You are faced with a bewildering range of choice when it comes to crafting a great CV, and it can be tough to decide which format fits your needs best. Whilst a simple chronological CV, giving your work experience history (in reverse order to make it easier for the recruiter), is best for those with a robust work history, looking for promotion or to move to a similar type of role, this isn’t the best choice for everyone.
If you’re a student, graduate, career shifter or returning to the workplace after a significant break, then a combination CV, highlighting the best of your credentials, skills and experience before a short summary of your working history, can be a good choice.
If you’re thinking of remodeling your CV to follow a combination pattern, here are some tips.
1. Identify Skills and Strengths
The starting point for any CV should be a clear view of your own personal skills and strengths. This is an especially important step in formulating a combination CV, as these will be among the first points highlighted in your final document, and need to really catch the recruiters’ eye. Start with a brainstorm, ask for feedback from friends, family and trusted colleagues, and gather a list of the words, phrases, qualifications, skills and strengths you are looking to showcase. These could be from professional experience, volunteer work, academic studies or personal and behavioral strengths.
2. Check for Keywords
Before you use your brainstormed list, you need to double-check your ideas against those of the sort of employers you’re targeting. Find some job adverts that appeal to you and scan them for keywords. These might be the specific skills, credentials and experiences the role requires or more ’soft’ skills and behavioral abilities. Match these against your original brainstorm. Do you cover all the areas that are relevant to both your personal experience and the sort of roles you are seeking? Make sure the language and style of wording that you are using is similar to the recruiters you are targeting also, as this will help the tone of your final product resonate with the hiring managers who read it.
3. Create a Punchy Career Summary
With the ideas you have gathered, you can now make a start on your CV. Most combination CVs open with a career summary, which might take the form of a bullet point list or a few sentences of text. Here, you aim to show your strongest credentials from the ideas you have gathered, along with your job objective. This will be the first thing the recruiting manager reads, so it should also highlight a little of your personality – for example, by describing why others might recommend you, and giving some personal context to why you’re a great hire. For more ideas and examples, try the links given in this article or a simple Google search which will provide templates and examples to use as models.
4. Use Relevant Chronological Details
With a qualifications or career summary completed, your CV should then give some chronological work history. This is always presented in reverse order, and should tell the story of your progress and achievements. In this sort of CV, the space for this section tends to be relatively tight, so focus on showing your achievements as well as the size and scope of your role. Include details like the size of budgets you managed, the number of people you led or the main stakeholders you worked with, and make the details bullet pointed and punchy to keep the readers’ attention.
5. Show Your Personality
Your CV might also include other sections depending on your personal experience and the sort of roles you are looking for. You might, for example, include a section on specific educational achievements, volunteer work, language abilities or even relevant hobbies. Use this section to show some of your personality, although bear in mind that you should be showcasing things that are of interest and relevance to the employer (so, they might not be very interested in your being a founding member of the University Cider Appreciation Society).
Once you have completed your draft document, don’t forget to have it proofread by several other people, if possible, and tweak the content and wording to make it work for you. The beauty of a combination CV is that the format is flexible which does give you the chance to make it a really personal document and tailor the content to each job you apply for. Your CV is one of your main marketing tools, so investing the time in getting it right and responding to feedback is well worthwhile, to make sure your job search runs smoothly.