There’s one important question that ProperResumes.com readers always have in mind: what about the resume format? Do you go for the standard one, or should you be more creative?
How Important Is the Resume Format?
Before we start with the actual tips on choosing the best resume format, let’s answer another question: why is the format important, anyway? Let’s say you try a plain resume builder that doesn’t give you many resume formats to choose from. You pick the plainest one in the list and you just insert your information in it. Do you think the hiring manager will be impressed by it? No.
At the same time, someone decides to send a creative resume in a skills-based format. The design looks just perfect both on screen and in print. It immediately guides the hiring manager’s eye to the skills, and that’s a good thing because, for an entry-level position, there’s not much experience to brag with. Now, this is a resume that would definitely get more attention.
Not all hiring managers read even the most confusing resumes. Most of them will glance through them, but will soon abandon the document if it doesn’t get their attention. The format is the exact thing that gets their attention. It’s not the font, and it’s not your experience (they will see that part later on). It’s the format – that’s how important it is.
Let’s Go Beyond the Simple Resume Format: Types of Formats to Explore
As always, ProperResumes is here to solve your dilemmas. When you’re wondering how to format a resume, you should start by exploring the different options you have. We’ll list the most popular resume formatting styles, so this choice won’t be that hard to make.
- Skills-Based (Functional) Resume
What do you do when you don’t have an impressive job history? How do you apply for entry positions? Do you just skip the experience part? No, you won’t skip it. However, you’ll opt for a skills-based resume, which emphasizes your qualifications for the job.
In the functional format resume, you won’t specify when and where you obtained and practiced those skills. You’ll list them at the top of the resume, so the hiring manager will know you have what it takes for this particular position.
Pros: This is the usual college resume format that students submit when they want to get internships. Chances are, you already know how to handle it. However, it works well for entry-level positions. The good news is: the hiring managers don’t expect you to follow another format for entry-level positions. They know you don’t have much experience.
Cons: If you’re not careful with this resume format, it may turn out to a random list of skills that look vague and unreliable. Team-leading skills, advanced computer skills, advanced communication skills – does that list identify the person behind this resume for you?
- Reverse Chronological Format
This is the basic resume format for mid-level and executive/specialist positions. Unlike the functional resume, it emphasizes the experience over the skills. That’s exactly what the recruiters want to see for positions above entry-level. The experience conveys your skills without much effort.
As the name of this format suggests, it presents the experience in reverse-chronological format. In other words, you start with the latest position you had, since it’s the most relevant one for the progress of your career path. You end with the first position you had.
Pros: This structure demonstrates your career progression in the best way. If you’re applying for a job in a similar field, it’s a perfect choice. The format is friendly to Applicant Tracking Systems since you can include all relevant keywords in it.
Cons: If there are gaps in your employment history, this resume format will show them too clearly. You have to mention the dates, remember? If you’re changing your career path and you’re competing for a position in a new industry, the reverse-chronological format will be counterproductive. There’s another weakness of this type of resume: it’s too safe and standard.
- Combination Resume Format
If the functional resume seems too unprofessional and you can’t opt for the reverse-chronological format because it shows the gaps in your career, what do you do? You combine those two formats to get the perfect one for your case: a combination resume.
This resume combines the most important aspects of the two previous types. It focuses on the skills, so it’s functional. However, it does not eliminate the experience section, so it also works for mid-level and executive positions.
The combination resume usually begins with a summary of qualifications and achievements relevant to the position you’re competing for. That professional profile is followed by a section that showcases your experience in a reverse-chronological order.
Pros: The combination resume gives you a chance to showcase both your skills and experience. It’s the right option for candidates who are transferring to a different industry.
Cons: It’s not perfect for entry-level candidates. If you have no real experience to show, this format is pointless for you.
There you go – 3 classic resume formats to choose from. Remember: this is just a general format. When you choose it, you can play with your creativity and turn it into a unique resume.
A Proper Resume Format Opens Your Doors to Interviews
Before you start planning your job application documents, it’s important to figure out what format of a resume you’re going to follow. Remember: the functional format for resume is perfect for entry-level positions since you don’t have much experience to list. The reverse-chronological format is great for mid-level and executive positions that naturally follow your career path. The combination resume, on the other hand, is a great choice to make when you want to highlight both the skills and experience, but you’re changing the industry.
The perfect resume format will help you get an interview. How, exactly? Well, you’re presenting exactly what the employer wants to see for the given position. If you’re looking for your first job, they will want to see what skills make you a perfect fit. If you’re competing for higher positions, you’ll show how serious you are through the experience.
The format is not the only factor for success, though. Once you make your choice, you’ll have to choose the right font, style, and language to go with your resume. If the end result is perfect, you’ll definitely get that call for an interview.
Thanks to the pros and cons we listed for the three main resume formats, you’re closer to that perfect result.