Job Placement Materials

Choosing a Resumé Format

Résumés allow you to decide which facts to present to a prospective employer. Include only those facts that do the most to create a favorable impression and meet your specific employment objective. The most effective resumé is one that is targeted to a specific job or field.

Remember, there is no right way.

When choosing a resumé format you must consider several things:

What is your employment history? Do you have long gaps of time between jobs, which will be hard to explain?

Do you want to make a career change, which is not in the same field you are presently in?

Do you have one company or position you would like to emphasize?

Do you have one position, employer or company you would rather de-emphasize?

Have you worked a long time for one company in one position?

How you answer these questions determines which of the basic formats you use:

  • Chronological
  • Functional
  • Combination

The following is an explanation of each format and their advantages and disadvantages.

Chronological Resumé: This format lists your experience and education in historical order. Titles and organizations are emphasized as are duties and accomplishments. It is an easy form for the reader to follow and best used when there are long, uninterrupted periods of employment or when your career direction is clear. One disadvantage is that employers may look at the chronological work history pattern and miss some important achievements. Also because information regarding employment are the dominant features on the page, it is more difficult to highlight significant facts, skills and accomplishments.

Functional Resume: This format groups together all your training, experience, skills, and abilities into areas of competence, focusing on skills and special training. Advantages would be that you can emphasize those skills you possess and duties you perform which match those required by the position you are applying for. Experience and education are listed in order of importance rather than historically. One disadvantage is that dates are often not listed. Prospective employers may be uneasy with the lack of detail about the length of time spent acquiring specific skills or experience.

Combination Resumé: This resumé format is similar to the functional resumé, but employment history and education are included. It targets the preferred and most relevant skill areas, including dates. The combination resumé offers flexibility in what is emphasized: skills, work experience or education. It provides employers with more detail. A disadvantage is that it must be arranged carefully to avoid confusing appearances. It requires thought and practice to do well and is difficult to keep short.

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