A resume is not just a list of previously held jobs. It is your calling card - a written reflection of your talents, skills, and aspirations. As such, it is critical that one uses the most appropriate and complimentary format to highlight one's unique and distinctive abilities and accomplishments.
COMMON RESUME FORMATS
There are several different well-established resume formats that job seekers can use depending on their individual employment history and skills. The most common formats are chronological, combination, and functional. Each of these formats has its pros and cons to consider when deciding which format will work best for you.
USING THE RIGHT FORMAT FOR YOU
The chronological resume highlights a steady and consistent employment history within a specific industry. The areas of this type of resume are arranged in the following order: career objective, education, skills, work experience, and activities. Each area should have information that is relevant to the position for which you are applying.
The career objective should be a short and concise one-sentence statement that matches the position you are seeking. All details provided in the educational background should represent your applicable learning experiences and only include post-high school instruction if possible. The information contained under work experience should begin with the most recent job and work backward in time. It should also list at least three responsibilities of each position held. Lastly, the activities you provide should be relevant to your employment goal and enhance your qualifications.
The chronological format is best suited for individuals who have had a stable and solid employment history and who are looking to remain in their current industry. This format is not well suited for persons who are recent graduates, have employment gaps, or are seeking to change careers. This type is the most common (and preferred) resume that employers will see, but it will draw attention to any periods of employment inactivity.
The functional resume is a great way to emphasize skills while drawing attention away from a possible lack of work experience or education. It contains the following areas: objective, education, skills, and employment history. The most important component of this format will be highlighting the pertinent skills you possess.
As with the other formats, the objective should be a short statement of your vocational goal (i.e., customer service, technology, etc.) and the educational history should reflect related academic experiences. The skills section will contain the most valuable information by accenting the applicable abilities you possess. Each applicable skill needs to be followed by details of how that skill was achieved and utilized on the job, as a volunteer, or during schooling. Finally, as the least important, the employment history section will list any jobs you have held.
This type of resume is excellent for individuals who seek to change careers, re-enter the workforce, have employment gaps, or who have recently graduated.
The combination resume is just what its name implies - it is a blend of the chronological and functional resumes. This format usually contains the following sections - objective, education, skills, employment history, and activities - in that sequence. The most important feature of this resume is that it allows the individual to include significant skills that are relevant to the position desired.
The objective, educational, employment history, and activity areas are similar to the chronological and functional resume. The skills section, like the functional resume, usually highlights at least three abilities with the respective accomplishments of each.
The combination resume works best for job seekers who want to change careers or who have had a variety of work/volunteer experiences. It is also a great way to underscore one's skills while negating a possible lack of educational or work experience. Obviously, a big drawback of this format is that it will draw attention to gaps in work history.
It pays (literally!) to choose the right resume format for your individual job seeking needs. A resume is your first contact with a potential employer and therefore it needs to clearly, professionally, and aggressively outline your ability to perform the job. Evaluate your unique skills, experience, and education to determine which format is right for you.