Best Resume Format

Many job seekers agonize over which resume format to use -- chronological or functional? Will choosing one format over the other impact the effectiveness of the resume? Yes it can, but not in the way that most job seekers think it will. The two types of resume formats are very different. Chronological format details the job history in reverse time order, starting with the most recent position and working backwards. This format is the one that most recruiters and hiring managers prefer. Chronological Format Benefits to using a chronological resume include: * Shows your results. The reader can specifically see when and where a candidate achieved results. The guess work is eliminated. * Shows your range. A chronological format highlights flexibility. Many job seekers have held varying positions over their careers, often in different functions, and roles. A good strategy is to showcase that diversity. * Shows your record of success. The progression of a candidate's career, records of promotion, and increases in responsibility are shown clearly. These attest to a candidate's performance record and drive to succeed. Some job seekers worry about employment. Small gaps in employment (a year or less) are common these days. Layoffs, mergers, and acquisitions impact nearly everyone's lives. Handled strategically, they can be minimized in a chronological resume. Functional Format Also known as a "skills resume" it has the content arranged according to performance type and function. A human resource professional for example, might divide his/her skills into categories such as Employee Training, Benefits Management, and Workforce Development. Under each category, the relevant information would be listed or described. A brief work history listing comes at the end of the document listing job title, employer, and dates. I've seen some functional resumes with no employment dates at all. That is a big mistake. A functional format is generally chosen when attempting to make a career change or to minimize a career blemish. Often, the functional format is used when a large span of time is missing from the work history. Problems associated with the functional resume: * Where's the information? Recruiters and hiring managers dislike hunting for information. They want to see past performance, and understand your background. * What's the context? The functional format takes away all frames of reference. A candidate might claim attaining a record breaking sales contract but the reader is unable to place that in context in terms of time and employer. Was that success in sales recent or ten years ago? It's difficult to tell in a functional resume. * What's the problem? Recruiters and hiring managers know that the functional format is often used to try to cover something up. The functional format serves as a red flag -- "What is this candidate trying to hide?" The use of the format to overcome a detriment actually serves to draw attention to it. Today's job seeker is wise to stick with the chronological format as it provides the necessary information to urge the reader to contact the candidate for an interview. Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC), is the president of, a resume writing firm that provides mid-management and senior level professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. offers a free resume critique, and their services come with a guarantee -- interviews in 30 days or they'll rewrite for free!

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