Resumé Writing Guide

Types of Resumes

There are three main types of resumes:

Potential employers receive hundreds of applications and resumes every time they post a new position within their organization. With this in mind, one must choose a resume that is going to promote him or her in the most favorable light. It is advised that a person take some time to think and plan out what skills and experience they have to offer before drafting his or her resume. Knowing where to place education verse experience; using an objective or a summary; listing dates or omitting them; are all very important questions one must answer if they desire to be competitive for employment. The following outlines have been adapted from Richard Beatty’s book The Resume Kit.1

Chronological Resume

The Chronological Resume is perhaps the most widely used resume style, especially by college graduates. The standard Chronological Resume is comprised of four main sections: the Heading, Objective, Education, and Experience.

The example listed breaks away from the standard layout by including an expansion of the education section. In the example Course Work and Educational & Vocational Awards are also listed. The reason behind this format is based on the idea that new graduates rely heavily on their course work as their only experience. By listing courses that pertain to the position applied for, one can demonstrate that he or she has the knowledge to carry out such a position if hired. Older persons may decide to down play his or her education for a variety of reasons, and therefore education would be placed behind experience in the final layout.

Experts in the resume writing industry now suggest omitting information about one’s hobbies or special interests unless they are directly related to the position applied for. Placing names of referees is also something that was done in the past, which experts now suggest also leaving out. Findings suggest that these components can hinder one’s chances of obtaining an interview, thus disqualifying them before he or she has a chance to meet face to face with the employer.

Linear Resume

The Linear Resume format is rapidly growing in both use and popularity. This is the format often used by placement professionals and resume writing companies. It is a slight variation of the Chronological Resume in that it follows the sequence of events as they took place in reverse order (i.e. most recent employer first).

The way the Linear Resume breaks away from the Chronological Resume is that information is presented in a linear format. Data is not listed in a paragraph form, but rather in one-line points depicting one’s skills and experiences. The purpose for this is to highlight key points in an easy to read format.

One of the big differences in this type of resume is the inclusion of a Summary to replace the Objective listed in a Chronological Resume. The purpose of the summary is to give the reader just enough information about one’s experience and credentials to hook them in. This can prove to be helpful to those who have a lot of experience, but for those who do not, the summary section can seem problematic.

The greatest strength of the Linear Resume layout is it’s easy to read format. It is fast, precise and informative. The summary section also saves valuable space thus allowing for more information elsewhere in the resume.

Disadvantages to the Linear Resume lie in its ability to highlight employment gaps suggesting job-hopping or employment problems. It also highlights career progression rather than experience and expertise in a given areas. By omitting the objective section it also presents a person who does not know what they want, or which position would best suit them in the organization.

Functional Resume

The Functional Resume is format that would not be recommended for recent college graduates. This style of resume focuses on major accomplishments rather than employment history. Experts say that employers who receive such resumes have an instant reaction to the applicant having something to hide. Reasons why this is so is because there are few dates included in the Functional Resume, and there is a heavy focus on single achievements suggesting other jobs were not as successful.

The Functional Resume is helpful for those who have large employment gaps or several extensive major accomplishments. The Functional Resume also plays down educational achievements, which is why it is often listed at the end. If the purpose of a resume were to obtain an interview, it would be recommended to stay away from this format if possible.

Cover Letters

The ultimate goal of the cover letter is much the same as the resume itself—to get an interview! Therefore, the letter must capture the attention of the reader, stimulate interest, and produce action.2 It should grab attention, deliver a powerful message, and result in action.3

The truth of the matter is that most employers pay little attention to the cover letter. The cover letter often adds little meaningful new information to the resume, thus is merely skimmed over when received.4

There are three main types of cover letters:

  • Broadcast letter
  • Employment advertising response (see example)
  • Personal referral letter

Of the three the lay out is very similar, but each one is tweaked in such a way as to impress the reader.

1 Beatty, R. (2000). The resume kit. John Wiley & Sons: New York, NY
2 LaFevre, J. (1992). How you really get hired. Prentice Hall: New York, NY
3 Bernard Haldane Associates (2000). Haldane’s best cover letters for professionals. Impact Publications: Virginia.
4 Beatty 253

This material is used by permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Copyright (c) 2000.