The job search is more difficult nowadays for unprepared candidates –emphasis in unprepared– for one reason: recruitment specialists rely on the ATS, software designed to analyze, select, and discard dozens of resumes in seconds. For this reason, you have to know what type of resume best fits your targeted job and its company, as well as your experience and expertise. And the best part, everything is right here, in this article.

What Are the Most Popular Resume Formats?

The professional environment is reigned by these three formats:

  • Chronological resume
  • Functional resume (also known as skill-based resume)
  • Combination resume
These are the roots of dozens of other designs. In other words, these are the safest bet for job seekers and the most expected by hiring managers.La crème de la crème when it comes to job hunt. OK, but why? Why these templates matter? Because they meet some of the most critical criteria that a resume needs to stand out:
  • Organization
  • Clarity
  • Simplicity
  • Elegance
  • Originality
  • Visual appeal
Long story short, the chronological is a timeline to uncover your most relevant experience, the functional one is based on your abilities and potential, and the combination gathers the best of both worlds.

Check our section of job advice to discover how to craft an impressive resume, even without experience.

And why are there various types of resumes? Because there’s no magic formula nor secret shortcut when it comes to getting a job. None of these formats matches all business nor job positions. You’ve got to analyze which one is the best to show off your experience, skills, talents, and objectives.

Forbes lists not customizing your resume to the company as a capital sin. In this subject, personalization is everything.

At this point, you must carefully research the job position and the company’s values. Also, you’ve got to judge your professional development ruthlessly and select the most suitable keywords to match the ATS.

But what is ATS?

ATS stands for Applicants Tracking System, a digital filter that selects the most promising resumes by studying their keywords, throwing the rest to the very rock bottom.

According to Forbes, 75% of resumes never surpass this filter. Most documents will never reach recruitment specialists.

And what’s an ATS-friendly resume?

Simple: a resume with the best keywords for the job opening, specially tailored to like the ATS software.

Difficult? Yes, but not as much as most candidates think. Not with the right format to inject as many keywords as possible. Back to the point, take a closer look at the formats and how to use them to tailor a phenomenal resume, one that surpasses the digital filters. Chronological resume format

Chronological Resumes

The chronological resume is the classic and most sought-after design for both candidates and hiring managers. A bit old-fashion nowadays, but still incredibly effective. This format uses a vertical timeline where you describe your most relevant positions throughout your career. Moreover, it allows you to showcase some of the accomplishments from your previous jobs.

Generally, the chronological format has enough space for a concise summary, but not as long as in functional resumes.

In Indeed, one of the best portals worldwide for employers and job seekers, it’s a favorite template. Also, many recruiters tend to prefer this format because it highlights professional histories outstandingly.

In most cases, students, graduates, and inexperienced applicants should use other formats. Here’s the thing: the chronological layout will show employment gaps and lack of experience in the first seconds. Chronological resumes only focus on the experience.

There’s not much space to describe your capabilities. This time, you bet for your background, references, and accomplishments to show your capacities.

When to use a chronological resume

This resume format is the go-to for most experience candidates, senior-level applicants, executives, etc. In short, every professional with an excellent background to showcase. If you’ve got experience to show off, you should use this format to:

  • Show your job titles. Especially when they fit the job requirements and represent important roles. Or, when your previous responsibilities are transferable and adaptable to the job opening.
  • Match your profile with the job position. Recruiters will pay more attention to your resume if they see relatable work experience at once. And obviously, if they realize you have experience in the position they want to fulfill.
  • Highlight achievements. This format will let you add memberships, awards, and other accomplishments. This way, you can complement your former roles while differentiating yourself from most applicants. Not to mention, you’ll fit the ATS and duplicate your chances.
  • Point out references. When you’ve worked with some important names in the industry. Brands that recruiters will put their eyes on, whether competitors, references, or even potential allies.

Fact: Gary Burnison, CEO of Korn Ferry, explains that recruiters want to see candidates who demonstrate results rather than copy-pasting responsibilities.

If you’re studying, beginning from zero, or making a professional transition, the chronological resume may not be your best choice. This format is your best ally  when your career speaks by itself,  when your achievements or previous positions are described on the job position. In other cases, with no so much experience or an excellent background, you should try another approach. Otherwise, this format may reveal weaknesses in your work history.

Most recruiters consider this format the most professional. But, you must consider the brand’s style before choosing your template.

What are the reverse-chronological resumes?

The reverse-chronological resumes turn the scheme upside down to detail your experience from your past or current position. Then, it goes down in the paper to the previous positions, portraying your professional development and personal growth. You can opt for the chronological resume or the reverse-chronological resume. However, most recruiters prefer to read about your most recent positions and see how they can benefit their companies.

You don’t have to showcase all your professional history nor your first jobs, even if your background is amazing.

Functional resume format

Functional Resumes

Functional resumes –also known as skill-based resumes– focus on capacities, abilities, and professional goals instead of experience and accomplishments. Unlike the chronological format, the functional model omits or doesn’t prioritize dates, names, or titles.

With this resume format, you can highlight soft skills, such as creativity, passion, and communicational ability, as well as your strong skills, including the software you manage, special abilities, etc.

Thanks to this layout, you can explain in more detail how your talents line up to the job opening and the company’s values. On the other hand, it’s an excellent way to personalize your resume, making a unique, tailored-made piece for recruitment managers. Plus, you can  write a summary  at the top of the page to introduce yourself and your talents at the first skim.

Functional templates can help you include a wide rank of keywords, allowing you to design an ATS-friendly resume.

When to use a functional resume

Some recruiters take this format as an attempt to hide your work history for problems, lack of capacities, etc. A big red flag. Nonetheless. the functional resume works amazingly better in other cases, especially for:

  • Job transitions. Sometimes, professional pivots are inevitable, whether for necessity or passion. But, as long as you can extrapolate transferable skills from your previous jobs, the functional format is an excellent approach.
  • Work gasps. If you had some years out of the business or simply don’t want to highlight gaps, it fits. Since the functional resume prioritizes your talents, you can be discreet with your professional past. Yet, be honest as to your career history.
  • Lack of experience. Without experience, your best –and only– option is betting for your potential. Even with no background, your skills may attract interest, especially for entry-level and junior positions.
  • Creative positions. In creative departments, recruiters are more interested in your capabilities, dexterities, the software you manage, the tools you handle, etc.
  • Customer support positions. Generally, what matters most in these jobs is your soft skills. Here, being empathetic, polite, and creative to solve problems is always advantageous.
  • Focused-on-talents companies. Believe it or not, some companies prefer to focus on talents and capabilities. Normally, startups, fast-food franchises, and jobs for teenagers. But be careful, many exploitative employers use this approach.

If you’re a student, entry-level candidate, trainee, or inexperienced applicant, this is for you. On the other hand, it’s the best choice for teenagers openly looking for their first jobs. Or, for college students seeking part-time jobs or training positions.

Not a secret: in jobs for teenagers, employers don’t search for world-class candidates. They aim to students and young entrepreneurs ready to work. If you have enough experience and accomplishments, the chronological and combination resume might be better choices.

Explain your gasps briefly in your cover letter, and be ready to explain them again in your interview.

Combination resume format

Combination Resumes

These resume formats use the best features of both designs, chronological and functional, to create a balanced, attractive, powerful paper. On the one hand, it makes space to describe your professional history, and even some lines to point out your most remarkable achievements.

On the other hand, it has a section to detail your soft and strong skills. Moreover, and alike the functional design, it has a section to summarize why you’re an extraordinary candidate. Plus, you can use this section as an introduction, a brief description of the paper to engage the recruiter in the first seconds.

Although the chronological resume is still the favorite, the combination format is becoming popular among employers nowadays.

In short, this format will allow you to emphasize your skills and illustrate your work experience. Plus, to add more keywords and create a summary.

If you look to display versatility, creativity, and organization at the same time, this layout is an excellent alternative.

When to use the combination resume

Many consider this format the most dynamic and versatile for job seekers, by far. After all, it’s a great go-to when it comes to:

  • Professional pivots. When your previous positions have core responsibilities connected to the job opening, even in work pivots, the combination format is a respectable ally.
  • Little but relevant experience. If your experience is not that impressive but fits the job offer or is not recent, you can complement it with a good bunch of skills. This way, you change the focus from your work history to your most relevant capacities.
  • Volunteer background. Many candidates underestimate the power of volunteer jobs. But, by combining it with your abilities in this template, you can craft a compelling resume and increase your opportunities.

Yet, it also works for:

  • Senior and executive roles. Even the professionals at the highest levels can make the most out of this design. Since it includes previous positions and a long section for the skillset, many specialists opt for this layout.
  • Changing the chronological resume. Some applicants and recruiters consider the chronological layout an old-fashion design. Therefore, this is your opportunity to stand out from most applicants out there.
The combination resume works for almost every kind of applicant, except for those without experience.

Why are these the best resume formats?

Glad you asked! Let’s summarize the three models. The chronological allows you to illustrate the most important roles of your career. What’s more, to show off a little bit with your most relevant achievements. The functional format is fantastic for low openings where your potential and soft skills are all that you need to get the job.

In other words, when your work experience is not as critical as your skillset, the combination resume is the right balance between both designs. Professional growth, good references, and soft & strong skills, all in the same file. Not all candidates know why resume designs are paramount on job hunts; that’s an unparalleled chance to stand out. Just choose carefully from these resume formats and your opportunities will skyrocket.