Importance of a Resume: Which Format Should You Use?

The importance of a resume isn’t always up for debate, but the proper resume format is. We explore the traditional chronological resume vs. modern functional hybrid resume to help you decide.

When it comes to resumes in today’s job market, you can talk to 15 different HR/Recruiting/Hiring professionals and get 25 different opinions. Some people have more than one opinion on this topic! Here’s a breakdown of two resume format types and when to use them as you consider the importance of a resume.

Traditional Chronological Resume

A traditional chronological resume is one that highlights your experience and accomplishments in a year-based, chronological order. Your most recent position is at the beginning and your older work experience is at the end of the experience section. In this style of resume, your accomplishments and PAR (Problem – Action – Result) statements are associated with each specific position.

Focus on the last 10-15 years of experience with this style of resume. In actuality, many employers focus on what you have done in the last 3-5 years, especially if your role relates in any way to information technology.

Traditional Chronological Resume Format, IMPACT Group

Modern Functional Hybrid Resume

A modern functional hybrid resume is quite different from functional resumes of the past. Some believe the functional resume format was used to hide information, such as career gaps. In the modern functional hybrid resume, you simply showcase your skill set in a different way. This format focuses on your core areas of expertise and puts less emphasis on the job roles and responsibilities.

You still have the chronological portion for HR professionals and hiring managers who want to see where you worked and how long you were with each company. However, the emphasis is on no more than 3-4 key areas where you can showcase your accomplishments and PAR statements. A functional hybrid allows you to create one resume and simply move the key areas of expertise up or down based on the type of job you are pursuing.

Modern Functional Hybrid Resume, IMPACT Group

When to Use Each Format

So how do you know when to use a traditional chronological resume vs. a more modern functional hybrid? Here are a few tips:

  1. Highlight your career progression (promotions/upward mobility) – chronological.
  2. Go back into the same type of position you have been doing and your scope of responsibility really focuses on one key area of expertise – chronological.
  3. Entry level or only have a few years of work experience – chronological.
  4. Executive or leader and you wants to highlight 3-4 core areas where you have been most effective – functional hybrid.
  5. Held a variety of roles throughout your career and you are open to exploring 3-4 different directions for your next opportunity – functional hybrid.
  6. Considering a career change – functional hybrid.

Remember, there is no such thing as a perfect, one size fits all resume. The importance of a resume and its format is unique to you. For consistent branding across your print and social media, strive to create one foundational resume that should only require minimal updates (e.g. keywords, PAR statements, focus shift, etc.) as you apply to your target roles. Having too many versions of yourself out there can be harmful to your search. Be strategic and target specific roles. Best wishes in your search!