The Different Resume Formats, and How to Chose One

Author: Stav Ziv
Source: The Muse

It’s not easy to take years’ (or decades’!) worth of your work history, skills, and accomplishments and wrangle it into a one-page document that’s optimally organized to convince a stranger to give you a job and the salary and benefits that go with it. But it is possible.

While there are endless decisions you could make about your resume (font! colors! number of bullets!), the biggest one is simply: What format should you use? Here’s everything you need to know about the three most common resume formats and how to pick the right one for you.

The Chronological Resume

When someone says the word “resume,” the image that comes to mind is probably a chronological resume, since it’s the kind that job seekers use most frequently and therefore the one recruiters and hiring managers see most often. Also known as a reverse-chronological resume, which is a slightly more accurate label, it puts the spotlight on your work experience listed from most recent to least recent.

What Goes Into a Chronological Resume?

A chronological resume contains the following components, roughly in this order:

Should You Use a Chronological Resume Format?

Most job seekers could make good use of a chronological resume, from recent graduates to seasoned executives. It’s an especially natural fit for anyone who’s pursued a relatively linear and consistent path without any major pivots or big gaps.

There are two major advantages to this format. Because the chronological resume is so common, recruiters and hiring managers are familiar with the format and know how to read it. They can quickly and easily see how you built your career. This resume format also tends to pass through applicant tracking systems more smoothly than other formats. (An applicant tracking system, or ATS, is software that helps employers manage the hiring process, including scanning applications. More on resume formats and applicant tracking systems below.)

The downside is that if you’re changing careers, have had a complicated or varied path, or are returning from a long period away from the workforce, the chronological resume could highlight those gaps and make it difficult for those reading it to decipher what skills you bring to the table that would make you a strong candidate for this particular role.

Example of a Chronological Resume

What does this all actually look like? You can take a look at an example chronological resume below and click here to download a copy.

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