The Best Resume Format For Any Situation - Learn When and Where They Apply.

Published: 01st October 2009
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The Best Resume Format For Any Situation - Learn When and Where They Apply.

Most job seekers wonder why they don't get responses on their resume. The answer is certain resume formats work best for certain situations. In this article we will go over different resume formats and list when and where they are best utilized. The most common resume format is the chronological resume format. The chronological resume begins by listing your work history, with the most recent position listed first. Your work history is listed reverse chronological order with your most current job, first. This resume format is favored by hiring managers and recruiters alike because it's easy to see what jobs you have held and when you have worked at them.

Chronological: The chronological resume format is a good fit if you have a strong, solid work history. If you have worked within that same field and are trying to break into a different field of work then this would not be the best resume format to use

Other ways the Chronological resume format might not be the best format include;

A) Your most recent experience does not relate to the job in which you are applying for.

B) Your resume shows that you have been at most of your positions for a year or less.

C) You are looking for entry level positions and lack a work history.

D) Your resume history has gaps between employment.

If you fit into any of the categories above, then you should consider a different format options for your resume.

The Functional Formatted resume: This resume format is organized around your experience, skills and accomplishments instead of focusing on specific jobs, by using this method you use general terms or leave out your previous titles and dates relating to your employment. This allows you to look better suited for certain positions where a chronological resume would disqualify you immediately.

You should consider this format if;

1) you are re entering the job market after a long absence and your past experience has little to do with the position you are targeting.

2) Your work history shows several positions but they do not show professional growth.

3) You are looking for an entry-level position and you do not have a lengthy amount of experience.

Keep in mind that using the Functional Format for a resume has both its advantages and disadvantages.

The big advantage of using a Functional resume is that you place emphasis on those skills and experience in your back ground most likely to catch the attention of employers. by studying the target position and highlighting those skills that would best match the position, you place yourself in the best light to be a fit. The reason most people use the Functional resume format is that it allows them to be creative with certain aspects of their work history, highlight key skills or hide long periods of unemployment

The disadvantages of using a functional resume is that many recruiters, hiring managers view them with skepticism. Most employers expect to see the specific position you held in a certain order and expect to read about each of your roles and what was expected of you in those roles with a detailed explanation. The fact that the Functional style allows you to highlight your strengths and accomplishments are still key to a potential employers, but continuity is equally important to potential employers.

Hybrid Resume Format: The third option is a combination of both the chronological and functional resume. Basically, it starts with a description of your functional skill sets, high lighting key words and qualifications employers would be looking for in a resume. The continues with a chronological employment history. In this case try and highlight as many terms that relate to the position you are after at the top and include them whenever they fit with the chronological part as well.

This hybrid resume is best used if you are;

1) looking to change careers and want to highlight the skills that would best match your new career path. it creates a seg-way into your new career by showing skills that could be transferable.

2) You are interested in a position and think you can perform the tasks needed, but your past experience and the skills necessary the new position are not strong.

3) It may also be worth trying if have had no luck with the straight chronological resume format.

Once again this type of format has its advantages and disadvantages. the big advantage of the hybrid resume is that like a functional resume it highlights early on what skill sets you can bring to the position and what you have accomplished in your past employment that can contribute as well. this format seems to diffuse most suspicions that employers may have.

The only disadvantage of a hybrid resume is that some employers and recruiters prefer the resume to be in chronological order and may think that you are trying to conceal certain parts of your employment history. The hybrid resume is being seen more and more, and its seems to be more accepted by employers. As for resume format, you should look at where you are in your career and pick the resume format best suited to your situation. There is no real wrong or right format. certain layout work best for some and not others.

Plain Text Resume:

This is best used When applying for a job on line, Companies large and small are using software called "applicant tracking software" or (APS). It helps sort through the volume of resumes employers get every day. So how does this affect you as you search for employment? well, if you are sending your resume to a person then use either chronological, functional or hybrid formats in a Microsoft Word document. This makes it easier for the employer to read and bring attention to your skills and or accomplishments through the use of bold or bullet points.

When you apply for a position directly through a companies website, its best to use a plain text format.

The plain text format is not meant for people to read, but makes it easier for the applicant tracking software to scan and get flagged for review. In using the plain text or ASCII format your use of keywords becomes extremely important since that is what the software is scanning for.

In order for your resume to get flagged for review you need:

Key words: Key words should be used throughout your resume. They are are noun phrases, technical skills and industry terms that reflect your work experience and if you research the job description, those listed by the employer. Embed key words throughout your resume; in your summary, employment description, accomplishments, and even education if feasible.

To convert your existing resume to plain text is straight forward, simply convert your resume to plain text by using your text editor. Keep the font simple, I recommend you use New Times Roman or Arial.

Now that you have you plain text format done, go over your resume and capitalize items you want to draw attention to such as your contact information, employers' names and job titles and dates.

Advantage: Great for applicant tracking software to read.

Disadvantage: Not a good format for humans to read. Use only for direct on line applications

My advice would be to look at a position you are targeting and then go over your skill sets. Decide from there what would be best to highlight your experience and show your skill sets. The bottom line is regardless of which format you choose, make sure your resume looks professional, highlights your skill sets by showing your accomplishments and not just your day to day work. last but not least make sure your resume is targeted towards the position you want, having a great looking resume will not get you the position if it does not match the skills needed for the position. Spend time on your resume, you might want to create several versions to best suit different positions.

This is one of the most important documents you can create, remember your initial meeting with potential employers is through your resume, make it count and it pay off by generating more calls from employers and leading to the next step.

August Ferradeira

I have created a 5-part "employment secrets" mini course. Sign up at

August Ferradeira

With Ten years in the recruiting industry, I have combined my experience and conversations with hundreds of hiring managers to create an eBook that explains what does and doesn't work in your job search. These rules apply for anyone who is job hunting.

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