Resumes and Letters

Choosing Your Resume Format

There is no "right" resume style or format. The right format for you is one that succeeds in gaining you an interview. A format that works for someone else may be totally wrong for you. Again, the primary objective of a resume is to obtain interviews.  The secondary objective is, once you are in the interview seat, to serve as a prompter for questions that enable you to elaborate on the achievements and skills you’ve highlighted.  Your resume should capture your skills, abilities and accomplishments such that they elicit the potential employer's desire to meet you in person and, once there, serves to fuel the course of a great interview.

The three most common resume formats are chronological, functional and a style that combines aspects of both (combination).  Many experienced alumni use the combination format to highlight their years of experience and employers. A fourth, highly specialized format is the curriculum vitae, which is only used in academia and pure research situations.

Visit our Resume Writing webpage for additional information.

The Chronological Resume

This is the most widely accepted format and most familiar to employers. It is also the easiest to write. Jobs are listed in chronological order, starting with the most recent (which generally receives the greatest emphasis) and working back through the years. For people with more than 20 years of experience, it is recommended that the chronological entries encompass the last twenty years with a small summary at the bottom that describes the prior years (e.g., “Career Notes”)

Advantages

Disadvantages

The Functional Resume

The functional resume format highlights your qualifications with little emphasis on specific dates and more emphasis on skill sets.  Each section is defined by a specific skill with strong examples. This format is particularly appropriate when changing careers or re-entering the work force.

Advantages

Disadvantages

The Combination Format

This resume is similar in format to the functional resume. Company names and dates, however, are included in a separate section.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Curriculum Vitae

This format is highly specialized and used only for graduate school applications, academia or research positions.

Additional information

For more information and tips to make your resume successful, visit our Resume Writing webpage.  Cover letters, thank you letters and other documents are an important part of any job search. See our Letter Writing webpage for additional information.

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Last modified: July 28, 2010 09:02:06