Resume Format | Types, Samples, Designs, and Templates
Every business wants to hire the best people. But identifying those people can be difficult. These companies have to figure out who will be the best employee based on a very limited amount of information. That is why they depend so heavily on a well written resume.
Resumes are your opportunity to sell yourself. They are specifically designed to show businesses why they should hire you. Their format and the way they are written is purposeful. Each and every line is, and should be, used to show why you are the best possible person for the job.
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The Different Types of Resume Formats
There are three different types of resumes that you may want to consider for your application. These include:
- Chronological Resume
- Functional Resume
- Combination Resume
Most applicants will use the chronological resume format, which is the most well-known style of resume and one that most hiring managers are expecting to receive. The other two resume formats – functional and combination – are recommended in only very select settings, although combination resumes are starting to become more popular in recent years.
What is a Chronological Resume?
The chronological resume is the type of resume format that you see on most templates. It is a resume that starts with a mission statement or professional summary, and then lists the jobs you’ve had in the past, starting with your most recent. Jobs are actually listed in reverse-chronological order, but for simplicity the format is known as just “Chronological.”
The vast majority of job applicants should select this type of resume. That is because:
- It is Naturally Organized – Reverse chronological resumes show your most recent and most relevant jobs and experiences first. They are likely to be the most impressive part of your history, and they make it easier for hiring managers to find the information that interests them.
- They Show Growth – Chronological resumes show how you’ve advanced your career. By highlighting your recent job history, you can show how you’ve been promoted or what jobs you’ve decided to pursue to achieve professional growth.
- They Are Expected – Because chronological resumes are so common, hiring managers have come to expect them. They are seen as more “professional” than unknown resume formats. While it helps to be unique, hiring managers also don’t like surprises, and so using a chronological resume template can make sure you don’t stand out for negative reasons.
For many, the chronological resume is also simply easier to write and edit as needed, and has an easier to understand flow to it. If you’re unsure what resume format to use, go with the chronological resume.
What is a Functional Resume?
Chronological resumes highlight the experience you had with each job. Functional resumes, on the other hand, group all of your experiences and skills together, and then briefly list some of the jobs you’ve held in the past underneath.
The idea behind them is sound. They are designed to show employers all of the reasons they should hire you, rather than focus on where you worked and what you did at that specific role. Chronological resumes suffer when it comes to emphasizing relevant skills in the distant past. The further they are down on your chronological resume, the more it will appear like the experience was a long time ago.
Functional gets around this by lumping all experiences together, so it’s not about WHEN you had the experience, but WHAT experiences that you have had.
Functional resumes are best for a select group of applicants:
- Those that have long gaps in work history.
- Those applying for jobs in a very new industry.
- Those that have relevant experience that may not be recent.
In some ways, functional resume formats appear to be better suited for most job applications.
However, they are risky. Experienced hiring managers know that applicants use them to hide employment gaps, or because their experience was old. Many hiring managers report ignoring functional resumes because they are expecting to see a full work history. Be careful about using this type of resume format, and only use it if it is absolutely necessary.
What is a Combination Resume?
As the name implies, a combination resume combines elements of both functional resumes and chronological resumes. Although they are less common than reverse chronological resumes, they are becoming increasingly popular of late, and are frequently seen in the job application market.
In a combination resume, the resume starts out with a professional summary (rather than a mission statement). It then has a section titled “Skills” or “Experience” where the individual lists 3 to 5 specific qualifications for the job. It then follows that up with the traditional reverse chronological job history and education.
The advantage of the combination resume is that it provides you with a space to easily highlight your best achievements in a way that is noticeable by the hiring manager, while still also providing the work history the hiring manager is looking for. However, it does come with a few disadvantages as well:
- The skills section of combination resumes takes up more space. This may make it more difficult to show your educational history, if it is strong, or it may shrink the size of your work history to fit it all on one page.
- Those that do not have an extensive work history or a great deal of relevant information may not be able to create as impressive a skills section. It may be better to stick to a chronological resume, rather than highlight less impressive experience.
Combination resumes can also be difficult for jobs that do not have easy-to-highlight achievements or skills. The skills/experience section of the resume is designed to showcase information about you that makes the hiring manager go “wow.” If they are not going to be wowed, it may not be worth placing on the resume.
Options with Your Resume Formats
While most resumes have very specific templates, there are some ways that you can be creative, and format your resume in a way that is unique to you and your skillset. These include:
- Mission Statement/Professional Summary – In the past, all resumes had a mission statement, where the applicant put a brief sentence about their goals in the workplace. But you can replace that section with a professional summary, which is about a paragraph where you describe either your history or why you are a good fit for the job.
- Volunteering – Chronological resumes often had a place to put volunteer experience. This has since been taken off of most resumes, but if you have ample experience, or you are applying to a non-profit, you may want to put your volunteer experience on your resume as well.
- Additional Skills – It used to also be common to have an “additional skills” section at the bottom of the resume, where you could put “knowledgeable of baseball analytics” or “avid reader.” These have also become less popular in recent years, however.
While you are generally limited to specific resume formats, there are still some ways you can customize your resume to match the job you’re applying for. However, always remember that taking risks doesn’t always pay off. It is often best to stick to a specific resume template, and let the information on the resume be what helps you get the job.
Choose the Resume Format That is Right For You
It is tempting to want to create a resume that is truly unique. But it is important to remember that hiring managers receive dozens – sometimes hundreds of applicants for each job opening. They have only a few seconds to spend on each resume before they determine whether or not you are worth a second look.
It is best to stick with the most straight forward resume format (usually the chronological resume or the combination resume), and then show that you’re ready for the job with the information you put in the resume itself, rather than with the format you use to set it up.
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