BASIC TYPES OF RESUMES

There are 3 basic types of resumes: Chronological, Functional, and Combined.  Each one fulfills a different purpose. You will need to decide which one will best suit you.

Chronological Resume

This is the most common of the 3 resume types. It lists your education and experience in REVERSE chronological order and is often the best way to start writing a resume from scratch because it is easy to do.

The positives of using this format are that it is easy to read and is easy for employers to scan to get a sense of your career history. It effectively highlights recent experience, so it is good if your best achievements have been recent. It is also the most accepted format.

A chronological resume may not be the way to go if you are presenting a career history which is messy, inconsistent, has gaps, is very long, or not relevant (i.e. when you are looking for a career change).

Functional Resume

A functional resume, also referred to as a skills resume, emphasizes qualifications and skills instead of your employment history.

The most common use of a functional resume is for the person changing careers, where the employment history may not be as important as the skills and accomplishments that will qualify them for the new career. It is also suitable for new graduates, candidates with limited work experience, and applicants with mixed unrelated work backgrounds.

The distinct feature of functional resume is that skills of the applicant are presented in order of importance and relevance to the current job being applied. It gives emphasis on the applicant's appropriate skills to fit for the positioned being sought.

In the case of a functional resume, the main feature lies in the fact that without focusing or giving much attention to the order, the relevant skills and the experience of an individual are enlisted in groups under broad heads of aptitudes. However, despite the positive points about this particular format, one must always keep in mind the fact that functional resume is only accepted in certain professions and does not go down well with traditional sectors like bureaucracy, law, finance, etc.

Combined Resume

A combination resume may be the best way to go if your job and activity titles are not directly related to the career goals, you are applying for different positions requiring the same skills, or your titles are impressive but may be unrelated. It focuses on work experience, providing a reverse-chronological employment history and ample detail about job duties and accomplishments. This type of resume works for applicants on a steady career track, because it emphasizes work experience.   

This resume format is sometimes referred to as the hybrid resume because it incorporates the best of the chronological and functional formats. Generally, it leads with a description of functional skills and related qualifications, followed by a reverse-chronological employment history.

This format allows you to state your most relevant qualifications up front, while providing the employment timeline that many hiring managers like to see. The disadvantage is that this hybrid format still includes a detailed employment history, so job-hopping, gaps and unrelated experience will be more apparent than they would be in a functional resume.

Many job seekers would benefit from using a combination resume. If you fall into any one of the following categories, you may want to consider going this route with your resume:

  • Students, New Graduates and Entry-Level Job Seekers: This allows job seekers to emphasize their skills rather than their short-lived employment history. 
     
  • Workers with a Steady, Consistent Employment History: The addition of a qualifications summary pinpoints the top credentials for the job objective so employers readily see it's a good match.
     
  • Career Changers: Unless you're making a radical career change, in which case a functional resume probably makes more sense. 
     
  • Applicants Reentering the Job Market: Again, this takes a little bit of emphasis off the fact that you have not been working for a while. 
     
  • Older Workers: Workers with extensive employment history need to sell their strongest credentials; inclusion of a summary section provides that focus.

How to Create a Combination Resume

One of the advantages of a combination resume is flexibility to structure the document so that it works best for you. The main strategy is to lead with a career summary (also commonly called a qualifications summary or skills summary) that emphasizes your strongest credentials. By stating your key qualifications at the beginning of your resume, you will entice hiring managers to read the rest of your resume. You can incorporate your job objective, key skills, areas of expertise, accomplishment highlights and related training into the summary section. Follow with a reverse chronological employment history; this keeps your resume in the chronological format most employers prefer.

Keep in mind that because you've included a career summary, you will have less room for your work history. Be clear and concise when writing your experience section. Focus on accomplishments rather than job duties, and avoid adding unnecessary information about jobs and tasks unrelated to your career goal. Other sections on a combination resume depend on your specific experience, but can include education, training, affiliations, languages and additional/miscellaneous information.