Deciphering Resume Types

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Creating a resume is the very best way to document your career and accomplishments. If you build and maintain one as you move along your career path, you'll be able to capture key achievements and results while they are still fresh in your mind.

Everyone who works or is thinking about working needs a resume. Industry consolidations, economic conditions, earnings shortfalls, and changes in management or ownership can alter a person's job satisfaction or status in an instant. Whether you are going to school, dissatisfied with your current job, or happy and gainfully employed, a well thought out and up-to-date resume is your best defense and offense.

The majority of resumes follow a similar format by listing most recent jobs and work experience first. This is called a "reverse chronological" format. But there is also the "skills-based" or "functional" format that highlights what you can do rather than what you have done. Some find that blending these two formats is the best way to summarize their experience and capabilities. Those in teaching and scientific professions, especially people with advanced degrees, find the "curriculum vitae" or CV most effective. How do you decide which format is best? Following are some tips and guidelines for when to use which format.

Reverse Chronological
This is the format familiar to most employers and hiring managers. It normally includes a career objective or summary at the top, and is followed by a listing of each job the person has held, starting with the most recent, and a brief summary of responsibilities and accomplishments. Reverse chronological resumes should include job titles, dates of employment, and company names and locations. For each position you held, you should give an overview of your essential responsibilities and your related accomplishments and achievements. This should be followed by a summary of your education and training.

Using this format is best for those who have had a steady work history and a record of increased responsibility and career growth. This is also a great format if the companies you worked for, especially your most recent employer, are well-recognized and well-respected within your industry.

Skills-Based or Functional Format
A functional formatted resume ignores chronological order and focuses on your career in terms of your skills and capabilities. This format helps readers focus on what you can do rather than what you have done. By using the functional approach, you can tailor your resume to highlight skills and competencies sought by potential employers. You can show how you ideally match the requirements of a particular job for which you are applying, by including relevant achievements and accomplishments related to specific skills.

The functional resume includes a career objective that states what type of job you desire or a career summary that encapsulates your work history, education and strengths in a sentence or two. The main body of the resume provides a summary of three to five skills you possess and demonstrates your proficiency in the particular area through accomplishments and measurable results related to the skill. One added benefit of this format is that you can include learning from both paid and volunteer work. In its purest form it omits dates, employers and job titles, however, most employers expect to see this information somewhere within a resume.

The functional format is ideal for those who have had gaps in employment or for those who have changed careers over the years or had unclear career paths. It is also great for new graduates who don't have much paid work experience.

Combination or Blended Format
If you can't decide which format to use, you may wish to develop a resume that utilizes the best of both formats. These resumes will include reverse chronological listings of the most recent jobs you've held in addition to showcasing your particular skills and accomplishments. It might begin with a summary of qualifications and bulleted skills, followed by a chronicled job listing that demonstrates, through measurable results, how you used or applied the skills you just highlighted.

Curriculum Vitae
An academic curriculum vitae is a comprehensive document or biographical statement of your experience and achievements. It is normally four to eight pages in length and is used primarily for those who work in a PhD-driven environment where higher degrees, research, published works and professional accreditation and recognition are valued. A summary of professional qualifications and accomplishments are listed first. This is followed by a detailed listing of education and academic degrees, recognized achievements such as major research works, published articles in peer-reviewed journals, and professional affiliations and credentials. Only those who are pursuing careers in science, such as biotech or research, academia, think tanks and the like should use this format.

Last Updated: 24/09/2007 - 3:50 PM


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