Resume Format

Before the recession the traditional resume, which emphasizes a candidate's full-time work history, was edging toward obsolescence. And now that record numbers of job seekers are pursuing career changes, opportunities in new industries or freelance work, the chronological resume has been supplanted by formats better-suited for transitioning workers.

If you're pursuing a new career, or have changed jobs frequently, a chronological resume may emphasize your shortcomings to a reviewer or understate your greatest assets - most notably your transferrable skills and experience. Fortunately, you have the option of selecting from a variety of resume formats, including blended styles that combine the best portions of each version. As long as the resume conveys your message clearly and concisely - contains no spelling or grammatical errors - almost anything goes.

Here are some formats:

  • Chronological (sometimes called "reverse chronological"): Historically, chronological resumes start with an objective statement, while the main body lists the candidate's previous positions, tasks and major accomplishments. They're ideal for someone with a stable work history, who wants to do the same job at a new company. Modern job seekers insert a marketing or branding statement instead of an objective and include a brief summary of qualifications before listing their tech skills and work history.
  • Functional format: Best for contractors, career changers and those wanting to apply to a variety of positions using one resume. It highlights the candidate's cumulative expertise and transferrable skills. Job seekers consolidate their expertise under major categories, then offer an abbreviated list of jobs or assignments where they acquired their experience, omitting the specific employment dates. Contractors may want to provide the duration of each project (such as "six months") or give interviewers a supplemental project list, providing more details about each gig.
  • Targeted format: This focuses your skills and experience toward a specific position or company. It's great for candidates who know they want to work as a network administrator at a health care facility, for example. It's preferred by reviewers, because it connects the dots between your experience and the position.
  • Blended format: If you have a stable work history, but prefer to highlight your relevant skills and accomplishments, choose a blended format. Candidates highlight their relevant experience using a summary from a functional or targeted format, followed with a chronological work history. The format helps job seekers direct the reviewer toward their transferrable or matching skills without raising a red flag about their stability.

-- Leslie Stevens-Huffman