resume is a critical component in the job search, but choosing the most
appropriate format to sell your background can be a real challenge. First, carefully analyze the job opening and then
approach the process from the hiring manager’s perspective to determine what
style is best.
1. Chronological – This is the most traditional, popular
and preferred style of resume writing where the education and experience are listed
in reverse chronological order beginning with the most recent first. Ideally, it should show how each job builds
upon the former. By giving a clear
picture of where you have worked and what you have accomplished, the
chronological resume demonstrates that you have “paid your dues” and you are
ready to strategically advance to the next level of responsibility.
– Past experience is emphasized.
– A straightforward experienced-based approach which helps
recruiters make quicker decisions; often expected by employers.
if progressively moving upward in the same or similar fields with a strong,
steady and stable career track record.
follows a timeline of experience where job titles, employers and length of
employment are impressive.
responsibilities, promotions and achievements are connected, related and
described with each work experience.
for focused candidates looking for further advancement in the same or similar fields.
to prepare, read and interpret by highlighting career growth, current responsibilities
and educational credentials.
for those whose career objectives are aligned with their past work history.
employment gaps, frequent job changes or weak areas to stand out.
not allow the opportunity to emphasize skill sets.
good for those trying to change career fields.
dates divulges the candidate’s age more quickly.
give the impression that you are “over-qualified.”
Functional/Skills-Based – This type of resume groups a variety of experiences
around skill categories (i.e. Administrative, Communication, Customer Service, Financial,
Human Resources, Management, Organizational, Sales, Teamwork, Technical, etc.). These headings come first followed by bullets
with an action verb that details your responsibilities and accomplishments. Next, a category called “Employment,” lists
work history in reverse chronological order without outlining the duties. It a resume that’s hard to design.
– Future potential is emphasized while downplaying a lack
of direct related experience.
– A transferrable skills-based approach which draws attention
to core competencies and results.
when past education and experience is diverse and not exactly related, linear,
continuous or progressive.
for career changers, stay-at-home parents, ex-offenders, the disabled or those
re-entering the job market.
conceal age or spotty work record.
the job searcher to cover education or credentials that are limited,
interrupted or irrelevant.
for candidates with past experience that has been coursework, freelance, volunteer,
consulting or temporary in nature.
to reorder skill clusters to better match the requirements of each specific job
if there is no obvious connection between the current job and the current
suspicious and confusing to employers creating a red flag that the candidate is
trying to hide something.
be a struggle for employers trying to make the connection between skills and the
places where they were developed.
not be acceptable for some online resume posting sites.
good for traditional fields that expect chronological format (i.e. teaching,
accounting, politics, etc.).
to show a candidate’s job progression clearly.
3. Combination/Blend – This format uses the strongest elements of both the
chronological and functional styles. It can
focus the reader’s attention on one to three skills sets while also detailing education,
experience and accomplishments. It
satisfies the employers need to know job titles, employer names and dates. It is appropriate for anyone desiring a job
change in a related career field or to strategically promote their top
marketable skills. It is becoming an increasingly
more acceptable style, but does require more preparation time and creativity.
Business Card –
One way for a candidate to stand out is to have a business card that features
the most important points from the resume.
This calling card contains contact information, objective, key work and
educational experiences with a section on the back for handwritten notes. By making the resume completely portable, it
can be used at any opportunity or networking event. With this type, you may find yourself
naturally distributing more resumes than with the other styles. This format requires a great deal of
creativity and effort to do it right.
a resume together for some can be a daunting task and a real struggle. Strong opinions vary widely on which type
works the best. Talk to a professional
about your background and particular circumstances. They can help you more objectively decide
which format is going market you successfully.
Remember, the goal of the resume is to generate interviews; the purpose
of the interview is to land a job offer.
If your current resume is producing few, if any, interviews, then
consider having your resume professionally critiqued or change the style or
© Copyright, Dr. Thomas J. Denham, Careers In
Transition LLC – Posted Friday, January 6, 2012