The answer is simple, the Chronological. (I will write about the other 2 later this week…stay tuned) The reason- it is the format employers like to see. So give it to them. Why does the employer like to see your work history? They are looking to see:
Is your last job the same as the position they want to hire for?
Is the work history solid, without glaring gaps?
Is the experience similar to what they need?
It is your job as the author of this resume to ensure that the information YOU provide is valuable to the reader, first and foremost.
What if your last job was similar, yet not exactly the same as what you are applying for?
Make it look similar without lying, of course. Could you re-title yourself, using a title that is more universally understood? Could you only mention the details of the job that DO match, omitting those that are unrelated or superfluous?
What if there is a gap in my work history?
How big is the gap? We are only going to use starting and ending years. Lose the detail of months in listing your work history. If it is under a year, you probably don't need to worry about it on the resume, but have a good story to tell in the interview. What you did to professionally develop yourself during the gap? Did you volunteer, take a class, join a group? Don't think in terms of money making jobs, but in terms of life experience. List it as if it were a paying job and change the heading for this section to EXPERIENCE (you can't call it work or professional, because that would be a lie).
What if I just graduated?
Show any internships/work-study/projects as EXPERIENCE. Don't divulge on the resume that this was unpaid or through school because it loses credibility in the eyes of the employer. Use the job title that would be used if you were being paid.
What if I've only had one job?
If you mean you have only worked for one company for more than 6-10 years, that isn't one job…that's lots of different jobs and assignments. Break it down into chunks of work based on projects or departments. Help the reader see your ability to grow and learn new things by showing them your progress.
I might be overqualified for the job?
If you are thinking this, then it probably is true. Why are you applying for a job you are overqualified for? The answer to this question should be a good one. If the answer is, it's the only job I can find…that's not good, but apply anyway. Your resume only needs to address that you have the qualifications to do the job, it doesn't have to list your first job ever. Go back 10-15 years max. Sure you've done some great things long ago, but how relevant are they today to the employer if you haven't used those skills in a long time? Is it really like riding a bike? The employers may not think so. In today's job market, the employer can get almost exactly what they want (meaning current experience) at a lower cost. Think Supply and Demand.
Instead of dumping information on the page and calling it a resume, craft a marketing piece for you as the solution to their needs. Here are some reminders about what a resume should be:
- The resume needs to be well thought out and have a disciplined focus.
The resume is a response to the needs stated in a job posting.
The resume is the vehicle which generates the phone call to discuss your background. It doesn't get you the job.
I promise, I will discuss the other 2 format's of resumes later this week. You need to use logic to write your resume. Understand what the employer needs and write your resume to those needs.
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.