Resume: Meaning, Types of Resume

3 Types of Resume Format Explained with Practical Demo

What is a Resume or Curriculum Vitae?

A resume or curriculum vitae summarizes your qualifications, experiences, and intended career path. Thill and Bovee (1999: 374) said, “A resume is a structured, written summary of a person’s education, employment background, and job qualifications.” It is a form of advertising designed to help you get an interview.

Remember that your objectives are to call attention to your best features and downplay your disadvantages without distorting or misrepresenting the facts. Therefore, you should arrange facts according to your purpose.

Characteristics of a Good Resume

A good resume should look sharp to attract the employer to read it carefully enough to judge your qualifications. The following characteristics would make your curriculum vitae or resume such:


The reader’s initial reaction to the resume will be based on its appearance, not content. It is important to use a clean typeface on high-grade, letter-size bond paper. Leave ample margins all around, and be sure corrections are unnoticeable.

Avoid italic typefaces, which are difficult to read. Dot-matrix printing is not suitable for most resumes. So, use less printing and offset paper. To make duplicate copies, use offset printing or photocopying.


Your resume should present information quickly and understandably. The information should be easy to grasp. Keep your writing style simple and direct. Instead of whole sentences, use short, crisp phrases starting with action verbs, like “Supervised four salespersons in a marketing organization.”


A resume should not have any mistakes in any form. Therefore, pay attention to mechanics. Check the headings and itemized lists to make sure they are grammatically parallel.

Be sure your grammar, spelling, and punctuation are correct because your resume has only seconds to make an impression. The “you” attitude and audience focus are crucial.


Your resume should contain a faithful description of your – credentials. There shall be no wrong or self-made information in the curriculum vitae. So, you must be fair in stating facts about you in your resume.

Reasonably Short

A resume should be a one-page resume. But if you have a great deal of experience and are applying for a higher-level position, you may prepare a somewhat longer resume.

The important thing is to give enough space to present a fair and persuasive portrait of your accomplishments and capabilities.


Skillful layout and graphic design make the resume virtually appealing and easy to follow. So, break up the text by using headings that call attention to various aspects of your background, such as your work experience and education, and underline or capitalize critical points to set them off in the left margin.

Use intended lists to itemize your most important qualifications. Leave plenty of white space, even if doing so forces you to use two pages rather than one.

Types of Resume

3 types of resume formats are chronological, functional, and combination resume. Depending on your targeted job and career status, you will use them throughout your career.

So, it is better to learn about resume formatting and know which one to choose for what kind of job application.

Resumes contain a detailed summary of one’s professional or work experience and qualifications. The resume represents you before you are called for an interview. So, a well-written resume is essential for judging a potential candidate.

Chronological Resume

Chronological Resume

A chronological resume is the most traditional method of summarizing your employment information, and it is the one that this guide advocates.

Its key feature is that it arranges your work experience chronologically and usually elaborates on skills and accomplishments within the body copy of the work experience section.

Its weakness is that it can’t help you hide a recent position you’d rather forget you ever accepted.

Features of a chronological resume are:

  1. You should ideally relate your work history to your current targeted position.
  2. You should have a stable work history with few gaps and nothing to be ashamed of.
  3. Your work history should demonstrate a logical progression toward your current objective.

Functional Resume

Functional Resume

A functional resume differs from a chronological resume in how it presents information.

Unlike a chronological resume, which leaves you vulnerable to gaps in your work history, the Functional Resume can help you hide a past position that you’d rather forget.

A functional resume’s key feature is that it highlights your skills and achievements without referring to those skills in any particular past position.

For this reason, the functional resume is a favorite for people with something to hide.

This is an excellent reason for not using the format if your past work experience is nothing to be ashamed of, as recruiters/interviewers will be aware of the benefits of a functional resume.

When should you use a functional resume;

  1. Your work history is repetitive, and your past positions lack variety.
  2. Your work history is composed of different position types that do not form a cohesive whole.
  3. You are dramatically changing careers. This will allow you to emphasize your transferable skills rather than your growth in a certain kind of industry or job.
  4. Your skills have been learned through schooling rather than work experience.
  5. You are switching career tracks or returning to the workforce after a hiatus.

Combination Resume (Transition Resume)

Combination Resume

Combines the best features of both of the former (though that does not necessarily make it better) by allowing applicants to highlight their skills and accomplishments in one section and their work history in another (minus descriptive details).

I dislike this form because it is harder to picture exactly how the person’s skills fit with their experience.

It requires the employer to be a detective to some extent, and with many resumes on their desk, chances are they’ll give up before they have a positive picture of your abilities.

Parts of a Resume or Curriculum Vitae: Makeup of the Resume

The makeup or the layout of the content of a resume or curriculum vitae varies. There is no best type. The following is a discussion of the possible contents of the resume. Choose those parts that best fit your background.

The makeup or the layout of the content of a resume or curriculum vitae varies. There is no best type. The following is a discussion of the possible contents of the resume. Choose those parts that best fit your background.


The heading consists of personal information that tells the reader who you are and where you can be contacted. So, it contains your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. The applicant’s name appears top center in capital letters.

Nicknames should be avoided. If you have a work phone and a home phone, list both and indicate which is which. You could use the word Resume or could not. Remember, whatever heading you use, make sure the reader can tell in an instant who you are and how to communicate with you.


This block of résumé will contain all educational achievements, including any special training and awards earned. If you are a recent graduate, education is your strongest selling point. So, discuss it thoroughly and highlight it visually. The following outlines will guide you:

  • Write the names of the academic institutions, the degrees obtained, the year of passing, division or class or grade point average (GPA) earned, and the subject of study.
  • The order of description would be in reverse order.
  • Write names of degrees in abbreviation because most of the employers are familiar with major degree citations.
  • If your GPA is low, omit it. Show reasons, like you worked full time to finance your education, etc.
  • Writing the names of courses completed is optional. Companies today know the basic required courses for most degrees.
  • Note honors, scholarships, and distinctions earned.
  • Write under a subheading “Trainings and Certificates” relevant special training, certificates, or other documents earned with names of institutions.
  • Write under subheading “Seminars and Workshops attended” relevant seminars, symposiums, workshops attended with their sponsor organization and subject matter.
  • If you were an experienced person, education would be less important. So, mention only the last obtained degree and save it for the last part of the resume.

Work Experience

The section of curriculum vitae is devoted to work experiences. It should focus on your overall theme. Tailor your description to highlight the relationship between your previous responsibilities and your target field. Write work information in the following manner:

  • List your jobs in reverse chronological order – most recent job first.
  • List the name, location, and period of service for each organization. When you want to keep the name of your current employer confidential, identify the firm by industry only, such as “a large firm in the pharmaceutical industry” or use the name but request confidentiality in the application letter or in an underlined note at the top or bottom of the resume.
  • Insert your position and title in each company along with major duties and responsibilities.
  • Don’t try to make your role seem more important by glamorizing your job title, functions, or achievements.
  • Arrange the facts for each job in the best “selling” order. Put the most important fact first following your opening verb.
  • Be honest about the positions you have held, the companies you’ve worked for, and your dates of employment. Because these days most employers are checking candidates’ backgrounds.
  • Devote the most space to the jobs that relate to your target position. Facts about your accomplishments or contributions are the most important information you can give a prospective employer.
  • Create two experience blocks if you have experience directly related to the advertised job and not related to the job. It may be Advertised Experience and Other Work Experience.
  • Follow the rules of parallelism, making two or more elements in a series similar in grammatical word structure.

Relevant Skills

This section of the resume will contain your command of other languages, computer expertise, and your travel experience. In fact, you might title a special section “Computer Skills” or “Language Skills” and place it near your education or work experience section.

Activities and Achievements

This section of the resume describes your volunteer activities that demonstrate your abilities. List projects that require leadership, organization, teamwork, and cooperation. Emphasize memberships of various associations, clubs, student alumni, socio-cultural organizations, etc.

Include speaking, writing, or tutoring experience; participation in athletics or creative projects; fundraising or community service activities; and offices held in academic or professional organizations.

You may group these into “College Activities,” “Community Service,” “Professional Associations,” and “Speaking Activities.” An alternative is to divide them into two categories: “Service Activities” and “Achievements, Awards, and Honors.”

Personal Data

This section is devoted to personal information that helps present you as a well-rounded person and can be used to spark conversation during an interview. It includes father’s and mother’s names, religion, sect, date of birth, district of residence, permanent address, height, nationality, marital status, etc.

However, civil rights laws prohibit employers from discriminating on the basis of gender, race, religion, national origin, physical or mental disability, color, age, etc., in developed countries. Therefore, exclude any items that could encourage discrimination while you are applying to those countries only.


Employers today ask for references prior to or just after an interview. There are two schools of thought about references at the bottom of a resume.

Some feel that you, as an applicant, should list the names of three or four qualified referees, including their titles and addresses, who will be willing and able to speak on your behalf of your character and your job potential.

Others feel, for the sake of conciseness, that all you need to include is a statement that “references will gladly be provided upon request.” However, if you give references, observe the following guidelines:

  • Limit your list to three individuals, complete with contact addresses and phone, fax, or e-mail.
  • Avoid including relatives as references.
  • Choose individuals such as former work supervisors, professors, teachers, colleagues, or business friends.
  • Be sure you have the permission of the individual whose name you use as a reference.

General Guidelines to Write a Resume

In order to overcome the problems of a resume and make it more productive and attractive to the readers, the following guidelines can be observed:

  1. Review the background facts that you have assembled about yourself, and then select the facts that you think will help the reader evaluate you.
  2. Sort the assembled facts into logical groups. Many grouping arrangements are possible. The most conventional is the three-part grouping of Education, Experience, and Skills or Personal Qualities. Another possibility is grouping by job functions or skills, such as Selling, Communicating, and Managing. You may be able to work out other logical groups as we do in this book, eight groups.
  3. Construct appropriate headings or captions for the resume. The main header is the name; next levels of headings are Objective, Education, Experience, Skills, etc. You could use subheadings too, like “Specialized Training in Accounting” or “Computer Software Application Skills Acquired.
  4. Display your contact information prominently. You should also include your fax, telephone, mobile, or email address. The most common location is at the top, under the main header.
  5. Write a statement of objective, although some authorities oppose it. The objective should cover the job you seek and your ultimate destination.
  6. Provide enough information to enable the reader to judge your ability to do the work you seek.
  7. Write about your work experience, covering the period of service, places, firms, and responsibilities.
  8. Emphasize your accomplishments in your job description.
  9. Use action verbs to strengthen the appeal of your job description. One strategy is to choose verbs that describe both the work you want to do as well as the work you have done.
  10. Logically arrange information on your education in reverse chronological order. Mention the names of institutions, period of study, year of passing, degrees obtained, division/class/CGPA obtained, and the major field of study.
  11. Provide personal information as per your best judgment. Some personal information, such as sex, religion, race, etc., should not be given to avoid discrimination.
  12. Give information about activities, interests, achievements, honors, awards, etc., faithfully and honestly.

Procedures for Writing a Resume

The arrangement of resumes differs widely. There is no standard practice for arranging information in the curriculum vitae. You may follow any pattern suitable for a situation or one that looks attractive to you. Lesiker and Flatley (2005: 229) have given the following pattern:

  1. Logically arrange information on education. Write the names of institutions attended, year of passing, degrees, and division/grade point average (GPA) achieved, major field/discipline of study. Write these in reverse order, meaning, give the last achieved qualification first.
  2. Write about employment information. Provide the period of service, places, names of organizations, duties performed, and accomplishments in the service.
  3. Write personal details. Include your mailing and permanent addresses, father’s and mother’s names, religion, sect, marital status, district of residence, date of birth, memberships in reputed and professional organizations, interests and habits, achievements, languages known, and countries visited.
  4. Write about special training, achievements, researches done, articles written and published, and other extracurricular activities that you earned before application.
  5. Provide names of known but non-relative referees who can speak about you and your achievements.
  6. Construct a heading for the entire resume and subheadings for the parts.
  7. Give your career objectives and other vital information that you think would facilitate the receiver’s judgment about you.
  8. Arrange the data for the best eye appeal, making the resume balanced – not crowded and not strung out.

Common Resume Problems

Thill and Bovee (1999: 385-86) have cited the experience of Pinkerton’s Denis Brown, who pointed out some common complaints against resumes. They are:

  1. Too long: The résumé is not concise, relevant, and to the point.
  2. Too short or sketchy:
  3. The résumé does not give enough information for a proper evaluation of the applicant.
  4. Hard to read: A lack of “white space” and of such devices as indentations and boldfacing makes the reader’s job more difficult.
  5. Wordy: Descriptions are verbose, with numerous words used for what could be said more simply.
  6. Too slick: A resume that appears to have been written by someone other than the applicant raises the question of whether the qualifications have been exaggerated.
  7. Amateurish: The applicant appears to have little understanding of the business world or of the particular industry, as revealed by including the wrong information or presenting it awkwardly.
  8. Poorly reproduced: The print is faint and difficult to read.
  9. Misspelled and ungrammatical throughout: Recruiters conclude that candidates who make these kinds of mistakes don’t have good verbal skills, which are important on the job.
  10. Boastful: The overconfident tone makes the reader wonder whether the applicant’s self-evaluation is realistic.
  11. Dishonest: The applicant claims to have expertise or work experience that he or she does not possess.
  12. Gimmicky: The word structure, decoration, or material used in the résumé departs so far from the usual as to make the résumé ineffective.
  13. Mention at best three names of referees with their contact addresses, including titles, phone or fax, or email number. Take permission from referees to mention their names as referees.
  14. Select referees who are not your relatives, but they must be interested in speaking about you, your jobs, and your behavior.
  15. Organize or group items to present yourself in the best possible light. Three strategies for organizing this information are the reverse chronological approach, the functional or skills approach, and the accomplishments achievements or highlights approach.
    • The reverse chronological organizational layout presents your education and work experience from the most recent to oldest. It emphasizes the order and time frame in which you have participated in these activities.
    • The functional or skills layout organizes around three to eight areas particularly important to the job you want. Creating this kind of résumé takes much work and careful analysis of both jobs and skills to show the reader that you are a good match for the position.
    • The accomplishment or achievement layout presents a picture of you as a competent worker. It puts hard numbers and precise facts behind skills and traits you have.
  16. List the information without the use of personal pronouns.
  17. Write all equal-level headings and the parts under headings in the same grammatical form.
  18. Make the resume attractive. Make the physical arrangement distinct. Design it like a graphic designer. Use balance and space for eye appeal. Leave 1 inch of margin at the top of the page and on the left and right sides of the page, and at least 1 and a half inches of space are left at the bottom of the page. Extra spacing between subdivisions and indented patterns for subparts are especially pleasing to the eye.
  19. Choose font and paper size carefully. Commercial designers say that type size for headings should be at least 14 points and for body text, 10 to 12 points. Use fewer than four font styles on a page.
  20. Use suitable paper for the resume. The paper should be appropriate for the job you seek. Conservative paper is best. The most traditional choice is offset white paper.