Career Testing
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CVS / MAY. 12, 2017
version 13, draft 13

A Guide to Writing a Strong Chronological CV

A CV is an essential tool for the modern job seeker. Without it, it can be difficult – impossible even, to be considered for a job. Given the fact that there is a lot of competition in the job market today, you have to do whatever it takes to make a good impression on employers. Creating a strong CV that can catch their attention is the best way to stand out from the crowd.

But, what makes a strong CV? Since your CV is used as a means of self-promotion, its purpose is to market your skills and expertise in the best light possible. To do that, you have to choose the type of CV that can bring out the best in you. In many circumstances, a chronological CV is just what you need to land a job.

What is a Chronological CV?

It is a type of CV that lists information in a reverse chronological order which means that the most recent experience and achievements come first. This format offers the easiest and simplest way to present information in a clear and concise way. 

When do you need it?

The chronological CV provides a detailed break-down of your qualifications and previous experience. It’s is ideal when you are applying for a position in the same industry you are currently based because it can immediately show that you have the kind of experience and expertise an employer needs. It can be used when applying for jobs in a range of industries and works best when you have an extensive work history in the industry you are applying for.

A chronological CV is suitable when:

  • You want to highlight work experience and skills that can help you stand out
  • You want to progress in the same career path where you can show your progress and any promotions you achieved
  • You want to list your employment in a working order putting your current experience first

The chronological CV offers a summary of qualifications, but it may not be targeted enough to specific job roles. For example, if you have a lot of work experience but it’s in a different industry than you are applying for, this type of CV won’t be able to bring out the best in you. On the contrary, it will make your ‘weaknesses’ more obvious.

A chronological CV is not suitable when:

  • You are changing careers
  • You have held a number of short-term jobs in different industries and with various employers
  • You are a recent graduate or school leaver and have little work experience
  • You have gaps in your employment history like unemployment or redundancy periods

What are the advantages of using it?

It’s one of the most common formats and employers have become familiar with it. It makes it quicker for them to scan and read the document, which can be a big help considering that they have hundreds of them to review for every job advert.

  • It’s the most traditional and accepted CV format for employers
  • It’s easy to read and understand because it has a good structure
  • It describes your tasks and achievements in every job

What are the disadvantages of using it?

There are times when the chronological CV isn’t appropriate to use but this depends on the case, what your employment history shows and what your career goals are.

  • It shows if you have changed from one job to another too often e.g. job hopping etc.
  • It may emphasise a lack of promotion and inactivity periods
  • It can focus too much on your age
  • It shows lack of new studies or courses

How Do You Make One

How do you write a chronological CV? First, you can choose to write one from scratch or use a CV template. Most jobseekers choose the second option because it’s easier and as you would expect, less time-consuming. When working with a CV template, you need to do your best to make it relevant to the job you are applying for. That includes choosing the right keywords that describe the kind of job you want to do. It will help you outsmart the application tracking system, and make it safely to the employers’ hands.

Give it Structure

Once you decide on the format you are going to use; you can start thinking about what goes inside the CV. Take a look at the following information to get an idea of what it should contain.

PERSONAL DETAILS

Just like any other type of CV, the chronological CV should start with listing your contact details including your name, surname, home address, email address and telephone number. Skip the word ‘CV’ on the document and make sure that your name is clearly visible in the middle at the top of the first page.

CAREER OBJECTIVE

This is a catchy phrase that refers to your short or long-term career goals and tells the recruiter the position or job title you want to get e.g. ‘seeking positions as a writer with a publishing company’. A career objective is optional to use and the career summary can work just as effectively without it.

CAREER SUMMARY

Most CVs include a career summary that has 3 to 5 sentences which describe your key skills and knowledge in your industry. Here you can refer to the years of experience you have acquired while working in the field, and key areas of expertise.

WORK EXPERIENCE

A chronological CV places emphasis on work experience listing job title, employers’ name, dates and key duties and this is the reason why it’s the first section that appears on the CV. In this section, you can describe your job role and use bullet points to mention duties and achievements which refer to the milestones you have achieved.

You might think that it’s not important, but what matters to employers is what you have done differently for others. Focus on your work experience and competencies that are directly relevant to the job you are applying for and can fit the necessary requirements.

EDUCATION

This section needs to contain the qualifications you have obtained most recently. You can also include relevant modules and coursework e.g. projects, dissertation – if the topic can be directly relevant to the role you are applying for. Don’t forget to list dates, the title of qualifications/diplomas, the name of the educational institution from which you obtained it and grades.

SKILLS

Even though the chronological CV focuses mainly on work experience, a skills section is necessary to back up your abilities and expertise in the role. As such, you can include a short skills section that lists soft skills e.g. communication skills, teamwork, leadership, and hard skills that refer to a specific job e.g. lab skills or IT skills. Don’t forget to provide examples for skills that are required in the job advert to support how you meet these and your level of competency.

INTERESTS/HOBBIES

It’s not essential to write about your interests and hobbies, but for someone who is applying for an entry level position it can give employers a clearer idea about who you are. If you have enough space on your CV, include 2 to 3 or your interests that helped you develop skills necessary to the job, or any extra-circular activities that show initiative. Just make sure to leave these hobbies out of your CV.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Accomplishments are important and should include a couple on your CV to make it more powerful. In this section you need to list a couple of achievements that show you are capable of carrying out the job. Set out the facts, add figures and numbers to make a bigger impact and demonstrate what you can do.

REFERENCES

It’s never advisable to waste space on a CV with references or ‘ references available upon request’. You only need to include reference if they specifically ask for them. And this is more likely after a first interview of some kind.

How to Design Your CV

After the content you need to think of the design. Now, there are many things you can do as far as it concerns the appearance of your CV. Despite the fact that a chronological CV is regarded as a traditional type of CV, you can still give it a twist and create something unique that can catch the employer’s attention. Take a look at some of the most extraordinary CV examples to get some inspiration.

Proofread and Edit

This is a crucial step that most jobseekers neglect. Before sending out your CV you need to remember to proofread and scan the document for mistakes as many times as you can. If it helps, you can ask your friends to take a look at it or your careers advisor to get a second opinion.

 

Writing an effective chronological CV is not the most difficult thing in the world. While it may take a significant amount of time and effort on your behalf, there is no doubt that the end result will be worth it. If you are just starting out with the job hunt, you should create a few copies of your CV. This will help you promote yourself to employers more methodically and as such increase your chances of landing a job!

Have you started working on your CV yet? Let us know how far you have got in the comments section below…

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