What resume formats do hiring managers like better?

What Resume Formats Do Hiring Managers Like Better?


The Four Basic Resume Formats, and Which to Use at the Right Time.

There are four basic types of resumes: Chronological, Functional, Combined (Chronological/Functional), and Targeted. See examples of all four below, but note that these are typical examples and should only be used as a guide to see how the formats differ from each other.


What is a Chronological Resume?

The best-known resume format, favored by recruiters and hiring managers because of its simplistic style and layout. 

The Chronological Resume is considered by most as the safest resume format to use that almost everyone recognizes. Let’s talk about what it is. The Chronological Resume is the most traditional resume format also known as the reverse-chronological resume because of its structure and how work experience is listed, starting from your most recent employer or work history to your earliest or first job.

The main parts of the chronological format consists of a timeline or body of work at a specific time in your career, highlighting job duties, responsibilities, achievements and accolades for each of your positions.

Depending on your preference, some may include more sections about their professional experience that relates directly to the role. Some people even include personal experience such as volunteering work with non-profit organizations as well.

In a chronological resume the structure is as follows, an objective or summary statement, a list of positions held from the most recent to the last, and finally the educational section with academic accomplishments, special training, etc.




The chronological resume structure is the most traditional resume format. The experience section becomes the focal point of the resume because each of your past jobs is described in detail, along with sections of skills and/or accomplishments at the beginning of the resume. This format is primarily used when you are staying in the same profession and in the same type of work. The chronological resume should always have an objective statement or summary section to grab the reader’s attention. 

Advantages: Traditional, conservative readers like this format best because it’s easy to understand your current and former job duties, it doesn’t require much analyzing of the resume, and this format highlights the employer, especially if this past position was impressive.

It allows you to highlight all your various job responsibilities and accomplishments from your current and past positions. This can be highlighted in bulleted form describing each job duty or responsibility.

This also allows the person reading your resume to see all the relevant details about your company, title, work history, dates of employment, and accomplishments.

Disadvantage: This format is rarely appropriate for someone making a career change. It’s also more difficult to highlight what you do best in the chronological format.

This might work better for job seekers who have gaps in their employment for various reasons. This format focuses heavily on what the experience that the candidate has, and what they can bring to the table.

One more disadvantage of the chronological resume is that it might look like all the rest of the resumes that a hiring manager or someone in human resources might receive. This sometimes presents a challenge when you want to make your resume stand out.




The functional resume is a highlight of your major skills and accomplishments from the beginning. This helps the reader to clearly see what you can do for them, instead of having to read through the job descriptions to find out. This format is best if you are planning on going into a new career direction or field because it focuses on key skills and qualifications you have from past employers.

This shows a prospective employer that you are a successful applicant in your field. While the functional resume is a must for career changers, it is also appropriate for those with divergent careers, those with a wide range of skills in their profession, military officers, students, and for homemakers returning to the job market, etc.


Advantages: It is a very effective type of resume, and is highly recommended. It can help you reach a new goal or direction. This format starts with the job seekers contact information followed by a summary of qualifications or objective that relate to the job opening.

The summary section of this format is typically where you would highlight your skills. The skills could be listed as simple bullet points or a bullet points with a number rating of each skill (1 being the lowest, and 10 being the highest competency level), for example: Microsoft Word: Expert Level 8, Mac and Windows OS: Expert Level 9, etc. 

In the bullet points, you should try to be creative and write about how you were able to achieve desired results, or were able to accomplish a goal for your company.  

A well know method that is used for this format is listing work history by years worked, and not listing the specific months you worked. This works well if you had gaps in your employment or took time off for school, traveling, parenting, etc.

Disadvantages: The functional format makes it hard for the employer to know exactly what you did in each of your jobs, which could be a problem for some interviewers. It is not the easiest format for applicant tracking systems. The reason being is the applicant tracking software scans the resume, then it’s available to view by a hiring manager or recruiter.

In some cases, if they have problems viewing it, they could simply discard it and not even give you consideration for the position.

When writing a functional resume, always keep in mind that an employer might view it as a way of hiding work history gaps which you might not want to share. It’s always a good practice to be honest about any gaps in employment so that there’s no mistrust or any discrepancies that may come up with the hiring manager.



A combined resume has elements of both a chronological and functional format. It’s typically a shorter chronology of job descriptions followed by a brief skills and accomplishments or qualifications section. It may also be a standard functional resume with your accomplishments for the different jobs held.

One of the most notable is that you can group skills and abilities according expertise. Employers don’t like this format for several reasons. The main ones are its harder to follow the chronology of employers, skills, accomplishments, etc., and not so easy to read.

Advantages: The combined format shows advantages of both kinds of resumes, avoiding the potential negative effects of either type. If you happen to have little to no work history, this format highlights your skills without focusing on the lack of work history.

If you’ve made a career change into a completely different industry or line of work, this will help to show you have some work experience.

Disadvantage: The combined format makes for a longer resume. It can also be repetitious: You can highlight your accomplishments and skills in both the “functional” section and the “chronological” job descriptions.

If you are trying to avoid showing your age, this format will probably reveal your age to the employer. In the case where you have changed jobs or are considered a “job-hopper”, this will also alert the hiring manager as well.

Targeted Resume

This is a customized format that specifically highlights the experience and skills you have that are relevant to the job you are applying for. When you are writing a targeted resume, you need to know what audience is going to read your resume (general manager, senior manager, CEO, etc.). The key here is to match up your real skills and experience to the position for which you are applying.

If you choose this format, it’s important to emphasize or even bold some of the specific keywords on the resume that relate to the position. Since many resumes these days go through a screening process by a software application, you want to give yourself as chance by at least meeting the minimum skills qualification to be considered for an interview.  

The job market is ultra competitive, and a resume that isn’t written professionally doesn’t stand a chance. For a targeted resume format, you probably want to customize your resume for each position you apply for especially if you are considering applying to several jobs.


7 Resume Writing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

7 Resume Writing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

7 Resume Writing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Here are seven mistakes that ruin most resumes, and what you can do to prevent them:

Mistake #1: No Objective or Summary

Start your job search off on the right foot by describing the job or field in which you want to work. Otherwise, you force the employer to read your entire resume before figuring out which position best suits you. This creates unnecessary work for your reader.

If you already know the exact type of job or title you’re applying for, mention it! You can start the resume something like this:


Detail oriented Engineering Manager with 10 years of design experience seeking to bring value and expertise to an organization.

What if you don’t know the job title? You can start your resume like this:


Engineering Manager with 10 years of design and manufacturing experience who knows how to add value to operations.

By starting your resume with a clear objective or a focused summary, you tell the reader exactly what you want to do for him or her. This establishes a rapport and sets the stage for the resume, which will greatly improve your results.

Mistake #2: Focusing on Your Needs

This is the biggest mistake you can make. Your resume must quickly answer the one question on every employer’s mind: “What does this applicant bring to the table?”

Unfortunately, most resumes don’t even come close to addressing this question, instead including statements such as, “Experienced Marketing Manager seeking a position where I can utilize my skills in an environment with potential for career advancement.” While a statement like this might accurately describe your motives for applying, it makes your potential employer less interested in your resume.

Employers hate to hire new people. The only reason they need to hire someone is when they have a problem and need to solve it. Typically, they are very busy and can’t spend a lot of time in the hiring process.

Writing about yourself and not including what the employer wants. Your resume should be a marketing tool addressing the needs of the potential employer reading the resume. The employer looking at this resume should be saying, “This person has exactly what I’m looking for” as they read your resume.

The success of your resume depends on making it clear to the employer how you can contribute to the efficiency of the organization. Notice this opening summary again:


Engineering Manager with 10 years of design and manufacturing experience who knows how to add value to operations.

It’s enticing for a manager to hear upfront that you can add value to the organization’s operations. You can also say you will contribute to the efficiency of the organization or make the company more profitable, if in fact the job description calls for it and you’re capable of reaching these goals. The fastest way to advance your personal goals is to help your employer achieve his or her goals.

Mistake #3: Focusing on Responsibilities Instead of Results

Stress what you’ve accomplished and how invaluable you are to your current employer, instead of telling the reader what responsibilities you’ve held at each prior job.

Make a list of your daily duties and activities at your current or previous job, and brainstorm how fulfilling those responsibilities made a positive impact on the organization. Focus specifically on results… the more the better – because this is what the employer will want to see.

Mistake #4: Using Too Many Big Words

I have seen this way too many times. Applicants use terminology, jargon, or fancy words that really don’t have any value for the employer. The message you want to convey in your resume should be clear, concise, and to the point.

Simple is best. Use this mantra followed by national newspaper journalists: Write at a fifth-grade reading level. For example, try “organized” instead of “administered”.

Mistake #5: Spelling and Punctuation Errors

I cannot overemphasize the importance of using your word processor’s spell-check. Submitting resumes with grammatical errors, spelling errors, typos or poor formatting will not help you. A potential employer will look at the resume and think that an applicant who represents himself or herself poorly on paper will not represent the organization well in person.

Almost every hiring manager I talk to says they consistently see resumes with spelling or punctuation errors. In addition to using spell-check, read through the entire resume at least twice. Focus on making sure dates, titles, and numbers are correct.

Show your resume to a few friends and have them read it out loud so you can hear what it sounds like. Tweak the parts that don’t read well.

Mistake # 6: Too Much Detail

Providing too many details about older jobs that don’t apply to the job you’re seeking. Including a 7 page resume with too much detail about the progression or regression of your career will give the manager a high level idea of where your career is heading. Any employer who feels your career is on the decline will consider other candidates.

Mistake # 7: Formatting

Formatting your resume in a confusing manner. A potential employer will spend about 15 seconds doing a quick scan of your resume. Using an easy-to-read format allows him or her to spend more time reading your resume in detail. The common resume formats are reverse chronological, functional (skill based), and a combination format (or what’s referred to now as hybrid). 

For other job related statistics and relevant data, you can visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website at  


8 Steps to Success at Career Fairs

8 Steps to Success at Career Fairs

8 Steps to Success at Career Fairs

This will outline eight steps to help give you an advantage over the many other job seekers by making the most of your career-fair efforts.

There are a variety of job fairs out there, and some of them are more worth your time than others. Some job fairs are specific to industry. Your alma mater might offer a job fair. There are also industry trade shows that have job boards or recruiting days, along with the opportunity to talk about jobs with exhibitors.

Large company’s also put on job fairs of their own to recruit candidates as well. They do this at one or more of their locations that can accommodate large groups of people. You can find and research job fairs through local newspapers, cable TV stations, the internet, business publications, and college recruiting offices. Career job fairs should only be a small part of your overall job search strategy.

  1. Register for a Job Fair. Pre-registering for the event is recommended, because most job fairs allow you to register online. You might be asked to submit a resume or summary resume. Pre-registration allows employers to prescreen applicants and make note of those they want to meet at the fair. Pre-registration does not guarantee that you will get noticed or that employers will even look at the registrations. Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to pre-register since it’s easy to do and can reap big benefits.
  1. Research attending companies. I cannot overemphasize the importance of going to the web and researching the companies with which you plan to visit while you’re at the job fair. There will be hundreds, or in the case of larger job fairs, thousands of applicants who will be going to the same booth you plan to visit. Ask yourself, why will they consider you for their position instead of the many others who have shown up and told them what a great candidate they are? When you go to a job fair, be ready to interview. Often the people at the booth are recruiters or human resource professionals. The interview begins as soon as you walk up to the booth. The recruiter will size you up by noting your attire, your demeanor, your handshake, and how you conduct yourself during this conversation.
  1. Bring resumes. Bring lots of resumes to the fair, at least two for each company in which you have an interest. If you have multiple interests or job objectives, bring enough of each version of your resume. Make a good impression on recruiters by handing them a hard copy of your resume, collecting their business cards and promising to e-mail them a soft copy later in the day. Recruiters appreciate having a soft copy so they can reformat it when they present it to their clients or for internal use. Be productive at job fairs because they only last a day or two. Goal: Schedule an in-person interview with at least one exhibitor that you have an interest in.
  1. Wear appropriate conference attire. Conservative business attire is essential because image and first impressions are critical. Find out what is the expected attire for the conference and dress accordingly. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. A business suit always works best. Make sure the suit is clean and pressed.
  1. Devise an overall strategy. You need to devise a strategy or plan of attack for the fair. You’ve already done the first step by researching the companies you are interested in. The next step is to survey the layout of the fair and determine an order of interviewing. Some experts suggest meeting with your top choices first thing in the morning, interviewing with your other choices in the middle of the day, and returning to your top choices at the end of the day to thank them again for their time. But remember to stay flexible as your top choices may be the top choices for many.
  1. Hone your one-minute pitch. You won’t have much time to interview, so make every minute productive. You don’t want to be screened out early. Develop a one-minute “marketing” power discussion highlighting the key benefits that you can offer the organization. Also remember the four keys to all interviews: Make eye contact, offer a firm handshake, show enthusiasm and smile. You should also be prepared to answer interview questions just as you would any employment interview. Conclude the discussion by asking, “What do I need to do to obtain a second in-person interview with your firm?”
  1. Network While at the Job Fair. Career fairs are all about networking. You’re obviously building a network with the recruiters, but you can also network with your fellow job-seekers. Your peers can help by sharing information about job leads, companies, and their recruiting strategies and styles. There might also be professional organizations or employment agencies on hand at the fair, which are also good sources for networking.

Follow up. You would be surprised at how few job seekers actually take the time to follow up on their career fair interviews. Some experts suggest calling the recruiter the evening of the fair and leaving a voicemail message thanking them for their time. The more traditional approach is to write a thank-you note and mail it the next day. Thank the recruiter for their time, restate your interest in the position, reiterate your interest for a second interview and promise to follow up later with a phone call. Make sure you call! Enclose another copy of your resume with the thank-you letter.

For other job related statistics and relevant data, you can visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website at