had a varied career or are seeking to change direction, this format may be suitable, as it highlights the main achievements and functions (skills, competencies or expertise) of your work history. Job titles and company names are reduced in importance and sometimes even left out altogether. The Functional CV may strengthen your application if you want to draw attention to skills that haven't been used in your most recent work. It also works if you've had many varied jobs, as it allows you to sum up your overall experience.

Yet there are instances when this isn't the most appropriate format. Promotions aren't as prominent, as your list of positions is included on the second page. For the same reason, highly prestigious past employers may not be noticed (although you could highlight them in your profile and covering letter). If you haven't had many responsibilities, this CV could make your experience look narrow. Another disadvantage is that some employers may not like this format - recruitment personnel are aware that it can be used to conceal weak areas.

Targeted CV

This type of CV emphasises the skills and experiences that are directly relevant to the kind of job or field you're applying for. It's extremely useful when you're planning a change of career direction. It focuses on your abilities and achievements used not just recently, but across your entire career. It can encompass relevant voluntary or unpaid experience. It also means that you can aim for several completely different jobs, using a CV that's adjusted for each.

The disadvantages are that your promotions or career development won't be as obvious, as the information will be on the second page (if included). Employers' names are downplayed and, as with the Functional CV, this format isn't liked by all recruiters.

Alternative CV

This kind of CV is most often used by talented people seeking work in the creative industries - e.g. design, media or public relations - as it is highly individual and uses a one-off visual style. It's suitable only for applications for posts requiring exception visual or verbal talent, and then only when the application is being made directly to the person the applicant will be working for. Even then, it could fail completely if it hits the wrong note.

This kind of CV should never be sent to HR departments or for advertised vacancies. It is totally unsuitable for senior managers or executives seeking to hold positions of responsibility.

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