Select the Best Format

Different resume styles highlight different types of experience. Before you start writing, think about what format might be best suited to highlight your qualifications.

There are two basic resume formats: chronological and functional. The main difference between them is the amount of emphasis you give your job history compared to the amount you give your skills.

  • A chronological format highlights your employment history. This format can work if you have a solid work history in a particular job or field and you're planning on looking for a similar position.
  • A functional format highlights your skills. Use this format to show what you're capable of doing, even if it's not directly related to your work history. It's the best choice if you're changing careers.

The best resumes are usually a combination of these formats. They communicate your strongest qualifications while providing employers with relevant information on your employment history.

In our sample resume for Beth Smith, she uses a combined chronological/functional format. Because she has a strong work history, she can highlight her employment dates. But because she is also seeking to advance to a project coordinator position, she uses headings to highlight her skills in key functional areas. To see this combined format, view the Professional Experience section of Beth's resume.

Once you've selected a resume format, you're ready to write a first draft.