Quiz: Which Resume Writing Format Should You Choose?
Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.
There is no one perfect resume writing format to use. You
will likely have several resumes throughout your career, unless you stay in the
same position with the same employer as long as you work.
As you set about to write or update your resume, one of the
first decisions you will make is which resume writing format to choose.
resume organizes your experience by your work history, listed in reverse
chronological order, and includes a job description and accomplishments in each
position. Education and additional skills are listed afterwards. Employers like
this format because it gives them a clear snapshot of your employment
While a purely functional
resume organizes your experience according to your skill set (“functions”),
it is rarely used. A combination resume has largely taken its place. This format mixes
chronological and functional elements, with a list of your skills followed by
your employment history and education. The combination resume is becoming
increasingly favored by career changers, those with gaps in their employment
history, and those who have held a number of different jobs during their
(Learn more about the 3 main resume writing formats.)
When to Take This Quiz
This quick quiz will help make an
informed decision about the best resume writing format for you to use at this stage in your
career – chronological or combination.
When you assume different responsibilities,
circumstances change, or you prepare to move into another job, take this quiz
again. You may want to modify your current resume or build a new one to
accommodate your newly-acquired experiences or to target a different position. (Use this resume worksheet to keep track of your experience.)
How to Take This Quiz
On a piece of paper, number a list from 1-16.
Read each of the above numbered statements. Record a yes or
no answer for each one. In situations where you feel both answers apply, select
the one which is most appropriate.
- You’re a recent graduate with experience in your chosen
- You’re a recent graduate with experience unrelated to your
- Your work history relates directly to your targeted
- You’re changing careers (using a new skill set).
- Your work history shows present or recent employment
relating to your targeted position.
- You’re changing fields (using same skill set in a different
- Your work history shows increasing levels of responsibility
or strong progression in your targeted career path.
- You have considerable volunteer experience in your targeted
- You’re seeking a position in a conservative field (medicine,
- You’re re-entering the work force in a different field after
- You’re seeking a management or executive position.
- You are overqualified and are looking for less
- Your work history includes employers with strong name
recognition, such as a Fortune 500 company, a well-known organization, or a government
- You have a long or strong work history but are looking for
- You’re re-entering the work force in the same field after a
- You have a varied, changing, unstable, or shifting job
history (frequent job changes, gaps in your employment, previous career chance,
relocations due to spouse’s job).
Scoring the Quiz
- On a second piece of paper, create two columns: one labeled
“Chronological Resume” and one labeled “Functional/Combination Resume.”
- For each odd number answered yes, give yourself one point in
the Chronological Resume column. For each even number answered yes, give
yourself one point in the Functional/Combination Resume column.
- Add the numbers in each column. The column with the highest
score indicates the best type of resume for you to build at this juncture in
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