If you take the time to pick the best resume format or resume template, you will stand out among the thousands of job applicants out there!

Now, I realize for most people writing a resume sounds about as appealing as getting a root canal or paying your taxes.

But writing a resume doesn’t need to be painful. If you’ve got the right resume builder tools it can even be fun!

Whether you’ve got an employment gap, a career change on the horizon, you’re a mom returning to the paid workforce or you have a more traditional career background, there is a specific resume format you NEED to be using.

I’ve spent nearly 20 years as a career coach and counselor, networking with hundreds of hiring managers. What I’ve learned is this: your resume only gets scanned for roughly six seconds.¬†So it’s critical that you have the necessary information written and formatted in the right order.

And that’s assuming a human will be scanning your resume.

A recent study by JobScan showed that roughly 98% of Fortune 500 companies, roughly 60% of large companies, and 30% of small companies use ATS software to filter resumes. ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System and it allows recruiters and hiring managers to collect and sort through resumes and LinkedIn profiles.

Want to see how your resume stacks up against the competition? Sign up now for a FREE account with JobScan and dramatically increase your chances of being called for an interview!

Read below to see a list of the various resume formats and how to select the best one for you:

Resume Template #1: Chronological

What is it?

A chronological resume format emphasizes your work history and will typically display it in reverse chronological order (i.e. most recent experience first).

When you should use this format: 

  • You’ve been in the same industry for a while (at different companies) and you are applying for jobs within that same industry.
  • You’ve been with the same company for many years and are applying for positions in the same industry.

Resume Template #2: Combination

What is it?

A combination resume format, also referred to as a “functional” resume format, is ideal for job seekers who are changing industries, or who might have a gap in their work experience. A combo format highlights transferable skills (i.e. soft skills applicable in any industry like problem-solving, leadership) and relevant job-specific skills, while de-emphasizing work history.

In addition to using a combination resume, learn about a simple, four-step process to addressing gaps in your cover letter here.

When you should use this format:

  • You have an employment gap.
  • You’re changing career industries.
  • You’re a mom or caregiver returning to the workforce after a leave.

Resume Template #3: Student / Limited Experience

What is it?

A student resume is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a student resume. This resume template emphasizes education, including categories like relevant coursework, academic projects, and internships and co-ops.

When you should use this format:

  • If you are a college / graduate¬† student or a recent graduate.
  • You are enrolled in any kind of academic or certificate program.

Resume Template #4: CV

What is it?

The terms CV and resume get used interchangeably all the time, but they are very different. A resume is a concise document which highlights relevant skills and experience as it pertains to a specific job. A CV is used to apply for academic and research-related positions and is usually much longer than a resume. Typical categories on the CV include: research, relevant work history, publications and presentations, certifications and awards, and grants / scholarships.

When you should use this format:

  • You are applying for a position in education / grant writing, or research, including faculty and teaching positions

Wrapping Up

Writing a targeted cover letter will also help distinguish you as a qualified candidate and will help your application stand out. Click here to learn how to tailor your cover letter to your next dream job!

Hopefully this article helps you select the best resume format in 2020. If you have any questions about which format is the best fit for your professional background, send me an email at thecareercounter@gmail.com and I would be happy to answer any questions you have!

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