Cornell University

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Resume Formats

The two basic styles of resumes are chronological and functional. Some resumes use features of both and are called combination resumes. Your resume should reflect your goals and unique background, so create a document which works for you, not one that conforms to a particular format.

Chronological Resume

The most widely used and familiar format is the chronological resume. Education and experience are listed in chronological order, starting with your most recent experience. This format emphasizes positions and organizations, and describes achievements and responsibilities. The chronological resume demonstrates career growth and continuity, and is most effective when the job target is in line with your experience and academic background.

If your most relevant experience for a particular career field was not your most recent, it can be featured by creating two "experience" sections. These can be called "related experience" and "other experience." By separating the information into two categories, you can maintain a chronological format while emphasizing your most pertinent skills.

Functional Resume

The functional resume highlights skills and accomplishments and de-emphasizes specific job titles, organizations, and dates of employment. Rarely used by college students, functional resumes are appropriate if you have held a number of unrelated jobs, the position sought is outside the academic field, or there are significant gaps in your work history. Carefully examine previous duties and activities, without regard to job or setting. Then create specific skill areas such as writing, research, communication, leadership, etc., which target the career objective.

While employers sometimes find this format confusing because items are not listed in chronological order, the functional resume can be effective for people without relevant experience or whose careers have taken a number of turns.

Combination Resume

This format merges elements of functional and chronological resumes. It accentuates skills and capabilities, but also includes positions, employers, and dates within the skill groups. The directness of the chronological format is retained, and skills are grouped in functional categories.