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Which is the Best Resume Format for You?

I once worked with an image consultant who helped me choose my professional wardrobe. The purpose of this exercise was to draw people’s attention towards my strengths while camouflaging my weak areas. Determining an effective resume format is similar – it needs to highlights your strengths and downplay your improvement areas!  Also, keep in mind that a resume format that works for one job seeker may not work for another, even if, it is for the same position within the same organisation.

The resume format you choose depends on your work history and job search goals. A good format should make it easy for the recruiter to see your most relevant experience and achievements, your education, and your bottom-line value. Use the guide below to determine whether you are using the right kind of resume format.

Three Most Popular Resume Formats
Reverse Chronological Resume:

This format presents a job seeker’s work history and accomplishments in reverse chronological order, with the most recent career experience listed first. In this format a candidate’s responsibilities and accomplishments are listed employer-wise (as opposed to the functional format where achievements are grouped based on his / her skills).

When to Use:

  • Preferred by most employers/recruiters, this format is most effective when a job seeker has a consistent job history without any gaps and is trying to land a job similar to his / her current one (example: Sales Manager seeking the position of Sales Director)
  • This format can be used to show-off work experience with impressive employers (reputed companies with strong brand recognition)
  • Also, it can be used by management level candidates, recent graduates with experience related to chosen field, and for candidates changing fields (same function but different industry)
Functional Resume:

Unlike the reverse chronological format, a functional resume relies on a skills-based section to demonstrate a candidate’s qualifications. Typically, a functional resume has a skill headline below which, all of the job seeker’s achievements (regardless of employer) related to that skill are listed. This is followed by brief work history (listing only designation, name of employer, and dates of employment) and education sections.

When to Use:

  • A functional resume works best for people with an unstable work history (employment gaps / frequent job-hopping)
  • This format is used by career changers, people re-entering the workforce after a several year hiatus, as well as by entrepreneurs / military men looking for a job in the corporate world
  • Further, this format works best for ‘overqualified’ candidates (looking for reduced responsibilities)
Hybrid Resume:

As the name suggests the hybrid resume is a combination format – it combines the salient features of reverse chronological and functional formats to highlight a job seeker’s strengths and link those to his / her job history. This format leads with a strong summary section where the candidate’s skills and achievements are highlighted. Following this is a ‘Professional Experience’ section where, a job seeker’s unique responsibilities and achievements (those not already mentioned in the executive summary) are highlighted, employer-wise.

When to Use:

  • This format can be used by mid- and senior-level executives to prepare the recruiter / hiring manager to focus on the skills that the job seeker deems most important
  • It can be used by career-changers with long career histories, as the format allows a candidate to translate his / her skills to the language of the new job
  • Also, this resume format can be used by job seekers who have extensive, repetitive experience and may not want to repeat responsibilities for similar past jobs

No matter what format you choose, make sure you do not forget to include the basics (these can be found in my first article, ‘The Art of Resume Writing’ http://bit.ly/21QDW81). Choosing the right resume format is the first step towards building an attention-grabbing resume, just as, choosing the right professional wardrobe is the first step towards building a stellar image!


8 years ago / Comments Off on Which is the Best Resume Format for You?