Anyone who has been out of the job market for a while will probably be surprised to learn that the resume format they used several years ago may not be what they need today. And those who are just beginning their careers will also need to understand that, according to employment forecasters, they will be crafting very unique resumes for different careers at least four times in their lifetimes. And as times change, so do resume formats. It’s important, then, to look at resume formats, especially in terms of which formats work best for which types of organizations and candidates. In general, there are traditional, moderately traditional, moderately progressive and progressive formats, and within those, there are also three types – chronological, functional, and combination.
The Traditional Resume
The traditional resume is perfect for very conservative organizations – banks, other financial institutions, large accounting firms, etc. This format does not look significantly different from resumes of several years ago, but there are some pretty important change.
- Keywords are critical because of electronic scanning of resumes by many organizations
- Focus must be on quantifiable achievements rather than on responsibilities
- Career Objective statements have largely gone by the wayside in favor of summaries of achievements
- Links to social media profiles are often included, as well as websites and blogs if a candidate has them
The Moderately Traditional Resume
If a company’s website demonstrates that is only moderately conservative (e.g., employee dress is business casual as opposed to jackets and ties), then this resume format will do. This resume has just a bit of flair – perhaps a colored border or colored headings on a gray paper, as opposed to a strictly black and white document. Beyond that, it will look very much like the traditional resume. It will also need to incorporate the changes listed above.
The Moderately Progressive Resume
Add some more flair, and you have a moderately progressive resume. Perhaps there will be changes in fonts, a few graphics, or even a side rail with more detail. More color is pretty common with these too. These are common resumes to send to IT and software companies.
The Progressive Resume
This one reflects a lot of flair and very unusual designs. If you are applying for a position with a young startup company in which creativity is valued, the progressive resume is a perfect fit. It will not follow the usual progression of employment history and will employ lots of color, graphics, and images.
Within these design formats, there will be decisions about how to summarize background and experience. There are 3 ways to do this:
The Chronological Format
This format will list your professional experience in chronological order, with your current or most recent position first and then moving backwards. Each position description will include the dates of employment and listing of major accomplishments.
The Functional Format
If you have had gaps in employment, this may be the better option, so as not to advertise them. This format entail listing all of your achievements, skills, and other accomplishments (including certifications and credentials), divided into categories (e.g., management, logistics, marketing, etc.) and listing the organizations for which you worked in a separate section below that. Understand that during an interview, you will need to discuss those gaps, so be prepared.
The Combination Format
This is an ideal format for candidates who have been with the same organization for years, or are older candidates who have only been with a couple of organizations. All of the position titles and achievements can be listed by category, and then the name of the organization(s) in which all of this occurred, with the years listed as well.
You can “package” yourself in a variety of ways, as this article shows. The key is this: Design you resume format based upon the organization to which you are applying, not based upon your tastes. It is quite possible that you will need a few different versions of your resume, so that you can appeal to the various “cultures” to which you apply. It may also be a good idea to get some professional assistance as you craft those designs.