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Types of Resumes – Resume Formats

There is no one way to write a resume.  Resumes can be organized and written in several formats.  Although you may, from time to time, hear opinions expressed to the contrary, there are several acceptable formats.  And, each of the formats has helped job seekers be successful in finding their new role or position.  The key is to understand the best uses of the various formats, and how each is viewed by hiring authorities  –  a job seeker’s customer!

The baseline against which to decide what resume format to use is just this: Will this help me meet my goal?

Here is a brief look at resume format types and best uses of that format.  They differ in the way a job seeker’s work history is presented.  However,  all types still show education, professional affiliations, etc. in the standard way.

●    Chronological resume  –  Most common type of resume used
  –      What is it?  The chronological resume presents a chronological career history, beginning by listing your current or most recent position on page 1, and progressing backwards to the next most recent position, and the next, etc.  It focuses on positions and the employer’s name is important.  It shows geographic locations of where you worked, and dates of employment in years.

The chronological resume begins with a Career Summary which overviews your expertise, strengths, and a few key achievements.  It then shows your work history per position.  Each position described should contain a short overview of your responsibilities, followed by a list of  Accomplishment Statements.

Every job seeker needs a chronological resume!  So don’t skip this step.  Even if you choose to prepare other resume formats, you will need a chronological resume because: 
  • Most employers will request it.  
  • It forms the basis for crafting the other resume format types, and you will need it for filling out applications.
Uses:  Traditional, large, Fortune 1000, “blue chip”/ prestige organizations will almost certainly require it.  Human Resource department personnel will use it to check the type of organizations and companies you worked for to see if there is a possible fit, and they will also check for any gaps in your employment history.  They will also use it to see where you used your skills and achieved your accomplishments and how recently you did so.

●    Functional resume  –  Stresses skills, experience, and expertise
  –      What is it?   The functional resume shows “functions” you can perform.  It presents a career history in terms of skill sets and areas of expertise.  It stresses experience and qualifications and not individual positions. Page 1 shows 3 or 4 functional groupings of skill sets and areas of expertise, often referred to as competencies.  When you prepare a functional resume, list accomplishments under each of the 3 or 4 areas of expertise.  Page 2 shows a simple listing of companies and organizations you worked for, including only the company name and location, position title, and employment dates.

Uses:  Consulting and contracting firms as well as small to mid-size firms find this type of resume useful  –  at least initially when they may be looking for specific capabilities.  It is often used by job seekers who are highlighting areas of expertise or qualifications, particularly in situations where they are seeking contract or project work.  It is also useful when changing career direction or hiding gaps in employment dates.  It is also useful in preparing a “Bio,” where Page 1 can serve as the basis of your bio’s narrative.

 Tip: •    If you decide to prepare a functional resume, begin by preparing a chronological resume as your first step.

        •    Then extract accomplishments from the chronological resume to support your claims of expertise and/or skill on your functional resume.

        •    Even if your functional resume opens the door initially, the Human Resources Department of an organization will generally require you to produce a chronological resume.  HR and hiring managers will want to know at which organizations you used certain skills, achieved your accomplishments, and when.

●    Combination resume  –  Hybrid resume
  –      What is it?  This hybrid resume combines features from both the chronological and functional resume.  This is useful to a job seeker who wants to stress qualifications on Page 1, but whose company history will be impressive to the hiring company.  It amplifies the simple listing of the organizations the job seeker worked for by adding a few outstanding and relevant accomplishments the job seeker achieved. 

 Uses:  Increasingly popular with job seekers who want to show areas of competency, and still attribute skills and accomplishments to specific positions, thereby also possibly eliminating the need to provide a chronological resume for the hiring company.   Consulting and contracting firms as well as small to mid-size firms find this type of resume useful as they look for specific capabilities.  As with the functional, it is useful to a job seeker who is highlighting areas of expertise or qualifications.

●    Electronic resume   –  Simplified formatting
  –      What is it?  Today, most companies post job openings on their web site as well as on general employment websites.  Some allow a job seeker to upload their resume in its formatted state.  Most, however, provide a format for the job seeker to apply on line in direct response to the opening.  A time saving tip is to prepare an electronic resume ahead of time and keep it in a computer file designated “Electronic Resume.”

Uses:  Having an electronic version of your “general use”  resume ready to go will save you lots of time and aggravation.  However, remember to customize it to the requirements of the hiring company or organization.

Tip: •    To prepare an electronically formatted resume, make a computer copy of your resume.  Remove all formatting, such as bold, italics, bullet points, underlining, etc.  For those items in bold or italics, type them in capital letters.  For items designated by bullet points, substitute dashes (--) or asterisks  (*).
        •    Customize your submission as you would to any resume submitted in response to an opening or target organization.
        •    Should you be called for an interview, prepare a formatted version to take with you.

For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
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