What Type Are You? Common Resume Formats

Stack of Resumes on a Table

Despite being a rather standard document in the job hunting process, resumes come in a variety of different formats. To shed light on the subtle differences I’ve researched a few of the common types and provided a brief summary of each below.

Chronological Resume
Often thought of as the default style, the chronological resume lists your most recent experiences followed by the next most recent. This format is perfect for illustrating the evolution of your career. Recruiters prefer this style because it’s easy to read and gather information about applicants quickly. The chronological format isn’t for everyone however. It’s time bound layout can create difficulties for job seekers with lack of work experience and gaps in employment history. The chronological resume also is a poor choice for older workers because dates for education or employment can reveal age.

Example: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/927/03/ 

Functional Resume
If you’re a first-time job seeker, changing careers, or reentering the workforce, a functional resume might be a good fit. This resume style shines at highlighting specific skills over employment history. It also has the advantage of showcasing work experience which maybe important to a particular job posting. Functional resumes are great for in-person conversations such as networking or info interviews but are often received poorly by recruiters who have come to expect chronological resumes.

Example: https://www.k-state.edu/hr/funres.pdf

Combination Resume
For the bold and daring looking to shake things up, a combination resume might be a good fit. This type of resume presents skills and abilities gained from work in reverse chronological order. The format’s hybrid nature allows you to highlight specific skills while staying within a format recruiters are familiar with. If you use the combination style resume you have to carefully consider when to start your timeline. Going too far back could result in a document reaching two pages and possibly beyond.

Example: http://www.washington.edu/doit/Careers/comb_resume.html

Final Reminders
No matter what format you choose it’s important to target your resume for specific job postings. Employers frequently use software to manage job applications. Technology now allows them to scan through resumes quickly and search for keywords. If you don’t include the right terms or descriptions, your resume could end up in the recycling bin.

I’m currently using a version of the functional resume. Its versatility helps highlight my skill set. This resume format also allows me to easily customize it depending on the job post and is fantastic for info interviews. 

Copy of my resume for reference: http://joshuaholland.co/docs/joshuahollandresume.pdf 

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[Photo Courtesy of woodleywonderworks]