CVs for Different Sectors

I recently ran some training for experienced careers advisers working with adult clients, on job search skills.  Most of the advisers were very adept at producing CVs for unemployed clients, young people with little experience and low-skilled employed people. Helping a client to identify skills when they have been out of work for some time (or never in work at all) is a real skill, and one they had developed.

However, where they lacked confidence was in helping professional clients create CVs.  They knew all the standard rules about layout, fonts, headings, what to include, what not to include and whether to use functional or chronological formats.  But they suspected there might be hidden rules and expectations for particular professions and sectors.  So here I share some of my findings (and I would be very interested to hear reader’s comments on how they create CVs for particular sectors).

More “Conservative” Professions (Law, Accountancy, Civil Service, Medicine)

CV writers should stick to standard guidelines for these professions.  All professional CVs should include qualifications, professional training, CPD in the workplace, membership of professional bodies and specialism/skills gained in employment.

Creative Professions – (Graphic Design, Architecture, Marketing etc)

CVs for these professions should show evidence of good design skills, so might include a wider range of fonts and graphics.  The CV might include a photograph of a piece of the candidate’s work.  Some candidates might even use coloured paper or fonts.  These days, many CVs will include a web link to examples of the candidate’s work.

Some job hunters have notoriously found jobs by sending in quirky CVs – iced on a cake or printed on a beer bottle, for example.  It’s a high risk strategy – your CV might end up in the bin because it won’t fit through the photocopier, but on the other hand, it might just catch someone’s eye and stand out from a huge pile of paper.

Technical CVs – IT, Engineering, Science

These CVs can be longer than the standard two pages, because they should include all the projects the author has been involved in.  A  list of technical skills (e.g. programming languages) should be prominent on the first page.  Technical CVs need to appeal to the technical reader, but also need to be understood by a non-technical reader (e.g. HR Manager).

Academic CVs

Academic CVs are also longer than the standard two pages, because they include a list of all the author’s publications (books, conference presentations and research papers).

Performing Arts CVs

The only people who should include a photograph on their CV are the performers.  Performers should also give details of their range – for example, musicians would list the instrument played, while actors would give details of appearance and accents.  Finally, the work history will include all the performances they have been involved in, the company they worked for and the part they played.


It’s actually rather comforting to the generic Careers Adviser to find that the differences between CVs for the various professions are not so great as you might think.  No matter what profession your CV is for, the key is to highlight your achievements, your skills and to demonstrate to the employer that you can meet their needs.


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