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Decoding Your CV4 min read

Coaching4CareersAuthor: Coaching4Careers

Posted on: 1st Apr 2016

Your CV is essential in the application process and should summarise and highlight the most positive and relevant aspects about you and your experiences. Its main purpose is to get you an interview.

An employer may only scan your CV briefly, so it is essential that the format and the layout enable them to quickly understand what you have to offer. Make it lean, clear, concise and targeted to the job or occupational field for which you are applying.

Marketing yourself requires you to be positive and upbeat, it is about persuading an employer to share your view of yourself. Your CV should help the employer to distinguish between you and the other applicants, therefore it must be an honest and individual document that tells your story and not anybody else’s.

Ten basic tips

  1. Assess your skills and abilities – know yourself and what you have to offer.
  2. Decide what type of CV you want to write and how you are going to use it.
  3. Research the employer and gather information about the vacancy and understand what the employer is looking for.
  4. Present information in terms of benefits to the employer, not the benefits you want.
  5. Prioritise your information stating the most important and most relevant first.
  6. Target your strengths, skills, experience and accomplishments to match the employer’s requirements.
  7. Ensure that information is set out clearly and is free from spelling mistakes.
  8. Your CV should be no longer than two pages.
  9. Use good quality plain paper.
  10. Don’t forget to take copies.

Constructing your CV

Suggested headings for your information and some examples of the information to include:

  • Personal Details – name, address, email, telephone, mobile
  • Career Objective or Personal Statement – What do you want to do?  What level?  Who with?  Where?
  • Education or Academic Qualifications – dates attended, name of institution/course, subjects/majors
  • Relevant Skills – Eg. teamwork, problem solving, communication.
  • Employment and Work Experience – dates, name of employer, job title, roles/responsibilities, skills
  • Professional Development – dates, name of qualification and institution, brief description
  • Interests, Achievements or Extra-curricular activities – other relevant examples to enhance your resume, give examples that indicate that you are a ‘well rounded person’
  • Referees – name, job title, contact details of 2 or 3 referees

The different types of CV

There are four main types of CV: Reverse Chronological, Functional, Targeted, and Customised. The primary difference is in the way the information is presented and which elements are emphasised. Regardless of type, each section in a resume should be presented in reverse chronological order (most recent experience first). Consider the following descriptions to decide which best suits your situation.

Reverse Chronological

This is the most widely used type of CV and therefore employers are usually familiar with this format. It lists your qualifications and experience outlining major points only. This does not work to your advantage if you have gaps in employment history or if you do not have relevant work experience, as this style makes these elements really stand out.

This type of CV is most effective when:

  • You have recent work experience related to the position you are applying for.
  • You can effectively demonstrate measurable achievements.
  • Your employment history is consistent and has few gaps.


This type highlights the wide range of skills and abilities you have developed through your education, work experience and other activities. It is generally far more detailed than the Chronological type.

This type of CV is most effective when:

  • You want to focus on your relevant skills rather than dates.
  • You do not have a lot of relevant work experience.
  • You may have gaps in your employment history.


This combines the best elements of the Chronological and Functional styles. It is targeted towards a particular position and in some cases it can be so specific that it also addresses selection criteria. The main difference between this type of CV and a Functional style is that the Targeted CV will draw on examples of specific skills, whereas in a Functional CV the examples may be of a more eclectic nature. A Targeted CV style is effective in most situations and is probably the most versatile of the different types.

This type of CV is most effective when:

  • You have had varied work experience.
  • Your previous positions are not related to the vacancy you are applying for.
  • You are required to address selection criteria.


This is basically a Targeted CV adding specialised information that the employer expects you to include. For example if you were applying for a teaching position you would be expected to include headings like Teaching Philosophy, School Practicum Experience and Voluntary Teaching Experience. If you were applying for a Nursing position you might include Clinical Placements or Key Clinical Experience. To find out whether you need to include specialised information contact Professional Associations, or relevant employers.

Coaching4CareersAuthor: Coaching4Careers

Coaching4Careers offer personal and career management to meet your needs.  Whether you’re an individual or part of an organisation, you can have access to our services which are tailored to suit your needs. You can then decide whether to talk face to face, online or by telephone.

For your free career/development health check or to run our career diagnostic tool, simply visit our website:, or click the button below…

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