There are several ways in which information can be presented on a resume, but the three main resume types are the reverse chronological, functional, and combination resume. Each one carries its own distinct strengths and weaknesses.
Creating a reverse chronological resume
What is a reverse chronological resume?
A reverse chronological resume is the most common and preferred resume layout today. List your employment history with most recent sorted towards the top. Under each job position describe your responsibilities and accomplishments. Also list your education history with most recent sorted towards the top. Provide any notable achievements underneath each school/institution.
Typically, this type of resume begins with either a Career Objective or Qualifications Summary, highlighting your potential as a candidate, citing non-generic reasons for why you will be good at the job you are applying for.
As the name indicates, this resume format is characterized by the way in which your ‘Work History’ section is listed: starting with your most recently held job, list your work history down the page working your way back to your oldest job (i.e. reverse-chronologically).
For each job you need to include the following information:
- Company name
- Job title
- Dates of employment (Month/Year)
- Company address (City/State)
- Key responsibilities/duties/achievements
Education history on a reverse chronological resume
List your education history with the most recent sorted towards the top. Under each school list the degree (s) conferred and date of completion. Provide any notable achievements underneath each school. If you did not graduate or are currently enrolled, use Resume Companion’s education wizard to auto-format your resume.
Anyone with more than 5 or 6 years work experience is considered a Professional Level candidate, they should have their ‘Education” section follow after their ‘Work History’, since their professional experience is most relevant. If you are an Entry Level candidate, you may want to list your education first.
When writing your ‘Education’ section you need to list your education in reverse chronological order, detailing your most recently attained qualification at the top and working down. For each qualification listed you need to include the following information:
- School/Institution attended & Date of course completion
- Qualification title awarded you (e.g. Bachelor of Arts (B.A))
- Any additional achievements, e.g. Dean’s List
Should I use a reverse chronological resume?
Generally, yes. A majority of employers like to see resumes in reverse chronological order since this shows them your most relevant work experience first.. There are certain situations in which a functional resume is more appropriate such as those with huge work history gaps but if your work history is fairly complete and continuous and do not have huge gaps in your employment history or can explain any large gaps you do have, you should format your resume in reverse chronological order.
Creating a functional resume
What is a functional resume?
A functional resume contains a qualifications summary section highlighting your skills and accomplishments. This section is placed at the top of the resume. Unlike a reverse chronological resume that lists work details associated with each job position, a functional resume only provides a summary of your work history, which should include company name, location, and dates of employment.
You may include a career objective above your summary of qualifications as well as professional accomplishments below your career objective. Other sections that may help to make your functional resume look stronger include awards and honors, certifications and additional skills sections.
Education history on a functional resume
List your education history with most recent sorted towards the top. Under each school list the degree(s) conferred and date of completion. Provide any notable achievements underneath each school.
Should I use a functional resume?
Functional resumes are useful if you have large gaps in your employment history or a wide variety of unrelated work experience. By using a functional layout, you are able to summarize your skills appropriate for the job being applied to, giving less emphasis on specific work experience.
If you’re still not sure if a functional resume is the resume you need, read about the 3 types of resumes and about the benefits for each one. These templates are available to choose with the resume builder.
Resume Builder Sample – Functional Style
To find examples of a functional styles, stop by our sample resume library.
A functional resume format is recommended if you have held a number of different jobs over a relatively short period of time, all with the same (or similar) job title. Regularly switching jobs isn’t necessarily bad, but recruiters may view you as a ‘job hopper’, which can be detrimental to your recruitment prospects.
A functional resume ensures that your resume highlights the range of skills you have developed, by showcasing the key responsibilities and duties from the plethora of positions held. A functional resume format can be useful for contract workers also – you can find out more about the 3 types of resumes commonly used in employment providing you with a greater perspective on which on you should choose.
It is always ideal to open your resume with your contact details, clearly listed at the top of your resume.
The next step is to write an engaging career objective, written to both identify the extent of your experience and your ambition for the future – try to be a specific as possible when writing your career objective, but keep it concise. This section can be edited for each job application you make.
This nursing resume sample uses a recommended Summary of Qualifications to showcase the candidate’s experience – for more ideas on what sections you can include check out our how to write a resume guide.
What is a Combination Resume?
The combination resume is a hybrid between the chronological and functional resume. It takes the best of both by highlighting a person’s strongest skills while including work history categorized under each skill. When writing the combination resume, choose a few skills (communication, customer relations, leadership, etc.) that you want to highlight and group relevant experiences under each key skill.
The structure of the combination resume allows for flexibility in presentation and order depending on your situation. Presenting your experience organized by skill set brings the focus on your credentials and abilities rather than specific company names or dates.
The combination, like the functional resume, is less widely used compared to the chronological resume so some hiring managers may still be suspicious. However, if you are having trouble getting your foot in the door with a chronological resume, then using the combination resume style may be your best bet.
Who should use a Combination Resume?
– Students or recent graduates who have little or no work experience
– Those who are changing careers or re-entering the work force
– Professionals who have a long work history in one field and would like to avoid repeating job descriptions
Now that you’ve chosen a format, it’s time to download a professionally-crafted resume template and begin your hunt!