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The resume format you select can play a huge role when it comes to presenting your resume appropriately to a hiring manager. Different resume formats will help you emphasize different aspects of your work experience, career progression and relevant skills. That means it’s up to you to determine which resume format will work best for you and continue accordingly.
The good news is that the three resume formats are easy to understand, and as long as you know and understand your career goals, you can easily choose the correct resume format and execute it flawlessly. This is the key to creating a high-quality resume — knowing how to play to your strengths.
If you’re hoping to create a resume that looks incredible and performs just as well, here’s everything you need to know about the three common resume formats.
Chronological resumes are the most common format people use for their resumes. A chronological resume is more accurately called a reverse-chronological resume. It typically centers on the work experience section, listing your most recent job first and going back through time in detailing your earlier jobs. While chronological resumes typically feature skills near the top, they keep the list fairly short, allowing your work history to shine.
A functional format is more about the specific skills that will help you succeed in your new job. In a standard functional resume, your employment history will typically be brief, with your summary of qualifications and applicable skills taking up most of the space. Skills are usually categorized into major categories, including soft skills, as well as any pertinent training and certifications.
A combination format, also called a hybrid resume, will combine the best parts of the functional and chronological resume. This resume centers on your skill set but also showcases how you’ve used those skills in your work history.
For this type of resume, make sure your explanation of what you did at each job centers around the exact responsibilities you had, and look to feature achievements and accomplishments that match up well with your responsibilities at the job you want.
Functional resumes focus largely on the skills you have, rather than your work experience. In a functional resume, you probably won’t write more than a line or two describing each place you previously worked. A resume objective is also more effective here than a resume summary, as an objective indicates what you want to do, whereas a summary indicates what you have done. The functional resume downplays your past experiences, as it’s typically intended for those with very little work history or job seekers looking for a career change, making a resume objective your best option.
The combination resume format allows you to have robust skills and work experience, and you can top it off with either a resume objective or resume summary.
If you’re still not sure, look through our examples of the different resume formats. If you find one format that best presents your work history and/or skills, use our resume builder to create a resume.
It’s important to remember that there’s no such thing as a “best” resume format. There’s only the right resume format for your needs. In general, if you have more applicable work experience, you should go with a chronological resume. If you have less applicable work experience, you should consider a combination resume, and if you’re a first-time job seeker or applying for a job that emphasizes skills over experience, you should consider a functional resume.
If you’re still unsure, remember that you can always “try out” multiple resume formats using the ResumeHelp resume builder. Try writing a professional resume in a chronological format, a functional format, and a combination format, and see which one you like best. You may find that once you see it on paper, it’s much easier to decide on a specific resume format that presents your information most effectively.
ResumeHelp offers over a dozen different resume templates that can be adapted for any format. If you really like the way a specific resume template looks, you can customize it to work for your specific resume format. If you’re using the ResumeHelp resume builder, you can change your template at the click of a button.
Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are a type of software that automatically scans incoming resumes to look for the presence of certain keywords that fit the job being applied for. If your resume doesn’t have those keywords, the applicant tracking systems could reject it outright without ever sending it to recruiters.
This is why it’s so important to consider getting your resume ATS-ready when you’re writing it. On average, employment history is an important element when you’re being scanned by ATS, which means chronological resumes typically work more effectively. If you need to submit a functional resume and want it to be ATS-ready, use a polished, readable layout based on our templates, and focus on your resume summary or objective along with your skills, making sure you address keywords in the job posting.
With ResumeHelp, you can make it easy to hit all the keywords using our builder. Our step-by-step approach and job-specific suggestions will ensure your resume helps get in great position for your career change. Utilize our resume formatting tips and advice to get the most out of your resume, no matter who’s looking at it.
You’ll need a cover letter no matter what resume format you end up choosing. The cover letter is what helps connect your resume to you as a person. Cover letters are especially important when it comes to functional resumes, as they give your resume a bit more of a human side to it, but they’re extremely important in all resume formats, no matter what the format is for your resume.
Both your resume and your cover letter need to be personalized for each job listing you apply to. Personalization will help the hiring manager get to know a little bit about you before they call you, and demonstrate you know how your skills and experiences can help fill the company’s specific needs. Additionally, hiring managers appreciate resumes and cover letters that show you put some research and thought into their creation, which can sway them to select you for an interview rather than someone else.