Whether you’re new to the workforce, moving up in the world or making a change, choosing the best resume format is key to landing the best IT jobs. The economy is booming and employment is on the rise. This is great news for anyone pursuing new opportunities. For those seeking employment in IT and software development, the opportunities are endless and paying better than most professional careers.
According to Robert Half’s 2018 Technology & IT Salary Guide, average starting salaries for front-end web developers, network security administrators, software engineers and wireless network engineers are among the highest in the nation. However, employers aren’t just giving these six-figure salaried jobs to just anyone. Rather, employers are looking for those with the right skills and experience. Far too often, even those with the right expertise are overlooked due to a poorly formatted resume.
Does format really matter?
You better believe format matters. Choosing the right resume format helps you showcase the right information and get noticed. This is the key to any good resume. Thankfully, there are many more poorly written resumes out there. Therefore, knowing how to properly and concisely display your relevant information will help you stand out in a crowd. Ask any hiring manager and they’ll tell you; a bad resume is the best way to end up in the delete bucket.
What are the different types of resume formats?
You have choices when it comes to resume format. While the chronological format is the most common, the functional format provides some unique advantages. Also, the combination format provides the perfect blend that meets specific objectives. Here’s a quick rundown of the different types of resume formats.
Chronological Resume Format
A chronological format is great for highlighting upward progression as it showcases the history of one’s experiences and accomplishments. Because experiences and accomplishments are formatted in a chronological order, it’s easy for hiring managers to identify the expertise developed throughout the years. It also shows a history of staying committed to a profession- something employers key into.
Although college graduates can showcase a history of education with the chronological format, it’s really ideal for mid-level practitioners and experienced IT professionals that have demonstrated a commitment to IT. The clear drawback of the chronological format is that it doesn’t suit career changers or those with employment gaps. Nevertheless, this is an effective resume format that has been around for years.
The format of a chronological resume follows a specific order and should include the following:
- Objective statement
- Strong emphasis on experience and accomplishments
- Additional skills (optional)
Functional Resume Format
A functional resume is great for highlighting specific skills that directly relate to a job. In the rapidly evolving industry of IT, skills are highly regarded as they are hard to come by. Skills in cloud computing, network administration and cybersecurity are in demand, and those who can showcase these skills in a resume get noticed. When this format is used correctly, a hiring manager will be able to identify the skills an applicant brings to the table in one glance.
Functional resumes are ideal for job seekers with employment gaps, because the focus is on what you have now rather than how you got there. Relevant skills and certifications are listed just under the objective statement and should clearly stand out above anything else. Any work experience or lack of it should be given less emphasis. Also, consider using descriptions like full-time student, full-time parent or independent study when addressing long-term employment gaps.
The format of a functional resume follows a specific order and should include the following:
- Objective statement
- Strong emphasis on relevant skills
- Lesser emphasis on experience
Combination Resume Format
A combination resume format simply combines the chronological and functional formats. The structure of this format is very similar to the functional format. The main difference between the two is the treatment of experience. While the functional format is used to conceal a lack experience, the combination format highlights relevant experience, even though it may not be direct working experience.
The combination resume is perfect for career changers as it highlights current skills and a relevant work history. When this format is done correctly, hiring managers will initially be drawn to the applicant’s skills and then shift to the applicant’s relevant work history for further validation. Although the combination format works well for career changers with work experience, it doesn’t work well for college grads or those new to the workforce.
The combination format is similar to the functional format and includes:
- Objective statement
- Relevant Skills
- Relevant work history and accomplishments
Resume Best Practices
After choosing the appropriate resume format for your situation, make sure to follow these resume best practices:
- Include your contact information at the top of your resume to make it easy for a hiring manager to reach you.
- Avoid adding personal information like a social security number or federal work authorization number. Your name, address, phone number, and email address are sufficient.
- Avoid information regarding desired salary. This is a best discussed during the interview.
- Avoid listing references. Your references should be on a separate document that can be sent upon request.
- Customize your objective statement- three to four sentences explaining why you’re an ideal fit- to reflect the job description you’re applying to.
- Only list relevant information. For most, this can be accomplished in one page. However, advanced practitioners in IT need to describe highly technical experiences and list a host of technical certifications. When this is the case, use as many pages as needed.
- If you’re a recent college graduate with little to no experience, consider listing your education before listing work experience. After all, your brand-new computer science degree looks a lot better than the time you spent in the food industry.
- Be concise! Hiring managers don’t have time to read your biography. Therefore, get to the point and stop babbling.
Summing It Up
There has never been a better time to pursue a new career in technology. Market conditions are ripe for hiring and those with the right skills have all the opportunities. Whether you’re new to the industry, changing careers or looking for new opportunities, choose the resume format that best suits your situation and increase your chances of getting called for an interview.