Resume types and the benefits of a combination resume

silhouette-978956_1920For many mobile families in the Southern Hemisphere the boxes are being unloaded from trucks around the country and the globe as the peak posting cycle comes to a close. With it comes the time for many of us get serious about finding employment in our new location. One of the key tools we have in our toolkit is, of course, our resume. I’ve written about resumes before (see Targeting/Tailoring your Resume) and I thought it would be a good time to encourage you to re-read this article and supplement it with an overview of different resume types.

There are three main types of resumes: chronological, functional and combination. Of the three I advise using a combination resume which leans more toward a chronological format. Let’s take a look at the three types.

The chronological resume is the standard and most recognizable format. The focus of the chronological resume is your employment history presented to the employer in reverse chronological format. However, for those of us with extensive and varied employment histories with “gaps” in employment the chronological resume doesn’t do a good job of presenting our key information and can in fact be detrimental by highlighting problematic aspects of our employment history that may trigger employer bias i.e the multiple jobs and gaps in employment.

A functional resume on the other hand focuses on your skill set rather than your employment history and whilst it may include your employment history it doesn’t necessarily include the finer details such as the dates of employment and what the role involved and it often has your employment history listed toward the bottom of your resume. Whilst this may seem to be a good solution for mobile job seekers a functional resume isn’t as good as it sounds. Many if not most employers do not like functional resumes because employment history remains of key importance to them. A resume that doesn’t include employment details may come across as trying to hide something. In addition, whilst a functional resume will outline your key skills it doesn’t link these skills with achievements in a specific role thus making it difficult for the employer to see what you could bring to the role you are applying for. If you present a functional resume they can’t easily find the information they are looking for and probably won’t have the time to find out. For these reasons employers prefer chronological resumes and seeing as though the point of your resume is to pique their interest in you and have them want to know more (i.e interview you) you should be delivering what they want.

The answer (in my opinion) is to write a combination resume that includes both your relevant key skills and your reverse chronological work history (with details). My suggested outline is:

  1. Personal details-address (you don’t need to include your address but be sure to include your suburb and postal code at a minimum), telephone numbers, email address (make sure it’s professional), LinkedIn URL (make sure it is customized) and Skype, Twitter etc if relevant.
  2. Professional summary-a 50 word (or less) summary of your skills and experience that highlights why you are suitable for this job you are applying for.This is your sales pitch to the potential employer.
  3. Skills and Qualifications summary– bullet list the skills and experience that you have which are required for this position. Use the job advertisement or description to ascertain what qualifications are essential and desired by the employer.
  4. Employment history– list your employment history in reverse chronological order giving details of employer and dates of employment. Give a brief description of your achievements in this role i.e don’t just give a job description but outline how well you did the job and what this mean for the employer. Quantify your results where possible.
  5. Education– list institution and dates attended plus any awards if recent. List the highest qualification first.
  6. Community engagement/Volunteer work– this needs a separate post in itself for this audience but in summary include community engagement work if it’s relevant to the job you’re applying for (either directly or if it speaks to community engagement activities the company is involved in). If you held a volunteer role which had a title and job description I advise including it in your employment history in the same way as paid work. You should also list any relevant skills you gained from volunteering in your qualification summary.
  7. Other relevant information– what is included here will depend on the job you’re applying for but some examples include licenses and certifications, awards, volunteer affiliations and professional associations.  Only include information that is relevant to the job you are applying for and use your discretion when deciding whether to list them under one heading or separate.

Employers and recruiters may receive an enormous number of applications and they do not have the time to look at each one in depth.  They will skim your resume and make a decision as to whether they put your resume in the pile to pursue or dismiss. Submitting a combination resume in the suggested format gives the employer the key information they need to decide at the top of your resume where it will be seen.  It puts an emphasis on your skills but not at the expense of your employment history which remains of key importance to employers.


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