Choosing the Appropriate Resume Format

By: Fred Coon, Chairman, CEO

Choosing the appropriate format and style for your resume can be rather tricky. First and foremost, you need to consider your own career background and profile, and then look to see what is available, to decide what works best for you. Your resume is unique to you and needs to represent you in the best light possible.

In order to choose what works, you need to be somewhat educated on the different styles available. In this article, I am going to guide you step-by-step to understanding how each format works and which will be the best match for you.

There are three different resume formats to acknowledge:

Chronological Format

Chronological format is the favorite among employers and recruiters because it conveys the idea of a conventional professional who has progressed through a challenging career. It represents a conservative career with emphasis on continuous, progressive growth through increasingly demanding positions.

When utilizing this format, you want to showcase your remarkable career. Notable employers, positions, and dates of employment should be the focal point of the resume, combined with relevant achievements, skills, and education on a chronological level – current to less recent. You want the reader to notice your career stability and growth.

So if you have a progressive and somewhat conventional career with a consistent level of significant growth, your best bet is the chronological resume format because:

  • It’s great for senior managers/executives who possess a highly progressive career history. Preferred for professionals seeking an international position.
  • It showcases that you are ready to take on a new and more challenging job opportunity given your previous background experience.
  • It successfully highlights notable employers, credentials, and significant professional development that are transferable to your targeted position.
  • It broadcasts a productive and highly marketable work history: successfully alleviating any glitches or other famous ‘don’t dos’ within the workforce, including employment gaps, job hopping, etc.

See a sample resume in chronological format.

Functional Format

The functional format is great for underlining and advertising specific, transferable strengths, accomplishments, skills, and education pertaining to the desired position / career.

This format is well suited for an individual with a somewhat unconventional career background. This includes an unstable work history with employment gaps, job hopping, etc. It is also suitable for recent college graduates, people with very little or no paid working experience, professionals re-entering the workforce, and career transitioning.

It works well and has proven to be successful through the utilization of, and focus on, significant strengths, skills, and achievements at the forefront of the document. The functional format, to some degree, de-emphasizes certain aspects of an unstable or unconventional career including dates of employment and so on. In this way, the employer is immediately drawn to the candidate’s strengths and former achievements necessary for the ability to succeed in the desired position for a particular company. There are pros and cons to using the functional format:

  • However, depending on how your resume is developed and displayed via formatting, writing style, keywords, etc., the functional resume can turn into a substantial success for the job seeker and has been proven to achieve positive results. This format can also succeed in obscuring issues such as ‘over-qualification’ and ‘age’ in non-executive searches.
  • Excellent for candidates returning to the work force (i.e. return-to-work moms and dads).

See a sample resume in functional format.

Combination/Hybrid Format

Also referred to as the ‘hybrid’ resume, the combination resume utilizes features of both the chronological and functional formats.

Usually this layout capitalizes on both aspects of the chronological and functional formats including layout, writing style, design, and so on. The combination format is actually very popular due to the current job market. Lots of individuals lack a perfect employment background and possess a little character in their careers as a result of hard times. It does well in emphasizing the history and strengths of professionals by utilizing aspects of both formats.

See a sample resume in combination/hybrid format.

By incorporating these resume tips, you will develop a resume format best suited to your background and make the strongest first impression possible. Need more help with your resume than what you found in this article? Stewart, Cooper & Coon offers professionally written resumes in all formats for every background.

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200