Choosing the right resume format may seem like a small-scale decision but a lot rests on this choice. Optimizing a resume for a job is a science all of its own and deciding between a chronological, functional, or combination resume format can have a big impact.
Whether you are creating your own template or are using an online resume builder to get the job done, choosing the most suitable format is a decision that needs to be well made. In this article, we explain how to make that choice effectively and look in-depth at the different types of resumes you can pick between.
What resume format should you choose for your application?
Generally speaking, there are three main resume formats that employers expect to see from candidates. These include the following template arrangements:
- Chronological resumes
- Combination resumes
- Functional resumes
Let’s look over each of these three in detail and examine which works best under which circumstances. Whilst there is one clear overall winner in terms of choice, sometimes the other two can give you a clear advantage and help you into contention.
Chronological format resumes: The number one choice
The king of resume formats has to be the chronological resume. This is by far the most popular template layout for both employers and candidates at the moment.
Chronological resumes come with many inbuilt advantages, the biggest being that they help you highlight your work experience. This helps you prioritize the most important information that any recruiter wants to see.
This style of resume also helps give the reader a better overall picture of your career progression. The template is usually arranged in reverse-chronological order, starting with your most recent work experience at the top and following down to an earlier position.
The only disadvantage to chronological format resumes, however, is that they are quite standard in today’s job market. Therefore they can appear stale compared to other more varied templates.
Combination format resumes: The best of both worlds
Combination format resumes aren’t as popular as the chronological variant. Yet they do offer a few advantages that make them worthy of consideration.
The first of these is that they allow candidates to strike a balance between showcasing their abilities and their professional experience. This is because the template places the skills section in a more prominent position than on a chronological design.
Combination resumes are usually worth considering if you have attained any specific skills that set you apart from the competition. This can help you quickly get an edge over other candidates whilst still emphasizing your career experience.
Additionally, combination format documents won’t conform exactly to the expectations of the recruiter, making it that little bit more memorable. That stand-out capacity could pay off when the hiring manager is making their shortlist.
Functional format resumes: Useful in some situations
Functional format resumes are the outliers in these times but they were once the most popular design of all. Whilst they are a little outdated for today’s necessities they can still pack a punch in the right circumstances.
Like combination formats, they place a great deal of emphasis on your skills. However, they also dedicate a lot less attention to your work experience.
Despite the fact that that these types of resumes do not give as clear a picture of your professional expertise as other kinds of templates, this can actually work to your advantage in some circumstances. Functional resumes can be handy if there are any gaps in your experience or you’re reentering the workforce after a prolonged break.
Furthermore, this is perhaps the best style of resume to use when you want to make a career change. This is because you can draw more attention to your transferable skills rather than highlighting any lack of relevant experience.
Why resume formats matter
Every job application is a fight for the recruiter’s attention and your resume has to be tuned to deal with that. One study showed that hiring managers spend as little as 7.4 seconds skimming through resumes for details. Therefore, the juiciest details on your document have to stand out fast.
The same research also found that layouts that suited F-pattern and E-pattern reading habits got the best results overall. It’s, therefore, crucial to making sure that the information you include is easily findable based on this criterion.
With some job openings attracting hundreds of resumes for just one position, it is vital to make sure that your information is well organized. This ensures that your document is poised to impress with the data that an employer is likely to be looking out for.
By tailoring your resume to this need, you’ll get the best results. Always make sure to look over the job description of the position being advertised to make the formatting decision easier.
Other ways to make your resume stand out better
Once you’ve chosen the ideal resume format for the position you’re targeting there are still many other ways to make your document even more effective. A few essential styling tips can help you do this.
It is critical that your document is easy to read as well as being correctly formatted. This will reduce the time it takes for an employer to scan through your document and will also help your most hirable features come to the fore.
This can be done by applying the following characteristics to your resume:
- Use plenty of white space to keep the text legible
- Add clear headings and subheadings to each section
- Write in a legible font such as Arial, Times New Roman, or Calibri
- Keep your text a consistent size 12 throughout
- Use bullet points to summarize your work experience and skills
Whether you create your document using a resume builder online or make your own template from scratch, always remember that the format you choose and the information you prioritize are decisive to your success. Make sure to choose wisely.