Great Resumes Fast » Resume Writing Tips » Common Resume Questions Answered: Which Resume Format Is Best?

There are two primary resume formats—chronological and functional. A chronological resume is exactly what it sounds like—a resume organized by date. A functional resume is instead organized by skills or major accomplishments/career highlights. Often, functional resumes are used by people who want to minimize gaps in their careers—whether it’s because they were laid off, had a medical issue, opted to stay home to raise children, or for any other reason someone might have for being without a job for an extended period of time.

If you don’t have gaps in your job history, a chronological resume is a great choice of format for you.

However, many people do have some kind of gap in their job history. But I do not recommend using a true functional resume. Doing so makes it clear you’re trying to hide or minimize something. Instead, a hybrid of the chronological and functional resume formats is the right choice for most job seekers.

A hybrid resume format allows you to showcase—at the beginning of your resume—the skills and accomplishments that are a great fit for the specific job you’re applying to, with the chronology of your past jobs presented later in the document. A section of Career Highlights could even take up the entire first page of the resume—demonstrating your value and qualifications to help buttress any questions the employer may have once they’ve seen the gaps in your job history.

A hybrid format is also an excellent way to demonstrate to an employer that your skills are transferable to a new industry or new type of position. Rather than being immediately pigeonholed because your chronology shows your working in only one industry, you can tailor your career highlights and valuable skills to fit the new role and new industry you are hoping to land a job in.

If you’re not sure whether a chronological or hybrid resume format is right for you, try playing around with it a bit and see which one comes across as stronger. It might quickly become clear to you which format allows you to immediately impress a potential employer—and getting and keeping their attention is the most important thing.

You can hear me address this question about resume formats, as well as many other common resume questions, in a LinkedIn Live interview I did with LinkedIn News Editor Andrew Seaman. Watch it here, and connect with me on LinkedIn here.

Are you tired of your resume being rejected by applicant tracking systems? I know how frustrating it is to submit your resume and receive no response. I hate seeing qualified people never break through the screening process. It shouldn’t be that way. That’s why I created this guide and I encourage you to download the FREE PDF so you can start seeing better resume response rates!

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About the author

Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast

Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.

What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.

You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!

I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!


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  4. What is the best format for a resume? - on April 20, 2021 at 3:26 pm

    […] the name suggests, this resume format is all about showcasing your work history in chronological order. It’s organized by the dates that you worked at your previous roles with a short description of […]

  5. […] unprofessional. Text-dense resumes also tend to age you, as modern candidates eagerly turn to new resume formats that present their credentials in more visually appealing ways. Having a hiring team think […]

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