Choosing The Best Format For Your Resume

Writing a resume can be stressful enough, but when you do a little bit of research you can get even more stressed when you realize that there are several different resume styles that may or may not apply to you.  Yikes!  Luckily, all of these different resume types can be broken down into three main categories, which will help you determine which format is the best for you. 

The three main resume formats are the chronological resume, the functional resume, and the hybrid resume, which is a combination of the chronological and the functional resume.  No one of these formats is better than the other as they all have their own pros and cons and which one is right for you really depends on what sort of job you are looking for and who will actually be looking at it.

All about the Chronological Resume

This is the type of resume format that most people are familiar with.  A chronological resume actually lists all of your work experience in reverse order, meaning your most recent job or experience will be listed first. Most employers will tell you that this is their favorite type of resume because the information is presented in a very clear format that allows them to briefly look over the resume without spending too much time on it.  The information is listed so that the interviewer or potential employer will be able to look over a chronological resume and find out how quickly you have progressed in your career, where you have worked, when you worked there, what your job duties were, and what your responsibilities were at each job.  Most professionals will find that this is the best format for their resume.

When you write a chronological resume you will want to start with your most recent job using the title, the dates of employment, as well as your responsibilities.  Each job should take two to three sentences to briefly explain each job.  You will also want to document any awards or accomplishments that you believe are relevant to your current job search.  Remember when you are writing a chronological resume, or any resume, that less is more.

The chronological resume is great for most people, but it can have drawbacks if your most recent job experience is not relevant to the current jobs that you are applying for.  You want to show growth to the point that you are ready for the job that you are currently applying for, so be sure that your resume justifies why you believe you are qualified for the jobs you are applying for.  If your recent experience isn’t relevant, you might find that a functional resume is much more suited to your needs.

All about the Functional Resume

The functional resume is different from the chronological resume in that it lists your job experience in a format that focuses on functional strengths instead of employers.  This type of resume will allow you to focus on what you have done, not where and when the work was done which is why this type of resume is particularly helpful for people looking to break into a new line of work.  Those that use a functional resume can more effectively highlight their skill set and accomplishment while concealing their more unattractive qualities or areas of expertise.  With a functional resume you will group your successes into three to five functions so that employers can see that you do have the skills and abilities to get the job done, even if you don’t have the technical job titles that relate to the job you are applying for.

The functional resume is great for helping people to really make their strengths noticeable, but there are so many employers that simply will not consider an employee that submits a functional resume.  Employers often doubt or second-guess individuals that submit a functional resume because they know they are concealing certain things about their work experience.  If at all possible, it’s best to avoid the functional resume for most professions and gear your resume in the chronological resume format.

All about the Hybrid Resume

The hybrid resume is a combination of the functional and chronological resumes.  For those that are trying to highlight their experience with a more functional style, a hybrid resume might be a great way to go because it supplies more information than a functional resume does and employers are not so adverse to them.

A hybrid resume starts out looking much like a functional resume with a basic introductory section that is followed by a listing of accomplishments or skills that are separated into job functions.  After that, you’ll want to add an experience section that provides the information given in a chronological resume.
The reason that this format works is because it allows you to first highlight your skills and accomplishments, but it also gives the impression that you aren’t hiding your past experience or employers you simply want to make your skills more noticeable than your job title or employer.  The only risk of a hybrid is that people will mistake it for a functional resume because it is formatted like one at the top of the page.  Many employers won’t get past the first introductory section if they believe it’s a functional resume. 

Which one is for You

Only you can decide which format is best for you.  As you can see, the chronological resume is the best format.  You need to consider who will be viewing your resume and which type of resume will make the best first impression for you.  A resume is never easy to write, but because it is your first impression you’ll ever make on a potential employer, you should give the format some thought.  Perhaps you’ll need to write more than one type of resume based on the jobs you are applying for.  Remember, the more information you can give in the way of dates, responsibilities, accomplishments, and employers the better.  How you document this information is up to you!

Editorial Team at Geekinterview is a team of HR and Career Advice members led by Chandra Vennapoosa.

Editorial Team – who has written posts on Online Learning.


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