Choosing the Right Format
There’s no one right way to put a resume together and there are many different formats that are considered acceptable in the business world. Which one you use depends on your experience and the type of job you want. Deciding which is best for you is not difficult if you understand the advantages and disadvantages of each. There are four (4) primary resume formats to choose from:
The following guidelines will assist you in selecting the best format.
The chronological resume is designed to highlight progressive career
growth and advancement. It is easy to read and can be quickly scanned
for employment history. For these reasons, it is the most accepted
format among hiring authorities. In fact, many even prefer and/or
The chronological resume is most suitable when:
- You have a steady and consistent employment history with no major gaps
in employment and have not changed career tracks recently.
- Your employment history has been one of progressively responsible positions.
- Your titles have been impressive and/or you have been recently employed at well-known companies.
- Your major accomplishments have been achieved in your most recent positions.
- You are seeking a career in a field where this format is expected.
Resume Sample - Chronological Format
The functional resume highlights key skills, accomplishments, and
qualifications at the top of the resume, regardless of where they have
occurred in your career. Your employment history is de-emphasized by
placing it toward the bottom of your resume and by documenting a simple
listing rather than details of each position. In this way, the
functional resume firmly places the focus on what you have accomplished rather
than when or where it was achieved.
Unfortunately, many hiring authorities don’t like this format, as it is
generally believed that the functional resume is used to hide some
deficiency in your career history.
Despite this, the functional format
can be very effective when:
- Most of your achievements and accomplishments occurred in a past position.
- You have recently graduated from high school or college.
- You have been out of the job market for some time and are trying to re-enter.
- You are an older worker and want to de-emphasize age.
- You have held a variety of unconnected positions.
- You are changing career tracks.
- You are returning to a previous line of work.
Resume Sample - Functional Format
The combination format combines the benefits of both the chronological
and the functional formats. By beginning with a summary (functional
format) of your most impressive qualifications, skills, abilities, and
accomplishments, it immediately places the emphasis where you want it.
This is followed by an employment history section, written in the
chronological format, which supports the statements made in your
The combination format is well accepted by hiring authorities and you should consider using it when:
- You have a steady and progressive employment history.
- You are applying for a position for which the chronological resume is
expected but you also want to highlight qualifications from earlier
- You are writing a targeted resume and need an effective way to match your skills to the job requirements.
Resume Sample - Combination Format
A targeted resume is used to focus your resume toward a specific career
objective, performed in a specific industry, and for a specific
company. The content of a targeted resume is written to highlight the
skills, qualifications, and experience that match the requirements of
your job target.
You may want to consider writing a targeted resume when:
- You know the title of the position you are interested in and have a
good idea of the qualifications that will be required for entry into
- You are sending your resume in response to an employment advertisement.
- You are writing or revising your resume to apply to a specific company.
- You have several different specific career objectives and want a different resume for each one.
Now that you have chosen your resume format, you are ready to write your content. Get started today with TAG’s Resume Planning Worksheet and other resume resources.