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Résumé Writing

Which Type of Résumé Is Best?

Will a chronological, functional or a combination style résumé fit your needs?

Before you send off another résumé, take a look at the type of résumé you are using. Have you organized your job experience in the best possible way?

See also: Land that job.

There are three basic résumé types: chronological, functional, and a combination of the two. The type you use depends on your work history, job objective, and skills.

Chronological résumé

Do you have a long and steady work history? Do you want to stay in the same field? If so, a chronological résumé is a good choice. It says what you have done, where, when, and for whom. Here's how:

  • List your recent work experience in reverse chronological order. Start with your most recent job and go back only 10-15 years. List job titles, name of employer, and dates of employment (in years only). Ideally, your history will show an increasing scope of work and accomplishments.
  • Under each job, state your key accomplishments as bullet points. Use action verbs to briefly describe what you did. Then give the results or the impact of your actions, using numbers when possible to describe your accomplishments.
  • In your accomplishment bullets, show the challenges you faced, the actions you took, and the results. 

For example: Planned and supervised five community events that raised over $75,000 for the Springfield Homeless Shelter, helping center stay open despite funding cuts.

Here is a template for a chronological résumé:

Current or most recent job
Accomplishment 1
Accomplishment 2
Accomplishment 3
Previous job
Accomplishment 1
Accomplishment 2
Previous job
Accomplishment 1
Accomplishment 2

Functional Résumé

A functional résumé is organized by skills or functions, rather than by dates. It lets you highlight your skills while providing a brief work history.
Use a functional résumé if you want to make a career change, or if you have gaps in your work history. It enables you to focus on those skills that relate to the job, and drop or minimize those items that don’t.

First steps in writing a functional resume:

  • Before you start, identify your main skill areas (functional areas). The list at the end of this article has examples. Write down all your major skills, even though you won't use them all on every résumé. This includes skills gained in non-work settings, such as volunteering, hobbies, or caregiving.
  • For each job you apply for, choose skill areas that are the best match. List your most relevant skills first.
  • Include transferable skills that apply from one field to another. This is important if you are switching jobs or industries. For example, if you were a teacher and now want to be a professional storyteller, you might choose “Facilitating,” “Public Speaking,” or “Special Events Planning” as skill areas.

How to Organize a Functional Résumé

A good basic approach is to list your key skill areas, followed by several accomplishments in each skill area. Use a bullet point before each accomplishment.

Next: View the template for a functional résumé . >>

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