A resume is more than your experience, qualifications, accomplishments, and skills. You’re introducing who you are professionally to potential employers and sharing a contextual story of your success.
While these things contribute to the personality of your resume, there are other things to consider as well, such as the way in which your information is organized.
When you Google “resume template,” you’ll find a flood of options. But when it comes to choosing the right format, one size does not fit all. There are a variety of different formats you can choose, everything from chronological order to functional structure, story to interactive.
Non-traditional resumes can include visual storytelling, or have interactive compo-nents. Pictures, illustrations, graphics, and narratives tell the story, and illustrate the traditional elements of a standard resume. While they can be eye catching, they can also cause problems for hiring managers.
“Using the right format will make sure your application isn’t tossed out just for be-ing unreadable by a machine,” says Robin Schlinger, contributor to Careerealism.
Due to the overwhelming number of job applications, many companies use software (Applicant Tracking Systems or Automated Resume Screeners) to sort through re-sumes. This infographic from Life Hacker explains how the process works.
Because of this, Schlinger suggests job seekers “avoid using JPG and PDF files. Many Applicant Tracking Systems can reliably read only text or Word files without tables.”
They also strip pictures and logos from submitted files, or they may even refuse to accept them with these elements.
There are a few common approaches to choose from: Chronological, functional, and combination.
Chronological resumes focus on your career’s timeline. “A chronological format is perfect if you have worked your way up the corporate ladder and are looking to show off the promotions and increased responsibility that you have accumulated throughout the years,” says Amanda Clark, contributor to Business 2 Community.
Recruiters and hiring managers like to see where you started and how your career has progressed. However they don’t work well if you are switching careers or have unexplained gaps in your history.
Functional resumes emphasize the skills you’ve developed, not your titles. “They focus on the professional capabilities that have been developed over the course of a career,” says Clark. However, a functional resume can raise concerns or questions about what a candidate has left off, and it might accent any gaps in employment his-tory.
Combination resumes mix chronological and functional. They “tend to highlight the strengths and mask the weaknesses of a job applicant,” says Evan Taylor, con-tributor to U.S. News & World Report. They allow candidates to showcase their expe-rience and their skills. “The mix of chronological and functional can be adjusted to meet the needs of the applicant,” adds Taylor.
When deciding on which format to use, consider which one best highlights your ex-perience, qualifications, and skills. The perfect format can make a difference in how hiring managers and recruiters perceive you.