Whether you're seeking a traditional job or freelance work, your potential employer or client will likely want to see a CV or resume demonstrating what qualifies you for the role so that you have a better chance of getting the job. The most popular formats you'll see include functional, chronological and combination resumes. However, you have other options that allow you to display your information creatively, focus on a particular role or provide a quick view of your qualifications. Take a look at seven resume formats and learn more about their contents, advantages, disadvantages and best use cases.
1. Functional Resumes
While not used as often as traditional chronological resumes, the functional resume will focus on your areas of expertise rather than emphasize your detailed work history. This means you can leverage what you've achieved and learned through various formal and informal jobs and categorize your experience with skill headings. So, it enables you to find ways to highlight your skills even if the jobs are unrelated. This resume format is best used for when you've not had a clear career path, you've been unemployed in the past, you'd like to enter a role type or you feel focusing on dates could otherwise disadvantage you during your job search.
When creating this resume type, you'll usually start with a contact info section and then either include your professional objective or summary. You'd follow with a section with several skill headings with bullet points underneath detailing relevant work experience details for that particular skill. You'd then list basic details for your past employers and education, and you can either include or omit dates for the jobs. You might opt to end the resume by listing your references or adding other sections like you would with various other formats.
Using a functional resume can lead to various pros and cons during the hiring process. While you could use it to hide employment gaps and increase your chances of getting considered, employers might find the format suspicious and still ask about work dates. But in other cases, the format can provide an advantage by helping employers better understand how your past jobs relate and have transferable skills. If you do use this format, also keep in mind that the systems processing online job applications might have difficulties understanding your info and might mark your resume as not having important keywords.
2. Chronological Resumes
Known as the most popular and simplest format, the chronological resume clearly lays out all your past experience and education with dates going from the most recent to the oldest. Therefore, it's versatile and can work for you whether you've just graduated college and need that first job, you're looking for a promotion or you want to start a whole new career. Since the chronological format makes it easy to see when you didn't work and emphasizes when you earned credentials like degrees, however, it's sometimes not suited for situations where age or empty spots in your employment history are concerns.
Like a functional resume, the chronological format begins with contact details and a career objective or overview. Depending on how recently you graduated and how much experience you have, you'd follow with either your education or work experience section next. The education section lists basics like your degrees and any achievements, while your work experience section includes details of past jobs with dates, employer names, job titles and bullet lists with duties and accomplishments for each role. You can then include additional sections listing skills, references, hobbies, awards, professional associations, etc.
Using this resume format offers advantages since it makes your qualifications and experience very clear to employers so they can make better hiring decisions. It also benefits you in that it's easier to show your career progression than you could with a skill-focused format like the functional resume provides. But since it can emphasize work history gaps, this format could disadvantage you if you've been unemployed a long time and can't account for that time doing something else relevant like pursuing education.
3. Hybrid or Combination Resumes
A hybrid or combo resume allows you to take advantage of both the skills focus of a functional resume and the clear job history that a chronological resume provides. However, it differs from the functional format in that the skills section isn't as long and detailed since you'll address the connection with past jobs in the work experience section later. The dual focus on skills and specific job duties makes the combo resume suitable especially if you have less experience or you're going for a career change. At the same time, it's similar to a chronological resume in that it doesn't help you hide gaps in employment like a functional resume can.
Like the other two popular formats, a combo resume starts out with your contact info and professional objective. However, it then becomes similar to a functional resume with a section dedicated to summarizing your skills and experience, perhaps using a brief paragraph and a list. You'd then follow up with detailed education and work experience sections, and you'd spell out specific job duties and list dates like with a chronological resume. You could then have extra sections below for things like research, hobbies, references or awards as you see fit.
The main advantage is being able to emphasize a variety of skills and show your employer your career progression and various jobs in detail at the same time. This structure can help avoid confusing employers and resume scanning tools. However, a combination resume can run long, especially if you have a lot of skills listed on the first page. Therefore, employers may find it more tedious to read when they just want a quick summary.
Read More: Where Can I Obtain a Copy of My Employment History?
4. Targeted or Tailored Resumes
While you can tailor any resume to the job you're specifically applying for, it can help to have both a general resume and one or more targeted or tailored resumes handy. Often, a targeted resume comes in the form of a functional resume where you only include relevant skills and experience for the job you're seeking and include keywords from the job listing that can help your resume have a better chance of getting through the company's filter. This type of resume can be suitable when you have experience in multiple fields and want to reduce distractions so you show only what's relevant to the prospective job.
For example, if you were applying for an accounting job, you'd make your tailored resume focus on relevant experience in the field. You'd use your professional summary to explain your accounting career goal and put relevant keywords when describing your skills and experience. On the other hand, if you worked an irrelevant job many years ago in a restaurant, you'd likely leave that experience off.
This resume format offers the benefit of not distracting employers with irrelevant details. However, it does take more work to craft such resumes, especially if you have multiple jobs in mind and need multiple versions.
5. Profile Resumes
A profile resume refers to any type of resume format that includes a profile near the top as an alternative to the professional objective or summary you'll often see. This will often be a paragraph or list that highlights the most notable achievements from your past positions and important skills relevant to the job you're applying to. It also summarizes important details like your number of years of experience in your profession and your intentions in your future role. However, the profile usually doesn't detail specific job responsibilities.
The profile section offers the advantage of quickly showing potential employers important qualifications you have. It's also helpful for introducing yourself and giving a specific impression. However, you'll need to make sure to have the profile tailored for the specific job and keep it short at a paragraph maximum for the most effectiveness.
Read More: How to Write a Winning Resume for College Grads
6. Infographic Resumes
If you're looking to showcase your information in a creative way, you might consider using an infographic resume that is often interactive, colorful and formatted with images, charts, lists and even graphs. While some infographic resumes might include long sentences or paragraphs of text, the content is more often broken up into short sections with points kept concise or displayed visually. For example, a skills list on an infographic resume might show progress bars of different lengths to help employers visualize how proficient you are in each area, while a contact information section may include social media icons that are clickable.
You can expect to include a lot of the same information such as your skills, education, experience, summary or profile statement and contact information on this nontraditional resume format. However, you can be very creative in formatting these sections and add others that fit your needs. For example, you might opt to have several skills sections by theme similar to a functional resume. You might add additional sections to showcase your professional associations, hobbies and work portfolio as well.
Being able to catch the eye of a potential employer and show off your design skills with such a resume can offer an advantage. However, keep in mind that appropriateness can vary by industry. For example, these resumes work better for creative fields such as graphic design and publishing. You'll also want to make sure the resume is done well and be aware that some online applications won't accept this format since the structure can be confusing.
7. Mini Resumes
While the other types of resume formats work well for job application submissions, the mini resume differs in that you'd use it during networking opportunities. You'd most often have your mini resume printed on a business card that folds out to provide various details about your background, education and skills, but a regular folded paper can suffice too.
This type of resume usually shows your name, contact details, current job title and possibly a headshot on the front. When the recipient first opens up the mini resume, there might be top and bottom sections showing a summary of areas of expertise and the most important points regarding your education and experience. The mini resume may expand once more to show a shortened version of a chronological resume listing your jobs from most recent to last, a list of your degrees and other credentials and then a skills section.
The small size means this type of resume works best for handing it out to people during networking events or informal daily activities. You can easily take mini resumes with you in your pocket, and you have the freedom to customize the resume to fit your needs. However, you'll still need a regular resume document to submit with online and in-person applications, so this is best a supplement.
Read More: Should You Bring a Cover Letter to Job Fairs?
- Printing for Less: Mini-Resume or Portable Pocket Resume
- Big Interview: The Ultimate Infographic Resume Guide
- Venngage: 20+ Infographic Resume Templates and Design Tips to Land That Job
- Minnesota State University: Types of Resumes
- Kent State University: Functional Resume Format
- FlexJobs: Functional Resume Guide: Formatting, Pros, and Cons
- My Computer Career: What Is the Difference Between a Functional and Chronological Resume?
- Purdue University: Chronological Résumé Sample
- NJIT: The Combination Resume
- Indeed: How To Write a Targeted Resume: Tips and Example
- HCareers: Why Writing Targeted Resumes Is More Critical Than You Think
- GCF Global: Objectives, Summaries, or Professional Profiles
- Novoresume: How to Write a Convincing Resume Profile [+23 Examples]
Ashley Donohoe has written about business and technology topics since 2010. Having a Master of Business Administration degree, bookkeeping certification and experience running a small business and doing tax returns, she is knowledgeable about the tax issues individuals and businesses face. Other places featuring her business writing include Zacks, JobHero, LoveToKnow, Bizfluent, Chron and Study.com.