What Is The Right Resume Format?


Making The Right Resume Format Choice?

Choosing the right resume format that helps create great first impressions is important, and a very indispensable component in helping you stand out in the midst of all the other job applicants.

The right choice can make all the difference in whether the recruiter or hiring manager calls you for the interview or not...you must create a resume that makes you stand out – It represents you and must be error free!

There are three basic formats; a chronological, functional or a blended structure (which is a combination of a chronological and functional formatted resume).  See examples here.

The curriculum vitae or CV is a type of resume format that is more commonly used in other countries. Although it is sometimes used within the United States, its most common use is for those seeking jobs in academia, when you need to demonstrate in great detail published works and other accomplishments that require more depth of explanation. 

The format of a CV allows for a more thorough view of credentials, and is usually much longer in page length, listing published works and often including a comprehensive record of all professional history including every term of employment, all academic credentials, awards, and contributions or significant achievements.


Agonizing over the resume format is a waste of time, there are entirely no right or wrong ways. Start by knowing what your audiences expectations are, what your industry norms are, extensiveness of your background, years of experience and your personal preference -- getting caught-up in formatting, will do you more harm than good.

The important thing here is that you need to portray your qualifications in a clear, concise, and easy to read format...so as long as your resume accomplishes this, your on the right track!

The following will explain each of the basic formats mentioned above, and will help you determine which one is best for you and your circumstance.

The Chronological Formatted Resume

The chronological resume is a very popular and familiar format. Work experience is listed in reverse chronological order (most recent job first) and works well for most situations. However, if your work record is weak, blemished or irregular you should not use this format. I also do not recommend this format for career changers either – it will not allow you to best address why you are changing careers. The format is very straightforward, and as the name implies, very chronological.

A chronological resume may be a good choice if you want to show career growth. If you have been steadily promoted this format highlights your most recent role, while the one before lists the one you were promoted from, and the one before that again list the one promoted from (i.e. manager promoted from supervisor, promoted from line worker, promoted from laborer etc.).

This is a great way to show a history of promotion and progression within an organization.

The Functional Formatted Resume

The functional formatted resume is best to address gaps in employment, people re-entering the workforce, and recent graduates who may not have much experience. As its name implies a functional formatted resume categorizes skills by function, emphasizing your abilities over experience, and is sometimes referred to as a skills-based resume.

Typically a functional formatted resume begins with what you want to emphasize most, such as your strengths related to the position you are pursuing, or life experience that will show how you will become an asset.

This format can also be used by those who are seeking to change careers, but a blended resume format (see below) will work best for career changers, as it allows you to best illustrate transferable skills that you can leverage to your advantage.

If you were a stay-at-home mom for 10 years, or are returning to the workforce after military service – you can include skills gained such as parenting, dealing with difficult situations or perhaps leadership under pressure.

You will still list the employment you have held, but at the end of the resume, and without specific job duties – again your goal here is to highlight transferable skills over experience.

The Blended (Chronological & Functional) Format

The blended resume format is a combination of both the chronological & functional formats. This type of format has gained a great deal of popularity recently, as more and more people are returning to work from child rearing, military service and those who are seeking to change careers.

A blended resume format works well mainly because it gives you the flexibility to take elements from the chronological resume and blend it with the functional resume format.

Although the focal point is on your skills and accomplishments in the beginning, you then offer a comprehensive employment record with detailed accomplishments that support the skills and accomplishments you mentioned leading off.  A blended resume format works nicely for those who are seeking a career change, but have a strong record of accomplishment that they can leverage.

I have also found that this format works extremely well if your employment responsibilities in a single role were different and varied, and you want to focus on your various abilities, or if you have been with a single employer for a significant period of time, and have progressed within the organization, then using the blended resume format works real well. 


What's on your mind? Is there something specific I can help you with?

This site's success will hinge on me helping you solve problems. For those of us over 50, we face more challenges than others younger than us when competing for jobs and getting doors to open.

I invite you all to share your stories of challenge and successes. We all can learn from those who have faced the same challenges. The idea here is to help and be helped - so please add your comment or insight!


Thank you for your contribution.



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