When it comes to creating a resume, the possibilities are endless. You can have a chronological, skills-based, or a combination of resume formats, but how do you know which one is right for you?
There are three general resume format types, and there are several pros and cons to each of them. If you want, you may even format your resume in a few different ways, depending on which skills you want to highlight. You never know when someone will ask to see your resume, and by having one or two already created, you will be in a better position than someone who has to create a resume in a hurry.
Chronological Resume Format
The chronological resume format is one of the most widely used formats. It follows a logical, chronological progression that traces your employment from most recent at the top and on down.
This format is easy to prepare and showcases increased responsibility, skills, and growth, assuming you progressed into more difficult work over time.
The chronological format is best used by individuals with a steady work record. If you have employment gaps, or frequent job changes, the chronological format may not be right for you.
Skills-Based Resume Format
Also known as a functional resume, the skills-based format emphasizes your skills rather than employment. As opposed to focusing on dates when you worked, this focuses on the skills you currently have.
One benefit of the skills-based format is that it demonstrates the variety of experiences and skills you have. It also downplays gaps in work history or short-term employment, which many young people may have due to school commitments or short-term internships.
The skills-based format is best used by people with gaps in employment or frequent job changes. However, be aware that Human Resources may not like this type of resume as much because it does leave off dates worked.
Combination Resume Format
The combination format is a combination of the chronological and skills-based format. It de-emphasizes employment history in less relevant jobs, and highlights your most relevant skills and recent work history.
When creating a combination resume, you will tailor it specifically to the job you are applying for. This will take creativity and time to prepare, but if it is well organized, it will clearly show how your prior experience perfectly ties in with the job you are applying for.
This format is best used by people who are changing careers entirely, those who are transitioning to new positions, or those who are climbing the career ladder. If well organized, this format can be used for almost any job application. Just be sure to have someone you trust read over it well. If they are able to immediately see what skills and previous work experience you are trying to highlight, then you have succeeded!
If you’re unsure how many years to include in your resume, many employers recommend going back no more than ten years. Any longer, and you’re likely to be on a third sheet of paper, which employers don’t typically read. If you don’t have ten years of experience, that’s okay! One page resumes are excellent, and it’s perfectly fine to have a page. If you do need two pages but don’t quite fill up the second page, add some volunteer experience or additional skills you have. If you’ve taken classes outside of your college major, include those under a section titled Additional Resume Experience.
No matter which resume you choose, make sure you highlight all relevant skills and use action words. Your resume is one of your first introductions to your potential employer: make it shine!
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