Resume Writing Format
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Chronological Versus Functional Format
To help you get an idea of the two most widely acceptable resume formats used in today's market, let's look at Rohan Kumar’s employment experience.
In 2012, Rohan began working for Capital Corporation as a Sales Representative. His job was to sell software packages to high profile clients such as IBM. In 2014, he began his own business as a computer consultant. His business failed and he is now looking for a job as a computer consultant for a large ﬁrm.
Below are two ways Rohan can present his employment history:
Example: Chronological Format
2014 to Present
- Designed and maintained hardware systems
- Evaluated and implemented program software
2012 to 2014
Sales Representative, Capital Corps
- Designed program sales packages for large industries such as IBM
- Increased gross sales by 10%
Example: Functional Format
Computer Consulting And Design
- Designed and implemented hardware and software systems for large industries
- Evaluated computer software programs
Sales And Service
- Designed and implemented hardware and software systems for large industries
- Developed marketing plan for Capital Corp. that resulted in a 10% sales increase in 2013
- Evaluated software packages for large corporations
2014 to Present CEO, Sungaurd
2012 to 2014 Sales Representative, Capital Corp.
Look at the examples presented of Rohan Sungaurd's work history. What are the main differences between the chronological format and the functional format? Both formats give Rohan’s background and experience. Both mention his skills and accomplishments.
The difference between them is emphasis, namely what is emphasized and mentioned first.
- The chronological format stresses:
- Time period a job was held
- Past employers
- Job titles
The functional resume stresses:
- Skill areas
Glancing at the chronological resume, we see right away that Rohan was CEO of a corporation. This can be very impressive. Also, if Capital Corp. is a large, well-known firm, seeing Rohan's relationship to that company would also be impressive. At first, you may think this makes the chronological format a good choice.
On the other hand, Rohan has had two different jobs in a short time span. Looking at his experience from a time frame does not show a strong, steady work background. If he had worked for Capital Corp. seven or eight years, then the chronological format, which stresses his ability to stick with a job for a long time, would have been preferable. But he was at his present job less than two years. Therefore his best choice is to put emphasis on his accomplishments, which are impressive. In this situation, the functional resume, which stresses his skills and accomplishments, would be the better way to present his experience and background.
One advantage of the functional resume is that Juan can not only choose which of his skills to include in his resume, but also which to place first. If he were seeking another job in sales, he would place his sales skills first, even though his last job was not in sales. In the chronological resume, Juan would have to place his last job first regardless of his present career objective.
It is important to note, however, that even in the functional format; Juan listed his dates of employment and the names of his past employers. Many who follow a strictly functional format will omit this information. Be warned. Your future employer will want to know whom you have worked for and for how long. If you do not have it on your resume, you can expect it at the interview. Worse yet, most employers expect to see this information on your resume. If it is missing they get suspicious, and may even think you are hiding something. If an employer entertains such a suspicion, he may choose not to even bother with you and refuse an interview. Employers want evidence that you have the skills you claim. They want to know where you got those skills and for whom you made your accomplishments. That is why, to play it safe, include this information on your resume.
With the functional format you still have an advantage. By mentioning your skills first, and putting the emphasis on your skill areas, your employer will be favorably impressed before finishing your resume. When he or she finally reads your chronology, it is less likely to be an issue that you have not held one job for a long period.
Selecting The Right Format for Your Resume
To help you choose the format that best suits your needs, look at the two charts that follow. One lists the advantages of using the chronological format, while the other lists the advantages of the functional format.
Read the charts. Which statements apply to you? Check them off. If you can see a pattern (most of your check marks fall in the same chart), then your choice of format is clear.
Some people have more than one job objective and find that numerous statements in both charts ring true for them. If you are pursuing a job in two diverse areas, you will need two different resumes.
For example, you may be thinking about a career change, and decide to apply for a job in a new but related field. Although you do not have any solid work experience in this new area, you do have the skills required for the job. Therefore, a functional resume that stresses your transferable skills would be the most appropriate. But, like most people, you worry you may not get an interview due to your lack of experience. Therefore, to play it safe, you also continue to seek a job in your present career. For that, a chronological resume that stresses your present job title and your most recent accomplishments would serve you best. As you can see, in this situation, two resumes are better than one.
- I've held the same job for more than five years.
- My employment history is one of stability. I rarely hop from job to job.
- My past employer(s) is a prestigious company well-known in my field.
- My job titles are impressive.
- I plan to continue in the same field as my past job.
- I have considerable experience but in one area only.
- I have a limited repertoire of skill areas.
- I am changing careers.
- I have never held one job for a long period of time.
- I recently finished school and don't have any professional experience.
- I am reentering the job force after a considerable absence.
- I am proficient in many areas and have many skills.
- I have held many jobs in a variety of unrelated work areas.
- Most of my work experience has been freelance or temporary.
- My skills fit in better with my present career objective than prior job titles.
Before you begin writing your resume, it is a good idea to have an overview of the standard resume format that has become accepted in today's market.
The format is simple. Think of your resume as an outline of your professional capabilities. As such, the resume is divided into outline headings or sections. These standard, general sections are found on all resumes, and are used as guidelines in organizing all of your particular information.
These headings allow the employer to quickly scan a resume for pertinent information. And, because these headings have become standard protocol, employers expect to find them on your resume. This is why you should not deviate from this format.
The following chart lists and defines these standard headings. Some of them, such as Summary of Qualifications, are optional. However, many optional sections are also becoming quite common in today’s resume and it is usually recommended that you include them in your resume.
Name, address, phone number, and e-mail address.
Informs the employers where they can reach you if they want to interview you.
The exact job title of the position you are seeking.
Summary of Qualifications
Short highlights of your most impressive qualifications for the job.
This can be anything from skill areas and accomplishments to personality traits.
Professional Experience—Chronological Resume
A list of all past employment, starting with your most recent employer first.
Job titles are mentioned, and listed under each job title is a short description of the tasks and accomplishments you performed for each employer.
Skill Areas—Functional Resume
Your general skill areas are used as section headings.
Under each skill area list those specific job tasks and accomplishments that demonstrate your proficiency in that skill area.
Highlight your most recent degree, and the colleges or trade schools you attended.
List any awards, Dean's lists, or school projects that pertain to your career objective.
If you do not have a college education, mention your high school and diploma.
Additional Personal Information
Mention only that personal information that pertains to your job objective.
For example: Awards, Professional Associations, and Publications.
How To Organize The Headings
How do you organize the headings? Which comes first, Professional Experience or Education? As mentioned earlier, emphasis is the key. What would impress your future employer more, your work experience or your education?
If you are a recent graduate with limited professional experience, then your education would be more impressive, and you would want to put all emphasis on it. Therefore, the Education heading would be placed before Experience. What if you have a strong work history but your most outstanding achievements are from jobs previous to your last one? What do you stress, your steady work history (chronological format) or your achievements (functional format)? You are worried that if you follow the chronological format, and list your last job first, your more impressive qualifications will be buried. In this case, you can go with the more acceptable chronological format, but include a short Summary of Qualifications to emphasize your most impressive accomplishments and skills first, and still present your strong chronological background.
In short, section headings that contain your most important and impressive information should be listed first.
What Must Never Go In A Resume
Unfortunately, many employers examine resumes in hopes of finding flaws. Due to the large number of applications, employers may use the resume as a tool to eliminate prospective applicants—as much as a tool for choosing the right person for the job. Everyone understands that a resume that fails to show that the applicant has the skills for the job, will eliminate him or her from the competition.
What many people fail to realize is that mentioning negative information, facts that rub the employer the wrong way, can eliminate even the most highly qualified applicant.
How do you protect yourself? Never offer too much information. Keep your resume focused on your skills and accomplishments. Never mention personal information, controversial information or anything negative about yourself. Never mention your race, or religion. Marital status and political affiliations are also not pertinent to your job performance. Never mention salary requirements or reasons for leaving a prior job. Although these issues may come up in the interview, the resume is not the place for this information.
- Marital status
- Reasons for leaving a past job
- Political affiliations
- Salary requirements
The fact that the resume is divided into section headings makes writing a resume easy. The headings give you a system for organizing your information and allow you to focus on the most pertinent facts.
Once you have selected your format, chronological or functional, and the order of your section headings—all that is left to do is organize your particular information accordingly.
This workbook is designed to simplify your task. It is divided into the same sections as your resume. It will guide you through each section of your resume, one at a time, and show you how to select the most important information in your unique background that applies to that section. It will also aid you in presenting your information with impact and using the right action verbs to best express your talents.
Remember, your resume must make an impact to stand out. Follow this workbook, step by step, and you will have a resume that gets noticed.
Let's begin writing
Please contact Mr. Ravi Mirchandani, Founder and Director – Career Placements (Mobile number 7276380303) who is our expert in Resume Writing Service. He will guide you and we are confident that you will be happy with the outcome of your Professional CV/Resume.