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The Best Resume Formats

Articles > Resume Help

This career article by Nathan Newberger gives you some common sense advice and tips on how on the most common resume formats.

When designed properly, your resume can be a powerful component of your job search arsenal. When created carelessly, it could actually impair your job search. Crafting a poorly designed resume is one of the worst blunders a job hunter can make; unfortunately it is also one of the most common mistakes made. Think about it. Do you want the very first thing an employer evaluates you on to be less than effective?

The easiest thing to do is just open Microsoft Word, choose a resume template and start filling in the blanks; that could be the start of your troubles. Those templates are great guides and look beautiful, but they may take you down the wrong path.

This article covers the three basic types of "resumes". Use this article as a guide to help select which
resume format is best for you.

THE CHRONOLOGICAL RESUME


QUESTION: What is it?

ANSWER:
Hopefully, the name gives you a clue about the format of the Chronological Resume. It is simply an organization of job titles and corresponding responsibilities from your current or most recent position to the oldest relevant one you held.

QUESTION: How can I make it effective?

ANSWER:
Employers absolutely love this style of resume. When written properly, the Chronological Resume can be clear, straight-forward and most importantly, easy to scan. (Remember, hiring managers are notoriously short on time!) Since employers initially only give most resumes a quick once-over, being able to make a strong first impression is crucial. This format is direct and factual, which is a tremendous help to a person sorting through a slew of resumes.

QUESTION: Who should use it?

ANSWER:
Though appealing to employers, the chronological format is not for every applicant. Job seekers with a great deal of experience and a fluid job history benefit most from the Chronological Resume. However, people changing careers or lacking formal work experience (such as recent graduates) will find it difficult to create a resume in this format. They may find greater ease using the functional format discussed next.

THE FUNCTIONAL RESUME


QUESTION: What is it?

ANSWER:
The Functional Resume arranges your job history to highlight special skills and achievements. Great caution must be taken when using this format, because it can draw an unkind eye if done incorrectly.

QUESTION: How can I make it effective?

ANSWER:
The main complaint employer's have with Functional Resumes is not being able to match up skills with an actual job. Thankfully, this is an easy error to avoid. Every skill or accomplishment listed should have a company name and job description listed under it. Remember, the Functional Resume highlights your achievement, but employers still care about experience and dates. You can only benefit from a Functional Resume, if you use it in a way that meets an employer's concerns. A chronological order of your jobs must be easily inferred if not explicitly stated in any resume format.

QUESTION: Who should use it?

ANSWER:
The Functional Resume is a sort of "problem solving resume". It can help you and a prospective employer make sense of your work history. The best suited applicants for a Functional Resume are:

  • Individuals with a varied work history where previous positions held do not clearly link together,
  • People with job titles that do not clearly explain job responsibilities,
  • New graduates entering the workforce, and
  • People making a career change.


THE COMBINATION RESUME


QUESTION: What is it?

ANSWER:
This is a mix of the above two formats. Information is organized in relevant skills and functions, followed by job titles, companies and a brief description of responsibilities. The combination resume format is very well received by hiring authorities. This powerful presentation shows relevant skills and accomplishments at the beginning, but is later supported by the strong employment section. The combination resume is very similar to a functional resume, it is a chronological resume which lists accomplishments in functional skill areas.

QUESTION: How can I make it effective?

ANSWER:
This format is great because you can show off a strong employment record with upward mobility. You can customize this to showcase relevant skills, and abilities, and a supportive employment record as well as emphasize transferable skills.

QUESTION: Who should use it?

ANSWER:
There is a lot of flexibility with this type of resume, it can easily be used:

  • If you are fairly certain about the specific job you are looking for.
  • If you are skilled and capable but have no direct work experience in any specific area.
  • If your functional resume is shorter or too sketchy, this format is better..
  • If you want to offer a complete picture of your abilities and work history.


CONCLUSION

Don't be afraid to use a resume template, but you need to seriously consider if the template you are using is actually beneficial. Spending a little extra time developing your resume can dramatically decrease the time you spend looking for work. So, how do you want to spend your time?

About The Author

Nathan Newberger is the job and career expert at www.WorkTree.com. Nathan has over 10 years of experience in staffing and human resources. He has worked both as a recruiter and career counselor. Mr. Newberger has been the Managing Editor at www.WorkTree.com for the past 5 years and his articles have helped thousands of job seekers.

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