Designing a résumé is a challenging task and, unfortunately, there is no one right way to create one. To make things worse, there are actually several “types” of résumés out there that you’ll want to familiarize yourself with. Depending on the position you are applying for, the company you are sending your résumé to, and where you are in life, you might need to rethink the way you’ve always done it.
It’s possible there are over a dozen of types of résumés out there. However, there are certainly six common ones you should be familiar with:
#1: Chronological Résumé
More than likely, if you’ve ever sat in on a résumé workshop in high school or college, this is the résumé you were taught to create. The chronological résumé is just what it sounds like: a backwards chronology (with the most recent at the top) of what you’ve accomplished, usually starting with your education (because that is what you are presently doing.) Chronological résumés are usually good for people with little experience in the field for which they are applying. The idea is that, even with little experience, employers can get a sense of what you’ve been doing for the last, say, five years, even if it isn’t related. Employers, when looking at these types, are usually hiring for entry-level positions and they just want an idea of how you work and what you’ve been involved in.
#2: Functional Résumé
Functional résumés are nearly as common as the chronological résumé, though they tend to be better for people with at least 5 years of experience in the field for which they are applying. Functional résumés avoid chronology and focus on most relevant experience. Usually, rather than starting with the most recent education or job title, they start with a qualifications section that lists a summary of all the kinds of qualifications. Sometimes in functional résumés, depending on the requests of the position for which you are applying, you might put education third or fourth in your categorization.
#3: Combination Résumé
Combination résumés are a combination of the previous two that I listed. Because of ease of reading, many employers like a chronology of work experience. However, sometimes it is nice for them to get an overall summary of qualifications first. Combinations use chronology for much of the résumé, but make sure to focus on what the employers are really asking for at the top, even if it isn’t the most recent thing you’ve done.
#4: Creative Résumé
Creative résumés are becoming a much more common way to apply to a job, though they are not for everybody. The idea behind a creative résumé is, well, to be creative. There is no set pattern for these, and they tend to be in full color. Many designers make creative résumés as an infographic and come up with uniqe and interesting ways of displaying their skills. These types of résumés are particularly common in graphic design fields, but are become more appreciated in innovative and forward-thinking businesses. Many communications positions like to see these as well. For some examples, simply go to Google Images and type in “creative résumé.” You’ll get all kinds, good and bad. Before sending one of these to an employer, though, make sure you feel like they are a company that would appreciate such a diversion from the norm. And, above all else, make sure it is good! Show it to a few people before you send it out.
#5: Scannable Résumé
Perhaps less discussed, but nonetheless very important and really common, are scannable résumés. While traditional résumés are printed on paper or created as PDFs and sent to employers to be easily scanned by human eyes, scannable résumés are read by computers. If you are ever asked to submit a résumé online and you have to paste in text into a text box (not actually upload a PDF file), you are submitting a scannable résumé. Many large companies find this to be a huge time saver when they get hundreds of applications on a regular basis. When submitting a scannable résumé, your task is to submit the appropriate key terms. So, look over the job ad and use as many of the terms in the ad as possible in your résumé. Also, research the company, and include terms that seem valuable to them. You have to tailor your résumé in such a way that a computer will think you are qualified and a good fit for the position. NEVER just copy and paste your traditional résumé into one of these online submission forms. You’ll likely have a slim chance of getting an interview if you haven’t included the key terms. With these résumés, formatting and organization usually aren’t important.
#6: Curriculum Vita
Lastly is the curriculum vita. If you haven’t heard of these, you probably are not working in education. These résumés are typically used for people in professions where lengthy descriptions of their job and professional experiences matter for promotion. CVs are most common in academics and are used to evaluate college professors’ academic activity. While most résumés stick to one to two pages, you’ll come across curriculum vitae that can be 30 – 40 pages long! If you are applying for a position where you think they’ll want a curriculum vita instead of a traditional résumé, it is worth your time to call and ask. If they are looking for one, you’ll want to include all the workshops you have attended, courses you have taught, papers and articles you have published, conferences you have attended, and so forth.