How to choose the most relevant CV format for your job search
Over the last few years, most of my clients’ biggest career roadblock has been the CV or Resume, specifically, which type to use and how to best design it so that they get invited to interview.
The CV or Resume has evolved over recent years and there a number of formats which can you can choose from. Even though there are thousands of recruiters and probably millions of job seekers who would love to have the CV “killed off” from the recruitment process, it is by far the most widely-used personal marketing tool, and whether your job search strategy is networking or job board surfing, you need to have one.
CV writing is a multi-million dollar industry in the US and Europe and you could spend up to $500 to have one designed. There are some websites which offer a resume builder or free templates such as resumizer.com and resume-now.com
It goes without saying that all CV’s, of any format, need to be carefully selected and designed to suit the job market you are targeting. In this blog post, I have selected a number of traditional formats as well as some new entries that you could use to develop your own. I have highlighted the key reasons why you might use a particular type and the advantages and disadvantages of each to better help you in your selection.
Use this if you are looking to stay in the same or similar career track / function. Depending on the country you are applying to, or even the industry/sector, it can vary from 1 page to 6 pages, but in my opinion less is more. The content is structured to display your work experience from present role working back to past positions. Effective chronological CV’s or Resume’s summarise the key purpose and scope of a held position (e.g. how many resources, budget, scope etc) and bulletpoint achievement statements to describe duties with tangible results. For example: Led a multi-million dollar project with product launch on time and under budget
Advantages: It allows the recruiter and hiring manager to quickly scan down and pick out your relevant experience, skills and achievements to the role you have applied for. It is the most traditional format and is easy to design. There are many online templates and services which offer this format.
Disadvantages: Most of the CV’s and Resume’s floating around in recruitment databases, inboxes and job boards are of this format so the format does not standout from the competition.
Functional / Skills-based
Use this if you are changing career tracks, functions or sectors. The functional CV format allows you to summarise transferable competencies and skills required by your target position. The chronological experience section is summarised to just job title, employer and dates so as to not distract the reader too much and place more emphasis on the transferable “functional” competencies. For example, if you are looking to move from food and beverage to sales and marketing, then this is an example of where you might choose this CV format to highlight transferable competencies such as customer relationship management or marketing.
Advantages: This CV format allows the reader to focus on your transferable competencies rather than get distracted by non-relevant experience.You can get very creative with how you design the front page and you should definitely highlight achievements associated with the transferable competencies.
Disadvantages: Unfortunately not all recruiters and hiring managers like this format – some do and some don’t, but even so, this has probably a better chance of being looked at than a chronological which screams “no relevant experience”.
Use this if you’re in a very competitive job market and need to stand out or if you are working in the creative sector, where originality and good design skills are expected. You will either need to have great photoshop skills to pull this off, or you can hire a professional to do it for you. Some freemium web services such as visualize.me provide you with the tools to create this for yourself.
Advantages: This is great for making a memorable first impression and if you know the recruiter or hiring manager is looking at hundreds of other CV’s which look the same.
Disadvantages: Be careful when you choose this format – make sure it suits the industry, sector or profession you are applying to, even the company culture could make or break this approach. A busy looking or unclear visual CV could also confuse the reader, so be careful with your design choice.
LinkedIn is fast replacing the traditional CV shared in Word or PDF format.
To be competitive on LinkedIn, you’ll need a fully populated Profile that rivals the content of your competition (and you may want to visit their Profiles to see what you’re up against!).
Your LinkedIn Profile will also require an intensive search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to pull in traffic from recruiters. Some of the fields on your Profile (such as your Headline) are highly indexed, meaning that you’ll need to place powerful keywords there to attract more views.
Advantages:Over 90% of recruiters are now hiring from LinkedIn so not having a presence on this professional social media platform is a grave mistake. You can also export a copy of your LinkedIn profile to PDF. Make sure to add your public url to your email signature or networking card to give potential employers quick access to your profile. Click here if you want to know more on how to do this.
Disadvantages: It is much harder to use LinkedIn as a functional/skills-based format and you will need to select one sector/industry to be associated too, which might be challenging if you’re targeting more than one.
This format usually compliments the more traditional CV and is essentially another avenue you can use to showcase your achievements and career successes.
Advantages: Employers get to see how you present yourself. Multiple sites offer you the ability to upload a video resume -such as visualcv.com – or you can include it on your own blog or professional website. Check out this crazy version of how far someone was willing to go to work for google.
Disadvantages: Visual first impressions can be very subjective so it’s important to dress appropriately and practice your introductions and pitch so that when you record it’s pitch perfect.
Website/Blog/Video Games and other online formats
What will they think of next? Ok Blogs and Website resume’s are nothing new but the other day I came across an online article where Designer Robby Leonardi created an interactive resume set to the theme of Super Mario Bros., featuring a Mario-like character that jumps and swims through a colorful history of his work experience.
Advantages: Similar to the infographic or video resume, this can be a complement to your traditional CV and depending on the sector you want to work in, it can be a great way to get you to stand out from the competition.
Disadvantages: Be careful with your design.
I’m quite sure this isn’t an all-inclusive list of CV and resume formats. However, I think this is a great head start for helping you consider the options out there. Consider integrating or testing a few of these formats into your job search arsenal in 2014 and see what a difference these make. Have a resume format you think will be big in 2014? I’d love to hear about it! Share it with me in the comments below.
Are you struggling to get your CV noticed? Are you receiving rejections instead of interview invitations? iwantmycareer.com’s co-founders, Natalie and Enrica, are hosting a FREE Recruitment Insider webinar on “How to get your CV shortlisted for interview” on Monday 24 February 2014 at 1pm CET (UTC+1). Click here to register.