Professional CV Format and Layout

The format and structure of your CV / Resume are significant decisions. Your decisions will impact how the reader understands and interprets your overall experience and achievements. Given you have barely 20 seconds to make an impression, how you choose to present and structure your experience can make a huge difference. Therefore, your core objectives here must be to communicate clearly and crisply your key skills and experience, while also minimising potential gaps or inexperience.

There are essentially two types of CV you can choose between: reverse chronological (see our CV example) or functional:

Format Type
Can be Used When
Reverse Chronological Format
This presents your employment history starting from the most recent, showing dates, employers and positions. If experienced, the educational institutions you have attended come next, including all professional courses. You aim to evidence an uninterrupted work history and a record of upward trajectory.and growing accountability.You may need to be a careful and clever writer when using this format if managing potential negative factors, such as too few jobs, too many temporary jobs or major gaps in employment.
  • You have a strong school / work record
  • Your recent employer is a respected name in the industry
  • Your recent job titles are impressive supports to winning the new role
Functional Format
This highlights portable skills or functional areas of expertise. While it cannot ignore chronological order as employers require dates and employment history, it relegates your work experience to a brief listing that ensures the reader’s eyes are attracted to the skills and knowledge over the career rather than to the specific roles and tenure in your different positions.  In essence, the format is geared towards what you can do for the employer.
  • You are a career changer
  • You are a seasoned expert in a field
  • You are a new graduate
  • You have a varied job history or experience gaps.

Other experts will correctly state that there is a hybrid or combination format of the above two types, but in large part the hybrid is similar to the modern day functional/skills format CV, as all CVs must contain some chronological work history to satisfy employer needs.

CV Layout

While the format is dependent on your experience and goals, you still need to ensure certain sections appear. The order varies slightly depending upon style but in general the core elements of your CV would include:

  • Name and Contact Details
  • Career Profile
  • Key Achievements
  • Skills or Work History
  • Education
  • Professional Qualifications
  • Other Skills (e.g., languages)