CV Format Guide for 2021 [With 10+ Examples]

In this CV format guide we'll show you exactly how to choose which CV format is best for you. We've also included lots of CV examples to get inspired from.
1/18/2021 9 min reading time Karin Lykke Nielsen @KarinLykke
CV Format Guide for 2021 [With 10+ Examples]

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. Like a resume its sole purpose is to provide potential employers 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. 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 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 inspired from our CV examples. 

The top three 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, by recruiters as well as ATS
  • Great for showing your career progress
  • Ideal if you’re looking for a job in the same field as 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 becomes 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 at 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 highlighting 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 work experience section or a skills section. Additional skills can 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: 

Hybrid also called 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

Most of our CV templates are based on a reverse-chronological format but there are also some that are great choices for either a functional CV or a combined CV. 

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

Four  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 CV between one and three pages long. This ensures a clean and organized layout which the recruiter can easily decipher. A structured CV indicates a structured 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, such as Times New Roman, can make your CV look outdated. A sans serif font is also easier to read by the recruiter so to be on the safe side we recommend to 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.

4. ATS friendliness

All three tips above will increase your chances of getting read properly by the 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

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 to three pages
  • Always keep it as simple as possible

Are you ready to build your own CV? 

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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