With all the focus on networking, LinkedIn, and other social media for job searching, you may wonder if you still need to have a resume. The answer? A 100% YES. A well-written, concise resume (one that’s fitted in one of the best resume formats, which is dependent on a few things that we’ll review below) plays a crucial role in any job search. How do you maximize the chances that your resume will grab the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager?
You need to ensure that your resume is brief, easy to read, and quickly conveys your key accomplishments. In theory, a resume, along with a cover letter, presents the required qualifications and related work experience in a way that will convince the employer to meet the candidate.
Research shows that the average time spent scanning a resume is fourteen seconds. Notice that I said “scanning” and not “reading,” because when resumes are reviewed, they are given little more than a cursory glance to identify the criteria for which the recruiter or hiring manager is looking.
With such a tight window of time in which to make an impression, it is critical that your resume quickly answers the question, "How will this person help me to solve my current business problems?"
What are the most common resume formats? Which format do most employers prefer for resumes?
The three most common resume formats are reverse chronological, hybrid, and digital. We’ll examine all three so you can decide, “what is the format of a resume that’s right for me?”
“Resume format” refers to how your resume is laid out. Each resume format has unique qualities. Which resume format is right for you, and which employers will prefer, will depend on several factors.
1. Reverse chronological resume
When it comes to best resume format, know that reverse chronological is always a solid bet, due to the fact that it’s one of the most common and well-known resume formats.
This format presents your background in an easily digestible timeline format, and renders your work experience in such a way that it is easy to understand your career trajectory. You start with your current or most recent position, and work backward from there.
For those with extensive experience, it is not necessary to go back more than fifteen years—do know that if you go that far back, you should not try to cram those 15 years all into a single-page resume (translation: you’ll need to extend to a second page).
2. Hybrid resume
The hybrid resume is the one that I use the most with my clients. The hybrid resume is the best resume format for those interested in transitioning to a new job or embarking on a career change, for it allows you to leverage all of your valuable work experience by highlighting key accomplishments from your entire career.
The hybrid resume includes a summary of competencies and accomplishments first, and then it moves on to include a chronological summary of your positions.
3. Digital resume
No, a digital resume is not one which resides online, nor is it your LinkedIn profile. Rather, a digital resume is on that is maximized to comply with online submissions and ATS (applicant tracking software) systems.
A digital resume is in a simple text format, with limited formatting. It doesn’t use fancy fonts or graphics, and, most importantly, it’s maximized with the right resume keywords.
A word about "functional" resumes
The so-called “functional” resume format is one that focuses on your skills and experience, rather than on your career history.
Because there is no timeline of your career path, the functional resume is often advised for those who are changing careers, or who have gaps in their employment history. This is bad advice, and if you hear it, you should ignore it.
Hiring managers universally hate functional resumes precisely because they look like the candidate has something to hide.
You really cannot hide your length of tenure, and no summary of your skills and competencies will make up for lack of experience.
Lastly, a functional resume will not mesh at all with an applicant tracking system. Stay away from functional resumes! This format is not the best resume format not by a long shot.
It’s not about you
You may think that your resume is about you and your experience, but it really is not. Your resume is a tool that answers the question, “How can this person add value to my team?” in a very quick manner.
As is true in any written communication, you need to know your audience and speak to them. You also need to know what the best resume format is for you.
Hopefully, this article has provided the the guidance you were seeking on resume formatting, and that you’re now in the know on the best resume format for your particular needs.
LiveCareer offers an array of tools that can help you not only settle on the best resume format for your particular needs, but also build the resume from the ground up. Use our resume builder or resume templates, and find yourself on a path to creating a winning document in no time at all.