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Choosing the Best Format for Your Resume

In today’s highly competitive business climate, there is tremendous pressure to fashion a resume that can easily be distinguished from the flood of other resumes that pass over the recruiting office threshold. While one can certainly be creative in crafting a resume, a job seeker does not want to be overly imaginative. A resume that resembles a wedding invitation, for instance, would be considered unprofessional and rather odd.

When formulating a resume, it is important that a job applicant follow standard business procedures. By doing so, the applicant shows that he or she is accustomed to working in a professional, success-oriented environment. While you may be able to add your own personal touch to your resume, it is best if you present a resume that is in one of the following formats: chronological, functional, or a combination of the two.

Taking the Chronological Course

By and large, the chronological resume is the simplest to compose and, in fact, many employers actually prefer it. The advantages of such a resume are that it indicates clearly up at the top what you’ve been doing in your most recent position. As the prospective employer scans down the resume, he or she can see where you came from and what special skills you’ve acquired along the way.

And yet, there are some noteworthy drawbacks to such a resume. For instance, if you’ve held a number of different jobs in the past few years, such a resume may suggest instability and a lack of follow-through. A chronological resume can also be a detriment to your job search if you have accumulated little work experience, if there are gaping holes in your employment history, if you have held widely divergent jobs, or if you’ve held the same job for a long period of time.

When Functional Works Best

If you believe that a chronological resume simply will not fit the bill, you might be better off with a functional format. Such a format de-emphasizes job history. Instead, the focus is on your professional achievements, your job skills, and your education. With this resume, you’ll be spotlighting your most relevant qualifications near the beginning of the resume. You’ll also be confident that you are showcasing your assets in the best possible way.

Yet, there are also some noteworthy disadvantages to a functional resume. To begin with, it is far from the standard format, so it can make an employer feel uncomfortable. In addition, an employer might jump to the conclusion that you are trying to hide important information by failing to list your jobs in chronological order. In fact, a number of resume-writing experts recommend avoiding the functional resume if at all possible.

The Combination Approach

Instead, if you’re in a position where a strictly chronological resume will not fulfill your requirements—for instance, if you’re a recent college graduate or you would like to switch careers—consider a combination format. Following this model, you will summarize your key qualifications at the beginning, as you would with a functional resume. Then, follow that with the education section or the work history section, depending on which is stronger. In the work history segment, begin with the first job you held, then work your way forward. Only include those duties which would be truly relevant to the position you’re currently seeking.

Still, you must remember that you’ll need to fine-tune your resume for each position you seek. As a result, a resume should be considered a work in progress, since it is constantly being updated and reworked. The minute you believe you’re finished with your resume, think again, since there is a great amount of tinkering you can do.

The Unconventional Approach

If you find the traditional chronological, functional, and combination formats to be seriously lacking, you might consider a skills-based resume. This type of resume is especially appropriate for job seekers who have just graduated from college and do not have a great deal of experience to list.

With the skills resume, you’ll be emphasizing the skills you’ve attained through various means, such as paid positions, volunteer activities, extra-curricular projects, even classroom work. This type of resume informs an employer up front of your abilities, showing them off to your best advantage. If you choose to submit this type of resume, a prospective employer might be impressed by the number of skills you’ve obtained—even though you are a relative newcomer to the job market.

However, it should be noted that not every employer will accept a skills-based resume. It can be confusing—especially to an employer who is accustomed to judging a job applicant by work history. Such a resume may also present a “red flag” to an employer indicating that you lack serious work experience.

Engage in Some Experimentation

If you have explored the various resume formats and you’re still uncertain of which one would be best for your purposes, consider engaging in some experimentation. Compose a resume in each of the major formats and compare and contrast them. If you engage in such an exercise, it is highly likely that the most appropriate format will nearly “leap” off the page—it will be that obvious to you, as well as to prospective employers. It may also be advisable for you to ask a friend who works in the same field to proofread your various versions so that you can obtain a second opinion. In a number of cases, a second pair of eyes can catch problems that the initial resume-writer missed.

A Word of Caution

While selecting an appropriate format for your resume is certainly important, it is not the only thing to consider when drafting your resume. You also have to be concerned with such stylistic decisions as type font, spacing, and italicization. For the most part, simpler is best, since you want to design a resume that is easily readable and will not cause an employer a great deal of eyestrain.

In the end, the greater consideration you give to the needs of an employer when drafting your resume, the more likely it is that you will construct a document that will serve your needs.

About the Author:

This article was written by the certified professional resume writers of Resume Writing Services. The writers at AccuroResumes will help create a perfect professional resume suited to your best needs. See why thousands of people are discovering the benefits of a perfect professional resume written by You are guaranteed to be 100% satisfied with your new, professional resume or, your money back. Reproductions of this article are encouraged, but must include a link pointing to

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