Resumes come in all shapes and sizes of course, but there are a few key types of resume – and they each have their particular applications and uses.
You might want to check out our general resume writing tips here for advice on what should, and should not, be in your resume.
Resumes fall in to a number of categories:
This is the basic, simplest and most regularly used type of resume. You give your career history in reverse chronological order (most recent first). Under each position you have held, you outline your principal duties and the scale and scope of your role. Most importantly, you include significant achievements in that position that are relevant to the type of job you are applying for. As your career history gets older, you give less detail about each role – and the older roles are probably less relevant to your current aspirations anyway.
A purely chronological approach might not always be the best way to put your credentials forward. Perhaps your recent roles are not that relevant to the jobs you want to apply for, or your career history has given you the right skills and experience, but in a different field to the job you are applying for. This is where a skills-based approach is useful. You still need to include your complete career history, but do not fill up the resume with detail about each position if it is not directly relevant. Instead, include a section (probably before the career history) outlining your skills and make sure they are relevant to the target job. The best way to put them forward is to give an example of how you applied that particular skill – back to achievements again. This type of resume is of particular benefit to career-changers.
This one is actually very like the skills resume in structure – i.e. you add a section up front outlining your particular skills and achievements – but it is usually used for a different reason. Maybe you have a career history in a particular field but have moved jobs very often, or you have a huge number of short term contracts. Repeating the same job description and skills/achievements for each of your past positions is just going to highlight how often you have moved. Instead, summarise a few major achievements and/or projects to illustrate your fit to the target position and reduce the detail on your past appointments. Long term contractors can reduce the career history to a simple list – no detail at all – and concentrate the reader on a few significant and relevant assignments instead.
This one is self-explanatory. If you have no or little career history, you instead concentrate on the value of your education. Include more detail on the modules, projects and results of your studies and try to make that relevant to the prospective employer.
Combined/ Hybrid Resumes
In practice, a combination of the above approaches is often the best solution. For example, a newish graduate with only a couple of years career history should still include more detail on their education than someone with ten years experience. Most job moves involve some degree of sector/ industry change, so highlighting how you have applied some of your skills in a manner that will benefit your future employer is a good idea. Many people have moved jobs more often than is ideal, so avoiding repetition in your resume is also a good approach.