By Andrea Bankier


A common question we get asked at Sheffield is “What sort of format should I present my CV in?” There is no hard and fast rule for this, however you should tailor your CV according to your career history. Broadly, there are 3 CV formats worth exploring: the Chronological CV, the Functional CV and the Combination CV.

 1.  The Chronological CV

This type of CV is ideal when you are continuing in the same career and want to show how you’ve progressed. They focus on where you’ve worked or studied. They should list all jobs in reverse order, i.e. with the most recent first. Titles and organisational names are emphasised. This type of CV is very popular and the easiest to prepare and is probably the most useful for potential employers.


  • Highlights a steady employment history.
  • Employers are accustomed to seeing this format.
  • Focuses on work history, which is listed with the most recent job first.
  • Offers a concise picture of where you've been and what you've done.


  • Can emphasise gaps in employment or job-hopping.
  • Skills are not highlighted effectively.

Use one if:

  • You are continuing in the same career and to show career progression.
  • A previous employer's name may be significant.

Don't use one if:

  • You have employment gaps or you've changed jobs a lot.
  • You are entering the job market for the first time or after a long absence.
  • You are looking to change careers and your work history has no relationship to the job you are applying for.

2.  The Functional CV

Functional CVs focus on what you have done, not where and when you did it.  Functional CVs are good when you've had a gap in employment, are changing fields, or are just starting out in your career. If you’re a consultant or a contractor then this type of CV should definitely be used as you’re likely to have worked with a large number of clients.


  • Focuses on what you have done, not where and when you did it.
  • Work experience and skills are listed by skill and strength areas important to employers.
  • Calls attention to accomplishments.
  • Groups together tasks and achievements from various jobs, rather than repeating information.
  • Removes the emphasis from an unstable work history.
  • Can use headings that are featured in the job description.


  • Doesn't provide a context for your skills.
  • You can't emphasise loyalty, continuity or how recent your experience is.

Use one if:

  • You are entering work for the first time or after a long absence.
  • Your work history has been varied.
  • Your work has been in consulting with many clients, doing different activities.
  • You are changing fields.
  • You wish to emphasise skills you haven't used in recent jobs.
  • You are an older worker, as it minimises the use of dates.

Don't use one if:

  • You want to highlight career progression.
  • Recent jobs had limited responsibilities and duties.

3.  The Combination CV

A combination CV combines elements of both chronological and functional CVs, to help you highlight both your skills and experience.


  • Focus is on your skills and accomplishments and your work history.
  • Usually starts with a profile or key skills section, followed by work history.
  • Highlights relevant skills which are supported by a strong employment record.
  • Emphasises transferable skills.
  • Calls immediate attention to your achievements.


  • Can be lengthier than the other formats.
  • Work history is usually on the second page and some recruiters may not read that far. 

Regardless of what style format you choose, remember to check and double check for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Get someone else to look at it and tell you how to make it better.  Ask your friends, family or people in business.  What you have written may seem simple and obvious to you, but not to an employer.  Go through it again and again, making it shorter, more readable, and more understandable! Remember also that it’s important to keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date as this is often a crucial touch point for both recruiters and employers. 

Andrea’s original post appears on LinkedIn can be found here

Andrea can be contacted here.

- See more at:

Posted in: News

Get in touch with us


Contact us now

sourcing, selecting and shaping leaders