As you sift through sample resumes from the internet (or borrow from friends), you see that professional resumes tend to take either of two forms: the chronological or functional format. Many job seekers pursue a third option, which resembles a hybrid between these two approaches. We call this the combination resume. Here's a quick description of both styles, plus a few reasons to choose the combination resume.
The chronological format emphasizes your value by showcasing your past positions. If you choose this option, your Work Experience section will simply include a straightforward list of all your relevant past jobs. Each position title will be followed by the name of the company, your dates of employment, and your basic responsibilities within that role. You can also briefly list your most impressive accomplishments during that chapter of your career.
The chronological resume is easy to read and skim. This option is best if you've never (or rarely) taken time away from the workforce, made a lateral move, or taken a step "backward" (for example, from a management to a non-management role).
If you read that last sentence and thought to yourself "Who in the world has never done those things?", then you should pursue a different avenue. If you'd rather talk to potential employers about your abilities and skills instead of your previous jobs, choose the functional resume instead.
The Work Experience section of the functional resume begins with a list of your most important skills, capabilities, and areas of expertise. This section is followed by a short list of past job titles with minimal supporting information: no dates of employment, no responsibilities, and no list of special accomplishments.
When to use the combination resume
In short, if you have gaps in your employment, have served the same position your entire career, have switched professions, or simply feel that linking the two styles would serve you best, the combination resume is for you.
Some employers dislike the functional format. If you feel that functional would work best for you, consider the combination resume. The rules on meshing the two formats are more lax, and can be decided to fit your personal experiences best. There are no resume police who will fine you if, for example, you add a list of employment dates to your functional resume. And if you've never experienced a gap in your work history, adding dates can help you show this off.
On the other hand, skipping some of the supporting material in your chronological resume (like your list of basic responsibilities), might assist you best. (Of course you "served customers daily" if your job title was "Customer Service Professional," and writing that line may occupy precious space.) If this sounds appealing to you, adjust your combination resume accordingly.
At the end of the day, you're free to organize your resume as you choose. Just remember the only rules that should never be broken: Keep your resume simple and relevant to the position you are pursuing. Make sure your employers can easily find the information they need, and don't miss a single opportunity to show off. For more on how to create a resume that stands out, visit MyPerfectResume.com.