The format, or style of your resume, is a little bit like the outfit you put on – in this case, put on your resume.
What you choose to wear each day depends on you purpose, your agenda that day. Even your classic black and white “staples” can be worn in many styles – casual to professional looks – depending where you are going, right? Different looks are better for different situations.
Chronological vs. Functional formats:
Similarly, there is not one ‘right’ way to format your resume. It depends on your situation, what you are trying to accomplish, and on your work history.
- The traditional, classic style that shows your work history from most recent position backwards through time. It shows not only WHAT you did but WHERE & WHEN you did it.
- Choose the Chronological format if you’re staying in the same field (especially if you’ve been, and want to be, upwardly-mobile on the career ladder.)
- Note: Because this is the most known and traditionally used format, some managers prefer it.
- Is more suited for specific purposes and situations. Choose a Functional format if you’re changing fields, because a skills-oriented format shows off your transferable skills better and takes the focus off your old job-titles.
- Organizes your experience into 2-5 “skill sets” or categories, and lists your reverse chronological work history after these categories. It shows WHAT you did, but NOT WHERE OR WHEN.
- Note: Some employers have a bias against functional resumes because in the past they were known to be used to try to ‘hide’ something in someone’s work history. This has changed a lot in recent years, as many job seekers shift careers/industries as our work climates shift and change. Do not be afraid to use a functional format if it fits your needs.
Have more questions about formatting your resume and picking the best style for YOU and your unique background and current career goals in your job search?
THE GREAT DEBATES: Answers to long standing and much discussed questions about resumes over three weeks of posts.
2. Chronological vs. Functional formats