There are three typical types of resume formats: Chronological, Functional, and a combination of the two.
The Chronological Resume is the straight forward, easiest to read format. In a Chronological Resume your positions are listed in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent employer. Beside each employer is the month and year that you were employed. It is very important not to leave out the month, although many people do. If the date reads 2000-2001, the recruiter or hiring authority is left to wonder, “Was that December 2000 – January 2001, or January 2000 – January 2001?”
Each position should clearly explain the products/services the employer provided, your role(s) and major accomplishments. This can be achieved with bulleted sentences or in paragraph form. Be sure however to bold key words, but don’t go overboard. You want keywords to stand out, not blend in with a sea full of bolded words.
People with many years experience or who have held multiple jobs will struggle keeping their resume a reasonable length. Consider how far back in time you feel obligated to list employment on your resume. Do you really need to list the support job you had 20 years ago when you are applying for the Senior Management role? Maybe, but most likely not. Do not leave gaps in your employment, however. If that support job was during a transition 2 years ago, list it.
The Functional Resume is often suggested when you would prefer to highlight your skills rather than your employment history. Many people who have been contracting or have had a run of bad luck with job stability prefer the functional resume. The format is to discuss your experience, accomplishments, and skills in a couple of specific paragraphs with no set time line or direct reference to the employer. The problem with the Functional Resume is that recruiters and hiring authorities are often skeptical of them. “Where did all that experience come from?”
The Combination Resume combines the functional and the chronological resume. The Combination Resume highlights your experience, accomplishments and skills first, then lists the employers in reverse chronological order. This format is often difficult to follow and is still open to skepticism and questions.
Other sections that are included on a resume are Education/Certifications, Objectives, and Other Activities.
“Education and Certifications” are important to some employers, but not to all employers. It should be one of the last things listed on your resume unless you are a recent graduate. The employer who seeks out candidates with certain degrees and certifications will take the time to read your resume further to find out if you have them, AFTER they are impressed with your experience.
The “Objective” of the resume is often the very first section. It is meant to introduce the resume to the chosen audience and ideally to set the tone for the rest of the resume. Therefore, a poorly written objective is detrimental. If you are seeking a position similar to those you’ve held in the past, and you have written a clear and effective resume, an objective is not often needed. However, if you choose to include an objective, it should be no more than two or three sentences, stating briefly the type of position you are looking for and a few key points of why you are qualified for such a position.
“Other Activities” is a section that explains who you are outside of work. This section can include organizations you belong to, other leadership roles you have been in, and overall other interests. This section is not required on a resume. However, if you do decide to include it, be sure to keep it brief and not to divulge information that is too personal such as political or religious beliefs, age, or marital status.