How to Write a Resume
Don't know where to start writing your first resume or need some help improving your current one? This tutorial will go over the basic steps of resume writing, and highlight the key points to remember at each step.
Resume FAQ

How to Choose the Right Resume Format

Updated: July 2023

Every resume should showcase your skills, qualifications, education and experience in a way that demonstrates that you are a match for the target job.  There is no right or wrong way to choose a format, and you may choose different formats depending on the job to which you are applying.  Once you have organized your information, consider which format will present your skills in the best way, so that the reader a/o software algorithm (ATS) will quickly and easily notice you.  What statement do you want to make and what is the best way to present your information on the document?  Are you clear about what you want to do?

Three Resume Formats

There are three basic resume formats: functional, chronological and combination.

Functional: The functional resume draws attention to your transferrable skills instead of your past employment or work history, by grouping relevant skills and accomplishments into special categories and placing them before the work history section of your resume.  Often using bullets will make it easier for the reader to quickly identify your strengths.

Chronological also called Reverse Chronological: The chronological resume places more emphasis on your past employment by listing your work history near the beginning of your resume. 

Combination or Hybrid: The combination resume combines the best features of the functional and chronological styles by emphasizing your abilities while including a full job history. This format is quickly becoming the format of choice for career professionals due to its flexibility and ability to highlight strengths and skills while allowing the use of searchable Keywords near the beginning of the resume.

Choosing a Resume Format

The functional resume format focuses more on your unique skills and qualifications, first, with headings such as, Summary of Skills, Technical Proficiencies, letting the hiring manager know that you are qualified for the job.  In this resume format, your skills are grouped into categories that match the skills description of the job posting, and the candidate should confirm that the language used is consistent with the job description.  Functional resumes typically contain elements such as: performance profiles, career objectives, qualifications summaries and relevant skills summaries. In addition, other sections may be added.

The functional resume format de-emphasizes your employment history, which may not specifically align with the job description.  This is an excellent format for people who have gaps in their work history, have worked as a consultant or have had multiple short-term positions.  There is less of a work progression and more of a focus on transferable skills.  By placing your qualifications and skills at the forefront of the document, you are demonstrating that you are a strong fit for the position - even if your employment history does not reveal it.

If you have direct, in-depth, job-specific experience with multiple employers, a chronological resume format will highlight your work history. If your experience demonstrates that you have grown within a single profession and without many job changes or periods of unemployment, a chronological resume is also a good choice.  This format combines your achievements and job-specific duties and applies them to each position with each employer in the Work History section of your resume.  Most resumes incorporate some elements of the Chronological Format.

The combination resume format places equal importance on your work experience as well as your skills.  Usually a candidate with extensive work experience; or gaps in employment history; or seeking a career change; or targeting a very specific position, may benefit from this format.

A combination resume incorporates the best of both the functional and the chronological formats. It allows you an opportunity to spotlight your credentials and your skills equally. The combination resume usually includes a professional profile or career summary to accentuate skills, traits and accomplishments. It may also include a job objective, a targeted job title or a positioning statement. This format utilizes a detailed skills summary and incorporates a section in which relevant accomplishments are highlighted. The combination style also utilizes a work history, detailed in reverse chronological order, with the most recent experience listed first.

Your Resume is Your Sales Pitch

Remember that your resume is your first opportunity to sell yourself. The best resumes are only one-two pages at most, so consider the most relevant experience that you want to present and include it as concisely as possible - in the most appropriate format.

Studying the job description and its Keywords will enable you to create a resume that showcases your qualifications and strengths.  Regardless of which format you choose, employers want to see some form of work history even if it may not be directly relevant.