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March 6, 2020, by Leah Sharpe

Chronological CV vs skills based CV

By Caroline Nolan, Employability Officer

A good CV is a powerful tool. In less than 30 seconds it should be able to truthfully sell your achievements and secure you an interview. Your CV is the first point of contact with an employer for a specific type of role. From the employer’s perspective, it’s the only information they have to decide whether you are suitable for a position.

Before you can start thinking about ways to make your CV look visually appealing to employers, remember one size never fits all. Tailoring your CV is essential and so the more effort you put into it the better. Your CV should highlight skills which match the recruiter’s needs and sometimes you may need to use a different CV template to achieve this. But what are the different types of CV and which one should you use?

The two main CV formats are:

Chronological CV:

This is sometimes known as a traditional CV. It’s structured in reverse chronological order i.e. your most recent qualifications and experience are listed first. It allows you to highlight clear details about your qualifications, work history and additional skills which match the requirements outlined in the job description. The format is clear and easy for employers to spot potential candidates when shortlisting.


It shows the employer recent experience and skills and allows you to ‘build’ your story. Within the format there are endless opportunities to customise your skills and target the information towards the vacancy.


If you have gaps in your employment history or limited professional experience.

Skills CV:

This type of CV is useful if you have limited experience, the format is more descriptive and focuses on transferable skills.


It allows you to focus on the skills you have developed in various areas of your life.


You need to evidence and show what you have done with your skills. It is vital to tweak your skills-based CV so that it is tailored for every individual role you apply for – not all jobs require the same skill set.

So which type is best for you?

Ultimately the choice is yours. The only hard and fast rule for writing a CV is that there are no hard and fast rules. Your CV will be shaped by your own personal experience, qualifications and skills, and it will grow and change with you.

Would you like to find out more about writing CVs? Visit our CV webpage and have a look at some examples.

Posted in Careers AdviceCVs and Cover Letters