4 Types of Resumes (and When to Use Them)

All resumes are supposed to follow the same basic format, right? Not necessarily. In fact, there are at least four different types of resumes, each of which has a specific purpose in the job search process. 

4-types-of-resumes-and-when-to-use-themA good resume is more than a list of dates and degrees. When it’s done right, a resume is a marketing masterpiece – a document that mesmerizes prospective employers and encourages them to take a closer look at your qualifications.

The secret to a truly exceptional resume is organization, i.e. knowing the type of resume to use in any given hiring scenario. Although there are no formal rules about how to structure a resume, most employers don’t appreciate it when you color too far outside the lines of acceptable resume formats. With that in mind, here are four types of resumes you may want to utilize in your job search.

Chronological Resumes

The majority of resumes employers see follow a chronological format. In this type of resume, jobs and work experiences are listed in chronological order (starting with the most recent) and are accompanied by descriptions of responsibilities, achievements and skills used.

  • When to USE: For employers in traditional industries, when you have a steady employment history in your field, when you want to demonstrate a career progression.
  • When to AVOID: When you have career gaps or lack experience in the field in which you are applying.


Functional Resumes

Functional resumes take a completely different tack. Instead of itemizing your employment history and work experiences in timeline form, a functional resume is skill-focused. Although you should still try to prioritize your most recent experiences, your functional resume will highlight and itemize your professional attributes, skill sets and relevant experience (e.g. one section might focus on “Communication” while another focuses on “Organizational Management”).

  • When to USE: When you don’t have prior experience in the field, if there are gaps in your employment history, when skills are more important than positions.
  • When to AVOID: If you don’t have exceptionally strong skills or professional attributes that are featured in the job description.


Hybrid/Combination Resumes

Hybrid (or combination) resumes leverage the best aspects of chronological and functional resumes. In this format, previous work experiences are listed chronologically under functional headings (e.g. under the heading “Sales Experience” you would include a chronological listing of the sales positions you have held.

  • When to USE: If you haven’t recently worked in the field, if your career has involved multiple disciplines or industries, if you have been frequently employed on a contract basis.
  • When to AVOID: When your work experiences aren’t substantial enough to support functional headings, if your work experiences have been too varied or might confuse employers.


Mini-Resumes & Networking Cards

One of the latest trends in resumes involves the creation of mini-resumes or networking cards. The idea is to list your contact information and most important achievements or qualifications (no more than 3 or 4) on a business card that can be distributed when you conduct career networking.

  • When to USE: At networking events and informal networking encounters.
  • When to AVOID: Never submit a mini-resume as a substitute for a formal resume request.

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