Career Resources

Career Resources

Does Your Resume Format Matter?

Posted October 15, 2014 & filed under Resume

Does Your Resume Format Matter?

Not all resumes have the same effect. Writing an eye-catching application is majorly important, but even a compelling story in your CV can fall flat with the wrong layout. This is why it pays to know which resume format will help you stand out in the eyes of employers.

The Essential Resume Formatting

Certain resume features are inflexible. Fiddle with these and you begin to erode the banks out from underneath you.

  • Standard Margins – Margins should never shrink any smaller than the 1 inch standard on Word. The result is a dense document that no employer wants to read. Widening margins won’t fool anyone either. It’s a glaring compensation for a lack of robust qualifications.
  • White Space – Words packed like sardines give a claustrophobic effect. A resume format with meager white space is much harder for employers to scan. Moreover, your keywords and greatest achievements get elbowed out of sight.
  • Clear Separation between Each Section – How you divide up your CV may differ between resume formats. However, that demarcation needs to be conspicuous and clear. Extra space, a visibly larger font, and bolded text need to emphasize the separation between sections. That is especially important since managers scan resumes for a clear hierarchy of your employers, positions held, start & end dates, and education.

When Resume Formatting Choices Matter Most

Beyond the essentials, there are a few ways you can customize your resume format to fit your exact audience. Start by extensively reviewing the company’s job application to get the perfect sense of why you are an apt candidate for the job.

Are your technical skills or your interpersonal skills more appealing for this position? The answer will dictate which of the following resume formats are ideal for you.

Reverse Chronological Resume

  • What is it? This is the standard resume format that focuses on your work history. It is written in a reverse chronological order and is limited to last 5 to 10 years.
  • What’s the advantage? It all about growth. If you’ve made logical progressions from job to job, this is the resume formatting to use. It points out forward trajectory and implies that this job is the next logical step.
  • What’s the disadvantage? Often, your technical keywords get replaced by daily duties.

Functional Resume

  • What is it? This is a resume format that puts greater emphasis on your skills than your work history. Everything is grouped by relevant skill type so managers can easily analyze your aptitudes.
  • What’s the advantage? Formatting resumes this way allows for your keywords to stick out prominently. That way, employers know exactly what you can do and don’t have to guess.
  • What’s the disadvantage? In a functional resume, there often isn’t any context for your technical skills. It makes your abilities sound academic without any practical, real-world use.

The Case for a Hybrid Resume Format

More often, job seekers have been melding together elements of both to make a superior resume format. Both the work history of the reverse chronological resume and the block list of technical skills from the functional resume make this appealing to hiring manager.

This hybrid resume is easier to navigate, boosts keyword usage, and gives equal importance to the positions you’ve held and your arsenal of skills.

by James Walsh