En Route: A Career Blog

Different Resume Formats for Different Needs

AUTHOR: Darlene Zambruski
POSTED: October 25, 2011 at 9:59 am

If you’ve ever researched resumes online or have written one yourself, you know that the basic resume format is an opening summary (or an objective) followed by professional experience and ending with education.

For many of us, that format works just fine.

But what if your circumstances are different and you don’t have a consistent work history? What if you have gaps? Spotty employment? You’ve job hopped a lot? What then?

No Resume Format Works Equally Well for Everyone 

You need to consider other resume formats to minimize those deficiencies as much as possible.

The most popular resume format is the reverse chronological. You present your most recent job first, followed by the next most recent and on and on. Employers prefer this type of resume as it clearly shows job progression, length of employment and gaps.

Since gaps are a negative, many candidates want to hide them. The format they might choose is called functional. In a functional resume, a skills section follows the opening summary (or objective), stating the individual’s strengths. For a salesperson that might be cold calling, closing, upselling, etc. This section, rich with detail, is then followed by an employment area with no detail whatsoever. The idea here is to show what you know rather than where you learned and used it.

While that might seem like a good idea, know this – hiring managers don’t like functional formats because they do hide gaps.

Finding the Right Resume Format for You

Keeping that in mind, another format has become popular and it’s called a combination resume. In this type of document, a skills section follows the opening summary…showing the candidate’s knowledge and abilities in a particular industry or position. Following that is the professional experience section in a reverse chronological order. Details are provided. Dates given. Yes, the gaps are still there for all to see; however, the hope is that the previous skills section is so strong that a hiring manager will still be impressed enough to consider the individual for an interview.

If you have a less than perfect background – and most of us have something we’re worried about – then it’s wise to organize your data to showcase your strengths and minimize any negatives.  The correct resume format can go a long way toward doing that.

Darlene Z.

Darlene Zambruski is a resume writing expert and CPRW (Certified Professional Resume Writer) with more than 13 years of industry experience. She has authored 10,000+ resumes in every industry and at every career level.

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