Choosing the Proper Resume Format (page 3)

Updated on Nov 30, 2010


Sample Functional Resumes

Your items within this section of your resume might look something like Exhibit 3–3.

Sample Functional Resumes

Below the Experience and Accomplishments section, a summary of your employment history should be featured. Format this section in reverse chronological order, as shown in Exhibit 3–4.

Sample Functional Resumes

Exhibit 3–5 shows an actual example of a functional resume, in part.

Sample Functional Resumes

Sample Functional Resumes

Who It's Best Suited For

For job seekers whose career path thus far doesn't fit nicely into a chronological resume format, the functional resume format is probably the next best thing to use. This resume format works best for:

  • Recent graduates with little or no real-world work experience
  • People with large or multiple gaps in their employment history
  • Highly trained job seekers who have little actual work experience
  • Job seekers with extensive unpaid volunteer work experience
  • Job seekers with non-work-related experience that helped them develop skills that will be useful in the workplace
  • People who are changing careers and will be working in a different industry, which was the reason behind the sample resume shown in Exhibit 3–5.

When to Avoid Using It

Most HR professionals prefer to see chronological resumes, because this format allows them to evaluate someone's entire career path in a matter of seconds. When an applicant doesn't use a chronological format, the reader might assume the applicant is trying to hide something about his or her past. When reading a functional resume, it's harder for a potential employer to put together an applicant's employment history or career path. To compensate for these potential drawbacks, it's critical that the information included on your functional resume be extremely relevant to the reader and to the job.

The Combination/Target Resume Format

If you pinpoint a specific job opportunity with a specific company and you want to create a customized resume specifically for that potential employer, you might consider using this resume format. All of the information included within this type of resume is used to support the statement, "I am the perfect applicant for this job, because…" Use this resume format if you already know the exact requirements and skills the job requires. When using this resume format, focus on why you're qualified to meet the job's requirements based on the skills you already have.

Using a targeted resume format allows you to combine elements of the chronological and functional formats. When listing your employment history (in reverse chronological order), the focus will be on showcasing your most marketable skills. The dates of employment, however, can be tucked away at the end of each employment listing, so it takes the emphasis away from any gaps in your employment history.

Sample Combination Resumes

Using the combination/target resume format, Exhibit 3–6 is an example of what one of the listings might look like under the Employment section of your resume.

Sample Combination Resumes

Who It's Best Suited For

This format works well for applicants who know exactly what job they want and who understand the exact job requirements of a position. Thus, your resume can be custom tailored to the employer's requirements. This type of resume also works well for someone who posseses the skills needed to fill a specific job, but doesn't have related work experience.

When to Avoid Using It

Because this resume is targeted for a specific position with a specific employer, the main drawback to this format is that if you're not offered the job you want (because the employer doesn't think you're qualified, for example), you might not be considered for similar opportunities from that employer.

Great Idea!

"When looking at a resume, what I first notice is a consistency in resume format. I look at the order the candidate lists his skills, make sure the fonts are consistent, and check that the way he lists his education and experience is consistent. An inconsistent format signals an inconsistent worker who isn't detail oriented."



Biographical Resume Format

Someone who is applying for a non-traditional job and is extremely accomplished in his or her field might use a biographical resume.

This resume format is typically one page long, however, it lists someone's accomplishments using several paragraphs of text (composed of complete sentences as opposed to bulleted points). Because the applicant is submitting a full page of text, this format takes longer for someone to read and pinpoint pertinent information. Nevertheless, if you're already highly respected in your industry and have extensive experience, this resume format is useful. When submitting a resume is more of a formality than a requirement when applying for a job, this is the resume format to use.

When printing a biographical-style resume, use 8½-by-11-inch paper, and an easily readable font (such as Times Roman) printed in a 12-point size. To make the document easier to read, consider using line-and-a-half spacing and taking advantage of 1¼-inch left and right margins, as well as 1-inch top and bottom margins.

At the top of this resume, include your basic heading information (full name, address, phone numbers, e-mail address, etc.). This should be followed by one or two paragraphs listing your most recent achievements. Continue describing your professional accomplishments and employment experience in reverse chronological order. Thus, details about your educational background are listed toward the bottom of the page.

In terms of popularity, this style of resume isn't too common, so by submitting it to a potential employer, chances are you will stand out. Unless you have extremely impressive credentials, you should not use this resume format.

If you read other resume books or speak with resume-writing experts, some recommend using alternative, but less popular, resume formats. The linear, accomplishment, professional, and academic curriculum vitae resume formats are among the others you might read and hear about.

Although you want to stand out from the other applicants, it's important to provide HR professionals or recruiters with the information they desire and need—in the format they're used to receiving it. Thus, although you should incorporate some of your own creativity into the design of your resume, it's an excellent strategy to stick with a popular and widely accepted resume format.

Electronic Resumes

An electronic or digital resume is one that will be e-mailed to a potential employer, posted on a career-related website, or included within an online resume database. Some employers that accept electronic resumes have a specific pre-defined resume form on the company website that must be completed online to be accepted. This also holds true for the majority of career-related websites.

Other employers that accept electronic resumes request that the documents be created and saved in a specific file format, such as Microsoft Word, Rich Text Format, or ASCII. When creating an electronic resume, adhere exactly to the formatting specifications provided by the employer or career-related website.

Instead of following the same format as a traditional printed resume, use keywords as opposed to action verbs to describe your employment history, skills, and education. For more information about how to create an electronic resume and how to take full advantage of today's computer technology and cyberspace when searching for a job, see Chapter 7.

To use an electronic resume, you must have access to the Web as well as your own e-mail account. If you don't own your own computer, you can find connected computers at a public library, a college/university, an Internet café, or by visiting a friend or relative who owns a computer. It is not advisable to use the Web access or e-mail address at your current place of employment for your job search.

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