Despite sending hundreds of applications, it seems you rarely—if ever—get a response. If this situation sounds familiar, don’t worry. The issue may not be your qualifications or experience, but rather how you present these on paper. Even if your resume is flawless, using the wrong kind of resume can ultimately hinder your ability to land an interview, let alone a job. Typically, you’re taught that a normal resume lists past work experience and the duties you performed, which is known as a chronological resume; however, functional or combined resumes are also options to consider when applying for a job. Understanding these different resume formats will help you better tailor your application to emphasize your skills, rather than expose your shortcomings.

What is a Chronological Resume?

As previously stated, the chronological resume is usually the default choice for most job seekers, although not necessarily the best one. It’s simple and fast, and clearly showcases your experience. This format is ideal for those with a steady, rich, and extensive work history. However, by only emphasizing past employment, this format fails to highlight your accomplishments. Consequently, your viability as a candidate immediately becomes eclipsed by someone with more experience. The chronological format is also not recommended if you have gaps in your work history or a record of “job hopping” from one employer to the next in a short amount of time. Overall, the chronological resume is appropriate for entry-level positions that require no background, or executive positions that need significant demonstrable experience.

What is a Functional Resume?

A functional resume is the polar opposite of its linear counterpart. Rather than displaying your previous positions followed by job details, a functional resume focuses entirely on things you learned or achieved in past careers, without alluding to a specific job. For example, if an employer is looking for administrative experience, you create a category on your resume for administrative skills, then outline your strengths and achievements in that area. Work history gets listed last, showing only the organizations’ names, locations and periods of employment. This ensures that the recruiter’s first impression of you isn’t harmed by employment gaps or job hopping, as this information gets pushed into a small section near the end of your resume. If you’re looking to divert attention from a choppy job history, change careers, or return to the workforce after a prolonged absence, the functional resume is your best option.

What is a Combined Resume?

A combination or “hybrid” resume follows the same linear nature of a chronological resume, while adapting the skill-focused aspect of a functional one. The first thing you list is a summary of your knowledge, skills, and abilities relevant to the desired job. You then list your work history in chronological order, but also point out accomplishments and learning milestones from those roles. The combination resume format is best if you wish to work in a highly specialized field and have no employment gaps or evidence of job hopping. By listing your skills first, the employer immediately sees how qualified you are before even looking at work history.

Resume format is often overlooked when seeking employment. The chronological setup is ingrained in the minds of so many job seekers, they don’t even know about their other options. If you find yourself exasperated by a fruitless job search, take a good look at your history and desired career. In the end, your problem could be solved with a different template.

Need help deciding which format is best for your situation? Let us help! Work with one of our Certified Professional Resume Writers to develop an effective new resume to launch your job search!