Which Resume Format is Best For You?

No matter what you’ve been told, resumes are not ‘one size fits all’. A resume is designed to sell or market your particular skills, experience and accomplishments to prospective employers. One of the most important decisions job seekers are faced with is what resume format is best for them. Although there are several types of resumes, the three most common are the following:

Chronological

By far the most common type of resume and one where your experience is highlighted by showing what positions you’ve had in reverse chronological order, meaning the most recent position is presented first. The job title and names of employer as well as the located and dates of employed is presented and below that, the accomplishments. The next position is set up in the same fashion working backwards no more than 10 years.

Who should use a chronological resume?

  • Workers with no gaps or interruption in their resumes
  • Professionals with steady, solid and focused experience in a particular field
  • Employees who have worked for well known companies in their field
  • Workers who have progressed throughout their careers

Functional

This is a less common, but equally effective resume that draws attention to transferable skills. Instead of highlighting company names, employment dates and job titles, it highlights skills and achievements. These skills are divided into 2-5 functional areas of specialization and each identifies specific relevant achievements. For example, areas of specialization for an IT professional can include: Software Design & Development, Training, and Consulting.

Who should use a functional resume?

  • Career changers who are making a radical change entering a very different career path
  • Workers with very diverse experience who don’t take a clear-cut career path
  • Employees with gaps in their work history or are re-entering the job market after a very long period
  • Workers who have performed very similar tasks at various positions and want to avoid repeating their responsibilities
  • Mature workers who want to take away the emphasis from the length of their job history

Combination/Hybrid

Also called Chrono-Functional, this type of resume joins the benefits of both chronological and functional resume. The advantages of a combination resume is its flexible to structure the resume so that it works best for you. It begins with a Career or Qualifications Summery that focuses on your strong experience (from the functional format). The idea here is to entice the reader to read the rest of your resume by highlighting your strengths immediately. This section is then followed by a reverse chronological employment history (from the chronological format).

Who should use a Combination resume?

  • New graduates and entry-level job seekers
  • Career changers who are not making a radical career change
  • Workers re-entering the job market after a short period
  • Freelancers who have worked on several projects
  • More experienced workers with extensive work histories
We’ve all heard the expression “First impressions are lasting impressions.” Your resume is the first impression a prospective employer gets. Don’t just use a specific format because that what you’ve been using for years or your buddy uses it. Think about where you are in your career and what message you would like to relay to a prospective employer before writing your resume.
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