In college, I was trained and retrained in the art of résumé writing. From sophomore to senior year, classes and seminars were focused on helping us find jobs after graduation, and yet no two teachers taught this skill the same way. When I asked my relatives who worked as executives and HR reps, I also got different answers. After doing some of my own research, I learned there is more than one “right” way to create a résumé. Thankfully, there are three common/standard types of résumés that can give you a basis to present your background and skills.
This popular format ironically lists your work history in reverse chronological order. Your most recent job title is first with the responsibilities and skills that came along with it listed below, then the second-to-most-recent, and so on. The chronological résumé allows recruiters to easily see where you started, where you’ve been and where you are now. This format is clean, clear and classic, and is generally the most recommended. It can be difficult for recruiters to follow if you have a diverse work history, however, and it makes gaps in employment stand out — although being upfront with that information can be a good thing as well.
A functional résumé format organizes your work history by experience or skills. For example, instead of listing a job and then everything you did there, you would list a main skill such as “customer service” and then list what experience you have in that area, even if it comes from multiple jobs. This type of résumé is good for people who have work experience in many different fields, have little to no experience or are jumping into an entirely different career. But, use this format only if it’s the only thing that makes sense for you. The experts at Executive Drafts warn that this format can be confusing and can sometimes come across as misleading to hiring committees, even if it is completely truthful.
This format organizes your work history like the chronological résumé but then groups the types of experience or skills gained together under each entry – just like the functional résumé. This format makes it easier for employers to get a good idea of your work history and how it applies to the specific skills they are looking for, but the drawback is that this often takes up a lot of valuable space. If you are just starting your career and have valuable experience that came with a less-than-impressive job title, this could be a good option for you.
Need help deciding which résumé to use? Read more about the different types and how to decide. No matter which you choose, just make sure that it is error-free, succinct and truthful. Work on finding ways to word things that demonstrate how much you accomplished and always tailor it to the job by highlighting experience and skills that match the job description. Even using a similar vocabulary to the job description may help your résumé make it to the next round.
Want to learn more about creating a resume? Join us for our class, Résumé Creation and Enhancement. Call 405.377.3333 with questions or to register. To find out about more courses like this, sign up for our monthly e-newsletter. View all of our upcoming courses in our digital catalog.
Abby McCain is the Communications and Marketing Secretary at Meridian Technology Center.