One resume is just as good as the next, right? Wrong! Just as some people are more appropriate for certain kinds of jobs, different types of resumes are more appropriate as well. Which type you use will depend on your personal situation – where you are in your career and what kind of job you are seeking.
To make an informed decision about which type of resume is appropriate for you, it is important to review the three basic resume formats:
Chronological – By far the most popular, chronological resumes are the best choice for job-seekers who possess a solid work history in a particular field. They serve to highlight the candidate’s work history by listing their job experience in reverse chronological order. This kind of resume is relatively simple to compile: simply start with your most recent job and work your way backwards.
Popular in such fields as law and academia, chronological resumes are a good choice if you have worked in your chosen field for a substantial amount of time. You should also be able to demonstrate that you have advanced in your career during that time. They may appeal to more traditional or conservative employers, as they present an opportunity to highlight the names of former employers. However, they make it difficult to highlight specific skills.
Chronological resumes are not a good option for someone who doesn’t have a solid work history, has done a lot of job-hopping, or has spent an extended amount of time between jobs. Understandably, they are not appropriate for recent graduates or those looking to make a career change.
Functional – Unlike chronological resumes, which focus on work history, functional resumes focus on skills, qualifications, and experience. Often used by people who are changing careers or returning to the job market after a long absence, functional resumes are growing in popularity because of they give job seekers the ability to highlight their strengths. Thus, they are the ideal choice for those without a solid work history or for those who have gained useful skills through experiences other than paid employment – volunteer work, for example.
Functional resumes eliminate the need to read through a laundry list of job descriptions and help a potential employer zero in on what the candidate can do for them. They can also be easily targeted for a specific direction or field by simply highlighting key skills and qualifications. Keep in mind that you must be able to prove through specific accomplishments that you truly possess each specific skill. Thus, you should not opt for a functional resume if you don’t possess the requisite skills for the job for which you are applying.
Combined – This hybrid resume incorporates elements of both chronological and functional formats. It allows you to emphasize your skills while highlighting your job history. This type of resume is helpful if some of your past jobs were unrelated to your career or if past job titles do not accurately reflect your duties and/or accomplishments. Thus, combined resumes are only effective if you possess a solid work history and the kinds of skills which are desirable for the position in question.
A combined resume typically begins with a short “Skills and Accomplishments” section, followed by a short reverse chronology of job summaries. Another option, however, is to follow the format of a standard functional resume and simply include specific accomplishments within the description of each job you’ve held.