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Online Writing Lab

Types of Resumes

When creating a resume, it is crucial to select the format that best sells your unique knowledge, experience(s), and skill set. There are two basic types of resume formats: the functional and the chronological resume. Although each format is well respected within the professional field, the formats differ in a several ways. 

Neither format is necessarily better than the other.  Rather, both offer different approaches for presenting the relevant information. When deciding between a functional or chronological resume, it is important to consider the particular position you are applying for and the experience(s) you have that relate to the job requirements. With the following criteria in mind, you can make an informed decision on the resume format that best matches your unique academic and professional experiences to help land the job:

The Functional Resume

The functional resume highlights transferrable skills – skills that are inherent and have also been solidified over time and within various job settings. The focus of the functional resume is to draw attention to these particular skills instead of specific work experience. For example, skills such as customer service, writing, communication, or organization are commonly used in functional resume.

The functional resume is organized by each skill and typically limited to two or three general areas – so as to not overwhelm the potential employer. Within each skill set, you can include a variety of work experiences that demonstrate your mastery of that particular skill. As a result, the job applicant will come across as an expert within a particular skill set- ie creative, strong customer service skills or organized manager.

The following are just a few examples of general skill sets to mention in a functional resume:

Examples of functional resumes

The Chronological Resume

Whereas the functional resume highlights certain skill sets, the chronological resume focuses on job titles and esteemed positions held. The resume is organized by job experience and begins with the most recent position. Each job title should use active verbs to explain the duties and responsibilities for the position. For example, a store manager at Whole Foods might explain his/her job as “supervising teams of 25+ employees” or “developing new hiring practices.”

Ideally, the chronological resume includes 3-5 specific duties pertaining to each job. The duties included in each of the jobs mentioned should overlap with the responsibilities indicated in the original job description. If you are applying for a managerial position, you would want to include your most recent job experiences that required you to manage, lead, supervise, etc.

For example, if the store manager at Whole Foods is applying for a corporate managerial position at Trader Joes, s/he should intentionally use the key words from the original job description to describe any previous work experience, particularly within similar positions. If the corporate job at Trader Joe’s requires organizational skills or experience leading teams of employees, then s/he would want to include any experience related to organization or leadership, even if the previous job was not a management position. The chronological resume works well for individuals with extensive experience within the same field or for those seeking a specific, professional position.

Samples of chronological resumes: sample resume 1sample resume 2, sample resume 3