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5 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Resume Format

Mar 18, 2021
5 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Resume Format

A well-crafted resume format improves resume readability and improves the chance of getting shortlisted for an interview.


However, most professionals do not possess any knowledge about the correct format of a resume to effectively showcase skills and expertise to the hiring managers.


Formatting a resume can be a challenging job. But this guide will help you decide on a job-winning resume format that will get the hiring manager’s attention.


Types of resume formats


There are primarily three types of resume formats available for candidates.

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● Reverse-Chronological Format


This is the most common type of resume format, which most job candidates use. Reverse chronological resumes organize the work experience in reverse chronological order, beginning with the most recent experience. This resume format allows the candidate to effectively highlight continuous work history. It works best for professionals who are already established in their industry.


Pros:

  • This is the most commonly used resume format.
  • It effectively focuses on the candidate’s work experience and provides a clear career trajectory.
  • A reverse chronological resume is ATS-friendly.


Cons:

  • Not suitable if the candidate has a career gap or if they are looking for a career change
  • If the candidate changes job frequently, then this resume format may not be suitable for them


● Functional Resume Format


Functional resume format helps professionals highlight their resume skills rather than their years of experience. Although this is not the most preferred resume format among job seekers, it is a great option for a candidate with a career gap or if the candidate is looking for a career change.  Even for inexperienced professionals, a functional resume format can highlight the transferable skills to the recruiters.


Pros:

  • Highlights skills rather than experience
  • Good choice for professionals with a career gap or professional looking for a career change
  • Good for entry-level professionals


Cons:

  • A functional resume is not well-optimized for ATS systems.
  • Recruiters are not used to seeing these types of resumes.
  • Functional resumes do not provide enough information about a candidate’s work experience.


● Combination Resume Format

The combination resume format uses the best of both reverse chronological and functional resumes. Also known as a hybrid resume format, a combination resume format uses reverse chronological work experience to highlight a candidate’s work history.  Also, it dedicates space for highlighting the candidate’s skills, similar to a functional resume.


Combination resumes are best for experienced professionals who have a strong work history along with highly specialized skills.


Pros:

  • It gives equal importance to work experience and skills.
  • These are the best resume format for experienced and highly specialized candidates.


Cons:

  • This resume format is difficult to create
  • It’s not a universal resume format. It can’t be used for all professionals
  • It does not highlight the educational achievements of the candidate


Key Sections of Resume Format


Often professionals do not know what sections to include in their resume and end up missing important information. Here’s are a list of must-have sections in a resume:

  • Resume header (Name)
  • Contact information
  • Location
  • Summary
  • Key Skills & Technical Skills
  • Professional / Work Experience
  • Education


Apart from these key sections, the candidate must give equal importance to additional information such as, certifications, awards, training, volunteer experience, publications, etc. The goal is to provide as much relevant information as possible to the recruiter about the candidate’s experience.


Perfect the Resume Format


Choosing the right format is not the end of the story. You need to ensure correct formatting of the resume:

  • Start the resume with the candidate’s name in the heading.
  • Provide a single contact number, a professional email address, and a residential location in the resume header.
  • Do not write the summary in the first person’s perspective. Always begin the sentences with “highly skilled at”. “Proficient in”, “adept at”, etc.
  • Create a separate “Key Skills” section, and mention the skills instead of emphasizing proficiency. For example “Project Management”, “Customer Relationship Management” etc.
  • Use single line bullet points to write the work accomplishments in the professional experience section. Additionally, quantify achievements wherever possible.
  • Club 3 - 4 bullet points under a subheading in the professional experience section.
  • In the education section, mention degrees along with start and end dates. If possible, include the course modules as well.
  • Do not use declaration statements or references in a professional resume, unless explicitly stated in the job description.


Why Resume Formatting is Necessary


Research has shown that recruiters only get 7.4 seconds to screen each resume. Hence, a well-crafted resume needs to be easily readable to help recruiters quickly scan the resume.


Here are some tips to improve the resume readability:


Resume Font:

More than 40% of employers deploy an ATS system to sort resumes for hiring.


If the candidate uses a custom graphic or a fancy font, the ATS system will not be able to read it and discard the resume.


For this reason, always use a simple font, which is easily readable by the ATS system as well as the recruiters. Some simple fonts are:

  • Arial
  • Verdana
  • Calibri
  • Georgia
  • Lato
  • Garamond
  • Times New Roman


Not only the font type but the font size also plays a key role in the screening process. Ensure to keep resume font size between 10-12 points.


Resume Sections

Ensure that the resume sections are placed in the correct order. For example, the summary section must go on top of the resume, then the key skills section followed by the professional experience section.


Paragraphs

Do not use paragraphs in the resume except for the summary sections. Use single-line bullet points for everything else in the resume.


Stick to a Single Page

Make sure to keep your resume within a single page. If the candidate has numerous relevant work experiences, then only extend the resume to the 2nd page. But never go beyond two pages. A 2+ page resume will reduce your chances of getting an interview.


Key Takeaways

A good resume format is a key part of how to make a resume. So, Ensure that the resume is well-formatted before sending it to the recruiter.


Here are the key takeaways from the blog:

  • Choose the reverse chronological resume format if the candidate has a continuous strong work history
  • Choose the functional resume format if the candidate has a career gap or if the candidate is looking for a job change.
  • Choose the combined resume format if the candidate has strong work experience with highly specialized industry skills.

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