Summary or Chronological?

Summary or Chronological?

Your resumé can be arranged in one of two basic formats: summary or chronological.

The summary (or functional) resumé distills your total work experience into major areas of expertise, and focuses the reader’s attention on your accumulated skills.

The chronological resumé presents your skills and accomplishments within the framework of your past employers. (Actually, it should be called a reverse chronological resume, since your last job should always appear first.)
Although the information you furnish the reader may essentially be the same, there’s a big difference in the way the two resumés are constructed, and the type of impact each will have.

My experience has shown that the chronological resumé brings the best results, since it’s the most explicit description of the quality and application of your skills within a specific time frame.

The summary resumé, on the other hand, works well if you’ve changed jobs or careers often, and wish to downplay your work history and highlight your level of expertise.

If a prospective hiring manager is specifically interested in a steady, progressively advancing employment history (as most are), then the summary resumé will very likely work against you, since the format will seem confusing, and might arouse suspicions as to your potential for longevity.

However, if the employer’s main concern is your technical or problem-solving ability, the summary resumé will serve your needs just fine.

Either way, you should always follow the guidelines mentioned earlier regarding content and appearance.