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Choose the Best Format for Your Resume: Chronological, Functional or Hybrid

April 8, 2013

Choose the Best Format for Your Résumé:

Chronological, Functional or Hybrid

By Judy Robbins

Build a winning résumé that clearly and concisely illustrates your key skills, experiences, education and achievements. Your résumé is a marketing tool thaGirl - Business - Success - purchasedt demonstrates your major qualifications and accomplishments. It is so much more than a job history. The top third front page is the prime real estate of your résumé and can make or break your chances for gaining attention that results in a job interview.

Your résumé must be spot on, specifically showing what the employer wants. Be certain to answer the employer’s questions: “Who are you?” “What can you do for me?” “Can you solve my problems?” A résumé that is a brief one-page summary often does not adequately answer these questions. Soft skills should not be the focus of the top section. You do not need to keep your résumé to one page if it runs longer. Upon first glance, hiring managers begin to form an impression of how you will fit into their organization. Make is easy for them and show them.

Following your contact information, place the job target title first at the top; create a strong profile or summary section that supports why you are the best candidate. Include a brief description of your key qualifications and background. Be punchy and use concise words that evoke an attitude of strength. Keep the profile to about five sentences. Below that, add a bulleted list of core competencies or strengths. Note that an objective statement is not part of most resumes today but may be used if the candidate has a special circumstance, (e.g. changing fields).

A hiring manager will thank you for your straightforward approach and saving time that she may spend hunting through your résumé for required qualifications and transferable skills. Indeed, she may toss it due to a shortage of time. If your qualifications simply jump off the page at her, you greatly increase your chances against a multitude of competitors.  If you receive little action from the résumé you write, consult a professional resume writer for a free assessment. The professional writer will give you honest feedback.

The three basic résumé formats are chronological, functional and hybrid (combination).

  • A chronological résumé is the most traditional and lists your work experiences in reverse chronological order with company names and locations, job titles, dates and a description of job responsibilities for each position. This résumé format will work well for you if you have a consistent career progression and your work history relates to your job target.
  •  A functional résumé is skills based and focuses on groups of skills and accomplishments and not the duration of each job. This format is great if you have gaps in your work history or have little experience. The danger with this format is that hiring managers may think you are hiding some aspect of your job history. You can offset this by including adequate details and use a well thought out strategy for handling items that cause concern.
  •  A hybrid or combination résumé combines elements of both chronological and functional résumés. The format allows more flexibility and creativity. You will list skills first and then your job history. The hybrid résumé is a favorite of mine because it allows building an attention-getting profile (summary) section at the top, a core competencies bulleted list, followed by a selection of positions relevant to the present job search. There is no one way to write a résumé. Your first task is to decide what format is best for you.
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