CV Format: Curriculum Vitae Guide with Examples [2020]

A CV may be the right choice for you if you’re looking for a job outside of the US or within an academic field. In this CV format guide we’ve included lots of actionable CV examples.
10/2/2019 By Jofibo Team 9 min reading time
CV Format: Curriculum Vitae Guide with Examples [2020]

What is a CV? A CV is a document in which you list all of your professional and educational history. It’s short for curriculum vitae - course of life. Its sole purpose is to provide potential employees with a detailed overview of just that - your course of life. At least in regards to your professional and educational achievements. 

One of the most important things to remember is to use the correct CV format. Now of course, there are several CV formats to choose from. In this article we will cover: 

  • The three top CV formats [with examples]
  • How to choose your CV format
  • CV formatting tips and tricks

Are you ready? The right CV format can make it or break it in your job search. It will pass applicant tracking systems. It will open doors to hiring managers’ offices. It will land you a job. Learn about the different types of CV formats in our guide and get smart about your choice. There are even CV examples for you to take inspiration from. 

The top 3 CV formats

No CV format is better than the next, per se. But, (because there is always a but), some will work better than others. It depends on your situation. 

The top three CV formats are

  1. The reverse-chronological CV format
  2. The functional CV format (also known as the skill based CV format)
  3. The combination (hybrid) CV format

I’ll explain each CV format in detail below with pros and cons plus there will be CV examples that you can get inspiration from. 

1. The reverse-chronological CV format

The reverse-chronological CV format is by far the queen of CV formats. It’s the most widely used and the one that recruiters and hiring managers are most familiar with. In this format you focus on your work experience, with the most recent (or your present) jobs listed in the top of your experience section. This way the recruiter will see your most recent experiences first, and as she moves down along the document she will get to your oldest experiences. 

Reverse-chronological CV example: 

reverse chronological CV example 

Pros and cons for the reverse-chronological CV format

Pros

  • The most recognized CV format out there, also by ATS
  • Great for showing your career progress
  • Ideal if you’re looking for a job in the same field you’re currently in

Cons

  • Any gaps between employments will become very obvious 
  • This CV format is not ideal if you are changing career path 
  • Job hopping become very apparent

2. The functional CV format

In the functional CV you emphasize your skills and other qualifications rather than your professional experiences. When using this format you more or less ignore the when and where part of your professional life and instead focus on the what part. Your skills will be displayed in the top of your CV in order of most relevant to least relevant. However, make sure that even the “least relevant” skills are still relevant to the job in question. 

Functional CV example: 

functional CV example

Pros and cons for the functional CV format

Pros

  • Good for hiding large gaps in your work history 
  • Good for changing careers 
  • Good for promoting a specific skill or skill set

Cons

  • Doesn’t show off a clear career progress
  • This format is not good if you lack skills that come with experience
  • This format is not good if you lack transferable skills

3. The combination CV format

The combination CV format is, as the name implies, a combination of the two previous. Thus, it combines elements from both CV formats. You should begin your combination CV with a CV summary followed by either a skills section or a work experience section. Additional skills should be added after the skills section. Since both work experience and skills play a big role there is not much room left on your CV for education. 

Combination CV example: 

combination CV example

Pros and cons for the combination CV format

Pros

  • Good for showing off skills
  • Helps you hide employment gaps
  • Good if you have a lot of experience in one field

Cons

  • Not good if you don’t have any experience
  • Not good if you want to highlight your education
  • Not good of you don’t have a lot of skills to highlight

How to choose your CV format

Still not sure how to decide on which CV format to choose? Our CV format guide below will show you. 

Reverse chronological CV 

Choose this if: 

  • You are looking for a job within your current field
  • Your skills and work experience match each other
  • You are experienced within your field and haven’t had any large employment gaps

Functional CV 

Choose this if:

  • You have employment gaps you want to hide
  • You want to change careers
  • The job you’re applying to puts more emphasis on your skills rather than your experience

Combination CV 

Choose this if:

  • You have specific skill sets you want to highlight
  • You have employment gaps you want to hide
  • You are applying for a job that requires a specific set of technical skills

4 CV formatting tips and tricks

Congratulations on making it this far in the read. The rest of our CV format guide is very hands on and practical. We’re going to guide you through the best way to format your CV so you’re sure to get the best result from your efforts. 

These four tips below are super easy to follow and apply to your already existing CV. 

1. Length

Unless you’re applying for an academic position, always go for a one-page CV. This ensures a clean and organized layout which the recruiter can easily decipher. A structured and neatly formatted CV indicates a structured and neat person which is always a plus for a potential employer. 

2. Fonts

As a rule of thumb you should always choose a font sans serifs. That means, a font that doesn’t have serifs. Fonts with serifs have little marks added to them and this can potentially botch up the applicant tracking systems. So to be on the safe side and use fonts such as Arial or Calibri which don’t have serifs 

Pro tip: all fonts in Jofibo’s CV builder are sans serif. 

3. Alignment

Keep the body of your CV left aligned. It looks more clean and organized where any other alignment will easily make your text appear clumsy and messy. This also increases your chances of getting past the applicant tracking systems.

4. ATS friendliness

All three tips above will increase your chances of getting past the dreaded applicant tracking systems. But there are more things you can easily do: 

  • Keep your CV format simple and avoid fancy graphics
  • Keep your bullet point symbols round 
  • Use standard headings such as the ones in Jofibo’s CV builder

CV format key take aways

If you take only one thing away from this post, let it be this: choose your CV format with care. Make sure it matches both where you are in your career and the job you’re applying to. Below is a quick overview of what we’ve been through. 

  • There are three CV formats: reverse chronological, functional and combination
  • Each has its strengths and weaknesses
  • The reverse chronological cv format is best to show your career progress
  • The functional CV format is best for changing careers
  • The combination CV format is best to show off your skills
  • You should (almost) always keep your CV at one page length
  • Always keep it as simple as possible
  • Make sure you live up to the applicant tracking systems’ demands

Are ready to build your own CV for free? 

Below here are some professional CV examples from different professions.

Marketing Manager CV example

Marketing Manager CV example

Front End Developer CV example

Frontend Developer CV example

Cashier CV example

Cashier CV example

Sales Associate CV example

Sales Associate CV example

Electrician CV example

Electrician CV example

Nursing CV example

Nursing CV example

Secretary CV example

Secretary CV example


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