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Choosing the Correct Format For Your Resume

Writing your perfect resume is the first step towards landing that job that you want. A resume is more than just a list of your past jobs, your skills, and your education. And while it should include those things, it’s a lot more than just that.

A resume is a marketing tool–kind of like an advertisement to sell yourself to any recruiter or hiring manager that you hand it to. Most resumes are only given 10 seconds or less before they get chucked into the discard pile. To keep your resume from suffering that fate, you need to make sure that it is well-formatted, easy to read, and quickly demonstrates your strengths and abilities.

Before you even get started on writing your resume, you should think about what kind of information you need to include, and decide on the format that best works for your resume. Choosing the correct format from the get-go can mean getting that call for an interview, or not!

There are three different kinds of resume formats that you can choose from, and the one you use depends on several factors. They all begin the same, with your contact information clearly at the top, but the rest of the formats change to better highlight what you’re bringing to the table. Here is a list of the three formats, to help you decide which might work best for your resume.

Reverse Chronological Format

This is the most popular resume format and is likely the kind of resume that you are most familiar with. It’s great for people with plenty of consistent work experience related to the job they are applying for. It’s exactly what it sounds like: it lists your relevant work experience in order, starting with your most recent. It will also be familiar to potential employers, which could be a plus. On the other hand, it is not the most creative resume design format, so it may not stand out as much from the rest of the stack.

Functional or Skills-Based Format

If you have gaps in your employment history, lack relevant work experience because you’re making a career change, or if you’re trying to highlight a specific skill set, this is a good resume format for you to use. Because it emphasizes your skills, it can help glaze over a lack of experience, but you have to be careful to not seem like you’re hiding something.

It starts by highlighting your strongest qualifications right off the bat, and the relevant skills section is robust. The work experience is less important in this one, but some are still included.

Combination Format

If you have a diverse set of skills and a great deal of work experience that is relevant to the job you are applying for, and don’t need to highlight your education as much, the combination format might work best for you. This is not a format for an entry-level job seeker or someone who lacks experience.

It has the most space devoted to showing off skills, experience, and a professional profile. Education is still worth placing on the resume, it is just less crucial here. Because of this, it definitely works best for someone who is a master in a particular industry.

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