A cover letter (covering letter) is a document attached to your job application that introduces you in a more personal way and compliments the info on your resume or CV, expanding on the skills and achievements, and highlighting a selection of your greatest career successes.
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All the different types of resumes out there can be bewildering. The possibilities seem to be endless. And the hardest part—
You can only choose one.
Even more troubling is that the difference between a good resume and a bad one can be catastrophic. There’s nothing more demoralizing than sending out resume after resume after resume—and hearing crickets in response.
The truth is that job searching is a dog-eat-dog world. And you’ll need a loud bark—a job-winning resume format—to be heard by the HR managers of the world.
But don’t worry.
This article will show you:
- What traditional types of resumes look like and when to use them.
- A list of different resume types when creativity is the goal.
- How to decide what length your resume should be.
- Great-looking resume templates to get you inspired.
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1. Traditional Types of Resumes
What are the 4 types of resumes? If you’re wondering what a resume should look like, there are three main types of resume formats: chronological, functional, and combination. Although you could say there are four types of resumes if you include the targeted resume.
The best resume format for you is going to depend on what kind of job you’re applying for, and what kind of skills and experience you have.
You’ll understand soon enough.
Let’s start with what is easily the most popular resume format: the reverse-chronological resume format. This type of resume gets its name because it focuses on your work experience, starting with your current position (or most recent) and then going back in time.
What type of resume do most employers prefer? This one. Why do hiring managers love it so much? It highlights exactly what they want to see: work experience. A staggering 91% of employers prefer hiring candidates with work experience.
Here is the resume layout normally found in a reverse-chronological resume:
- Name, job title and contact information
- Resume profile
- Work experience
- Education section
- Additional sections (interests, languages skills, awards, etc.)
And because it’s the most common resume type, it also has the best chances of being read by ATS, or Application Tracking Systems. You know, the software that determines if your resume ever reaches an HR manager’s eyes.
That means the chronological type of resume is best suited for most job seekers, both people with relevant work experience and recent grads. Now, when you have gaps in your employment history or you’re switching careers, that’s when it’s time to look at other types of resume formats.
Pro Tip: If you lack relevant experience or have a degree you want to show off, you can put your education sections above your work history.
Now let’s take a look at a type of resume that is the polar opposite: the functional resume. This type of resume is also called the skills-based resume, because—you guessed it—it puts your professional skills front and center.
Here’s what the resume outline of the functional format will look like:
- Resume header
- Resume objective or resume summary
- Skills summary (including soft skills, hard skills, and technical skills)
- Work history
- Additional skills section
This type of resume is less commonly recommended for a couple reasons. One, it becomes harder for employers to find your experience (what they are mainly looking for). And two, ATS software has a hard time deciphering your resume making it less likely that your resume will land in front of an HR manager.
That being said, functional resumes can still be a good fit if you’re a creative type (graphic designer, artist, etc.), you’re way over-qualified, or you’re writing a military-to-civilian resume.
Pro Tip: Don’t feel like you have to use a functional resume if you are writing a resume with little or no experience.
If the chronological resume and functional resume had a baby, it would be the combination resume. This hybrid type of resume focuses more on experience than functional resumes, and more on skills than chronological resumes.
The outline of a combination resume will have the following sections:
- Resume header (name and contact information)
- Skills summary
- Additional skills
- Work experience
With these types of resumes, you give equal weight to your skills summary and your experience resume sections. This can make for the perfect resume if you are a seasoned career professional and you’re looking to change careers. It can also be a great way to hide a resume employment gap.
Pro Tip: If you’re using a combination resume to undergo a career change, focus on including the skill set the employer is looking for rather than list all the skills and experience you’ve gained over your long career.
A targeted resume is a type of resume that is created with one specific job posting in mind. While sometimes referred to as a separate resume type, really you should always be tailoring your resume to fit specific job descriptions. A targeted resume can be a chronological resume, functional resume, or a combination resume.
Create a targeted resume by finding the most important requirements from the job description. That way you and the position will look like a match made in heaven.
The alternative to sending out targeted resumes is to use a generic resume. But that’s not recommended, because HR recruitment statistics have found that 54% of recruiters will reject a resume that isn’t customized to the job posting.
Pro Tip: Don’t go overboard with a list of resume keywords that matches the job posting word for word. That’s a surefire way to set off the hiring manager’s BS detector.
2. Different Types of Resumes
Thinking about standing out from the crowd with a different type of resume? For the right position and industry, it can make you look like a needle in a haystack. But how do you know if you should stay traditional or start thinking outside the box?
This example should clear things up—
Say you’re applying for a job, and the job posting lists art and design skills as a must-have. You could go ahead and list creativity as a skill on your black-and-white, 20th-century resume that could have been written on a typewriter.
Or—You could prove your creativity to HR with a colorful, well-designed resume that doubles as an infographic.
Not hard to see which would catch the recruiter’s attention.
Just keep in mind that visual and infographic resumes are for specific fields, and not for everyone.
Visual Resume Types
Show, don’t tell.
That’s a guideline you should seriously consider if you’re applying for a position that requires illustration or graphic design skills. Visual resumes toss aside conventional resume guidelines like using a professional resume font or resume templates that are industry standard.
For better or for worse, graphic-heavy types of resume formats can’t be scanned in seven seconds (the average time a recruiter spends on a resume). The upside of that is you’re sure to catch an HR manager’s eye. The downside is it might never make it to them, because these aren’t ATS-friendly resumes.
Check out our visual resume templates if you think something less traditional suits you.
Pro Tip: Don’t use a visual resume unless you’re 100% positive that your resume won’t be scanned by ATS. This means small companies or times when you’re emailing your resume directly.
Infographic Resume Types
With the massive popularity of infographics on the web, it was only a matter of time before infographic types of resumes happened.
And it makes sense why these resumes can be so successful; they use graphics and charts to make your personality jump off the page. Similar to skills-based resumes, infographic resumes place the focus on your design skills rather than your work experience, which—makes them hit-or-miss.
According to this report, previous work experience is the single most important part of a hiring decision. So putting less emphasis on it is risky to say the least. Infographic resumes also have the same problem as visual resumes with ATS.
Wander over and check out our list of infographic resume templates to see if the reward outweighs the risk.
Pro Tip: To avoid confusing HR, find a cover letter design that matches your resume’s color profile and overall layout.
Creative Type of Resumes
Time to get those creative juices flowing.
Creative resume formats use different layouts, fonts, or colors to make a resume that looks unlike any other.
If you’re trying to display your out-of-the-box thinking, there are plenty of resume rules you can kick to the curb. For example, you could skip the two-column resume formats like in the resume above.
Explore this gallery of creative resume templates to see what the possibilities are.
Pro Tip: Try to copy and paste the text from your resume into a black Word document. If it works, that’s a good sign that it will be able to pass ATS.
When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building a professional resume template here for free.
When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.
3. Types of Resume Lengths
Resume length is another way to distinguish different types of resumes.
How many pages your resume should be often depends on experience, but it’s not always so simple.
Type of Resume — One-Page
Even though job searching can be frustrating, don’t take it out on the hiring manager with a resume that reads like a chapter book.
Just like your elevator pitch, one-page resumes are short, sweet, and to the point.
When each corporate job offer attracts 250 resumes, taking up more of the HR manager’s time isn’t going to do you any favors.
If you have less than five years of experience, these one-page resume templates are highly recommended.
Pro Tip: You can leave off your address and any irrelevant work experience to help make everything fit on one page.
Type of Resume — Two-Page
Although there is something to be said for brevity, there are situations that call for a two-page resume.
Namely, when you have as much experience in your field as Clint Eastwood does acting.
At a certain point in your career, making your resume one-page would mean leaving off important skills and experience. When that’s the case, it’s better to use two pages.
Just don’t go way overboard like this candidate from a survey on resume mistakes who “sent a 24-page resume for a 5-year career”.
Pro Tip: If you suspect you’ll be handing someone a paper resume that is two pages, print it on two pages, because otherwise the second page might be passed over.
4. Other Types of Resumes
The only thing constant about a constantly-changing job market is the need to stand out.
A guaranteed way to stick out is by making sure you're following the best resume tips.
But if that’s too cookie cutter for you, you can try applying with unique resume templates like the ones listed below.
Minimalist Type of Resume
If you’ve caught the Marie Kondo bug, you may be wondering if each part of your resume “sparks joy”.
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one.
In fact, minimalism can both make resumes more visually appealing and also remove clutter to attract a recruiter’s eyes to the important bits.
You don’t have to be a buddhist monk to create a minimalist resume. Some advice includes being concise in order to maximize white space, leaving off fancy or colorful resume headers, and taking off your full address.
Give our minimal resume templates a look through and see which ones spark joy.
Simple Type of Resume
If you like to get straight to the point, a simple resume is what you’re looking for.
Simple resumes only include the important parts of a resume to make a resume that is easy to read (and hopefully making you easy to hire).
Sometimes it’s best to sit back and let your list of skills or years of experience do the talking.
Visit this gallery of simple resume templates to find something simple yet effective.
Modern Type of Resume
Times change and so do resumes.
When resumes first became a formalized part of the job application process in the 1950’s, a half-empty sheet of paper with little more than your contact information could rake in job offers.
That’s not going to cut it nowadays.
Now you need a resume that is beautiful inside and out. That means a resume that has a good resume design, while also including skills and experience tailored to the job description.
Explore these modern resume templates to find one that could belong in a museum of modern art.
Pro Tip: Make your resume and cover letter match by using a modern cover letter template.
Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:
Here’s a recap of the most popular types of resumes:
- The traditional and conventional types of resumes include: chronological resume, functional resume, and combination resume.
- You should always make a targeted resume, tailored to the specific job you’re applying for.
- Some different types of resumes are: visual, infographic, and creative resume types.
- Resumes can also be differentiated based on length. Try to stick to a one-page resume, unless you have a mile-long list of experience.
- You can change the look of your resume: simple resume, modern resume, or minimalist resume.
- Try to make your resume and cover letter match.
Thanks for reading! Now let’s chat! Which type of resume is your favorite? Or maybe you’re suffering from choice paralysis? I don’t blame you. Leave a comment below if you need help choosing the right type of resume for your situation. I’ll try my best to help!