Resume Writing: Resume Formats: Choosing the Right One

Lesson 2: Resume Formats: Choosing the Right One


Resume formats: Choosing the right one


With hiring managers and other staffing professionals spending so little time on your resume in their first pass, it is crucial to make sure your resume makes the best initial impression. One way to do this is to choose the resume format that best highlights your experience, education, and skills.

In this lesson, we will explore the various ways key information is presented in chronological, functional, and combination resumes.

Watch the video below to learn about different resume formats.

The chronological resume

The most commonly used resume format is the chronological resume. On a chronological resume, your work history is listed by job title, beginning with your current or most recent job.

The chronological resume works best for job seekers who:

  • Want to showcase a steady employment history
  • Are looking for a position that matches or logically progresses from previous jobs
  • Are seeking a conventional position, like as an office clerk, accountant, or teacher

Click the buttons in the interactive below to learn more about the chronological resume format.

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The functional resume

A less popular resume format among recruiters and hiring staff, the functional resume highlights your skills without revealing the dates associated with your job history. The functional resume minimizes specific job titles and eliminates dates of employment while emphasizing your abilities and skills by placing them in functional skill categories.

The functional resume works well if you:

  • Have worked many different jobs or possess very diverse skills
  • Have skills that relate to the position, but not a lot of previous work experience in the field
  • Have gaps in employment history, are a recent graduate, or are changing careers
  • Are a mature worker and want to de-emphasize your age

Click the buttons in the interactive below to learn more about the functional resume format.

edit hotspotsedit hotspotsparalegal_resume_LG

Many hiring managers dislike the functional resume because they can't use it to gauge your reliability, longevity, or how recently you used certain skills. For example, someone who created sales brochures 20 years ago may not be familiar with the software technologies used to produce a sales brochure today.

The combination resume

The combination resume format combines the functional and chronological formats. It includes functional skill categories but also lists the dates of previous employment.

This format works well for job seekers who:

  • May have obtained the required skills from seemingly unrelated industries or jobs
  • Are trying to change careers and want to emphasize transferable skills
  • Have had a steady work history

Click the buttons in the interactive below to learn more about the combination resume format.

edit hotspotsresume_teacher_LG

The combination resume works well for anyone, and employers like this format because it focuses on skills and experience but doesn’t hide employment history.

Let's review

A chronological resume:

  • Includes job titles, dates of employment, and a description of the job in terms of accomplishments and measurable tasks
  • Is most often done in reverse order, with your most recent job listed first
  • Works best for job seekers who have a steady employment history or previous employment that is related to the position being sought

A functional resume:

  • Groups applicable skills into functional skill categories
  • Highlights applicable skills and experience without revealing a lapse in employment
  • Works best for job seekers who have gaps in their employment history, little previous work experience, or recently changed careers
  • Is disliked by many hiring managers

A combination resume:

  • Highlights functional skills and experience without hiding employment dates
  • Works best for job seekers who have required skills from a variety of jobs, are trying to change careers, or have had a steady work history
  • Is a favorite among hiring managers and recruiters