The term ‘Curriculum Vitae’ or CV, can be literally translated as ‘course of life’.  Sometimes referred to as a résumé, it’s an outline of your education, skills, experience and relevant achievements.

There is a lot of conflicting information on how a CV should be laid out, what is should contain and what should not be included but what is key is that it is tailored for the role to which you want to use it to apply to.  There are 3 types of CVs outlined below:


– By far the most common, the Chronological CV presents your experience listed in reverse chronological order (most recent first).


Advantages of a Chronological CV:

  • Clearly outlines how your career has developed, especially useful if you are applying for a job in the same industry that your experience is in.
  • Employers and recruiters like them as your roles and responsibilities in each job are clear.

Disadvantages of a Chronological CV:

  • If you have gaps in employment and education it is clearly visible.
  • If your entire career has been in the same type of role there can be a lot of duplication of duties and responsibilities. Also if you are applying to a role in a different area, some of the experience may not be relevant.


– Presents your experience under specific skills headings. A functional CV typically highlights headings, each relating to a different skill or ability and you should include the more relevant skills first.


Advantages of a Functional CV:

  • If you are looking to change career, a functional CV will better highlight your transferable skills.
  • If you have had a lot of jobs with similar duties and responsibilities, this style of CV allows you to avoid repetition.

Main Disadvantages of a Functional CV:

  • Some employers do not like this type of CV as they prefer to clearly see what you have done in each role.
  • You will be unable to highlight your career progression.


– Combines both the chronological and functional format, which makes the CV slightly longer than normal. It is becoming a more popular structure and offers the best of both types.


Advantages of a Combined CV:

  • You to sell your strengths as well as your experience.
  • If you have a strong career progression with many achievements, this style will likely present you in the best light.

Main Disadvantages of a Combined CV:

  • Your CV may become too long while trying to incorporate both styles.
  • Like the chronological CV, if you have gaps in employment and education it is clearly visible.


What should a CV include?
Employer wants to find the relevant information quickly and easily. Therefore there should be a logical sequence to the information you are giving:

  • Your full name, address, contact phone number and email address.
  • Professional Profile should be first paragraph on your CV.
  • Your education or Professional Development – including the name of the institution you studied at, the title of the course, year completed and the level the course is accredited to on the National Framework of Qualifications.
  • Your Relevant Professional Experience or work history, including key achievements.
  • Additional skills or courses completed.
  • Hobbies.
  • Reference – if you do not have the space it is appropriate to just note References Available on request.


What should a CV not include?

  • You should never include your religion, marital or family status, age, weight or height – they are simply not relevant.
  • There is no reason to include a photograph.
  • Reasons for leaving previous jobs.
  • Patterns/borders/title pages/binders – these actually distract from the presentation.
  • Poor quality copies of your CV.
  • Spelling mistakes/poor grammar – ALWAYS spell check and ask someone to read it through, and critique on your behalf.


Guidelines for getting started on your CV.

  • Use bullet points where possible as it is easier to read than blocks of text.
  • Use of “I” should ideally only be used in your Professional Profile.
  • Include your dates of employment in every job in the format of month and year. Explain gaps if any.
  • Two page CVs are preferred by employers, anything longer than this dilutes the content.
  • Your CV must be tailored for every job and every company you apply for – identify key skills and experience required in the job description of the job you want to apply for and if you have the relevant experience or skills make sure it is corporate these into your CV.  Your Cover Letter and Professional
  • Profile/Summary should also be tailored to highlight your skills and experience relevant to the role.

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