In a highly competitive recruitment market, a really good resume or CV is essential if you’re to get that all-important interview. But what’s the best format to use?
A chronological resume concentrates on providing a reverse-chronological work history with detailed information about your accomplishments and duties. This is great if you have an established career track and wish to stay within a particular specialism, as it emphasises your relevant work experience.
You could opt instead for a functional resume. This format focuses on your key skills and not so much on your work experience. This is a good choice if you are looking to make a career change or have a rather sketchy employment history with gaps and lots of short-term jobs.
But there is another, increasingly popular option: the mixed or combination resume.
The mixed resume
The mixed or combination resume is a hybrid of the chronological and functional formats and seeks to incorporate the best of both.
The document begins by giving a detailed description of your functional skills and any related qualifications, and then follows this section with a reverse-chronological employment history.
Many recruitment specialists and hiring managers like to see this format, as it states an applicant’s most relevant qualifications and skillset at the beginning of the document, then provides a relevant employment timeline. This pinpoints a candidate’s most desirable and relevant credentials, making it easy and quick for the busy recruiter to identify the most likely applicants for the position, without having to trawl through the whole resume to find the snippets of pertinent information they want.
The downside of the mixed resume is that a full employment history is included and any gaps are therefore more apparent than they would be in the functional resume format.
Who should use a mixed resume?
• Students, entry-level job applicants and new graduates: The mixed resume format allows these job seekers to place emphasis on their skills, rather than their brief employment history.
• Applicants with a consistent employment record.
• Career changers: A mixed resume is useful unless you are intending to pursue a really radical career change, when it might be best to go for a functional resume.
• Those re-entering the job market following a break: The mixed resume format removes some of the emphasis from the fact that you’ve had an employment break and directs attention to your skills and achievements instead.
• Older workers: It’s important for older applicants to really sell their strongest credentials, and an employment summary section provides an ideal opportunity to do this.
How to create a great mixed resume
A mixed resume is by its very nature a structurally flexible document, so you can tailor it to suit your needs.
Begin by including a career summary which contains detailed information on the qualifications and skills you have which are relevant to the position for which you are applying. This is your opportunity to persuade recruiters to read the rest of your resume as they will be able to see from the first section that you are well-qualified and potentially an ideal candidate for the role they are looking to fill. Incorporate all your key skills; specialist expertise, accomplishments, any related training and job objectives.
Follow this section with a reverse chronological employment history. Most recruiters prefer to see what you have done most recently, rather than what you were doing fifteen years ago when you first left college, so always put your employment history with your most recent position first.
Brevity is important in any resume; recruiters don’t want to read your entire life story! Keep your experience section clear and concise focusing on your accomplishments rather than your day to day duties and omit anything that’s not directly relevant to your career goal.
Remember to include examples of instances when you used your skills and strengths to add value to your role and where your work directly benefited a particular project you were working on. Be specific rather than generic so that you stand out from the crowd and give plenty of examples of how you used your strengths and skills in your previous jobs.
Other sections that can be included in a mixed resume rather depend upon your individual experience, but if you want to you could also include sections on training, education, languages, affiliations, and any other miscellaneous information you feel would be relevant to the position for which you are applying.