There are two primary resume formats—chronological and functional.
A chronological resume is exactly what it sounds like—a resume organized by date. A functional resume is instead organized by skills or major accomplishments/career highlights. Often, functional resumes are used by people who want to minimize gaps in their careers—whether it’s because they were laid off, had a medical issue, opted to stay home to raise children, or for any other reason someone might have for being without a job for an extended period of time.
If you don’t have gaps in your job history, a chronological resume is a great choice of format for you.
However, many people do have some kind of gap in their job history. But I do not recommend using a true functional resume. Doing so makes it clear you’re trying to hide or minimize something. Instead, a hybrid of the chronological and functional resume formats is the right choice for most job seekers.
A hybrid resume format allows you to showcase at the beginning of your resume the skills and accomplishments that are a great fit for the specific job you’re applying to, with the chronology of your past jobs presented later in the document. A section of Career Highlights could even take up the entire first page of the resume demonstrating your value and qualifications to help buttress any questions the employer may have once they’ve seen the gaps in your job history.
A hybrid format is also an excellent way to demonstrate to an employer that your skills are transferable to a new industry or new type of position. Rather than being immediately pigeon-holed because your chronology shows your working in only one industry, you can tailor your career highlights and valuable skills to fit the new role and new industry you are hoping to land a job in.
If you’re not sure whether a chronological or hybrid resume format is right for you, try playing around with it a bit and see which one comes across as stronger. It might quickly become clear to you which format allows you to immediately impress a potential employer and getting and keeping their attention is the most important thing.
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