Resume Format – Which One is Best?

Choosing a resume format can be tricky.  You want to select a style that is both aesthetically pleasing, and also meets your personal and professional needs.  There are 3 main types of resume formats from which you can choose.

The first resume format is the reverse chronological resume, the second is called the hybrid resume, and the third is the functional resume. Let’s discuss them individually.

Reverse Chronological Resume Format

The most traditional resume format is reverse chronological. This resume format provides work history in reverse order, beginning with the most recent job. Those with stable work histories who wish to highlight 10-15 years of experience will do well with a reverse chronological resume format.  A headline and branding statement, along with a summary and a list of core competencies will add value to the resume; and these components should be included prior to beginning the professional experience section.

Hybrid Resume Format

I often recommend a hybrid resume format in cases where a candidate is not currently employed, has a gap, or has relevant accomplishments that should be brought to the top of the resume.  As with the reverse chronological, the resume should begin with a powerful headline branding statement, a summary, and a list of core competencies. However, unlike the chronological section, the next section should focus on career highlights or select accomplishments. These can be listed generally or grouped by job title.

The nice thing about this section is that it does not necessarily need to be in reverse chronological order. If you are applying for a job that will utilize your skills from a position you held prior to your most recent role, you can list these relevant accomplishments first to provide maximum visibility.

Beneath the section highlighting your most relevant and appropriate career achievements you can begin to detail your experience in reverse chronological order. If you have a gap in your resume, you will already have given the reader good reasons to be interested in your background.

Functional Resume Format

Functional resumes highlight specific skills in multiple segments based on the duties you are capable of performing. If you have staff management skills for example, these could be listed in a single section. Your business development experience might be outlined in a separate section. A third section could discuss hands-on technical abilities within your area of expertise.

It has been my experience that functional resumes typically fall flat when it comes to getting interviews. Isn’t that what it is all about?

Functional resumes do not clearly define where the work was performed; they are vague. I have found that candidates who have a choppy career history and are attempting to cover gaps  often use this type of resume.  It seldom hides the obvious and may even raise red flags.

Remember, no matter which resume format you ultimately decide to use, the first portion of your resume is “prime real estate.”  As such, you need to create a compelling case immediately that will entice hiring managers and recruiters to continue reading and ultimately pick up the phone to call you for an interview.

President of Careers Done Write, a premier career services provider focused on developing highly personalized career road maps for senior leaders and executives across all verticals and industries.