Every successful job searching starts with writing a resume or updating and polishing an old one. An effective resume has to uncover your strengths, accomplishments and the advantages as a candidate. To present your experience and skills in a right way, you need to choose the resume format that is most appropriate for your career level and industry. In this guide, we are going to introduce the most popular resume formats and when to use each.
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3 Most Popular Resume Types
1. Chronological resume
Chronological resumes are the most common and easiest to make. Hiring managers also prefer this resume type because it allows them to quickly evaluate the candidate’s work history and career progression. The main asset of such a resume is a work experience that goes right after your name and contact details. Jobs are listed starting from the most recent one, and for each role, you need to specify professional duties and achievements.
The purpose of such a resume is to emphasize work experience, so it works best for experienced professionals, people with progressive growth in job responsibility and titles, and those building a career in the same field. On the flip side, students with insufficient experience or professionals making a transition to a new industry might want to consider the other resume type to draw the attention away from the lack of experience.
The pros and cons of a chronological resume
|ü Easy to make – just list the companies, job titles and responsibilities||ü Draws attention to employment gaps or job-hopping|
|ü Recruiters can quickly scan company names, start-end dates and promotions||ü Some skills might not be obvious from the title or job descriptions|
|ü Emphasizes steady career growth and progression||ü Not suitable for job-seekers with irrelevant or limited work history|
2. Functional resume
Unlike the reverse chronological, functional resume focuses on skills, competencies and professional accomplishments. In such a resume, you list the work history in the form of job titles and company names closer to the bottom – sometimes candidates even skip the exact job titles or dates. The focus is placed purely on the skillset and your capabilities as a professional, not on where and how you acquired those skills. However, not all employers are enthusiastic about skill-based resumes. Some recruiters who are used to chronological resumes see functional ones as an attempt to hide career gaps or other unpleasant information.
Thanks to its focus on skills, functional resumes work great for technical and digital professionals where knowledge of certain software and hard skills are essential to get you hired. It is also great for people entering a new line of career. If you’ve learned the needed skills but have limited experience so far, opt for this resume type, as the chronological resume might make you look underqualified.
The pros and cons of a functional resume
|ü Emphasize the hard skills which are essential for the job||ü Recruiters might think you’re hiding your age or employment gaps|
|ü Helps downplay employment gaps, job-hopping or change of the industry||ü Lack of structure, career history is difficult to evaluate|
|ü Lists competencies which are not evident from the job description||ü Might be hard to identify your strengths and competencies|
3. Combination resume
Combination resumes use the features of the previous two. This resume type usually involves a career summary after the contact details, list of skills and a detailed professional experience. Therefore, it presents both skills highlights and a detailed work history that interests hiring managers. Students can list their part-time jobs and summer internship and describe professional skills at the top. Experienced professionals can put their most impressive achievements at the top of the document, and then present a career history as a proof.
Unlike the two previous types, such a resume will be suitable for everyone. On the one hand, it presents jobs in a chronological order, letting the recruiter evaluate the job tenure and progression. On the other hand, it also puts the important skills forward, showing that you qualify for the position. In this case, an employer can see a big picture of you as a candidate.
The pros and cons of a combination resume
|ü Universal format that is suitable for most career levels and industries||ü Information in the functional skills and job description can repeat|
|ü Focuses on both skills and career progression||ü The resume can take longer than 1-2 pages|
|ü Has a structured format and guides the reader’s attention to the most impressive skills and achievements||ü Might be difficult to identify the most relevant skills|
What resume type to use to impress the employers?
Since most recruiters prefer seeing a detailed chronology of the candidate’s career with company names, job titles and dates, opt for a chronological or a combination format. Professionals with skill-based jobs should also list their hard skills and competencies in a separate Skills section.
If you are making a radical career transition (i.e. from sales to software development), use a functional resume. Focus on the skills you’ve acquired through training or internships, and put irrelevant work history closer to the bottom of the resume.
How to write an impressive resume: General guidelines
In addition to choosing the appropriate format, make sure that you follow the other rules and recommendations for resume writing:
ü Keep it to 1-2 pages. Recruiters rarely read resumes that are over 2 pages long because it’s too time-consuming. You can remove old jobs and activities (over 15 years), and information irrelevant to your target job.
ü Make job description concise. Ideally, you should list 5-7 bullets for each job. If job descriptions are too long, remove less important details. Describe achievements over everyday duties to show your impact.
ü Use keywords. Most big and mid-sized companies use ATS to select qualified candidates. Make sure your resume contains keywords from the job posting: skill names, degrees, qualifications and soft skills.
ü Check it for mistakes. Hiring managers frown upon grammar and spelling errors as they see as lack of attention to detail or poor written communication skills. Proofread the resume carefully before sending it to the company.