Choosing a Professional Resume Format

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Professional Resume Writing

There is a lot involved in creating a professional resume that is attention grabbing and lands interviews. Did you know that some job postings can bring in as many as 500-1,000 resumes? And, recruiters will spend between 10 and 30 seconds reviewing a resume with their primary goal being to whittle down the piles of resumes that they receive each day to a manageable stack of “keepers”. Obviously, there is a lot of competition out there from other job seekers vying for the same position.

You’ll need to start your resume writing by deciding on a format. There are essentially 3 different resume formats: the chronological resume, the functional resume and the combination resume. Each has its advantages and disadvantages which is explained below.

The Chronological Resume Format

The chronological resume format is the most common and the one that people are most familiar with. In the chronological format, each of your jobs and corresponding descriptions of responsibilities are listed in chronological order starting with the most recent job. Dates of each job are included on the resume and it usually includes a career objective section, skills & attributes section or profile section and an education section.

The Functional Resume Format

The functional resume format is not as common and most often recommended for people who have gaps in their work history or for those who have been out of the workforce for a while. What is most prominent about this resume format is the candidate’s skills, attributes and accomplishments. A career objective should also be included as well as any educational qualifications. The actual jobs however, do not include the dates. The career history section will typically be limited to a list of company names, location of each company and job titles. One advantage to using this format is that it usually shortens the length of a resume. If you’ve got a 25 year job history and several jobs where you’ve performed a lot of the same duties, you can imagine how lengthy (not to mention repetitive) your resume might get. The functional resume format is an effective way to reduce the number of pages that an employer will have to read and will make your application more impactful. The disadvantage to this resume format is that recruiters don’t like it. They get suspicious about your job history if no dates are included and may toss it in the garbage if it raises too many questions. Although, at one time I used a functional resume because in my chronological resume I had gaps in my work history that I suspected were keeping the phone from ringing with interview requests. I changed the format from chronological to functional and the phone started to ring! So, for the best of both worlds, you might want to try the combination resume if you’ve got gaps in your work history or have been out of the workforce for a while.

The Combination Resume Format

The combination resume as its name implies, combines the best of both the chronological resume and the functional resume. A functional resume format is followed but the job dates are included. The employer is primarily interested in knowing what value you can bring to the company so that if your first page (or the first 2/3rds) of your resume can effectively show what value you bring to the company, then any gaps may be overlooked in favour of bringing you in for an interview.

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