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.
In some cases, a resumé is not what you need, and you should be writing a lengthy curriculum vitae, or CV, to land the job. But in most cases, you will use a resumé.
You can choose from 4 basic types of resumé or CV:
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
- Chronological resumé outline
- Chronological resumé example 1 [pdf]—an experienced tradesperson
- Chronological resumé example 2 [pdf]—a high school graduate with paid work experience
A 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
- Functional resumé outline
- Functional resumé example 1 [pdf]—a high school student with no paid work experience
- Functional resumé example 2 [pdf]—a recent immigrant with limited skills and Canadian experience
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
- Combination resumé outline
- Combination resumé example 1 [pdf]—an experienced worker returning to the workforce after a long absence
- Combination resumé example 2 [pdf]—an experienced worker who recently lost a job
A curriculum vitae (CV) is a longer, more comprehensive document than a resumé. It is always organized chronologically and can be up to 10 pages long.
Advantages of a CV
- Gives a full record of your career and qualifications
- Allows employers to closely study your credentials and biographical information
- Doesn’t change for different positions (only your cover letter changes)
Disadvantages of a CV
- Can be far more detailed than many employers need
- Does not allow you to easily call attention to certain qualifications
- Is not a good tool for screening candidates, which is what most employers are looking to do
When to use a CV
A resumé is usually the preferred document for applying to jobs in Canada. But you can use a CV if you are applying for graduate studies or professional programs, academic or executive-level positions, and professional association memberships or designations. A CV should be used only for these types of applications, or when requested by the employer.
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.