Types of Resumes

There are several different types of resumes you need to know about when you begin creating your own. Your resume can be made more effective by utilizing different types and learning when and how they are most effective. Read about these resume formats to decide which type is the best for you and how to create it.

Resumes

Chronological

This is the most commonly used resume format, especially for professionals who are already working in their industry. Just like it sounds, a chronological resume lists your work and educational experience by when that experience was earned. This is usually done in reverse chronological order, meaning that the most recent experience, usually the job you are currently doing and the degree you are currently working on or have just finished, are listed first, followed by previous experience going back as far as is relevant.

Typically this sort of resume is used to demonstrate an applicant’s career progression and increasing responsibilities over several years. Most professionals applying for jobs in the same industry they currently work in use these types of resumes, since the most recent experience is both relevant, and the most recent position is often the highest-ranking job with the most responsibilities. The focus is on career progression, and it demonstrates your ability to take on more difficult challenges and move up in an industry. The reversed chronological order allows employers to see what you are currently doing and to focus on your most impressive achievements first, rather than how you got there.

When you list work experience on a chronological resume, you will want to name your position, the company, and list the dates of your employment. Below that, you need to write a few brief bullet points, usually no more than three, about what your duties were in each role or what you accomplished. Because this type of resume is focused on progressing in a career, it is important that the duties and accomplishments you choose to include are increasingly more difficult with each job. You can list promotions under the job, as well, to show that your previous boss saw your merit and wanted to help you move to the next level.

Any information included, especially achievements, should be specific and measurable where possible. For example, if you increased sales at your previous job, you should say “Increased gross margin by 5% by implementing a waste reduction strategy that reduced expenses in every department.” This shows that your results were measurable and tells the employer exactly what you did to achieve them, making the feat more impressive. This has the added benefit of showing potential employers what sort of advantages you could bring to their company. These types of statements generate a lot of interest and usually are followed-up on with questions in interviews.

Your listed degrees should be any earned after high school unless you are a recent high school graduate. You should include the name of the school, the city the school is located in, the dates attended, and what degree you earned. All information should be spelled out, such as Bachelor of Arts in Communications, rather than abbreviated. If you completed any major projects as requirements for your degree, such as a thesis or dissertation, you should include the title and a brief description of the work, since this work can set you apart from other candidates.

You may choose to include skills, honors, and activities if they are relevant to the job you want, but these are not a priority and are smaller sections featured further down the resume than work and educational experience.

Functional

A functional resume is used to highlight specific experience that best fits the employer’s needs. Most often, this type of resume is used when an applicant’s most recent experience is not relevant to the desired job, such as when one changes industries, or when skills are more valuable than experience. This type is also commonly used if the applicant has a long gap in employment, as it draws attention to what you can do for the company, rather than when you last gained work experience.

Typically with a functional resume, you want to list your relevant skills for a job at the top of the resume, and this section will probably be longer than it would in a chronological resume. Because you are trying to impress employers with skills in place of work experience, you need to make sure that these skills supplement what you would otherwise have gained from work experience or education by making sure they align with job descriptions and standards of the industry.

After your skills section, you will still want to include education and work experience, but your work experience will not be as detailed. You will still want to include your position title, the company name, and the dates you were employed there, but you won’t describe your job duties, since they are not relevant to the job you want. You may decide to list skills under previous jobs instead of at the top, since you can show how those positions gave you valuable experience to prepare you for the job you want.

You may also want to include activities, honors, or certifications that count as relevant experience. If your activities, such as volunteer work or a club are more relevant than work experience, you may also want to list these items closer to the top of the resume.

Functional resumes are great for applicants making untraditional career moves, like coming back to work after a long gap or changing industries, because they allow you to highlight whatever information is going to be most valuable to your potential employer. You have a great deal of latitude in adjusting the order and presentation of information, so long as your resume still looks professional and follows a cohesive order. Make sure to keep skills in the skills section, work in the work section, and so on to make your resume easy to understand.

The key to a great functional resume is in drawing connections to how previous experience can be supplemented in place of prior work experience, so make sure to demonstrate the connection. Most employers are open to looking at different types of experience, but you have to make it clear how it is relevant and important.

Combination

Combination resumes both highlight skills and chronological experience. This option is ideal for students and young professionals who may have some work or internship experience in their field, but usually not as much as an established professional who would usually use a chronological resume. This format allows you to demonstrate both your increasing job responsibility and your relevant skills in a hybrid resume.

In this type of resume, you will still list your work and educational experience in reverse chronological order, but you will also want to put emphasis on your skills. You may put a summary of qualifications section at the top of your resume that highlights relevant skills, or you may want to include them with each job in conjunction with duties, showing how each job contributed to your development for this new desired position.

The idea is to give equal prominence to skills and experience. This type of resume is extremely impactful in showing an applicant’s ability to grow and develop for promotion in a new position, since it stresses abilities that are not necessarily straightforward from job experience.

General Tips

  • Do not choose a resume format with the intention of hiding information, but rather as a way to highlight your assets.
  • If you are unsure what type best fits your situation, contact your college’s career resource center or a professional in your industry.
  • Only include relevant information, whether it is work experience or skills.
  • Keep in mind that some experience or skills may seem irrelevant until you make a connection, so make an effort to think creatively about your experience.
  • All types of resumes should be well-organized, well-formatted, and easy to read.
  • Look at examples of each type of resume online for ideas.
  • Some types of jobs require other formats of resumes, such as curriculum vitae for academic jobs, or federal resumes for some government jobs. Check with professionals in your industry or professors to see if there are any special requirements or standards for your industry.
Peggy Carouthers

Author: Peggy Carouthers

In a previous life Peggy worked as a human resources and hiring manager for a major national retail chain. Her expertise is in job hunting, hiring, and HR. These days Peggy works as a writer, crafting content for a range of publications.
Peggy Carouthers