Most job seekers are taught making a good resume means listing your experience in reverse chronological order. Believe it or not, this isn’t the only acceptable resume format to use during a job search. Resume layouts can be divided into three main groups: chronological, functional or a combination of both. But which resume format is the best to use?
The resume format should be chosen based on how well it highlights your expertise and accomplishments. Your best qualities should be front and center so hiring managers can quickly and easily read your resume. Here is some information about the three main formats to help you decide which is best for you:
This is the most common format, and it is probably the one you’ve used dozens of times. It generally goes something like this: personal information, objective, summary, experience in reverse chronological order, education. This format is great for someone who has had a long, prosperous career. It gives a supervisor a snapshot of your consistent work experience and professional development.
The main problem with this format occurs when you have gaps in your work history. It’s hard to hide a few months of unemployment when the dates are listed down the right side of the page.
This format should be used when you want to draw attention to the skills you’ve gained, not the length of your career or your particular past positions. The functional format goes like this: personal information, objective, accomplishment, capabilities, then the rest. If you’re making a career move or have limited work history, this format may work best for you. A manager might dismiss you based on previous job titles (or lack thereof) but love you based on your skill set.
Even if you’ve had a long career, you may want to try the functional format in order to display the qualities you’ll bring to the new company. Instead of focusing on the specific tasks you performed on the past, frame your skills as ones that will benefit the business in the future.
If neither format seems perfect for the job you’re applying to, consider mixing it up. Creating a resume that combines the best of both worlds id more subtle than using a fully functional format. Categorize your resume like this: personal information, objective, summary, accomplishments, experience and the rest.
Remember, your resume is a marketing tool and the format should change depending on the position you’re seeking. Every resume you send should be targeted to the specific job and company. Also, no matter which you choose, always keep the exact dates of employment, never lie and review the document for mistakes twice.