You’ve found the perfect job announcement, and now you need to prepare materials for the application. Your resume along with a cover letter show the potential employer how well you fit the job opening. A resume details educational and employment history, but depending upon the type of job you’re applying for and your work experiences, the format of the resume can vary.
A chronological resume is one of the most common and familiar formats for job seekers to use. It details work history in a logical manner, starting with most recent employment first. Its purpose is to illustrate steady, progressive career development. If you’re a recent graduate with little work experience, detail your educational background first, followed by employment history. The reverse would be true for someone with many years of experience -- work experience followed by education.
A functional resume focuses on your skills and achievements. This format provides a good option for individuals who are changing career fields. It highlights your areas of expertise and shows how experience and abilities transfer from one career to another. A functional resume features two or three areas of expertise that are targeted to the position for which you are applying. An advantage of using a functional resume is the ability to organize your work history by skills as opposed to chronology.
A combination resume incorporates elements from both the chronological format and the functional format. Your skills are listed by function, incorporating your work history in reverse chronological order for each function. This is a useful format for recent graduates that have completed numerous internships or volunteer appointments, allowing you to identify the agencies where you worked and the experienced gained through the activities.
A curriculum vita (CV) is a specialized work history used in higher education settings or by upper level administrators. Typically someone who is applying for a tenure-track faculty position that involves teaching and research will provide a CV as part of the employment application. It combines your academic background with relevant teaching or work experiences, publications and presentations, achievements and relevant professional memberships. Unlike a resume, a CV is a highly detailed document that runs to multiple pages.
General Format Tips
Regardless of the format used to prepare your resume, there are common elements to include in all types. Resumes and CVs begin with contact information, detailing the ways in which a hiring agent can communicate with you. Objectives and skills summaries are optional elements, but if used they should be employer-centered and situated early in the resume. Education, experience and skills or achievements comprise the body of your resume. This is the section where employers focus their attention. Conclude your resume or CV with licensure and certifications, professional affiliations and extracurricular activities if appropriate to the job.
Stephanie Maatta has been a writer for more than 10 years, with articles published in professional journals including "Library Journal" and "Reference Librarian." Many of her publications focus on professional development and career advising. Maatta holds a Ph.D. and Master of Science in library and information science from Florida State University.