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. Opinions vary on how to choose the right format for your resume.
Paramount though, 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. In certain professions, it may even include samples of a person's work.
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 too caught-up in fancy 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.
Being called in for an interview is all about marketing yourself properly – so long as your resume accomplishes this, you cannot go wrong!
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 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.
Your most recent employment is listed first, followed by the name of the employer and then the employer's city of location. For each job, you list a description of your accomplishments and specific duties. Following work history is a section on education (here you list your degrees and colleges attended), which is then followed by a section listing special skills, such as proficiency with particular computer software, IT systems, special math or typing skills excreta.
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 is best to address gaps in employment, people re-entering the workforce, and recent graduates who may not have much experience. 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.
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 to the prospective organization that you are applying to.
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 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.