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The Resume Format

There is no "right" resume style or format. The right format for you is one that works and gains you an interview. A format that works for someone else may be totally inappropriate for you.

Remember, the objective of a resume is to obtain interviews. Please examine the following sample resumes to determine which format will clearly present key information about you. It needs to capture your skills, abilities and accomplishments and attracts the potential employer's attention.

The three most common resume formats are chronological, functional, and targeted. A fourth, highly specialized format is the curriculum vitae which is only used in academia and pure research situations.

The Chronological Resume

This is the most widely accepted format and most familiar to employers. It is also the easiest to write. Jobs are listed in chronological order, starting with the most recent (which generally receives the greatest emphasis) and working back through the years.

Advantages
  • Professional interviewers are more familiar with it
  • Easiest to prepare since its content is structured by dates, companies and titles
  • Presents the best perspective of a steady employment record
  • Provides the interviewer with a guide for discussing work experience
Disadvantages
  • Starkly reveals employment gaps
  • May place undesired emphasis on job areas that you want to minimize
  • Skill areas are difficult to spotlight unless they are reflected in most current job

The Functional Resume

The functional resume format highlights your qualifications with little emphasis on specific dates.

Advantages
  • Stresses selected skill areas which are marketable or in demand
  • Helps to camouflage spotty employment records
  • Allows you to emphasize professional growth
  • Can play down positions not related to current career objectives
Disadvantages
  • Many employers are suspicious of it and will want to see additional work history information
  • Doesn't allow you to highlight companies or organizations for which you have worked

The Targeted Resume

A targeted resume is written for a very specific job in a very job-specific manner. It is very similar to a skill/functional resume listing skills, experience, and accomplishments which are specifically targeted to a given job announcement.

Advantages
  • It shows that the applicant has a very clear understanding of what they want to do and the related skills necessary to do the job.
  • It can include a "Selected Achievements" category highlighting important accomplishments and recognitions that the applicant has received.
Disadvantages
  • Need to do a different resume for each specific job. This requires time and possibly money.
  • It eliminates information about the candidates skills and experience that might exclude them from consideration for another job within the same company.

Curriculum Vitae

This format is highly specialized and used only for graduate school applications, academia or research positions.

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