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Types of CV

Hands typing on a black keyboard. A CV is lying nearby.

The order in which you present your information, and the space you allocate to each, will depend on what you have to offer and what you'd like to emphasise.

If you are planning to apply for opportunities with the bigger graduate employers, you're likely to find that you won’t need a CV, but will need to complete their online application form instead.

For smaller employers, however, a CV is still the main tool for applying for jobs and work placements.

The most common types of CV are:

Lots of employers still prefer the traditional chronological CV. Information in each section is presented in reverse chronological order so that your most recent experience or achievement comes first.

Education details are usually followed by employment and work experience, then additional skills, interests and achievements.

Chronological CVs can be useful when you have relevant experience or when you’re applying for work which relates to the subject you have studied at university.

Download an example of a chronological CV.

A skills-based CV is a good format for highlighting your most relevant skills and experience from all areas of your life.

A skills-based CV can be more appropriate if:

  • you're applying for work in a field which is quite different from your subject of study
  • your work experience doesn’t directly relate to the job for which you are applying, but you feel you possess the skills necessary to do that job
  • you have gaps in your employment history
  • you have an extensive employment history which you need to summarise
  • you are changing career direction.

A skills-based CV starts with a list of skills and achievements under various headings, followed by brief educational and work experience or employment details.

By focusing on the right skills, you can show that you have considered the employer’s specific needs. If you're going through a career change, you can shift the focus from the types of job you have done to the experience and skills that you have gained at work and elsewhere.

As the format does not emphasise chronology, it will not draw attention to periods of inactivity that a chronological CV might highlight.

Download an example of a skills-based CV.

An academic CV highlights your research, teaching experience, and publications. It's used to apply for a research or lecturing post in a university. You would also use it to apply for postgraduate or postdoctoral study or research.

It focuses on the range and quality of your research, publications and teaching experience. Your professional membership and awards may also be especially relevant in this type of CV. The Vitae website offers many examples of academic CVs.

While content is key in all CVs, and you will normally be advised to keep your presentation very simple and straightforward, there are certain professions and employment sectors where a creative approach may get you noticed for the right reasons.

Multimedia CVs are commonly used in the creative industries. They can range from a website, online portfolio or interactive presentation.

An online portfolio is an excellent way for artists, creatives, journalists etc to showcase their work. Remember to include links to your website or online portfolio on your CV, as well as your social media addresses (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc) and blogs.

Using an eccentric CV

Extreme and unconventional approaches can work, but they are high risk so need careful consideration. If you are unsure how the recipient will react, it might be best to offer a more traditional approach, or to contact the employer first to find out what type of CV they prefer.

Some reported success stories include:

  • one applicant applied to a marketing company including a square of greengrocer style grass with ‘This is my pitch’ written alongside it
  • another applicant wrapped her CV around a bar of chocolate. A warning was visible on the wrapper so it was removed with care
  • one applicant sent in a box for a computer game with a CD containing a virtual CV. The package positioned the candidate like a character in a game and there was a contents manual detailing their skills and experience

But many employers will loathe this approach and your wacky CV may end up in the bin. Ask yourself whether you are willing to take the risk, and creative enough to be original and successful.

Contact us

If you need help crafting a CV, please get in touch:

Careers and Employability