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Types of Resumes

Which resume format is right for you?

There are three common resume formats: chronological, functional, and combination. The table below describes and gives the pros and cons of each. Use it to decide which is best for you.

  Chronological Resume Functional Resume Combination Resume
Overview Lists your work history in reverse order, starting with your current or most recent job and working backwards. Focuses on skills and strengths important to employers. Omits specific dates, names, and places. De-emphasizes a spotty work history. Blends the flexibility and strength of the other two types of resumes.
Advantage Easy to write. Emphasizes steady employment record. Employers like to see job titles, level of responsibility, and dates of your work history. De-emphasizes a spotty work history. Allows you to highlight specific strengths and transferable skills that might not be obvious when outlined in purely chronological order.Shows off a strong employment record with upward mobility. Show how the skills you have used in the past apply to the job you are seeking. Emphasizes transferable skills.
Disadvantage Calls attention to employment gaps. Skills can be difficult to spot unless they are listed in the most recent job. No detailed work history. Content may appear to lack depth. Disliked by many employers. It makes them think you may be trying to hide your age, employment gaps, lack of relevant experience, lack of career progression, or underemployment. Work history is often on the second page, and employer may not read that far.
Best used To emphasize past career growth and development in the same career. Or when the name of a former employer may be significant to prospective employer. To emphasize transferable skills you have used in volunteer work, paid work, or coursework. Use this or a combination resume if you are a new graduate, have limited work experience, are changing careers or doing freelance work, or you do not want to call attention to your age. To show off your skills developed throughout your work history instead of the specific positions you have held. Use when you are making a career change and names of former employers may not be obvious to prospective employer.
Don't use if There are gaps in your work history, when calling attention to your age could be a problem, you have changed jobs often, or you are entering the job market for first time or after a long absence. You want to emphasize growth or development or if your duties and responsibilities in recent jobs were limited. Your experience is limited, or there are wide gaps in your work history.
Resume samples Work-to-Work (60KB, .pdf): for switching jobs

Career Profile (64KB, .pdf): for switching jobs

School-to-Work (60KB, .pdf): for recent graduates

Blank Worksheet (213KB, .pdf): develop your resume
Work-to-Work (60KB, .pdf): for switching jobs

Blank Worksheet (229KB, .pdf): develop your resume
Work-to-Work (296KB, .pdf): for switching jobs

No Paid Work Experience (333KB, .pdf)

Blank Worksheet (274KB, .pdf): develop your resume

Two Resume Variations

  Keyword Resume Targeted Resume
Overview Allows for focused resumes that target skills Highly focused document aimed at a particular job; a "capsule" of work experience
Advantage Skills are listed briefly and at the beginning of the resume. Easy for employer to scan and find skills. Brief and direct. Easy to read.
Disadvantage May be redundant information to include keywords at the top of your resume. Still an unfamiliar format to many employers. May focus too tightly on one particular job. Content may appear sparse.
Best used For all scannable systems of job screening, new graduates, or those reentering the work place or changing careers; in addition the keywords resume can be used in combination with any or all of the other formats. When job target is specific or you need separate resumes for different career paths.
Don't use if There is rarely a time you cannot use this variation. You aren't prepared to put the effort into writing an excellent resume.
Resume samples Work-to-Work, Chronological (92KB, .pdf): for switching jobs

Work-to-Work (64KB, .pdf): for switching jobs

Source: Creative Job Search, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.