Resume Formatting – Employment History

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 15,043
    Certified Expert Resume Writer Laura DeCarlo teaches you how to format your employment history.

    Laura Decarlo: Hi! I'm Laura Decarlo, certified expert resume writer and President of the Professional Association of Rsum Writers and Career Coaches, Career Directors International. I am sharing strategies for creating your dynamic and compelling resume. Right now, I am going to talk about selecting the best format for displaying your employment history.

    Many job seekers find themselves confused about what employer's really want to see when it comes to their work history. You maybe wondering, which format is best: chronological, functional or a hybrid of the two?

    The chronological format is actually a reverse chronological presentation of the positions you have held. By using reverse chronology, it allows an employer to see your most recent employment first, because it makes it easy for an employer to view your employment progression, this is the most accepted format for your work history. However, it maybe not the best format for you, if you have recent employment gaps or changing fields, have recently graduated, have had many short term repetitive positions or have backtracked or sidelined in your recent employment.

    The functional format is what it sounds like. Taking your work history and breaking into functional groupings by experience instead of by job title, employer or chronology. In theory, it seems the solution to all the problems you might face with the chronological format, but don't be fooled. This format is the quickest way to get your resume put in the news stack. This is because leaving off your employment timeline is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. When employer sees this, he or she immediately knows you have something to hide and will assume the worst. You should avoid this format at all cost. The final format is the hybrid resume, which borrows elements of the chronological and the functional formats in an effort to cover gaps and backtracks in your work history. You will want to use a hybrid format, only when you must, not just because you think it will let you play up experience across your timeline.

    Chronological is always the favorite format and should be your default whenever possible. There are few strategies to apply a successful version of the hybrid format to your resume. If your most relevant experience was a few jobs back, but you recent employment is still in the field, you can include a brief overview at the start of your work history. This is as simple as I have said it and I tell this by a sentence that says, offering relevant experience in positions of Project Manager with the ABC Company, Senior Analyst with XYZ Company and PMO Manager at the 123 Company. This strategy allows you to rapidly show an employer the titles and employers that would otherwise not appear until page two. If you have recent gaps or lower irrelevant positions in your recent history, you might include a two part strategy. The first part would be to create a section called employment timeline where you give each job and each gap one line each in a list format. The next part of this strategy would be to create a second section called Relevant Employment Highlights. In this section, you would detail the jobs from your timeline that are relevant including job title, company name and relevant details. You would not re-list the dates of employment and you would not detail the irrelevant positions or employment gaps. The only time you'll use a true chrono-functional format, which is your brief timeline followed by your functional grouping of experience, is if you are a new graduate or entry level job seeker, with no relevant experience or have held repetitive positions with no room for accomplishments or achievements. So to decide that this is the format for you, avoid the trap of not connecting your functional content to your timeline. You can do this simply by listing where you performed each function within each bullet. For instance, you might have a bullet which states, managed and improved customer service at the XYZ Company to increase customer satisfaction levels from 82-97% in three months. Now that you understand the differences and applications of the three types of work history formats, I'll talk about the other sections you need to include in your resume.