Types of CV

There are three usually accepted forms of CV. They are:-

  • Chronological
  • Functional
  • Hybrid


Almost de rigueur standard. Used by most people without thinking. Conventional, yes. Accepted by recruiters, yes. Showing you off in your best light? Probably not. Why?

Using this format requires least thought. Most candidates just talk about responsibilities and, as you have learned, employers are looking for transferable skills, abilities and achievements. This is not to say of course that you cannot list your achievements as well in this type of CV – and of course you should.

That’s where the effort comes in - but, if you do, I would suggest that you are well on your way to standing out in the eyes and mind of the recruiter.


Emphasis is placed on the skills and achievements of the candidate usually under different headings such as…

  • Communication Skills (A high-ranking quality on employers tick-lists)
  • Management Skills
  • Negotiation Skills
  • Leadership Skills
  • Selling Skills
  • Presentation Skills
  • Proposal Writing Skills

It selects skills and associates them with job positions held. For example:

Communication Skills

"In my role as Business Manager for CMP Freight I am required to liaise with a broad cross-section of staff. In order to significantly improve top-down communications to the workforce I implemented briefing sessions with staff-selected representatives each week.  Meetings were fixed day, fixed time, fixed duration - with no penalties for non-attendance. Staff representatives were actively encouraged to ask questions and to report back to their colleagues.

Staff satisfaction surveys showed a 1.7 point increase in satisfaction over the initial three months".

The list of companies worked for is then presented merely as a bulleted list showing dates of employment, company and position held.


Retains the order and approach of a Chronological CV but places significantly more emphasis on skills and achievements. What it means in effect is that the list of companies worked for is NOT presented as a bulleted list but each is expanded to include responsibilities, achievements and milestones. 

This approach tends to make candidates think in more depth and generally produces a clear structure with all major selling points covered.

Turning Responsibilities Into Achievements

So what is an achievement? Examples would be…

  • Completing something successfully
  • A positive outcome that can be attributed at least in part to you
  • A measurable deliverable – profit, cost saving, staff efficiency, defect reduction
  • An observable or measurable difference
  • Introducing a new product or process
  • Reducing complaints
  • Increasing staff retention / satisfaction


Position Held: General Manager, Merchandising

My major responsibilities included:-

  • Accountability for 200 retail outlets nationwide
  • Product sourcing
  • Vendor negotiation
  • Marketing and Point of Purchase Promotions
  • Supply chain management
  • Budgetary control and full P&L answerability
  • Advertising strategy

Where for instance could you look for achievements that could be emphasised?
If we look at the above list what about the following?

  • Restructured the Purchasing Department to make individual buyers more accountable for the success of selected product lines
  • Revised the Buyers Payment Plans to reward those who contributed most to overall profitability
  • Liaised with internal IT Department to introduce new systems for track and trace deliveries, stock-control and item-line profitability
  • Invited 2 new agencies to pitch for advertising account based on brief drawn up by myself and key buyers
  • Undertook in-store customer survey to determine how effective newly-introduced Point of Purchase displays were.

Keyword Searching

It is worth pointing out that many agencies in particular use automated keyword searching as a way of locating potentially suitable candidates.  It is especially appropriate for searching out candidates who have a combination of technical skills.

Depending upon the sophistication of the system employed either the electronic copy of the CV will be interrogated in its entirety, searching for specified keywords and/or phrases, or the job specification will be manually read and critical keywords entered from a series of tables. When the search key is pressed the system will locate all candidates CV’s who meet the criteria specified.

Usually it becomes a filtering process - for example the first criteria may specify that the candidate must have a degree.  This of course usually returns a high number of matches and so of itself is not generally so useful to a recruiter. 

The next criteria may specify that the candidate must be a qualified ACCA Accountant.  This will result in a smaller number of candidates than previously.

The third criteria might be that the candidate must speak a foreign language fluently.

And so the filtering process continues until either one candidate is found to possess everything the job specification requires in terms of keyword skills or, as is usually the case, several are left who lack one or more requirements.

It is the resultant file of candidates whose CV’s will be examined in more detail.

Subpages (1): Setting Out Your CV