The Art of the Resume – What Format to Use?

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As a part of our ongoing job seeker series “The Art of the Job Search,” we’ve created a series of tips regarding resume writing and promotion. The first installment in the resume series discusses the various formats you can use, depending on the type of position for which you are applying.

Being a job seeker can be a full time job. First, you research your target industries and find the companies you feel would be the best fit. You network with employees at those companies, attend job fairs, and search job boards to see what types of jobs are in demand. For all the work you do, is your resume helping or hurting you? Think of your cover letter and resume as your personal marketing pieces – what the employer will reference again and again when considering you for their company. Does your resume encompass all that you can offer? Does it stand out from the crowd?

The first thing to consider when creating or redoing your resume is the format. Different formats can be used to accomplish certain career goals. The traditional resume formats include chronological, functional, and a combination of both.

The chronological format lists your education and experience in order, most recent first. You can use this format when you want a position in your current industry, you have extensive experience, or you can demonstrate upward movement in your positions. These factors prove you are ready for the next step in your career.

The functional format revolves around accomplishments in your career. Use this format when you want to make a career change and feel your experience could be used in a new industry, if you have held many different jobs in a short period of time, or you are returning to work after long absence.

The combination format presents your relevant skills in chronological order. This format can be used whether you want to move to a new industry or remain in your current field. The combination format is also a good option when you have gaps in employment, want to express how your skills in other types of work, such as volunteering, can be transferred to the position, or when your past job titles do not encompass all of your responsibility in that position. 

Regardless of the format you select, it is most important to tailor your resume to the position for which you are applying. As you look over your experience, does it mirror the qualifications required in the posting?

Here are some general formatting tips to leave the employer ready to learn more after reading your resume.

  • Make sure your resume is easy to read with clearly defined sections (Education, Experience, etc.) and bullet point lists of responsibilities and accomplishments.
  • Include proper spelling and grammar, double check that all text is in the same font, and that there are distinct heading and bullet point list sizes. Your name and contact information should be the largest font for quick recognition.
  • Demonstrate all relevant training in your Education section. Do you have a certification the employer would be interested in seeing?
  • Along with your responsibilities in each job you include, list accomplishments you feel could be applied to the position to which you are applying.
  • Have references ready upon request from the employer who can vouch for your experience and accomplishments.
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2 thoughts on “The Art of the Resume – What Format to Use?

    • Hi Neeraj, It is very good that you continue to read articles like this and for applications, you need to check and recheck spelling. For instance the word “I” is always capitalized. If you don’t capitalize it, people have a tendency to believe you don’t think highly of yourself. It would be like not capitalizing your name. Some words have unusual spellings like the word “doubt” with its’ silent b. Usually when typing on a computer, an error in spelling is underlined in red (as your name came up underlined for me because it’s unusual and not in the dictionary.) If yours does not and you are not sure if you have any typos, a second set of eyes from a friend checking what you type is always a good idea. (English is my one and only language and I find it helpful.) I hope you continue to look at these postings. Like you, I have found them beneficial. Cheers and many wishes for your success in your search. Marla Stevens

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