A resume is your marketing tool that helps you to ‘sell’ your skills and potentials to an employer. If you have an idea of what your prospective employer is looking out for in their next employee, you can easily decide on the resume format to adopt that helps your application to distinctively stand out. Four most common resume formats you can choose from are: chronological, functional, combination and targeted.
Gone are the days when job seekers would prepare an ‘all-in-one’, ‘all-purpose’ resume and use it for each and every job application they make even if their highlighted skills or experience has nothing to do with the applied job requirements. Job seeking has now become highly competitive with the number of qualified and skilled candidates on the rise and employers narrowing down on their employee preferences. Therefore, job applicants now prefer to keep customized versions of their CV and choose from them the one that closely matches the job description.
Although a resume cannot get you a job, it can definitely get you through the preliminary screening for a potential interviewee for the job if you carefully craft your document.
A chronological format, as the name suggests, illustrates your career growth in the reverse order of their occurrence. This is the most common resume format preferred by employers. It mainly focuses on the work experience, starting from the most recent one and coming down to the first, with the year of employment, the company and project details along with the roles and responsibilities the individual had when in the job. The Skills section will follow, which is then followed by the Education section.
This format is opted by those who have had a steady career growth and are not planning for a change. They would have a lot of work experience relevant to the job they are applying for and thus would prefer to highlight this in their resumes. For example, a software engineer with over 8 years of work experience applying for a project manager role.
A functional resume’s key focus is on the various skills and expertise that the individual possesses. In a functional resume, you will find the Skills and Expertise section in the forefront and before the Work History and Education details. The work history section will contain only lesser details with usually no duration of employment or work description apparently because this section has not much or very less relevance to the job applied for. However, the Skills section will be elaborate and the skills often classified into several sub-headers.
This format is recommended for those who –
- Have no professional experience to speak of, like college or high school graduates
- Are looking for a career change to field they are new to
- Had career gaps, like a stay-at-home mother, who wants to re-join the workforce
- Have a diverse career graph, acquiring a lot of wide-ranging skills
A combination or hybrid format is made by putting together the favorable aspects of both the chronological and functional formats. In this format, we can usually find the Skills and Expertise section go hand-in-hand with the Work History section. All three are aligned and demonstrate a particular set of skills and how and when they were acquired. It provides a detailed illustration of your skills and work experience to the hiring managers.
This type of resume can be used instead of the chronological resume if your skills, education and work history are all related to a particular field and are also in-line with what is required for the current job. Employers are often excited to receive such resumes as they portray a valuable hire for the job.
A targeted resume is the one that is tailored or customized to match the prospective job you are applying for. A targeted resume is often prepared with the job requirements in mind and can be used only for that particular job. You can consider a targeted resume as a child of any of the above three resume formats. Applicants will normally have a main resume document in either the chronological or functional or hybrid format. Along with that, Job seekers can have a main CV that follows either of the chronological, functional or hybrid formats and then they can prepare and save separately customized copies of this CV as and when they want to apply for a job posting. In such a resume, everything from the Objective, to the Experience, to the Education will be a close match with the job description.
There are also other non-conventional resume formats that are only gaining popularity like an online resume that incorporate graphs, images and a visual portfolio of your skills and experience; or a mini resume that offers a summary of your career and qualifications in a capsule in order to hand-out to references or prospective employers who want a brief account of your resume.