A traditional CV, sometimes called a chronological CV, can be used when you can match your qualifications, work experience and skills directly to the criteria required by the role and the employer. They are structured in reverse chronological order, within sections. This means putting your education or work experience in date order starting with current or most recent course or job. This style of CV works best when the personnel specification is detailed and precise and you can directly relate yourself and your experiences to it.
This structure is effective as it allows you to clearly state what you have studied and when, give precise details of your work history and responsibilities, and highlight your additional skills and knowledge in a format which makes it easy for the recruiter to quickly identify that you are a good candidate.
However, a traditional CV can also bring the employer’s attention to any gaps or missing information, so you need to make sure your CV is targeted specifically to what they want. Keep the essential criteria in front of you and make sure you tailor your CV appropriately.
- Dates are important. Make sure they are clearly presented and there are no gaps in your history. Your CV should give a complete timeline from your GCSEs to the current date.
- Academic qualifications – these have to match the criteria for the role. Start with your degree or postgraduate qualification and highlight all relevant modules and research areas. Include any skills, technical or key, that you have gained from your degree that are relevant to the role. Give details of your A levels or equivalent, with grades. You do not have to identify every GCSE, you can just highlight the most relevant or the highest graded.
- Work experience - clearly identify the dates of your employment, details of your employer, your job title and your tasks and responsibilities. Scene-setting is not as important as facts. Focus your information on short examples of how you fulfilled your responsibilities and what you achieved. Try to use examples from your job that are most relevant to the role that you are applying for.
- Don’t forget to include details of additional knowledge and skills. Make sure you cover the essential criteria, the recruiter cannot presume!
- Make yourself unique by drawing on your interests and extra-curricular activities to highlight other skills relevant to the role.