As a job seeker, writing a great resume involves different stages. There’s the initial planning, deciding keywords, identifying formats, listing of accomplishments, and finishing up with the style and design. All of these stages are crucial to writing a great resume and the order in which they are approached can contribute greatly to the quality of your resume. One of the most important decisions to make when writing a great resume is to determine the format or structure. The content and format of the resume must align with the candidate and the industry. When it comes to resume format, there are three main types widely regarded as the most effective by HR experts globally. This blog post will evaluate these resume formats and also discuss how they should be utilized. The three best resume formats are as follows:
- Chronological Format
- Functional Format
- Combination Format
Let’s talk about each of them.
This resume format is widely used by job seekers to emphasize their career progression concentrating mainly on the dates and job titles held. As opposed to its name, a chronological resume actually lists work history in reverse chronological order, beginning with your most recent/current position and then listing other job positions that you’ve held over the years ending with your oldest experience. When listing job titles include a description of your key duties, skills and accomplishments in the particular profession. This format allows you to present your achievements and promotions and is especially useful for individuals looking to give their careers a boost. It shows how you’ve grown in a single profession. Some chronological resumes may also include a brief personal statement at the start which briefly describes the skills and strengths of the candidate. Use a chronological format if:
- Your current position is related to the position you’re applying for and emphasizes important skills you can offer prospective employers
- You want to demonstrate a vertical career progression
- You do not have major gaps in your work history
- You’ve been in the same field or industry for some years and plan to stay there
FUNCTIONAL OR SKILL BASED RESUME
Unlike chronological resume, functional resume focuses on the professional skills, you’ve developed during your employment rather than on the where, what and when. This resume format organizes your work experience in terms of accomplishments and skills. It highlights what you can do instead of when you did it or whom you did it for. In other words, it does not focus on job history but focuses on your value in terms of the skills you’ve acquired. It calls the attention of your potential employee to specific areas of your expertise. On a functional resume you will have headings like “Marketing Skills”, “Accounting Skills” etc. It may also list Educational and Work history with usually lesser details. The skills are listed in order of relevance to the desired position.
This format is ideal for:
- Frequent job changers or individuals looking for a career change
- Individuals looking to return to the workplace after a long absence or have significant employment gaps in your work history
- Entry level applicants entering the job market for the first time or graduates that have little or no work experience looking to emphasize their transferable skills
- Individuals that are more mature, as a functional CV takes the spotlight away from the age
Note – A major drawback of the functional CV is that it does not state your career progression and employers may assume you’re trying to hide something.
This is basically a combination of the chronological and functional resume formats. The introductory parts usually starts with a professional summary that includes skills, abilities and accomplishments relevant to the desired position. Then it focuses on your work history including the positions held and employment dates. Your skills and accomplishments is grouped into yearly format right at the top of your resume. This resume format is often desirable if the position requires technical skills or if the position asks for specific degrees or certifications. This format will work for you if:
- You want to transfer to another industry
- You want to emphasize a relevant or well developed skill-set
- You have a long career advancement with several achievements.
- If you are a mid-entry applicant with loads of working experience and accomplishments to demonstrate
So what format is best for you?
There’s actually no absolute right way or wrong way to write a resume. The most important thing is to stay true to your specific personality and work experience for best results. Your main goal is to ensure any potential employee can immediately spot the value you will add to the business with a quick glance at your resume. The bottom line is to choose a resume format that works best for your specific situation and that gives you the greatest chance at landing your dream job.
And remember, the most important piece is that your resume is your marketing material. Just like someone selling you a vacation. They aren’t selling you the experience on the plane, they are selling you the destination you are going to. Be sure to put a lot of focus on results that you have achieved, not just duties you have done.
Which is my favourite?
Personally I am partial to the functional / skills based resume simply because it tells a better story and puts the focus on the skills and experience rather than where you worked and when. It’s also very useful for hiding experience gaps if you have been unemployed for a long period of time.
Want to know more about Christopher
Christopher is the Chief Value Officer and Founder of Change My Life Coaching and Co-Founder of Change My Business Coaching and the Healthy Transformations Weight Loss & Inflammation Reduction Program. Change my Life Coaching is a fast growing whole-life, leadership and business coaching company, and the only one of it’s kind. He is also the author of “Go Beyond Passion: Discover Your Dream Job”. Christopher spent 15+ years working in the corporate world with a plethora of industries and companies. His focus was primarily in planning, strategy, and leadership of change management and communication. Christopher is a Certified Master Coach Practitioner (CMCP), trainer and facilitator, and a passionate public speaker who truly cares about the success of each and every single person he comes into contact with. You can reach him at Christopher@ChangeMyLifeCoaching.ca.