Resume Formats:  Is there a right one?



3 Resume Formats

Chronological Resume

This is the most commonly used format. It is written in reverse chronological order—with your most recent education and experiences listed first. It is also the easiest to develop.


Some of the benefits of a Chronological Resume include:
  • It emphasizes the organization(s) you worked for and the educational background that you have. If you work for a large well-known company (or have worked for 2 or more) this might be the right design for you.
  • Did you attend a respected educational institution? The Chronological format will highlight that better than the other formats.
  • If you will be staying in the same line of work, this style leads the employer through your progress easily and chronologically.
  • Do you work in a conservative field? Once again you will find that the Chronological format may be the best one for you. Many employers truly prefer a traditional approach.
Of all the resume formats, the Chronological is good to use in nearly all circumstances. When it is well-written, it will almost never work against you, except perhaps in the most progressive of industries.

Click here to read more about the Chronological Format.

Functional Resume

In a functional resume your skills and abilities are emphasized more than who you worked for or where you went to school. Dates are also de-emphasized. It is a good style to use if you have developed a set of skills over a wide variety of work-related experiences and/or employers. It is also a good resume if you are entering the job market after a long absence or if you are entering the job market for the first time with little related experience but a lot of skills.
Some of the benefits of a Functional Resume include:
  • Any gaps in your employment dates are better disguised in this format. For instance, if you took time off to be a stay-at-home-mom, your break in employment will not be as noticeable using this type of resume.
  • Your skills and achievements are accentuated rather than where or when you developed them.
  • If you have done the same kind of work for more than one employer, you have an advantage using the Functional style. Repeating the same job responsibilities from job to job is eliminated so you can focus your energy on highlighting additional skills.

Click here to read more about the Functional Format.

Combination Resume

The combination format includes components from both of the other resume styles. While it is more difficult to write, it has some advantages in certain situations. Of all the resume formats, this one is the most flexible. You are able to call attention to your skills and abilities and focus them on the job target (objective) more effectively. It can be utilized in a number of ways to allow some creative designs that you can tailor to your prospective job. Keep in mind, though, that all of that creativity takes time.

Some of the benefits of a Combination Resume include:
  • It allows you to detail your work experience and accomplishments in a way that provides the prospective employer with a clear picture of how you will fulfill the job requirements of the position you seek.
  • There is no clear way to design the combination style of resume correctly or incorrectly, so you have a lot of flexibility.
  • You are still able to disguise anything that might be a viewed as a disadvantage (a gap in dates of employment, for instance).

Click here to read more about the Combination Format.


If that means you need a functional resume for a particular job and a combination resume for a different type of position, then you probably ought to create both. You lose nothing by creating both. In fact, it will help you to focus once again on your strengths, skills and accomplishments. That can only help you in the long run. When you land that interview, you will sail through the questions with ease because you'll know yourself that much better.

A word about Plain Text Resumes

Any of the above resume formats can be "turned" into a Plain Text resume. For an article that describes and explains this, follow this link: Plain Text Resumes




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