Resume Formats

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Applying for a job, but no luck yet? The problem may have less to do with your qualifications but with how you write your resume. Not all employers read a resume thoroughly. Some of them just scan it for the things that they are looking for. If you don’t write your resume in the correct format, then the employer will just throw it aside and read something else that gives him immediately what he wants. Write the perfect resume by choosing the correct resume format for your line of work.

Reaching New Heights: The Chronological Format

The chronological or reverse-chronological format is the most commonly used resume format today. Many employers like it because it gives a clear picture of the person behind the written accomplishments. All your education and job experiences are listed in reverse chronological order, with the most recent experiences at the top.

The point of listing all your experiences in a chronological manner is to highlight your career’s progress. This means that there’s no point writing your resume this way if you don’t have a steady improvement in your career. If, for example, you’ve previously held a high position, then you got fired for some reason; and held a significantly lower position in your next job, then this format will make that flaw glaringly obvious.

Write your resume in the chronological order only if:

You have a steadily progressive career in a single line of work
You’ve not changed career paths recently
You’ve been employed at well-known or well-respected companies
The position you’re applying for calls for this type of resume
When the Past Matters: Functional Resume

If you’ve been out of the job market for some time, but have relevant skills, you may find the functional resume perfect for your needs. In this case, it’s not advisable to use the chronological format because your absence will stick out. The functional resume emphasizes your key accomplishments and skills by showing them at the top of the page, only followed by a brief account of your employment history. Some employers though, don’t like this format because they think that the applicant is hiding something by writing his resume this way. Use the functional resume only when:

You are trying to reenter the job market
Most of your achievements occurred in a past position
You want to deemphasize your age
Your career path doesn’t show a steady progress in a single line of work
You’re a new graduate who have little or no work experience at all
The Best of Both Worlds: Combination Resume

You can combine the chronological and the functional format to form the combination resume. Like a functional resume, the combination type starts with a brief rundown of your most impressive achievements and qualifications. The combination resume doesn’t make these statements the centerpiece of your resume though, because it also includes a chronological account of your employment history. Many employers like this format because it goes straight to the point, but is not afraid of showing its history. Use the combination resume if:

You have accomplishments and skills that can be drowned by your employment history
You have a steadily progressive career in a single line of work
You’ve not changed career paths recently
You’ve been employed at well-known or well-respected companies
A Little Bit of Everything: Skills Format

If you do a bit of everything, and your strength lies with the variety of your experience rather than its progress, then the skills format is perfect for you. The skills format lists all your experiences, including student activities, paid and volunteer work, and participation in different projects; and groups them in categories that relate to the job you’re seeking. Choose the skills format if:

The position you’re applying for wants someone who can handle everything
Your career doesn’t show any significant progress in one line of work
You have many relevant skills, but the chronology of your career doesn’t show it
You’re a new graduate who have little or no work experience at all
Locking On That Job: Targeted Resume

Some companies write the specific tasks of a particular position in their ads. When you come across these kinds of ads, the best way to get the job is to send in a targeted resume that exactly matches those qualifications. A targeted resume lists all your skills that are relevant to the position you’re applying for, so that everything matches perfectly. When the employer sees your resume, he will immediately notice your exact matches to the position he wants occupied, and your chances of getting hired will increase. Write a targeted resume if:

You’re sending your resume in response to an ad with specific tasks listed
You’re applying for a specific position, and you know the qualifications needed for that job
Your resume doesn’t look good in the chronological format
Flexibility First: Inventory Format

The inventory format is best for people who have a wide range of abilities in a particular field; for instance, if your educational background reveals your enthusiasm for writing and reading, and you want to apply for a job in a publishing company. This format highlights your achievements and skills in a more general manner. It adds flexibility to your resume, and sends the message that you can do almost everything in a particular field of work. Go for the inventory format if:

You have a general career objective, but you don’t want to limit yourself to a specific position
Your career path doesn’t reflect your present career objective
Your priority is to land a job in a particular company, and the job title in only of secondary concern
You want to explore new career paths
When writing an inventory resume, make sure that you have at least a general objective at the top of the page; for instance, “a writing or editing position.” Next, list down four to six key skills that you possess that are related to your general objective. You may provide brief examples of accomplishments to support the credibility of these skills.

Take your time writing your resume because it is your key to a productive career. Read some resume samples on the Internet if you’re not sure how to write your own. You’ve already taken a huge step toward making your dream career a reality if you write your resume the right way.
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