Climbing the CV Tree – The 6 Different Types of CV
Your CV is like a tree.
It begins as a small sapling with only a couple of leaves.
As your career progresses, your CV grows with you.
The aim of your CV will remain the same - to get you an interview.
However, at different points in your career, your CV will branch out. For a new role, a new industry or a new direction.
To help you climb the branches of the CV tree, I will guide you through the different types of CV.
The 6 Different Types of CV
1. Traditional CV
Who Should Use a Traditional CV?
Is the traditional type the best one for you?
Well, this is still the most popular format used and the one recruiters are most familiar with. But, whether it's right for you depends on where you are in your career and the role you want.
The Traditional CV is great for showing career progression either between roles in an organisation or between organisations. It's also ideal for highlighting a career within a particular industry or sector.
For example, if you've worked in multiple roles in healthcare a Traditional CV will show how your career has grown in that industry.
Traditional CVs are less than ideal when a candidate has had lots of very different jobs.
A reviewer will wonder why a candidate moved from one role or one job to another. In this case, it would be better to use a Career Change CV.
What Is a Traditional CV?
The Traditional CV is the trunk of the CV tree. This is the type of CV that most people are familiar with.
All of the other CV types branch off from the Traditional CV.
It's also known as the Chronological CV or an Employment CV. As these names suggest, it focuses on your employment history.
At the top of your CV, after your contact details should be your 'Profile'. This short paragraph should describe you, your experience and your key strengths.
These few sentences are the initial impression that a reviewer has about you.
It is tricky to write a 'Profile'. So, write the other sections of your CV before your 'Profile'.
Regardless of the CV type that you use, all of them require a 'Profile' as the first section.
Start with your current or most recent job. Include your job title, your employer's name, location along with the start and end dates.
You will need to add your responsibilities, achievements and awards from that role in bullet points.
Once you've completed that, repeat it for each previous job back through your career. Provide the same level of information about what you did and what you achieved in each role.
2. Career Change CV
Who Should Use a Career Change CV?
Career Change CVs are used by candidates who want to change direction with their career. To work in a different area, role or sector to where they have done before.
Often these candidates have considerable experience in their previous careers.
These types of CV are also useful for candidates who've had a variety of unrelated roles in their career.
A Career Change CV can pull out a candidate's strengths and skills as career themes. This moves the focus of the CV away from the job changes.
If you wish to apply for a promotion or a different job in the same industry a Traditional CV is the best type to use.
What Is a Career Change CV?
Career Change CVs are used when you apply for a job with a significant difference to your current role, sector or industry.
You may also see these called Functional CVs or Skills-based CVs.
The focus of a Career Change CV should be on the skills you have which can be reused in your new career - transferable skills.
For this reason, the 'Key Skills' section should appear at the top of a Career Change CV, after your 'Profile'. However, the skills you include in your CV need to be tailored to the job you apply for.
From the job description identify the 'Essential' skills that the job requires. Ensure your 'Key Skills' section includes examples of how you've used each of these skills in your previous career or other life experiences.
You should do the same for the 'Required' skills listed in the job description. Although you do not have to demonstrate every required skill. Try to focus on those which you have the best examples of.
Whilst the focus of a Career Change CV is on transferable skills, it's still important to include a section with your employment history.
Even though these jobs are not directly related to the one you're applying for, they show the responsibilities you've held and the achievements you've made.
When you write about your previous roles in a Career Change CV, focus on the parts of these jobs that are easiest to translate to your new career.
If you've had gaps in your career, perhaps to bring up a family or for travel, state this in your 'Career History'. But also include the skills you used and the experience you gained. For example, budget management or logistics planning.
3. Graduate CV
Who Should Use a Graduate CV?
However, to be more specific this type of CV is aimed at recent graduates (usually in the first 1-2 years), as opposed to anyone who has ever graduated.
The exception to this is those new graduates who've already had a career either before or during their degree course.
Mature students with significant employment experience should look to combine elements of the Traditional CV, the Career Change CV and the Graduate CV.
Their CV will need to balance between career experience, degree qualification and other key skills.
What Is a Graduate CV?
The main feature of a Graduate CV is the emphasis on the university degree qualifications of the candidate.
The expectation for this type of CV is that the candidate will apply for a graduate job or scheme. As a result, the employer is not expecting to see a long history of roles, as they would in a Traditional CV.
Instead, they're looking for evidence of expected or actual qualifications along with other skills and experience. The employer will also want to see how you would fit in with the organisation.
As a new graduate, this should be the main part of your CV.
If you've already graduated it should contain your final results along with any qualifications prior to your degree. Details of the courses you've taken should be part of this, particularly if they're relevant to your target job. If your degree included a thesis or dissertation describe that here, along with the feedback or marks.
If you've not yet graduated, include details of your key courses and any marks for them.
Many graduates will have employment experience they've gained as students. These jobs are important to include on the CV. They show employers that the candidate has the aptitude for work, can handle responsibilities and are able to balance work alongside their studies.
If you've undertaken placements or work assignments as part of your course, these will be key to include here. Treat these in the same way as the 'Career History' section of the Traditional CV.
Ensure you highlight your responsibilities and achievements from your work placements.
Evidence of voluntary work is equally important as employment experience. Organisations value team-working, leadership and organisation skills. Volunteering is a great way to demonstrate that.
If you've not already covered these elsewhere in your CV, you can refer to student societies that you belonged to. The key here is to make them interesting and memorable. Interests that demonstrate transferable skills are also helpful.
4. School Leaver CV
Who Should Use a School Leaver CV?
School Leavers, yes!
But, this type of CV also works for students who are still at school and are applying for part-time jobs.
What Is a School Leaver CV?
This is the first type of CV that most people have written.
If you want a holiday job or your first job out of school, this is the CV for you.
Education is going to be the main part of your CV. This section should include your school name along with the subjects you've studied and the dates you were there.
For each subject list your final result, or if your course is still in progress your latest or predicted results.
This will usually be the smallest section on a School Leaver CV, for obvious reasons. However, it's important not to overlook any jobs, however small or even if they were unpaid.
Having experience, even as a school leaver, is something that employers want to see.
The 'Interests' section of a CV is usually optional. But, for a School Leaver CV, I always recommend to include one.
Writing about your interests enables you to show the skills you've developed outside of education. For example, these could be organisation skills from travelling or creative skills from model-making.
5. Contractor CV
Who should use a Contractor CV?
A Contractor CV is designed for people who apply for contract roles rather than permanent positions.
Contractor roles are growing in many industries. Some people begin their careers as contractors, whilst others switch later in their careers.
If you've changed from a permanent employee to a contractor in the same field you should revisit your CV.
What Is a Contractor CV?
A Contractor CV is a hybrid of a Traditional CV and a Career Change CV but with some added extras. Also called a Technical CV, it's designed for candidates seeking contract positions.
This section should appear at the top of a Contractor CV, after the 'Profile' and describe your key skills in context.
If there's a job description available, tailor your skills to show you're ideal for this role.
As a contractor, you should highlight the value of your skills and experience by renaming this section 'Expertise'.
Employers look for contractors to solve specific problems in an individual department or for a particular project.
Given this, a Contractor CV must show how you've solved problems for other clients and the results you achieved.
To do this, a Contractor CV should include an 'Achievements' section. This should contain mini-case studies of the results that you achieved from resolving issues on other contracts or jobs.
Briefly describe the problem, what you did to resolve it and what the result was.
Focus on the most impressive examples from throughout your career.
It's important to show a history of contracts in your 'Career History' along with their start and end dates.
A Contractor CV should also include the duration of each contract (usually in months) and the number of renewals. Recruiters will specifically look for this to gauge how satisfied previous clients were with your contract work.
Remember, reviewers spend even less time reading Contractor CVs. So, all of your critical information needs to be on page one of your CV - 'Profile', 'Expertise' and 'Case Studies'.
6. Academic CV
Who Should Use an Academic CV?
If you want a research or teaching role within an academic institution, this is the CV to use.
What Is an Academic CV?
The main difference with an Academic CV is the focus on education and research. As a result, an Academic CV is often longer than a Traditional CV and contains different sections.
This should include details of your PhD along "with a short summary of your research and the names of your supervisors".
Your research interests, teaching or supervisor experience should also be included.
Publications / Awards / Conferences
You should include details of any articles you've had published along with awards received. If there are relevant conferences that you've attended or presentations you've done, these should be added here.
Whilst 'Employment History' is not the main focus of an Academic CV, it's useful to include any work experience. This helps paint the picture of you as an individual as well as demonstrating skills such as meeting deadlines.
Unlike the Traditional CV, an Academic CV should include the names and contact details for your references (academic and non-academic). Ideally, three references should be used if you're a new graduate or two if you have more experience.
There are a variety of CV types to choose from when you apply for a job.
To choose the right type of CV, consider your current position along with the career you're aiming for.
As a school leaver or new graduate, focus on your qualifications along with non-academic examples that highlight your other skills.
If you want to step up the ladder in the same sector, you should stick with the Traditional CV.
When you decide you want to reset your career look at the Career Change CV.
Which of the different types of CV have you used?