Should You Customize Your Resume Layout For Each Position?

Nancy Anderson
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It takes time to customize your resume for each job opening, but there's a good reason to do so. Susan Joyce of Work Coach Cafe says recruiters are not impressed by a one-size-fits-all approach.

Many job seekers use the chronological format, which lists all of your jobs from most recent to least recent. A chronological resume is useful if you have extensive experience working in your industry. If you have most of the skills listed in the job opening, a chronological resume makes sense.

However, you may want to use a functional resume when applying for certain positions. Instead of listing your work history in reverse chronological order, a functional resume highlights your skills and achievements. If you are trying to transition from one industry to another, you're better off using a functional resume to draw attention away from your lack of experience in the field. Functional resumes are also ideal if you have gaps in your employment history or want to transition to a civilian career after serving in the military.

The layout of your resume is especially important if you're applying to a company that uses an applicant tracking system. Tracking systems have trouble interpreting graphics  and they sometimes filter out headers, so you need to present information in a way that is easy for the ATS to read. Careerealism contributor Kristin Johnson recommends removing graphics, unusual fonts, tables, bullet points and colorful text from any resume you submit through an ATS. She also recommends using a chronological layout instead of a functional one.

The layout of your resume has a big impact on how recruiters perceive you. Instead of sending the same version to every potential employer, customize the layout based on the requirements of the job. Doing so makes it easier to highlight relevant skills and show the recruiter you are a qualified applicant.

Photo Courtesy of Nazar Draganchuk at


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Viralkumar every company is going to have their own "qualifications". Just because one company says that you don't have enough experience in a supervisory role, that doesn't mean that all companies are going to feel that way. Same with being overqualified. As for the resume, most companies want a chronological layout so that they can quickly screen it. To show where you have been for a year, you can explain that in your cover letter. Or you could consider putting education at the top of your resume so that it can be readily seen that you were a fulltime student. There are no real hard and fast rules when it comes to this. The main thing that you need to remember is to use keywords from the job posting in your resume and cover letter so that it gets past the ATS and into the hands of a hiring manager.

  • Viralkumar Patel
    Viralkumar Patel

    I am in a situation here, I got laid off from my previous work and it's almost a year. Should I use chronological or functional resume? I worked as a supervisor almost one and a half year when I applied for supervisor role employer said you have not enough experience and when I apply for lower level position they says I m over qualified. I am bit confused here about how to convince them? Also, I am doing my P. Eng., so during this one year gap I prepared for P. Eng exams, when interviewer asked, what did you do during this gap and I mentioned this things just to show my professional development, and he said that they are not looking for more technical guy for supervisory position even though I have supervisory experience. Can anyone suggest me how to answer these kind of questions?

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