Resumés are an important first step in your job search that many people struggle with. Your resume is your first impression with your future employer and is your make or break to whether you move on to the next step in the hiring process, so it’s important to get it right. This article walks you through the three most common types of resumes, which one works best for you, and how you can format your resume to get the job you want.  

Choosing a Resume Format 

Each resumé format has a specific purpose and highlights different parts of your professional history. Choosing the resume format that will work best for you depends on your employment history, industry, and how your skills and experience relate to the job that you are applying for. By selecting the right resume format, you best highlight different parts of your professional history and how it relates to the job you are after. Your resume format can also affect how well applicant tracking systems receive the information and the likelihood of an employer choosing your resume is being chosen over someone else’s.  

The 3 Resume Formats You Need to Know 

  1. Chronological Resume Format 

Chronological resume formats are the most common, and the most recognizable by employers. Using this type of resume makes it easy for employers to recognize key skills and industry experience that you are looking to show off. The goal for your resume is to be recognized by employers, and to highlight critical information that shows you are the right fit for the job; chronological resumes are a standard format that make it easy for employers to find the information they are looking for.  If you have a consistent employment record and are looking to continue to advance in your industry, this type of resume format is a good fit. If you have gaps in your employment history, are looking to change industries, or are new to the job market, you may want to consider an alternative.  

How to Structure Your Chronological Resumé 

  1. Contact Information. Include your name, phone number, email address, location (city, state, and zip code), and LinkedIn profile URL. 
  1. Objective/goals statement – summarize what you are looking for from your employer and show how you are a match 
  1. Work experience – listed in reverse chronological order with your most recent employment at the top of the page 
  1. Relevant skills– take this opportunity to show how you are a good fit for the position. Discover what top skills your future employer is looking for and customize your resume to fit their needs with an app like Recruitable, or read more on top skills employers look for here.  
  1. EducationAlso list in reverse chronological order; do not include high school experience unless you are a recent graduate, or are lacking work and education experience. 
  1. Other: What experiences and interests do you have outside your work history that make you valuable to employers. Volunteering? Hobbies? Language abilities? Put down relevant skills that might not fall under a job category here. 

Functional Resume Format  

A functional resume focusses on skills and experience rather than work history. In a functional resume, you organize your skills based on categories rather than chronologically. This allows flexibility to demonstrate past experiences, and an opportunity for you to emphasize your achievements, skills, and qualifications that make you best suited for the job. This format may work best for you if you have a work history that is not related to the job you are applying for, you have a number of unrelated jobs, you have gaps in your employment history or if you are changing careers. However, if you choose to use a functional resumé, be aware that employers may suspect inexperience, and long gaps in your work history. Increasingly, employers use Applicant Tracking Systems to help sift through the large amounts of resumes they receive. ATS Systems can have difficult difficulty categorizing this information, which may cost you job opportunities. Find out more on how to make your application ATS friendly here. (link to article)  

How to Organize a Functional Resume  

  1. Contact Information: Keep it the same as you would a Chronological Resume. Make the information easy to find.   
  1. Qualifications: Highlight how your experiences make you qualified for the job rather than your employment history. Write about projects you’ve completed, certificates you’ve earned, and customize them based on the qualifications for the job you’re applying for. 
  1. Skills: Emphasizing your skillset and showing recruiters how you have demonstrated them successfully in your experience is even more important in functional resumes.  Help show potential employers what you have to offer their company by including both “hard” and “soft” skills, where you have learnt them, and how you have successfully implemented them. 
  1. Work Experience: Like in a chronological resume format, list your work history in reverse chronological order, with the most recent employment appearing first. Work experience takes less of the spotlight in this format, so its not necessary to dedicate too much space. Instead, show how you are a good fit in the Qualification and Skills sections. 
  1. Other: The functional resume format can be customized with other sections, like Achievements, Awards and Honors, Testimonials, Volunteer Experience, or other information that will strengthen your application. 

Combination Resume Format  

The combination resume format combines the best elements of functional and chronological resumes to best present information to employers. This format has become increasingly popular as it allows more flexibility than the chronological format, while still presenting to employers a familiar layout where they can easily find information. With a combination resume, you can really show employers how you have excelled by putting relevant skills and accomplishments at the top of your resumé, and then use a chronological format to show relevant employment history. This format offers similar benefits as the chronological format, yet with the flexibility of a functional resume. If you have significant experience in your industry, minor gaps in work history, or are changing careers, this may be a good option. 

How to Format a Combination Resume  

  1. Contact Information. You know this one. 
  1. Resume Introduction- Talk about your most relevant accomplishments, skills, and experiences. This is an opportunity to market yourself to your employer.  
  1. Experience – Show work history in reverse chronological order.  
  1. Skills – you can emphasize skills more heavily in combination resumes. Show to employers why you are right for the job. This section can help get you recognized by ATS software by using relevant keywords. 
  1. Education  Also listed in reverse chronological order. 

Key Takeaways 

  • Feature achievements in your work history that relate to the job you are applying for. Search for key words in the job posting or on the company’s recruiting page, and include them in relevant sections  
  • Keep your style consistent 
  • Put your work and education history in reverse chronological order  
  • Include relevant coursework  
  • Show what makes you unique (employers and future companies are real people. Show that you fit into the work culture, express similar values, and have real passions that align with the company’s brand  

Remember Appropriate Formatting 

  • Choose appropriate margins 
  • Use are legible font and font 12 font size 
  • Clearly section  
  • Use bullet points where appropriate 
  • Compare your resume with others in your industry to see where you can improve 

For more information about how to get your resume past the robots and create a resume employers will notice, read our articles on Top 12 Skills Employers Look For, and How to Get Your Resume Past ATS Systems and into Human Hands.