by Lisa McGrimmon
The best resume format that is effective for most people most of the time is the combination resume. The chronological style is second best, and, coming in at a distant third, is the functional style, which I would never recommend using.
There are three types of resumes in common use:
1. Functional - highlights your skills
2. Chronological - highlights your work experience
3. Combination (also called combined) - highlights your skills and experience
Of these three formats, the combination resume offers the most flexibility to allow you to structure your experience and skills in a way that shows you in your best possible light.
Here's a Closer Look at Each Style
It's important to keep in mind that when employers review your resume, they do it very quickly. You have, at most, 30 seconds, and probably less for employers to make a decision about whether they might want to bring you in for an interview.
With that in mind, whatever format you choose must allow employers to quickly gather the information they need to make them want to call you for a job interview.
A functional resume is simply a very detailed list of your skills and accomplishments as they are related to the type of job you are currently seeking. A purely functional resume does not include your work history, and usually education is also omitted.
When to Use a Functional Resume
The functional format is rarely, if ever, a good choice. I can't imagine ever suggesting to someone that they should use a purely functional resume. In fact, I've written over one thousand resumes, and I can't think of a single time when I used a purely functional style for anyone.
Functional resumes carry no credibility with employers. This fact is such a profound weakness of this style, it is simply not a good choice.
Although I am no fan of the functional resume, it is a style that some people use. Since it exists, I do want to present it and outline all of the pros and cons of using this style. That way, you'll be able to make up your own mind about using it.
Some people who have absolutely no work or volunteer experience, such as students seeking their first job, consider using a functional resume. Keep in mind, though, it is extremely rare for people to have absolutely no experience to include on a resume.
In the very rare case that this occurs, I would strongly recommend that you find ways (such as volunteer work or a school placement) to gain some experience.
More Detailed Information About Functional Resumes
The primary focus of a chronological resume is a detailed list of your work experience in reverse chronological order.
When to Use a Chronological Resume
Consider using a chronological format when you have a solid work history and career progression and your most recent jobs are an excellent match with the type of work you are currently seeking.
The chronological style is the best resume format for highlighting your work history, so you would consider using this type of resume when your work history is the main thing you want the employer to notice.
More Detailed Information About Chronological Resumes
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A combination resume (sometimes also called a combined resume) is a combination of the chronological and a functional styles. It highlights both a summary of your skills as well as your work history.
When to Use a Combination Resume
More Detailed Information About Combination Resumes
I have written a resume writing book which takes you step-by-step through the process of creating a resume. It shows you how to handle common issues such as gaps in your work history, incomplete education, and making a career change in a way that makes a great impression on employers.