What type of CV to choose?

Chronological CV, skill-based / functional, or combination, all CVs are not alike. They can take different forms. Choose the type of CV that is appropriate to your profile and the position you are targeting.  

- Chronological CV

The chronological CV is used very often in Canada. It is made up of an introductory section that describes the profile of the candidate, followed by professional experience presented in inverse chronological order, and then the education. “This form is appropriate for candidates who have a lot of experience in one domain,” states Hilary Predy, Associate Vice-President of Business Solutions at Adecco in Toronto. “It works well when there are no big gaps in your work history,” adds Julye Vézina, career consultant for Emploi la vie in Montréal. If you have recently graduated and you are looking for a position in your field, put your education before your work experience. The opposite is true if you are a seasoned professional, in which case you need to describe your achievements. “You need to give concrete examples,” explains Louise Saint-Pierre, career counsellor in private practice and human resources consultant.

- Functional / Skill-based CV 

As its name indicates, the functional or skill-based CV as it is also called, is presented in different sections, each one describing a different skill set, for example, administrative skills, writing skills, project management skills. “This type of CV is interesting for those who possess a variety of skill sets and different types of work experience,” says Louise Saint-Pierre. According to Hilary Predy, this form could also be useful for professionals looking to change careers and those who have not always been employed, as the gaps show up less in this form of CV. “Also, this is a good way to review your professional history before an interview,” says Julye Vézina. “On the other hand, employers have difficulty reading it because it offers little in the way of context. As they do not spend a lot of time on each CV, I do not recommend this type,” she adds.

- Combination CV

A combination CV has the advantage of being a bridge between the chronological and the functional / skills-based CV. In the first section, the combination CV describes several skill clusters, as in the skill-based / functional CV, and in the second part, it lists the work experience beginning with the most recent and going back in time to the oldest one. This form is advantageous for those who have had very diverse types of work experience. It is easier to read than the skill-based / functional CV as it presents also a list of professional experience. On the other hand, it can end up being very long, so it is important to be concise. The combination CV is less used in Anglophone Canada than in Francophone Canada.

Certain elements are the same in all the types of CVs; contact information (first and last name, address…) should be at the top of the first page. Language and computer skills should also be presented in a distinct section. In general, the CV should not be longer than two or three pages.

Finally, if you want to prepare both an Anglophone and Francophone CV, note that you cannot simply translate from one to the other; you need to adapt each one to the nuances of the respective language. “For example, the names of professions and companies may be different according to the language. You need to find the sources that will give you the correct terms,” insists Julye Vézina.