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Types of Resumes

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Chronological Resume

This is the most common resume format and works best for people with solid, logical job history especially if it’s in the same field.

A chronological resume begins with the most recent position mentioned first. Your job history is then listed in reverse chronological order.

Employers typically prefer this because it's easy to see what jobs you've held and how long you've spent in each position.

If you can reflect on your job history and easily identify a logical progression of employment that is directly related to one field of expertise or a specific on-the-job skill set and points toward the job opportunity at hand, then the chronological format is probably the right one for you. The chronological format may not be a good choice for career-changers and those lacking formal on-the-job experience like new grads.

Functional Resume

If you can't easily recognize a direct pattern of advancement in a specific field when considering your history of past jobs, a functional format may be best. It's true that functional resumes have been looked upon poorly by some employers* in the past. Some may be unaccustomed to the format, and they may become confused or even irritated by functional resumes. Nonetheless, this style of resume is best for some people.

For example:

  • Those with very diverse experiences that don't add up to a clear-cut career path.
  • College students with minimal experience and/or experience unrelated to their chosen career field.
  • Career-changers who wish to enter a field very different from what all their previous experiences suggest.
  • Those with gaps in work history, such as homemakers who took time to raise a family and now wish to return to the workplace. For them, a chronological format can draw undue attention to those gaps, while a functional resume enables them to portray transferable skills attained through such activities as domestic management and volunteer work.
  • Military transitioners entering fields that are different from the work they did in the military.
  • Job-seekers whose predominant or most relevant experience has been unpaid, such as volunteer work or college activities (coursework, class projects, extracurricular organizations, and sports).
  • Those who performed very similar activities throughout their past jobs who want to avoid repeating those activities in a chronological job listing.
  • Job-seekers looking for a position for which a chronological listing would make them look "overqualified." Mature workers seeking to de-emphasize a lengthy job history.

*Employers in conservative fields, such as banking, finance, and law are not big fans of functional formats, nor are international employers. Functional formats also are not acceptable on many online job boards.

Some employers like to know what you did in each job. One solution is to structure your resume in a mostly functional format but include a bare-bones work history in reverse chronological order, creating what is known as a combination format. Sections such as work-history section need include only job title, name and location of employer, and dates of employment. You don't need to list what you did in each job because that information is already listed in your functional section.

To make your functional resume as reader-friendly as possible for employers, include as much context as you can within each functional description. That way, the employer has a better idea of which skill aligns with which job.

If you're unsure whether a functional resume is right for you, draft examples of both a chronological and a functional resume and show them to people in the field you wish to enter. See which one they feel presents your skills more effectively.


Combination Resume

A combination resume lists your skills and experience first. Your employment history is listed next. With this type of resume, you can highlight the skills you have that are relevant to the job you are applying for, and also provide the chronological work history that employers prefer.


Targeted Resume

A targeted resume is a resume that is customized so that it specifically highlights the experience and skills you have that are relevant to a specific job you are seeking. It definitely takes more work to write a targeted resume than to just apply with your existing resume. However, it's well worth the effort, especially when applying for jobs that are a perfect match for your qualifications and experience.


Skills Format Resume

A skills format resume combines the skills you have from a variety of experiences - paid work, volunteer work, student activities, classroom work, projects, you name it - and groups these skills into skill categories that relate to the kind of job you're seeking. This format works best when a traditional resume just doesn't work to make you look like a good candidate, even though you have relevant skills.


Mini Resume

A mini resume contains a brief summary of your career highlights qualifications. It can be used for networking purposes or shared upon request from a prospective employer or reference writer who may want an overview of your accomplishments, rather than a full-length resume.