When you’re just starting your career, or transferring into a new field, you might not have a lot of relevant work experience. And although the chronological CV (which is arranged based on your work experience) is the type that most employers prefer, it will not do you any favours if it highlights a glaring lack of experience. In a situation like that, it would be better to play to your strengths. What that means is, you create your CV with your skills as the main attraction instead.
In other words, you are going to need a Functional CV, which is great for first time job seekers. This week on Let’s Get You Hired, we take a look at how to create a CV based on your skills. In addition, we look at the situation in which this type of CV is your best option. Our expert for today is Kwame Bene Smith, an HR professional with years of experience when it comes to hiring.
When Should You Use A Functional CV
A functional CV gives you the flexibility to emphasize your skills and present them in a way that will distinguish you from other applicants.
If you’re a person who is frequently changing jobs, you should avoid chronological CVs and opt for a functional CV. Employers will be reluctant to bring on a new employee that, judging from their work history, will be unlikely to stay with the company for more than a few months. In such a case, they would have to go through the entire hiring and training process again after a short period of time.
A functional CV shifts focus from how frequently you’ve changed jobs in the past, or any gaps that you may have in your work history. Instead, as we have already mentioned, a functional CV will highlight your relevant skills instead.
It also good to note that functional CVs are used less than chronological CVs and employers tend to prefer chronological CVs. If you don’t have a reason for using a functional CV, you should definitely go with a chronological CV.
How To Write A Functional CV
A functional CV normally starts with a CV summary. That summary should be a brief statement that highlights your most relevant qualifications. After that, you present a list of your skills and examples of situations in which you have used those skills.
An example of a skill that you might list on your functional CV after the summary of qualifications section is ‘Leadership.’ Then after listing leadership as a skill, you want to follow it up with some details about your accomplishments using that skill. So you may say something along the lines of the fact that you managed the sales department which had 5 staff members, and you were able to increase sales by 25% in six months.
You should always remember that employers place a high value on statistics and actual results. Don’t use vague sentences like “I performed well in the role.” Instead put figures to your performance. Use objective measures whenever you can on your CV.
When you’re writing a functional CV, be sure to put your skills into related groups. For example you can have a subsection called “Customer Service Experience,” under which you will group all your skills that fit into that description. This makes it easier for employers to navigate your CV.
When you’re writing a functional CV, you also want to use keywords: specific words or phrases that relate to the job description. You can usually find the right keywords to use in job descriptions posted. Use keywords as the titles for subheadings or in the bulleted lists where you describe your skills in more detail. Additionally, mention any relevant projects—including any professional or personal projects that are relevant to the job.
Finally, place your work history at the bottom of your functional CV, in order to emphasize your skills instead.
Be Sure To Add A Cover Letter
The final tip that we have from Kwame Bene Smith when it comes to using a functional CV is to write a cover letter. Writing a strong cover letter which emphasizes the skills and abilities that you have—and which make you a strong candidate for the position will help lessen any concerns that an employer might have about your work history.
We are going to be covering all the different types of CVs in the following weeks. Next week, we look at Combination CVs which are a hybrid between Chronological CVs and Functional CVs.
Watch the video above for information on all the different types of CVs to use in your job applications.
Let’s Get You Hired is a weekly manual for job seekers. The series contains guides and tips on CVs, Interviews and other resources to get you hired.