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CV Suitability & Type


When you read your CV does it seem like a good fit for the type of job you’re targeting? Or conversely is it a generic document that lacks focus on any specific role or industry? Key job criteria vary widely and employers are interested in a wide spectrum of skills and experience. One company’s go getting sales machine will be another’s arrogant ape. Therefore if you know what type of position you want then it makes sense to create your CV with the job in mind.

Identify key criteria

Firstly, make a list of the principal skills and experience that employers are seeking in your role. This may include IT qualifications, types of companies you have worked with, experience of dealing with regulation etc. To give one example, executive assistant positions often call for experience of contribution to projects or international diary management, so it makes sense to feature these prominently in an EA resume.

Don’t worry if you are unsure what skills and experience are in demand for your role. It is relatively easy to find out the typical key criteria for most positions. Browse the Internet and look up job sites, company vacancies or recruitment agency sites. This will help provide a picture of what employers are seeking. You can then highlight the relevant qualifications, skills and achievements for the job or sector you are targeting.

As a tip, it can be useful to create a long list of achievements that match your role and then filter these when you are applying for specific vacancies. Companies focus on different skill sets and personality types even where roles are largely the same. You can use the information in vacancy descriptions to emphasize the similarities in your experience.

Aim at the right level

Two good questions to ask yourself are 1) What level am I currently at, and 2) What level am I aiming for in my next role?

If you are looking to move to a similar level in your next role then you need to write your CV with this in mind, particularly if you have been promoted with your current company. Make sure your CV includes your supervisory responsibilities, how your team has performed and also the level to which you report.

If you are aiming for a promotion in your next role, an effective technique is to write with that role in mind. Think of your activities, interaction and achievements that are relevant to a more senior position and write your CV with these in mind. You have the power to draw the reader’s attention to these areas, helping them to see you in the role.

A senior manager I knew did the opposite of this and focused his CV on what he did with his team, drawing the attention of future employers to his operational activities and minimizing his contribution to board level projects. By doing this he was ensuring that other employers saw him at a lower level, damaging his efforts to secure the board level appointment he wanted in his next role. This may be a high level example, but the reasoning applies to all roles.

Write your CV with your new role in mind.


Typically, recruiters will spend less than 30 seconds reading a single CV, progressing only 10% of them to interview stage – ensure you make the cut by avoiding the common pitfalls

1. Spelling & Grammar 

Spelling and grammar is an easy first screen (if a candidate has not been diligent enough to check the accuracy of his or her job application, what does it say about them?). So check, check and recheck. Why not has a friend of family member read your CV through – a fresh pair of eyes can make all the difference.

2. Graphics overload

Computer programs make it easy to design an artistic looking CV. However, unless you are applying for a creative position, artistic looking CVs are unnecessary. As a matter of fact, you risk coming across as unprofessional. We advise our readers to use clean looking fonts such as Times New Roman or Arial. It is also advisable to use a chronological format as it gives a good snapshot view of your experience and education (look organized!).

3. Avoid Technical Jargon

You should never assume that the person who will read your CV will be familiar with the technical jargon used in your area of expertise. You should rather make your cover letter and CV as simple as possible.

4. Length

We advise our readers to make their CVs as brief as possible. With perhaps hundreds of applications per  job, recruiters lack the time to read each CV in full. Prioritize information and present it in an accurate and concise manner. Avoid unnecessary and extraneous information irrelevant to the job opening.

5. Misrepresentation of facts

No matter how desperate you are to get a job, you should never misrepresent facts about your past experience or about your credentials. Even if you get a job interview and maybe the job, you will eventually be discovered.


Most CVs follow two principal styles – either chronological or skills-based. Each will focus the reader’s attention on particular areas of your experience and so they can be useful when you need to highlight or even avoid particular career details. Deciding which one to choose can often be influenced by where you are in your career.

The Chronological CV

Sometimes known as a career-based CV, this version highlights the roles you have undertaken and the companies with whom you have worked. These are the most commonly used CVs and are probably what most people think of when picturing a resume structure.

The format of a chronological CV usually places educational qualifications towards the top followed by a person’s employment history. It lists employment details (dates, titles and company names) with additional information about responsibilities and achievements included afterwards. Well-written chronological CVs will be tailored to a job or a sector and will often emphasize achievements in a role more so than duties.

Chronological CVs work well where a person has had a solid, consistent career history and they are often preferred by employers and recruiters because they follow a logical pattern, making it easy for the reader to follow the candidate’s career path.

However, career-based CVs can work against candidates with less employment experience, those with gaps in their careers or those who have perhaps followed a non-traditional path, such as moving into multiple industries or job roles.

The Skills-based CV

Also known as functional CVs, this style of CV follows a format that places a heavier emphasis on a person’s transferrable skills or competencies rather than the roles they have undertaken.

Positioned towards the start of the resume, often after contact details, the individual’s strongest skills will be listed, drawing on supporting evidence from the whole of their career. Examples of skills might include project management, leadership, IT, languages, analytical thinking, communication or problem solving. The intention is to focus an employer’s mind on the person’s ability, rather than their job history. In contrast to a chronological CV, the candidate’s job history will usually be included only in brief list form near the end of the CV.

Skills-based CVs can help candidates by drawing the reader’s attention to their capabilities and achievements rather than their job history. Often they will benefit individuals who can demonstrate achievements but whose backgrounds are slightly more unusual.

Which one should I choose?

If your career has been reasonably stable and indicates progression then a career-based or chronological CV will almost certainly highlight your skills and experience most effectively.

However, if you have limited job experience because you are at the beginning of your career or have been out of the workforce for a while, then a skills-based CV may be a better choice. This might apply if you are finishing education or are returning to work after illness or taking care of others. Additionally, if you have had gaps in your career or are moving industries or job types, then a skills-based can be much more effective.