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Which Resumé Type Fits You Best?

A good resumé calls attention to the skills and achievements that best fit the job you’re applying for. A well-written resumé can get you an interview.

The best type of resumé to showcase what you have to offer depends on your work history and the kind of work you’re applying for.

Are you applying for a job like the one you have now? A chronological resumé may be the best way to call attention to your related experience.

Are you planning to change careers or industries? A functional or a combination resumé will highlight your relevant skills.

You can choose from 3 basic types of resumé.

Chronological resumé

A chronological resumé lists your work, education, and training history in order from newest to oldest. Employers know this type of resumé well. It may be easier to write than the other types, especially if you have a steady work history.

Advantages of a chronological resumé

  • Looks most familiar
  • Focuses on work history
  • Showcases steady employment or career progress in the same field or industry
  • Highlights past positions and employers

Disadvantages of a chronological resumé

  • Can draw attention to potential barriers to getting an interview, such as gaps between jobs, many job changes, or lack of experience or career progress
  • Does not emphasize the skills that you can bring to the job

When to use a chronological resumé

A chronological resumé may be best for:

  • Calling attention to a steady work history that directly relates to the job you are applying for
  • Applying for a position in a more traditional field such as teaching or government work

Chronological resumé outline and examples

Functional resumé

functional resumé highlights your skills and abilities instead of your work history. It arranges your abilities in skill groups directly related to the job you’re applying for. A functional resumé plays down any gaps in your work history, but it can be hard to write.

Advantages of a functional resumé

  • Emphasizes skills and accomplishments
  • Can be more easily tailored to an employer’s needs
  • Moves focus away from gaps in work history
  • Puts less emphasis on potential barriers to getting an interview, such as having many job changes or little or no experience

Disadvantages of a functional resumé

  • Not liked by many Canadian employers
  • Highlights skills rather than work history
  • Needs knowing which skills the employer thinks are important for the job

When to use a functional resumé

A functional resumé could be a good fit if you are:

  • Looking for work for the first time
  • Changing careers or industries
  • Going back to work after time away such as raising a family, illness, or travel
  • Looking for a permanent job after doing contract or freelance work
  • Wanting to use talents or abilities you didn’t use in your previous jobs
  • Focusing on skills learned from several unrelated jobs or from unpaid settings such as volunteer work
  • Looking for work after serving time in a correctional facility

Functional resumé outline and examples

Combination resumé

A combination resumé first organizes your achievements in skill groups to show what you can bring to the job. Then it briefly outlines your work history. If your experience is not directly related to the job you want, this type of resumé is useful. It will draw attention to your skills and what you can do.

Advantages of a combination resumé

  • Combines the best features of both the chronological and the functional resumés
  • Shows both your skills and a short summary of your work history
  • Can be more easily tailored to the employer than the chronological type
  • Plays down potential barriers to getting an interview, such as gaps between jobs and lack of directly related experience

Disadvantages of a combination resumé

  • Can be confusing if not well written
  • De-emphasizes experience with specific employers
  • May need more time and focus to organize

When to use a combination resumé

A combination resumé works well for balancing attention between your relevant skills and your work history.

Combination resumé outline and examples

Choose the right resumé

Use the resumé type that can best show the skills and training you have that fit the job you’re applying for.

You can also ask an employer directly what type of resumé the organization likes to see. Call the organization’s main number and ask to speak to the human resources department or the hiring manager for the job you’re interested in.

Whichever resumé type you choose, make sure it’s simple and short, free of mistakes, and easy to read. That’s the kind of resumé most likely to get you an interview.

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