Even though you might not pay a lot of attention to it, your resume’s format is important. Perhaps it is equally important as the information from within. The format you choose can make a big difference on how a hiring manager or recruiter sees you and even more importantly, how the applicant tracking system goes through the sections of your resume. In other words, the format of your resume is gives the first impression on a personal and professional approach.
Why are Formats Important?
Getting a good job is no easy task, especially when for every application there are at least another 5 people with similar resumes. This is where a good resume format steps in. It can really make the difference when it comes to capturing the hiring manager attention. With limited time on their hands, recruiters can only scan your CV so it’s very important to make sure all the important info is visible and easy to access. Make sure you don’t get lost in words and descriptions of previous job duties and keep all the relevant data on display.
Different Resume Format Templates
When dealing with CV formats there are three main categories: Functional, Chronological and Hybrid. Each of these three categories has a precise purpose and focuses on different aspects of the applicant’s professional background.
This is the most traditional resume format out of the three we specified above. At the same time, it’s preferred by hiring managers for the way it shows the professional experience of the applicant in a orderly manner. Even though it is name chronological, the order of the listing of education and work experience is in reverse. Both professional experience and education achievements should be listed with the most recent one on top. For example, if you went through primary school, colleague, university and now you’re studying for a master’s degree, the master’s degree should be the first one on the list. Followed by the university, college and then the primary school. This way of displaying information has two main advantages. First, it makes it easier for the recruiter to spot the most relevant work experience and the latest educational achievement. The other big plus of the chronological resume is that it detracts attention from your first jobs, when you were still trying to find your way in the work field.
The chronological format is suited with most job applications since it’s standard and displays all the relevant info that any recruiter might need. With a special focus on growth, development and exact dates when everything happened, it helps the recruiter to form a clear idea on your personal and professional background. Opposed to other formats, this one really makes the applicant employment background stand out. This makes it one of the most straight-forward resume formats, making it very simple for the hiring manager to process it.
Setting up a Chronological Resume
- Contact info
It’s vital for the hiring manager or recruiter to be able to reach you through all possible communication ways. So, make sure you include all possible ways that can be used to reach you. Don’t forget to include a home address as well as the email address. Regarding the email, make sure you have an appropriate one. Actually, even before building your resume, create a professionally-looking email address and leave your childhood one behind. Since social networks are becoming powerful tools in recruiting, make sure to include your Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.
- The ‘About me’ Statement
Even though this is not a mandatory part of a resume, having a summary statement can really prove to be very useful. Make sure not to confuse this with the objective statement. The summary statement has the goal of summarizing your work experience and vale in the field of work. It is based on accomplishments and skill as opposed to the objective statement that focuses on what you aim to achieve and learn. This is the part where you can get the recruiter attention right from the start. Use this opportunity and explain your main accomplishments and what recommends you for the job. Finally, the summary statement is like a billboard for your resume. This is the first thing that the eyes of a hiring manager will land on, according to studies. So, make sure you make the most out of it and include all relevant info but also make it sound really well.
- Work Experience
A final tip about composing your summary statement Is to look at it like a hiring manager would. Try to put yourself in his shoes and, while being as objective as possible, try to figure out what’ll catch his eyes. If you enjoyed any type of promotions at your previous jobs, make sure to mention them here.
The same as with the work experience, the forms of education you graduated must be listed in a reverse-chronological order. A modern trend when it comes to putting down education in your resume is that, in the situation you have 5 or more years of experience in certain field, you can leave out the education part altogether. After all, the focus is on what are you capable of and the set of skills you can bring to the company. Not what you study in the university, 8 years ago.
This section is like the SEO optimization of your resume. Make sure to use as many keywords as possible and focus on hard skills rather than soft ones. This means that you should mention any program you know how to operate, any specific domain you are best at within a company or anything like that. Try to steer clear from general stuff like people skills or hard working since these are mostly personality traits. Soft skills also have their role there, however, since the whole process is being done as fast as possible, there’s little room for general stuff like that.
The functional format for a resume is basically everything the chronological format isn’t. Instead of putting the focus on your previous job experience, it promotes accomplishments and skills. Its popularity is lower compared to the chronological resume format and it doesn’t really work for any individual. If your career path is quite traditional, you should only try a functional resume format after you gathered at least 10 years of experience a specific field and you really have strong skills to show.
It’s quite obvious that this resume format works best with non-standard career paths since it focuses on skills more than past jobs. So this is a format that works great for individuals that jump from one job to another quite frequently or that have been outside traditional work for quite some time, a freelancer for example. The role of the functional format is covering the gaps between jobs or the fact that stability what defines the applicant and shift focus on the know-how and skills.
If you want to make an impact using a functional resume, you need to be really focused when composing it. Not to mention that, if you decide to go with a functional format, you really need to possess some impressive skills and competences. Also, even though it doesn’t focus on dates as much as the chronological format, you should also include dates here, just to make sure it doesn’t look like you are trying to cover something up regarding your work experience.
Composing a Functional Resume
- Contact info
As you might have guessed, this part of the resume stays the same and is equally important, no matter what type of resume format you go with. So make sure your contact info is accurate and that you have a professional-looking email address.
Here’s where the massive differences appear compared to the chronological format. This section is the star of the resume and the most important one. While at the chronological resume ‘Work Experience’ was the main section, in the functional one it is being replaced by qualifications. Here’s where you should carefully note all the projects you were involved in and what knowledge comes out of that.
Even though to an untrained eye, Skills might be the same as Qualifications, that’s not true. The qualification contains all the important positions and roles you were responsible of in the past and the Skills section should be filled with what actual skills and know-how developed over the years. Again, this part is pretty much similar in all resume formats so don’t worry if it looks a lot like the one in a chronological format.
- Professional Experience
This section goes towards the bottom and its presence is only necessary in the resume in order not to let the recruiter think you have something to hide by not displaying and previous work experience. You need to be honest and open about where you previously worked and remember, you’re focusing on the skills but you don’t have to lie about where you worked before, even if it was for a short period. As long as you have a good explanation for that to expose in the interview, you’re golden.
The third and final type of resume format is a hybrid in the sense that is basically a mix of the previous two formats we presented. It takes elements from both the functional and the chronological format and combines them for a resume that emphasize on skills and work experience at the same time. So, if you are an individual with a great set of skills and you also have an impressive work experience, this is the format for you.
Hybrid Resume Set-Up
- Contact information
As stated above, this section is constant through all types of resumes and all you have to worry about is making sure your contact info is up to date. Adding as many social network connections is also a good idea, especially LinkedIn.
- Qualifications or a Summary Statement
Going for one or the other will lean your resume towards a functional or chronological format. If you go with the summary statement you put more focus on work experience and accomplishments but the qualification section puts the spotlight on your skills.
Just like other formats, this section is a must in all resumes and, besides giving you the possibility to showcase your skills, it helps a lot with the ATS in terms of keywords.
- Professional Experience
Here you can list the previous jobs you had. Make sure you include any promotions and always include dates so that the recruiter can easily track your progress in the field of interest.
Start with the most recent form of education you completed and go down reverse-chronologically towards the first. Make sure to note any special contests or prizes you have won during your educational process.
Picking the Best Resume Format
This step is very important in the recruitment process. It can determine how the hiring manager perceives you and what personal and professional skills are highlighted. So, you need to evaluate the history of your career and what goals you have for future jobs.
The chronological resume format is the most general one, suiting the needs for almost all individuals. If you have a traditional career path and been in the same industry for the most part of your career and wish to go on in the same field, this is the right choice for you. Also, it is the best-suited format if you have no major employment gaps.
The functional resume turns to new graduates or people that wish to change their working field since it focuses on your skills rather than work experience and history. It is also good for people that have some gaps between their previous jobs.
Finally, the hybrid format is best if you have quite some work experience but with certain gaps and your skills are better at representing you rather than the work history. It will diminish the job gaps and any lack of experience but does not hide them entirely.
Resume formats and ATS
An ATS is a tool that most companies use to filter and rank the applications they get for the vacant positions. The evolution of technology made it very easy for applicants to send their resume so this means a lot of applications for recruiters that can, sometimes be overwhelmed. This is where an ATS steps in and takes part of the workload from the recruiter.
The vast majority of them are compiling the CV’s that were sent for a certain job and allow the hiring manager to better keep track and organize them using keywords. That’s why it’s essential to have the proper keywords inserted in your resume so that the ATS can identify them and pick up your CV for the recruiter to be able to view it.
Another very important aspect when it comes to making your resume more ATS-friendly is having a zip code and location so that recruiters can select local candidates first. The work experience format is also important as some ATS have a certain pre-defined order it can read. This usually goes like this: Company, job position, dates of employment.
After you’re done with choosing the resume format and filling your personal and professional info, you shouldn’t use the same CV for any job you apply to. Rather than doing that, try to customize it a bit for each job you apply to, especially if they’re not in the same field of interest.
Only after all these steps are completed you can consider your resume to be completed. Of course, it will take you more time on each application, however, this will definitely improve your chances of getting the job you want. So, focusing more on the right resume format will mean a switch for your job applying technique, from quantity to quality.