Resume Format Guide: Functional, Chronological, and Combo
Among the many concerns of jobseekers when preparing their application letter and resume has to do with formatting. They know the importance of the resume in making them stand out among a large pool of applicants, so they wrack their brains over how to write it in a way that will work in their favor.
So, to be on the safe side, applicants look for resume templates that will serve as their guide in preparing their resumes. They go on the internet, do a brief search, and they will then have access to many resume-writing guides.
In fact, there are even tools that will allow them to simply input the information required and, with just a click of the mouse or a button, a completed resume will be generated, ready for submission to the companies they are applying to.
It certainly does make life easier. However, there is the question on whether it will achieve the desired results or not.
There is also the matter on customization. Ask resume experts and they will tell you that one of the best things you can do to make your resume stand out is to tailor it in a way that it will fit the job that you are applying for, and the company that you want to be employed in. Now, won’t using a pre-made resume template contradict that principle?
That is why they decide to start from scratch when preparing their resume. In this article, we will take a look at the different resume formats currently in use, and how to prepare them.
CHOOSING THE BEST RESUME FORMAT
There are three styles or formats that are accepted in the preparation of resume: the functional style, the reverse chronological style, and the hybrid or combination style. Basically, the differences in resume styles or formats revolve around how the experience, skills and qualifications of the applicant are presented.
When choosing what format to use for your resume, the following should be considered:
- The degree of alignment of the applicant’s past work experience with the requirements of the job
- The quality and quantity of work experience accumulated by the applicant
- The consistency of work experience of the applicant
In the succeeding discussions you will understand how the abovementioned factors will impact the choice of resume format.
THE FUNCTIONAL RESUME
The primary aim of the functional resume is to call the attention of the hiring manager or recruiter to the relevant skills, abilities and talents of the applicant that meet the job requirements of the open position.
More attention is placed on what the applicants skills are over the question on where, when and how they were learned or acquired. This format is especially helpful to hiring managers because they can easily spot those skills that are specifically required by the position or job that they are trying to fill. Therefore, you are not likely to find any section devoted to the prior work experience or history of the applicant in the resume.
This format is not a particular favorite among recruiters and hiring managers, since it offers a gray area on matters such as the reliability of the candidate, as well as his longevity if he is to be hired for the position. There is also the issue on the candidate possessing specific skills, but the resume does not provide any indication of how those skills were put to use.
However, there is no denying that this format is still widely being used in several industries, but mostly for executive and higher positions. In general, functional resumes are disliked by some recruiters because it is formatted in a way that seems like the candidate is hiding something.
Start by watching this video on how to write a great resume.
When to use this format
The functional format is best used by candidates applying for an executive or specialist position.
Use this format if:
- You have substantial work experience. This is why the functional resume is not recommended for entry-level candidates, or those who are applying for their first job. They still have nothing to write down in the experience section, which will result in a seemingly empty and disappointing resume.
- You have relevant and diverse transferable skills. Keep in mind that this format highlights skills. It does not make sense to use this resume format when you do not have any skills or experience to list down. If you also happen to have the relevant skills, but do not have a lot of work experience in that particular field or industry, the functional resume format will work just fine.
- You want to highlight and reiterate the fact that you are a very strong candidate for the job. The job will have its requirements, and you want to immediately make them note that you are able to meet those requirements.
- You have many gaps, with some of them unusually lengthy, in your experience and you want to hide them. You may have stopped working for more than a year for personal reasons. You do not want this to be easily noted by the hiring manager when going over your resume. The trick is to find a way to keep them from noticing that large employment gap, and this format will help you do exactly that.
- You want to change careers or move into a new industry. You may have decided to switch careers, or move from one industry to another. This format allows you to highlight your skills instead of your work journey.
Writing the Functional Resume
A functional resume should have the following sections and inclusions.
- Name and Contact Information of the applicant: Stick to the basics: your name, phone number, e-mail address and mailing address. If you also happen to have a personal website with information that will be relevant to your skills and qualifications, include the URL in this section. The name should immediately jump out at first glance, so write it in a font size that will make it the largest text on the page.
- Education, since it is usually the first gauge of whether the applicant is qualified for the job or not. Again, stick to the basics, such as the name of the university or school graduated from, its location, the degree that you earned and the year you graduated.
- Certifications and Licenses Held, including educational honors and recognitions
- Career Achievements, or significant milestones in the career
- Relevant Skills and Knowledge: These are the career skills and knowledge the applicant has accumulated over time that have an impact on the job being applied for. Choose at least three relevant skills and provide a list of evidence of such skills and abilities.
Other important points to remember
Present lists in bullet point form. This is for easier reading and to make the resume neat and look more professional.
You may exclude entirely the section on previous work experiences or history. This effectively minimizes or eliminates the use of specific job titles as well as inclusive dates of employment.
If you feel inclined to include a section for your professional experience, you may do so, but you can exclude dates and duration, especially on the areas where you have large and unusual gaps in employment.
THE CHRONOLOGICAL RESUME
The chronological structure of the resume allows the candidate to present himself in terms of job merits and achievements
It is to be noted that chronology in this format is done in reverse, which is why it is also known as the “reverse chronological format”. The items are listed according to the dates, but with the most recent items on top of the list, and the oldest ones at the bottom.
This is under the assumption that the most recent work experience is considered to be the most relevant, and the oldest are the least relevant, which is why they are not given as much highlight or emphasis, and are relegated at the end of the list.
When to use this format
The chronological format may be used in resumes for entry-level applicants looking to get into a company, as well as mid-level and executive applicants who are seeking a boost to their careers.
Use this format if:
- You want to demonstrate a steady and upward progression of their career, tracing their journey from the bottom. Highlighting your climb in your career will show how much you have grown – personally and professionally – and how that growth can potentially be done in the new job if you are selected for it.
- You want to apply to a job in the same industry or similar field. This is so that your work experience will be relevant to the new company you are applying to. If you are applying in a new industry or field, all your previous work experience and history will be unrelated to the new job you are targeting and, in the eyes of the hiring manager, will be irrelevant. In short, you will be listing down your work experience when they will not be of use for you at all.
- You have been continuously working throughout your career, and in the same field, and you do not have large gaps in your work history and experience. If you are the type to have changed jobs frequently, this will not be an ideal format, since it will highlight how you have changed jobs too often to be able to acquire mastery or relevant experience on the job. In a similar manner, if you have a lot of gaps in your employment history, where you had to take multiple hiatus from work, this will also be a poor choice of a resume format. The chronology will be broken in many parts, and will only serve to highlight how you have been idle several times in the past.
Feel free to use the following free CV templates.
Writing the Chronological Resume
A chronological resume should have the following sections and inclusions.
- Name and Contact Information of the applicant, the same as you would write them in a functional resume format.
- Resume Objective or Introduction: You may choose to start your resume by stating your career objective, professional profile or qualifications summary, whichever applies to you best. If you have a wealth of experience and skills, then a qualifications summary is the best way to start things off.
- Work History and Experience: Aside from listing your actual professional experience, you should also list down your achievements, and how you excelled or performed very well in each of the roles or jobs you have undertaken. A good way to snag attention is to use action words or verbs when writing your list. This is where you will also list down the skills and knowledge you have acquired from these experiences.
- Education background and history of the applicant, including certifications, honors received and licenses held
Other important points to remember
Present lists in bullet point form to facilitate reading by the recruiter or hiring manger.
The reverse-chronological order of listing details will apply in particular to the work history and experience section.
This format includes job titles as well as inclusive employment dates. The work history and experience should also include description of the tasks and the accomplishments while performing the job.
You may switch the order Education and Work History or Experience. Students or new graduates are advised to put their Education background first, since they lack professional experience.
You may opt to add an “Additional Skills” section to include any other skills that are not in your work history or experience section, but you consider relevant to the target job.
THE HYBRID/COMBO RESUME
As the name implies, this format combines the functional and chronological formats, taking the best parts about each format to come up with something that will “advertise” the applicant to recruiters and employers.
Where do the functional and chronological elements come in?
In a combination or hybrid resume, the relevant skills and qualifications are presented first, followed by sections where the work experience and education background are presented in reverse-chronological order.
There is a general preference for this resume among employers and hiring managers, since it highlights the skills and work experience of the applicant, while also providing information on his work history. It allows recruiters, who receive and read hundreds of resumes on a daily basis, to grasp the suitability of the candidates “much quicker and more effectively”.
When to use this format
This format is ideal for applicants of mid-level positions and even executive positions, or for applicants with a great deal of work experience.
Use this format if:
- You have a specialized and relevant skill set that you want to highlight or showcase. You feel that your skill set is well-developed enough, probably even more than other applicants, and you want to drive that home with the employer or recruiter. If you want to emphasize your educational background and accomplishments, this is not the best resume choice for you.
- You have gained superior mastery or expertise in your chosen field or career. Again, you will be highlighting your skills first, followed by a listing of your movement up the ranks. It goes without saying that, if you lack the relevant skills and qualifications, you should stay away from this format.
- You want to transfer to a different industry, and you want to highlight your transferable skills instead of your career path so far, but you still want to include the latter to demonstrate how you have come to acquire those skills. This will the spotlight on your skills, rather than on how you are making a major career change.
- You have you have very little work experience or a short work history. By showcasing your skills first, you are drawing less attention to your lack of work experience. Impress them with the skills that you have so that, by the time they get to see how little experience you have, it won’t have too much of an impact.
- You are re-entering the workforce after a long time off work. Normally, in a chronological resume, this large gap will be deemed unusual and unfavorable for the candidate. By using the hybrid resume, the impact of that gap will be lessened or diminished, since you will be highlighting your skills instead.
Writing the Combination or Hybrid Resume
A combination resume should have the following sections and inclusions.
- Name and Contact Information of the applicant, just as you would in a functional and chronological format
- Professional Profile or Qualifications Summary to serve as your resume introduction. If you use a professional profile, you can immediately start off by writing about the skills you have acquired in your previous employment history. If it is through a qualifications summary, emphasis will be on your achievements in your work by using those skills that you have.
- Additional Skills: This is an optional section in the chronological format, but this may be an important section in the combination format, precisely because you want to highlight your skills in the eyes of the recruiter or employer.
- Work History and Experience: When writing about your professional experience, put a lot of focus on the accomplishments and achievements in your previous employment.
- Education background and history of the applicant, including certifications, honors, and licenses held. This could be brief, since it is not a priority for many employers.
Other important points to remember
Whenever you are listing down details, use bullet points.
The work history (and education background) should be listed in reverse chronological order.
Make your skills section orderly and easy to understand. One way to accomplish that is to group similar skills together.
Again, there is no specific or required format for your resume. It is up to you to gauge which one will work for you best, considering your qualifications and amount of experience. Of course, you should also look into what the employer or recruiter would prefer.
By doing research on the company, you may be able to get an idea what they deem to be important, and what they will be looking for in every resume that they will go over.