Types of Résumés and When to Use Them

Chronological, Functional, and Combination Resumes – that’s what they call them. And not knowing the Types of Resumes and When to Use Them can leave your head spinning. You are not alone with the vertigo-like feeling. Read more about what to put and what not to put in your resume.

Potential employers, recruiters and hiring managers alike can look at hundreds, even thousands, of resumes when hiring a new candidate. Often, they can dismiss a candidate just by seeing improper formatting. A good resume, however, will help you stand out from the others around you. Resumes are not meant to secure a job; they are intended to peak the reviewer’s interest and get you inside the room for an interview.

There are three types of resumes.

  • Chronological – Resume that focuses on your work history, with your most recent experience first.
  • Functional – Resume that focuses on specific skills and experience.
  • Combination – A mixture of the two.

Choosing the right type of resume could be the difference between getting inside the room or being sent through the shredder. Here is a basic summary guide of what the different resumes include, and when to use each.

Who Should Use a Chronological Resume

  • Career seekers whose experiences are within the same career or job type they are applying to.
  • Applicants who have experience with nationally recognized companies.
  • Students with significant experience in the job field they are applying to.
  • Those who have ambitions to apply for a senior executive level job title.

What to Include in a Chronological Resume

Chronological resumes are the most basic and common types of resume. Most companies prefer a chronological resume because it shows them exactly the amount of experience you have. There is often a no better way to convince an employer you can perform a job than to show them you have already achieved it. If you have extensive experience relating to the position you are applying for, this is the resume you should use. Here is a basic breakdown of what to include in your chronological resume.

Everything You Need to Know.

  • Name, Address, Email, and Phone Number – Put at the top. Make sure your name looks BIG. The resume should be formatted in a way that the employer’s eyes see your name first.
  • Summary – I prefer using a summary section over an objective section in chronological resumes. This section will give variety to the actual aesthetic of your resume, instead of just having blocks and blocks of experience. A summary should put in your own words why your work history is relevant, and why your personal character has aided you in accomplishing these jobs. You can also use this section to list significant accomplishments.
  • Work History – Immediately after the summary you should jump into your work history, the most critical part of a chronological resume. Work history should be listed in reverse chronological order with the newest job first. You do not have to list every job you have ever had (that is what a CV is for) if the 3-4 most recent jobs relate to what you are applying for, those should suffice. Make a bulleted list of the different responsibilities you had for each position you include.
  • Skills/Credentials/Certifications – Some people forgo skills on a chronological resume. If there is a space issue, this is the section you can leave out. However, I still think it is crucial to convey any unique skills or certifications you have acquired throughout your career. For a chronological resume, only include specific skills as opposed to “soft skills.” For example, put things like “Trained in SEO optimizations (a tangible skill that is directly useful)” rather than “Good with communication (a soft skill that is not necessarily measurable)”.
  • Education – In addition to colleges, also include specialized training related to the job field you are applying.

Who Should Use a Functional Resume?

  • Job hunters who have more than 12 months gap in work history.
  • Candidates who are returning to work.
  • Entrants who have changed jobs frequently.
  • Those who wish to change careers altogether.
  • Hopefuls who do not precisely fit into the mold recruiters are looking to hire.

What to Include in a Functional Resume

The functional resume focuses on your skills and abilities, rather than your experience. This is the ideal resume for newly graduated college students and those trying to break into a new industry. If you find yourself wanting to begin a new career, do not let experience sway you from applying. It is never too late to start somewhere, and chances are your life has led you to develop enough skill to persuade an employer to give you a chance. The functional resume seeks to convince people of your potential moving forward.

Everything You Need to Know.

  • Name, Address, Email, and Phone Number – Same as chronological, make your name stand out
  • Objective – This should be a short section explaining your desire to work in the chosen industry. It should show that, despite your prior experience, you are passionate about the proposed job committed to being a long-term employee in the field.
  • Qualifications Summary – This section then seeks to prove your qualifications towards your objective by listing the different qualifications you have collected through different jobs so far. For example, the ability to lead is a transferable qualification. If you are applying to lead a research team and have worked as a fast-food manager in the past, it is valuable to explain “Experienced in leading a team of 12 people to an objective,” even though the two industries are necessarily related.
  • Skills – Include all the specific skills that relate to the desired job if possible, but also utilize soft skills. Excellent soft skills to include are things like “Works well under pressure, good decision maker, adaptable, and works well with a team,” among others.
  • Work History – You should include 2-3 of the most relevant jobs in your work history. This part is not as important in a functional resume, but it will prove to the employer your ability to hold down and complete a job. When you are listing your different responsibilities, try to frame your responsibilities as transferable to the new industry you are trying to break into.
  • Education – For this, I would seek out online courses in the industry you desire and list their completion with your college experience.

Who Should Use a Combination Resume?

  • Students.
  • New graduates.
  • Entry-level job seekers.
  • Employees with consistent or significant employment history.
  • SOME career changers. Functional resumes work best for radical changes.
  • Hopefuls returning to work can utilize both combination and functional resumes.
  • Workers with experiences that go back a bit. For example, older workers are perfect candidates for this format.

What to Include in a combination Resume

A combination resume is a mixture of the previous two mentioned. This is the ideal resume for candidates who have a ton of work experience under their belt but are trying to work a different job than before. This resume should capture the employer’s attention with your diverse set of skills, and then support your claims through work history.

  • Name, Address, Email, and Phone Number – Same as before.
  • Qualifications Summary – Begin with your qualifications summary, you want to get right into your expertise. However, in a combination resume, this section is a combination of the “qualifications summary” in a functional resume and the “summary” in a chronological resume. Explain your qualifications as they relate to your prior work experience.
  • Related Work Experience – Key word being “related.” Think about the jobs you have held that most apply to the job you are currently seeking. The bullet points of these listings should attempt to relate the experience you earned from these positions to the position you are applying.
  • Additional Work Experience – If you need to fill more of the page, feel free to put other jobs under this section.
  • Skills – This should follow work experience as a final punch to pique interest. Use specific skills you have attained through prior expertise over soft skills.
  • Education – Same as others.

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