“What is a CV?”, you ask. The position you’re applying for is asking for a job CV. The scholarship application wants you to attach a PDF version of your academic CV. It boggles you.
“What is a CV?” you ask once again. We’ve all been there. You need to write a CV, but you don’t know how to start or format one.
There are a multitude of uses for a CV. You may need to write a CV for an application to land that dream job, or you may need to write an academic CV to get you into your ideal course. Thoughts race through your mind as you prepare to write them.
What information do you include?
What do you not include?
Do you put your experiences before your skills? Or is it vice-versa?
How do you write a job CV or an academic CV without any experience?
Thankfully, you have come to the right place.
This article will guide you through the 8 different types of CV formats, their purposes; tips on writing your CV; and how you can write one as someone with no experience.
What is a CV?
A curriculum vitae, commonly known as a CV, is Latin for “course of life” - and it is exactly that.
A CV summarizes your education, your experiences, and your skills over the course of your life. The purpose of both job CVs and academic CVs is to sell yourself to the readers.
A well-formatted job CV helps your job search and informs a potential employer why you are the best candidate for the position. On the other hand, a well-written academic CV lets the application reader understand your suitability for a course (or a scholarship, if you are writing a CV for scholarships).
This CV format is also known as the chronological CV. (It is both reverse and chronological. Confusing. Yes. Bear with it.)
You see this CV format everywhere. Your friends use this format, your granddad used this CV format, the receptionist at the dental office you visited last week uses this CV format. This is the most common CV format.
The reverse-chronological CV format lists your relevant work experiences from the most recent one at the top and proceeds backward. This CV format allows the readers to easily see the name of your workplace, your job title, the dates, the location, and your responsibilities and achievements. This CV format is most suitable if you have a steady working history and a consistent career progression.
A skill-based CV format, also known as the functional CV format, focuses more on your skills and how they are transferable to a position. Much like what the name suggests, this CV format emphasizes your skills and abilities.
A skill-based CV will have your relevant skills listed at the top of the page and your relevant work experiences at the bottom of the page. Underneath each skill, you will explain how the skills are suitable to the job you are applying for.
Because this type of CV format is all about relevance, you will need to tailor each CV to the position you are applying for.
Skills-based CV format is most suitable when:
So far, we have covered two different types of CV formats, the reverse chronological order CV and the skill-based CV. When you put those two CV formats together, you get the combination CV format.
Much like the skill-based CV, the combination CV places skills and abilities at the top of the page. This is the skill summary, also known as the professional profile or the qualifications summary.
The skill summary is followed by a chronological employment history from the most recent one back. Because the combination CV format has qualities of both CV formats we have previously mentioned, this CV format suits several users.
✅ Combination CV format is suitable for:
Due to its emphasis on both skills and experiences, the combination CV format is suitable for people who have a substantial working history. For this reason, this CV format is unsuitable for students and entry-level candidates.
🚫 Combination CV format is NOT suitable for:
An academic CV is very different from the CVs we have discussed so far. An academic CV’s primary purpose is to demonstrate your achievements within academia, be it academic research, experiences, or achievements.
One of the main differences is that it can be as long as it needs to be. The objective of an academic CV is to land you a position to conduct research or to admit you into a course, thus the readers need to know your extensive history within academia.
An academic CV would be the best choice if you are seeking admission to schools or courses, or if you are applying for academic positions.
Academic CV format is suitable to create a ...
A simple CV format is concise and conservative with its design. While this format may seem bland if you are applying for a job as a graphic designer, the simple CV format is useful in a more traditional industry.
💡 You may consider a simple CV format if you are searching for a job in a law firm, an accounting firm, or a government agency.
In contrast to a simple CV format, the modern CV format is more liberal with its format its design. The colors can be bolder and the style and fonts of the CV can also be more unconventional.
Because of how competitive the job market is, your CV needs to be eye-catching as well. A modern CV format lets you exhibit your style and your aesthetic.
💡 Modern CV format would be suitable for people working in the creative sector, or for people working in more unconventional office settings, such as a start-up or an energy drink manufacturer.
A technical CV format prioritizes your technical skills. The readers should be able to locate your technical skills immediately on the page.
This CV format is most common in the IT industry, where candidates would need technical skills such as coding, development, and knowledge in information systems. Readers should be able to look at technical CVs and know exactly the coding languages the candidates are familiar with, and the types of projects they can develop.
💡 Technical CV format is most common in the IT industry.
A creative design CV, or a creative CV, is usually used by someone within the creative industries. Depending on the position you are applying for, a creative CV can incorporate a reverse-chronological order CV format, a skill-based CV format, or a combination CV format.
For example, a freelance music producer may use a skill-based CV, whereas an animator with years of experience in the same studio would probably opt for a reverse-chronological order CV format.
Regardless of which format you choose, a creative CV should showcase who you are as a professional and as a creative individual. Your creative CV is your brand, and your creative CV design should be cohesive with the type of work you produce.
✨ The contact section of a creative CV will usually have links to your online platforms: Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, or an online portfolio.
Choose the right CV format.
Choosing the right CV format is essential to the readers. If a recent college graduate is looking for a position as a brand manager in a start-up, a simple combination CV format is probably not the best CV format to use. Rather, the best CV format would be a reverse-chronological CV with a modern design.
Tailor your CV to the job.
The person reading the application has read 50 other candidates with responsible and team-player on their CVs already, the last thing they want to read is another generic CV. Rather, you should reread the job description and tailor keywords into your CV.
Use quantifiable results.
The best way to showcase your achievements is by using concrete and specific examples. “Assisted customers during shifts,” doesn’t tell the readers much. Instead, saying “Implemented a customer-feedback protocol, reducing store complaints by 40% in 3 months,” gives the readers a more solid idea of your ability as a professional.
Keep your CV up-to-date.
A good rule of thumb is every three months. Sure, it can be tempting to work on it when you are looking for a job again, but you will thank yourself for doing so.
It is a good idea to have relevant information on hand when you update your CV. Some things you can do to update your resume are:
Make sure the CV layout is consistent.
A consistent CV layout shows professionalism. This can be incorporated by using the same CV font, CV design, and a consistent CV writing style throughout the entire CV. If you are not very good with graphics and design, you can always find CV templates online.
❌ Include irrelevant personal information.
The readers do not need to know the name of the kindergarten you graduated from. And please. Please. Do not include your astrological sign in your CV, there is no reason for it. We do not need to know that you are a Capricorn. Just stick to what is relevant.
Further reading: What to Put on a CV - 10 Key Elements
❌ Adopt fancy fonts and design.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to stand out. With that said, there is a very fine line between a CV that stands out and a CV that is obnoxious. Your CV font and CV design should look professional.
❌ Have typos or wrong information.
Learn the difference between your and you’re, if you’re cV has typoes, than your in troubel. We live in the 21st century. In the age of fast internet and spellcheck, there is no excuse for grammatical errors. Some useful online tools you can use are Grammarly and Hemingway Editor.
❌ Send your CV as a Word Document.
Always. Always. Always send your CV as a PDF file. A CV in a Word Document messes up the CV format. Your reader might not even be able to find your contact details if you send your CV as a Word Document. That is not ideal.
❌ Use an unprofessional Email address.
crazyplaya42 has no place in the corporate world. If you don’t mention it, we won’t ever need to talk about her again. In all seriousness, an email address with your full name will go a long way.
Now, what if you don’t have any relevant work experiences? Nil. Zilch. You’re just starting out.
What then? How do you write your first CV? How do you make a CV for a first job?
Good news. Someone like you with no work experience, or is just starting to look for a first job is called a “Fresher”.
Whether it is because you are still studying, a recent graduate, or you are just returning to the workforce, here are 5 CV tips to make sure your fresher CV is just as competitive as any other CV.
There are plenty of resources online to make CVs. As a fresher, you can search, specifically for CVs with no work experience or CVs for the first job. Online templates will ensure that your fresher CV looks professional and well-put-together.
A professional portfolio is especially important if you work in the creative industry. Your portfolio is a collection of your work, and it gives the readers a better understanding of your style and ability to immerse yourself into the organization’s culture.
A cover letter needs to be tailored to the organization you are applying to. Research the name of the hiring manager beforehand, and address your cover letter specifically to the person.
This section lets hiring managers know what you want to achieve from the organization. An objective statement can also let the hiring manager gauge the type of work you would be suitable for if you were a part of their organization.
Because you do not have relevant work experiences, a CV for a fresher would need to bring attention to the educational qualifications. Include notable achievements such as honorary awards, scholarships, publications, licenses, certificates, etc.
CakeResume provides 50+ creative yet professional CV templates to help talents build a job-winning CV. Download CV pdf for free or share it online with a custom link!
Whether you are a seasoned professional with years of experience, or a recent college graduate looking to land your first gig, a well-written CV is a stepping stone to land you an interview.
Your CV is your marketing tool.
After reading this article, be sure to consider the different CV formats and follow the various tips when you write your next CV.
--- Originally written by Asen Liu ---