The Reverse Chronological CV

This format of CV is the preferred format of Recruiters and Personnel Departments. You’ll be using it mainly in the advertised market.

It’s also useful if you are selling your skills based on the most recent job you’ve been doing.

Start the CV with a headline, in most cases your name, big and bold, followed by your address and contact details.

Follow this with a personal statement of around three or four lines. This should be written in a third party impersonal style and cover your experience, background, the skills which match with the job requirements and, possibly, the way forward.

Then you need to set out details of each job you’ve had, starting with your current or most recent, working back to your first job ever.

Start each job with the following details spread neatly across the page:
Job Title      Company name    Year you started followed by year you left.

Under that you need to give some detail of what you did in that job.

Then you make the headings for the previous job and so on.

On your first draft don’t worry about how many pages you’re using, you can edit this down to two pages later.  The important thing now is just to get information on paper.

When you come to finalise the CV, it’s normal to give more information about your current and recent jobs than those in the past.  If you have a long work history, the earliest jobs you did could even be run together with a statement to the effect that, “previous positions included…”.

Under each job title heading write a series of statements between one and two lines long starting with a good strong action verb (in the past tense), describing what you did and giving a feel for the importance and volume of the work. Start each with a bullet point.

You could use the a job description for your current job to give you a starting point but, on no account, use the same style of wording.  What we are trying to do is to say how well you did things, not that you just did them. In any event you probably did much more than the job description lists.

The purpose of the CV is not to be a life history, in other words a “has done” series of statements, it is to be more a “can do” document, selling your skills and experience to your next employer in ways others can not or will not.  This makes you different, makes you stand out from the crowd, makes your CV brilliant.

Once you’ve got back to the first job, then you need a heading “Education and Qualifications”.  If it’s years since you were at school, don’t panic, you don’t need all the details of which exam you took and what the results were.  (If you just left school, things will be different and you’ll be using the School Leavers or College Graduate style CV which we’ll tell you more about separately.)

List the name of the school you went to and the number of exams you passed including their grade, for example

4 CSEs
3 GCSEs.

Then list any exams you took at college or night school, such as:

City and Guilds (the exam title or number would be useful)
RSA (again you will need the exam title)

If your results in these examinations were good, you might have credits or distinctions, if you have, then say so.

Then list any vocational qualifications, such as NVQs.

Finally, in this section, list any courses you’ve been on whether run by your employer or by an outside organisation. All you need here is the title of the course, no dates, no training organisation names. Put down as many as you can.

If you can’t remember, the personnel department of your current employer should be able to supply you with a list. You won’t neccessarily need to show all these courses, select only those which you think will be applicable and interesting to the person seeing the CV.

The last section of the CV is headed “Interest and Hobbies” or “Pastimes”.
Bearing in mind that the CV has been all about you at work, this is a chance to tell the reader something about you as a person. What do you do in your spare time?
List two or three things you get enjoyment from, for instance:

any team sport (shows you are a team player) especially if you organise it (organiser).
any charitable work, running a marathon, helping out at an old people’s home (shows you go the extra mile to help others).
any collection, stamps, coins (all show an enquiring mind with persistence and precision).

This part of the CV is definitely not a throw away section, it’s valuable in giving an insight into how you will do your job and also useful for an interviewer to start you talking about yourself within your comfort zone.

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