Resumes Worth Writing


Here's what usually happens - you begin to think about advancing your career or the thought is forced on you by a "reallocation of resources" at your company. And you start to believe, I need to update my resume right away. Part of this thinking is true. Yes, you likely need to update your resume as you head out on your dreaded job search trail, but please hear me when I say this, only write your resume when you have a clear job target in mind.

Never write a resume, or much worse pay to have someone else write one for you, if you're not sure what job you want to land or the industry where you want to work. Don't waste your time and money!

In fact, if you're not sure where your career is going and want to work with someone to get a clear career, call me, that's exactly what I help my clients do.

That said, here are the three basic resume formats professionals use and some questions to guide you in your own resume writing project.

#1 The Chronological Resume

The chronological resume is the most common of all the resume types and technically, it’s actually reverse-chronological. On this type of resume all of your work experience and career highlights are listed from the present to the past. Your most recent work experience is at the top with your previous job listings following.

More than likely, this is the format of your current resume.

The chronological resume works well for you when a hiring manager or recruiter can easily spot a steady progression between each position you’ve held in the past, and how the position that you’re trying to land now seems to be a logical next step.

For example, if you’ve been a sales rep. at a mid-sized auto dealership, pursuing a sales management position at another mid-sized auto dealership makes sense. However, if you’re looking to move into a sales management role in the banking and financial sector, you may want to consider using a different type of resume or pursue some different work experience that build towards your ultimate goal.

#2 The Functional Resume

The functional resume lists your work experience in terms of your skills and competencies versus listing specific job titles and employers. In fact, a truly functional resume may completely omit the specific job and employers you’ve worked for and even leave out the dates you were employed with them.

You may already be thinking that this format sounds a little sketchy and be tuning me out. Okay James, when would you use this type of resume format? It doesn't sound legit.

The functional resume can work well for you when you’re transitioning into a new industry or when you’ve had a limited amount of work experience: for example, a recent high school or college grad. Think about it.

If you’re making a major transition from the auto industry to the financial sector as in the example above, it may be advantageous for you to highlight your transferable skills on your resume rather than broadcast the fact that you’re a novice.

The gap in your knowledge, skills, and experience are likely to come up in your interview, but the functional resume helps you land the interview and then share the story with your prospective employer how you’re working to close your knowledge and skills gap.

#3 The Combination / Hybrid Resume

The combination or hybrid resume is exactly what it sounds like - it’s a combination of the previous two resume formats and combines both chronological and functional elements. How this plays out on paper can be very different, but there’s usually an overall feel of the chronological resume when it comes to your work experience, job titles, and skills demonstrated in those roles.

However, at the top of your resume, you may strategically have a bullet point list of skills or certifications required in your new job to help your resume not get screened out by the applicant tracking system (ATS) or to keep the HR manager interested in you as they give your resume their standard 9 second scan.

For most job seekers or resume writers, the hybrid resume format offers a lot of flexibility and creativity to figure out what you’re strongest selling points are and to highlight them in a way that grabs the attention of the reviewer.

For example, for our auto sales rep. who is moving into management in the financial sector, a hybrid resume may be a good strategy because it allows her to still list where she was employed which looks more legitimate to a recruiter, but at the same time emphasize transferable skills such as lead generation, networking, etc.

What about your resume?

  1. Which type of resume resonates with you? Why?
  2. Which type of resume do other professionals like you use? Who are five people you could ask in the next week? When will you call or meet with them?
  3. Are you looking for a job in the same industry that you currently work in? If not, consider using a hybrid resume.
  4. Can someone besides yourself see a clear progression in the positions that you’ve held in the last 10 - 15 years? Unsure? Ask someone you know, trust, and has no conflicts of interest. For example, you may not want to ask your current employer if your company is in the middle of a restructure.
  5. Is your resume landing you interviews for the positions you want? Be honest with yourself here. If you’re not getting the results you really want, it may be time to change your type of resume or employ other, more advanced, job search strategies.
  6. Who is looking at your resume and on what platform? The people reading your resume and where they are reading it play a big part in knowing how to effectively format it.

If you're interested in more strategies that will help you land your next job, click here to schedule your free consultation