How to Choose the Right Resume Type

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When you’re applying for jobs, understanding the different types of resumes is vital to choose the right resume type. The information on your resume is presented differently in each, and there are four main resume types:

  • Chronological resume
  • Functional resume
  • Combination resume
  • Targeted resume

Determining which type of resumes work the best for your particular situation involves considering your work history, skills, experiences, qualifications and positions to which you intend to apply. The right choice gives you a better chance of obtaining an interview.

Resume type #1: Chronological resume

A chronological resume is the most recognized resume type. Prospective employers are most familiar with this type of resume. Your work history is highlighted on this resume format by appearing close to the top and appearing in reverse chronological order. Writing a chronological resume is a good choice when the following situations apply to your personal circumstances or the job posting for which you are submitting a resume:

  • You have a solid work history with no long employment gaps or job hopping.
  • You have worked in the same field for a significant amount of time.
  • You are applying to a traditional or conservative employer.

Resume type #2: Functional resume

A functional resume is a resume type that is frowned upon by some prospective employers, but its advantage is that it focuses on your skills, accomplishments, qualifications and experience rather than your work history. The premise of this type of resume being effective is that you can show, through specific skills and accomplishments, that you have the skills a prospective employer is seeking. Writing a functional resume is a good choice when the following situations apply to your personal circumstances or the job posting for which you are submitting a resume:

  • You have employment gaps in your work history.
  • You have a work history that includes job hopping.
  • You are making a major career change.
  • You are overqualified for a position based on your work history.
  • You are a recent graduate.

Resume type #3: Combination resume

The combination resume is a type of resume that is just what its name implies, a combination of the functional resume and the chronological resume. It allows you to highlight skills and experiences while also laying out your work history. This resume type is most effective when your work history is solid (or mostly solid) and you have the skills required for a given position. Writing a combination resume is a good choice when the following situations apply to your personal circumstances or the job posting for which you are submitting a resume:

  • You have previous work experience that is unrelated to your current career path.
  • You have skills and experience that is not reflected in your previous work history.
  • You are a recent graduate but have a solid work history that is unrelated to your area of study.

Resume type #4: Targeted resume

A targeted resume closely mirrors the combination resume, but you can apply the principle of tailoring your resume to all types of resumes. In this resume type, your skills and experiences are tailored to match the desired skills listed within a job posting. In addition, previous jobs that are not relevant are often omitted unless specific skills are transferable to the position in question. If you decide to use targeted resumes, tailor your resume to each job posting to which you intend to apply. Writing a targeted resume is a good choice when the following situations apply to your situation or the job posting for which you are submitting a resume:

  • You are applying in a highly competitive field.
  • You have a large amount of experience in the field.
  • You have strong skill sets and quantifiable accomplishments in the areas prospective employers are seeking.

Decide on the right resume type

The decision on which type of resume to use is an important one, so do not make it lightly. Consider the following before deciding on a resume type:

  • The length and quality of your work history
  • How your most recent job(s) relate to the position to which you are applying
  • The preferences (if known) of the hiring company
  • Which resume type highlights your skills, experiences, qualifications and work history in the best light

Ultimately, where you are in your career, the type of job for which you are applying and your personal circumstances help you decide on the most appropriate resume type. Do not assume that one resume type is just as good as another. Carefully consider your personal situation, and make the best choice based on it to choose the right resume in the right situation.