Resume formatting can make or break your chances of landing an interview. It’s likely that at some point in your career you’ll need to decide whether to use a functional, chronological, or hybrid resume format.
If you’re like so many other job seekers I work with, you are just not sure which format is the best for your situation. It can be confusing and everyone has an opinion but there are a few guidelines you can follow to select the best format for your resume.
WHY ALL FORMATS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL
Not all career paths are created equal and hiring managers will only give your resume a few seconds of attention when scanning through piles of resumes. Here’s what recruiters look for in their 6-second resume scan.
If you’ve had an unconventional career path, resume gaps, or other unexpected career segues you’ll want to select your resume format carefully. The different resume formats provide you with the opportunity to get back in the game when the time comes. Here is how to select the perfect resume format for your situation.
THE FUNCTIONAL RESUME
A functional resume is useful for people who have gaps in their work history, frequently changed jobs, changed careers, or workforce re-entry. This resume style is used to highlight your abilities rather than your chronological work history.
You will still need to showcase your work history and include the dates, but this will be towards the bottom of your resume instead of the top.
WHY THIS FORMAT WORKS
In this format, you will highlight skills that are transferable to the industry for which you are applying. For instance, a stay at home mom who ran a soccer league for 2 years, may want to show the organization, management, and scheduling skills she has perfected during this time.
These experiences will be laid out on your resume, after your professional summary and key skills area. Your summary of professional experience will only include the names of the company, titles, and dates with perhaps a short description of what you did at the company.
Any of the transferable skills that were performed at these companies should already be listed towards the top. This information is followed by your education and training unless your education and training are recent and/or will help you in summarizing your transferable skill set. To learn more about transferable skills and access our list of 22 skills to gain from volunteering, check out this blog post.
WHEN TO USE A FUNCTIONAL RESUME
The functional resume should only be used if the information submitted within a chronological resume would cause gaps of information that leave the hiring manager assuming that you are not qualified for the position.
I have heard many clients say to me, “but I was told that I should never use a functional format.” While having a functionally formatted resume isn’t ideal, it certainly does have a useful place if you need to strategically show your relevant skills.
Remember: hiring managers and recruiters are going to be on the lookout for the person who has the potential to do their job. If your potential isn’t immediate from an unconventional career path, highlighting it up top in a functional format will work to your benefit.
THE CHRONOLOGICAL RESUME
The chronological resume is a more popular format since the career path can be easily grasped from a simple scan of the dates, titles, and companies.
This resume should contain a professional summary, key skills section, reverse chronological listing of your career experience, and related accomplishments.
Your education and training skills will often be placed towards the bottom unless you are a recent graduate. To receive a FREE chronological resume template, click here.
WHEN TO USE A CHRONOLOGICAL RESUME
This format is used for someone with a typical career history. It may include a previous gap in your experience, but your overall path has taken a predictable move without many curve balls thrown in the way. If you have a typical career history, but a confusing brand, you’ll want to try these resume fixes.
THE HYBRID RESUME
A happy medium between the chronological and function formats is the hybrid resume. This is a newer format created to combine the best aspects of chronological and functional resumes. This format highlights relevant skills while providing details regarding a candidate’s work history.
WHEN TO USE A HYBRID RESUME
The hybrid format is great for new graduates, entry-level job seekers, those with little experience, career changers, career re-entry, or those with a strong chronological resume who would like to display additional skills or accomplishments towards the top of their resume. It’s a great option for when you’re not quite sure which resume format applies to you.
Hybrid resumes are extremely effective in diminishing impact of gaps by filling in additional space with information about key skills and accomplishments. Here are some other ways to handle resume gaps. Perhaps you are a project manager who wants to really show off some key projects that you take great pride in, this would be the format for you.
BONUS RESUME TIP: GETTING STARTED
Once you have picked out a format, it’s time to get started on creating that perfect resume. One key tip that I use in creating a powerful resume is select 3 job postings and tailor the resume to showcase the requirements and skills that these job postings are asking for.
This will demonstrate your skills and expertise to potential hiring managers. Your goal is to create a powerful and high-impact resume, which provides an attractive, easy to read format, full of useful information and accomplishments. Choosing the right format is key to making this happen.