How to Choose From 4 Basic Resume Types

Jun 18, 2015

You’re surfing the web, watching TV, or aimlessly listening to the radio in your car. Then... WHAM, a commercial hits you. In the May 2014 issue of Time Magazine, Victor Luckerson explains that the average ad time in a 60-minute network TV program in 2013 was 14 minutes and 15 seconds. His article, “Here’s Why Watching TV Has Gotten So Annoying,” reports the statistic that advertisers spent 78 billion dollars in TV ads alone in 2013. Why is so much money spent in marketing? The answer is obvious. Because it works.

Why is so much time spent in creating your resume? Because when it’s done right, it works! An effective resume is a sales pitch to a prospective employer. You are the salesman. Your experience, talents, and education are the products. A well-written resume is one of your best marketing tools. It’s a commercial and you want the hiring manager to want this product. There are 35 different types of commercials, but only six basic approaches. With regards to getting a job, there are four basic resume types: chronological, functional, combination and targeted.

Basic Resume Type #1: Chronological

The chronological resume is exactly what its name implies. Your work history is listed in order, according to dates. Begin with your most current position and end with the earliest. Many employers prefer this type because it gives them an overview of your experience.

This basic resume type is best for those people with a solid employment background who have no lapses in their work history. It is also beneficial if most of your experience coincides with the job you are interested in.

Generally, the last 10-15 years should be listed on the resume. Start with the most current position and work backward. It is not etched in stone that only full-time jobs should be listed. Include part-time positions, volunteer work, or anything else that will emphasize the skills you have to offer.

Basic Resume Type #2: Functional

A functional resume focuses on your skills and experience and de-emphasizes your work history. Employment history is secondary to the abilities you have to offer. This basic resume type is preferable if you have lapses in employment. The gaps could occur for any number of reasons such as raising a family, illness, or job loss.

It is also beneficial for new graduates who have limited employment experience or people who are in the middle of a career change. Those who have had diverse occupations with no focused career path will also find this basic resume type helpful.

Basic Resume Type #3: Combination

In a combination resume you highlight both your skills and traits and provide a chronological listing of your work experience. This gives you a flexible platform to list your workplace assets and show what kind of employee you are.

However, you only have so much space available. List the most recent or advanced degrees first and work in reverse order. If there are older courses that are more specific to the position, list them first. You don’t have to list graduation dates, but if you graduated summa cum laude, or have achieved other high scholastic honors, don’t be modest about listing them. This will set you apart from other applicants.

Basic Resume Type #4: Targeted

The final format you might want to consider is a targeted resume. This basic resume type is customized and specific to the position you want. Your work history, abilities, and education are reflections of the job requirements.

For example, if you were applying for a position as a book editor in a publishing company, you could emphasize your master’s degree in English and your internship with an editor during your senior year. Perhaps you worked part time as a proofreader to help with college expenses. List the writing contests you’ve won. All these things would make an employer want to know more about you.

Study the job description of the position you want. It is important to know what skills and abilities a prospective employer is looking for in their applicants. If the ad requires self-reliance and innovative thinking, and these are traits that describe you, then showcase your experiences that will exemplify these traits. Visit the company website to find out if they are an industry leader. Does it have a strong vision or mission statement? This will help you tailor your skills and talents to match the company’s culture.

Final Tips for All Basic Resume Types

Now that you know which basic resume types exist and which one is right for you, here are a few final tips to help you polish it to perfection.

Keep it professional.

All basic resume types are still professional. You should use a common font, such as Times New Roman, Ariel, Tahoma, or Calibri. The standard font size is 10 to 12 point font. Keep at least a 1″ margin. Check for spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors, but don’t rely on spell and grammar check. A fresh set of eyes will help find errors that you might miss.

Keep it brief.

Employers may receive hundreds of resumes or cover letters for a single position. Chances are the person reviewing them will spend seconds on each one. He or she will be less likely to consider a lengthy resume. As a rule, one page is more effective.

List specific skills.

List additional proficient skills, such as speaking another language, technical skills, teaching skills, etc. Share special interests that are specific to the position you want. Missing some of these details might send a skewed message about your wealth (or lack thereof) of your abilities.

Know your references.

Avoid the phrase “references available upon request.” If a company is interested, they will ask for your references. Be sure you know them and have them readily available in one succinct document.

Update regularly.

Review your resume every few months. If you have obtained new skills or more education, you should update it. Your resume will then be current if, and when, you need it again.

Now that you’ve written your sales copy for your commercial, it’s time to get out there and start marketing. When you find the perfect job openings for your career, you’ll have a killer resume to send out over the air. If you chose the right basic resume type and wrote it well, the hiring team will keep their eyes fixed on you and won’t want to change the channel. Now all you have to do is start preparing for that interview you know you’re going to get!

Confession Time: Has there ever been a time when you knew you didn’t hit the mark? If you could go back and do it over, which basic resume type would you have chosen instead? Scroll below to share your story. We love reading your comments!

About the Author

Charlie Kimmel

As President and CEO, Charlie has dedicated his 25+ year career to executive search at Kimmel & Associates. Charlie joined Kimmel & Associates in 1990 as a Recruiter. In 1993, he graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, where he received a BA in History.

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