What is the Best Format to Use on a Resume?

John Scott
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Whether you're searching for a new job in your current industry or looking to switch careers, your resume can make or break your career prospects. The right resume format will show off your skills and convince recruiters to interview you for their job openings. The wrong resume format will hurt your chances of landing a job and moving forward in your career. If you're wondering what the best resume format is, it really depends on your work history and the type of job you desire.

Kimberly Thompson writes the Career Rescue column at Chron.com. She says the three major resume formats all serve a purpose, but she recommends choosing one that supports your career strategy. Many recruiters and hiring managers prefer the chronological resume format, which lists your past jobs, employment dates, and employers. This format makes it easy for decision makers to determine if you have a strong work history or if you tend to hop from one job to another. If you have any gaps in your employment history, the chronological resume will highlight them. In this case, the functional format may be the best resume format to use.

The functional resume format does not emphasize employment dates or job titles. Instead, it highlights your skills and accomplishments. This format is appropriate for several different types of people. Although the chronological format is great for showing your progression from one related job to another, the functional format is ideal if you have held several unrelated jobs. If you took time off to care for an ailing parent, have children, or travel, the functional format will take the focus off the gaps in your employment history and put it on your past achievements. A functional resume should include skill categories related to the essential duties outlined in each job description.

If the chronological and functional resume formats don't work for you, try a combination resume. This format combines the best elements of the chronological resume and functional resume to highlight your work history and skills. This resume format is ideal if you want recruiters to notice your steady work history as well as your accomplishments in your field. Whether you choose a chronological or functional resume, or some combination of both, the content should make the person reading it want to learn more about you. Improve your chances of getting an interview by including a detailed cover letter with each resume you send out.

Your work history will dictate whether it's appropriate to use a chronological resume or a different resume format. If you have held a series of related jobs with no gaps in employment, a chronological resume is usually the right choice. If you have held several jobs that do not relate to one another, or you have one or more gaps in your work history, a functional format is a better option. Use the combination resume format if you want to highlight your skills and give decision makers information about your work history.



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