A functional CV: a blessing and a curse. A skills-based CV, as it’s often referred to, can do more damage than good unless you know exactly when to use it, and what for.
Writing a CV may seem like a daunting task, especially when you haven’t done it in a while. You go online and… the number of different CV styles out there is overwhelming. Which one to choose? What is the best CV style for your situation?
That’s exactly what this article will help you find out.
In this article, you’ll see:
- What the three classic CV styles are.
- Which CV style is best for your needs.
- Examples of different modern CV styles.
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1. CV Styles and Formats
There are three classic CV styles: chronological, combination, and functional. Each CV style differs from the other and works best for job seekers in different professional situations.
Let’s have a look at all of these CV styles one by one.
Chronological CV Style
The chronological CV style is arguably the most popular of all CV styles. Its clear structure and high readability have been appreciated by both job seekers and recruiters the world over. Plus, it’s the most parsable CV style for ATS software as well.
The chronological CV highlights your job experience (the most important hiring factor to many recruiters and managers) and presents it in a reverse-chronological manner. This way your most recently held position appears at the top of the document and the previous jobs come next.
As you can see in the example above, a typical chronological CV consists of the following CV sections:
Chronological CV Style—Sections
The chronological CV style is suitable for most candidates, including:
- Entry-level job seekers
- Mid- to senior-level candidates
- Job seekers pursuing corporate openings
In the vast majority of cases, the chronological CV style will work for those who pursue a steady career path as well as for career changers.
If you’re among the latter, read our comprehensive guide on how to write a career change CV.
Functional CV Style
The functional CV style differs from chronological in several crucial respects. First off, it highlights your skills on a CV rather than experience. This is why a large portion of the CV’s real estate is taken up by a CV objective and a summary of skills.
Notice that the experience section is really kept to the absolute minimum. This is a deliberate choice that’s supposed to direct the recruiter’s attention entirely to your skills. In fact, the functional CV style often lacks dates and can help you hide career gaps on a CV.
Mind you though, studies reveal that most recruiters are primarily looking at your previous experience. So do ATS systems used by 99% of Fortune 500 companies. Why is this important? If your CV is to be assessed on the basis of the experience section, it will look pretty unimpressive if you go for a functional CV style.
So, who is this CV style suitable for? First off, for those who want to send their CVs straight to the hiring manager’s inbox thus bypassing the recruiter- and bot-scanning stages. Second of all, for candidates whose professional situation isn’t standard, including:
- Military transitioners
- Portfolio-based job seekers (e.g. artists)
- Candidates who don’t want to look overqualified
You may be interested in having a look at our step-by-step guide on how to write a military to civilian CV.
Combination CV Style
As the name suggests, this CV style combines some elements of the other two. The space you get on a CV is evenly distributed between two main CV sections:
- Qualifications summary
- Professional experience
Qualifications summary (also referred to as skills summary) is a hybrid of a professional summary and a more traditional list of skills. The experience section on a combination CV style should focus on highlighting your professional achievements.
Also, just like all the previous CV styles, this one lets you include all sorts of additional CV sections, such as:
Expert Hint: Regardless of the CV style you choose, make sure your CV is targeted at a particular job offer. Generic CVs may seem easier to write but you may need to send hundreds of them before your phone rings.
So, who is this CV style good for? A combination CV style will work for seasoned pros targeting a specific position. It may prove quite handy and flexible for the needs of career changers. Also, people who want to conceal employment gaps may be inclined towards this CV style.
Also, your safest bet is to send this CV type straight to the recruiter’s inbox as some ATSs may have a hard time parsing it.
Comparison of Three Best CV Styles—Infographic
The infographic below will help you see the main differences between each of the three CV styles:
Remember, when choosing the style of your CV do consider your professional situation as well as the mode of delivery. Not all CV styles will be compatible with ATS solutions used by large companies.
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2. Modern CV Styles
It would be a huge understatement to say that the three CV styles discussed above are the only ones available out there. Thanks to increasingly advanced CV building tools and many candidates wishing to stand out from the crowd, the latest CV styles can assume a variety of forms.
Have a look at our selection of different CV style templates to see what options you have and find the style that’s right for your professional situation.
Infographic CV Style
Infographic CV styles are suitable for all kinds of creative job seekers. However, if you use them, see to it you send them directly to the recruiter or hiring manager as they’re bound to fail the initial ATS scan.
Infographic CV Style—Examples
Portfolio CV Style
Portfolio CVs are a great choice for visual artists who want to give the recruiter a quick glimpse into their best works. Obviously, they can include links to larger galleries on their CV websites, for example.
Portfolio CV Style—Examples
Expert Hint: Before you decide to use any of such unique CV styles, make sure both your professional context and the company profile warrant using them. Otherwise, you risk submitting a document that apart from not landing you a job may become a subject of office jokes. This is particularly important if you’re considering making a video CV.
Professional CV Styles
The sheer variety of current CV styles is astounding. But too much choice might cause lead to the so-called paradox of choice where you may feel overwhelmed and end up never being satisfied with what you choose.
That’s why simplicity always comes out on top. The best CV style? In a word: professional. Here’s a selection of several professional CV styles that will always work.
One-Page CV Style
The advantage of using the one-page CV format style is its compact size. Recruiters spend only several seconds looking at any CV initially, so they’re quite unlikely to look at page two anyway. Plus, if you set yourself with a limit as to your document’s length you’re more likely to only pick out your professional highlights. One-page CVs are great for writing your first CV with no experience.
Two-Page CV Style
As your experience grows, so will the length of your CV. A two-page CV style is fit for you if your relevant experience calls for more space to be shown in its entirety. Mind you, relevant experience. If you fill two pages with things unrelated to the position you’re pursuing your CV will land in a bin, rather than land you an interview.
Expert Hint: See to it that the style of the CV header is the same on your cover letter. This way it will be obvious that both documents are part of the same document set.
Simple CV Style
Simplicity never goes out fashion. Simple CV styles are universal enough to fit into any job-seeking context. It doesn’t matter if you’re making an accounting CV, a graphic designer CV, or preparing a CV for an internship.
Expert Hint: Your CV doesn’t need fancy ornamentation to look great. It’s often enough to use good CV font styles to achieve an aesthetically pleasing effect.
Executive CV Style
Experienced job seekers need professional-looking CV styles that offer enough space to encapsulate a wealth of experience in an approachable format. That’s why a two-column CV is the way to go. Such a CV layout will let you make the most of the space you get on a single page. The one we present here also includes a nice visual with your initials.
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There are three main CV styles: a chronological CV, a functional CV, and a combination CV. Each of them is suitable for job seekers in different professional scenarios.
Apart from these three, there are many new CV styles candidates may consider using such as infographic CVs or portfolio CVs.
You should always base your choice of the CV style on your professional situation, experience, and the kind of company you’re applying for. For example, if you’re looking for a gig as a photographer you can experiment with a creative CV style. However, if you’re pursuing a managerial role, a more traditional and professional CV style will be your best bet.
Need more CV-related resources? Che these out:
- How to write job descriptions in your CV
- CV Examples for every profession.
- Things to put on a CV
- How to write a reseme: CV 101
- What to write in an email when sending a CV
How did you like our article on different CV styles? Do you have any helpful tips for choosing the best one? Let’s talk about it in the comments below, and, as always, thanks for reading!