It may seem like a resume is the type of document that doesn’t leave much room for creativity or customization. To a certain extent that’s true (although it can vary somewhat depending on what field you’re in. More on that later). But there are a few options, design, and format choices you have to consider when putting together your resume. Today we’re going to take a look at the three most common resume formats and, hopefully, help you figure out which one is best for you and your resume.
The Reverse Chronological Resume
The reverse chronological resume is a listing and description of your past jobs, starting in the present and going backwards through your career. This is going to be the right format for many people, particularly those with strong, unbroken, relevant work history. If you have advanced in your field, the reverse chronological resumes demonstrates that clearly. This is also probably the easiest resume format for a potential employer to quickly scan and understand. Resumes like this tell a story, and that can be a powerful thing. Most experts recommend this as the default resume format for most job seekers.
The Functional Or Skills-Based Resume
While the reverse chronological format resume should be the default format for most job seekers, it’s not perfect for everyone, and there are other options. The skills-based resume focuses on showcasing the skills you have, rather than focusing on your work history. This can be helpful for people who have employment gaps, people who are transitioning from a military job that doesn’t really have a civilian equivalent, people who’ve done a lot of freelance work, or people who are in fields where skills and a portfolio of work are more important than past work history.
A skill-based resume still looks like a list, but it’s a list of your skills and achievements, rather than a chronological list of your past jobs. Even though your skills come first in this resume, you should probably include some information about your past work experience. Potential employers are going to want to see that you have done the job (or similar jobs) in the past, and that you have the basic skills needed to hold down a job.
One unfortunate downside of using this resume format, particularly for people with employment gaps, is that hiring managers know this type of resume format can be used to draw attention away from employment gaps, so when they see this format, many of them look carefully to figure out where the employment gap is. This is not necessarily a deal breaker, but don’t expect this resume format to hide an employment gap. Be prepared to explain that employment gap in your interview.
It’s also worth noting that skills-based resumes might not fare as well in automated Applicant Tracking Systems compared to chronological resumes (You can read more about ATSs in our other articles on the topic).
For all these reasons, go with the chronological format if you feel you can. But the skills-based resume can be an option if you feel the chronological format isn’t.
The Hybrid Or Combination Resume
The hybrid resume is an attempt to get the best of both formats. In the hybrid format, you divide the space in your resume roughly equally and devote half of that space to your chronological work history and the other half to the skills you have. This format is best for people who have both an impressive work history and a large number of impressive skills, and who can substantiate those skills with measurable achievements.
One tricky thing about this format is that it can be hard to know which skills and experience to focus on, and since there is limited space for each, it can be hard to decide. Additionally, it’s important to note this resume format may also have trouble getting past an ATS. However, for a very accomplished candidate who reasonably believes their resume is likely to end up in the hands of a real-live person instead of getting screened out by an ATS, this could be a good choice.
So, there you have it. The three most common resume formats, and the pros and cons of each. You can read more about these types of resumes, and see examples of them in this article at Zety.com. It’s also important to keep in mind there are other options besides these three formats when it comes to your resume. You can read about a human-voiced resume here, and some of the special considerations that should go into a designer’s resume here.
We hope this helps you pick the right resume for your unique skills and situation. If you’d like your resume reviewed by a professional, we’d be happy to help. ResumeSending.com offers a free resume review as part of our services that can help increase your chances of success in your job search.