Formatting Your Resume for the Job You Want


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I’m going to let you in on a little secret: no one enjoys working on their resume. It’s a boring task to take on, and requires a lot of focus on selling yourself on paper – which isn’t something that comes naturally to most people. You want to know an even bigger secret? Nobody enjoys reading resumes either. Okay, so maybe that’s not a secret. In fact, you probably already knew it. But knowing that most hiring managers loathe this part of their job, and understanding the statistics that point to how little time they actually spend looking at specific resumes before making a decision (studies pinpoint anywhere from 8 to 30 seconds) is not an excuse to take a lazy approach with your resume. In fact, it’s even more reason for your resume to be perfect – you want something formatted to catch a hiring manager’s eye in those brief few seconds you have their attention. That’s right: formatting matters. What a lot of people may not realize is that there are three main ways to format a resume, and the format you choose should absolutely take into consideration the job you are applying for and the skills you have to offer.

Chronological

A chronological resume is the standard format you probably learned from your high school guidance counselor. It involves listing out your previous employment in a reverse chronological format at the top of your resume, ending off with things like education and awards received. Under each job, you might also list some of the duties you fulfilled in that role. You would want to use this resume format if you were applying for a job in the same field you have always worked in, as your previous job titles likely serve as proof of your experience and background.

Functional & Skills Based

If, however, you are looking to make a job change or have had a gap in your employment history, a functional/skills resume may be the way to go. This resume format starts by listing out your skills, and sometimes applicable experience, rather than your previous job titles. Depending on the job you are applying for, you might divide those details up into two or three specific skill sets, listing out previous applicable experience you have had under each of those headers. This is a way of highlighting what you are capable of, above what your previous titles have been. It is a good way to show hiring managers that you have what it takes to do the job, even if your previous job history doesn’t automatically make that clear. An example might be if you were applying for a job in sales and had only previously worked in clerical positions. Instead of listing out your job titles, you could list out the skills and experience you had that might be applicable to a sales job – focusing on your customer service skill-sets.

Combination

A combination resume is basically just a hybrid of the chronological and functional resume formats. You would start by listing out those skills and focusing on what you are capable of, ending with a basic reverse chronological listing of your previous job titles and companies you have worked with. In this resume format, you would preserve your actual experience for the skills section, and leave the job titles list to just that – a simple list of previous job titles, without further delving into what each of those jobs entailed. This might be the right resume to use if you are hoping to advance in your career and want to highlight your capabilities, but also see your previous moves up the ladder in your field as being proof of your experience in the industry.

About Kylie Hammond
Executive Search Consultant, Head-Hunter, HR Consultant, Executive Career Coach, Expert Resume Writer & Executive Talent Agent.

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