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Resumes have a pretty specific job – to sell your experience and skills to prospective employers. Along the way, they hopefully answer some basic questions about your past and wow with a few statistics.

If you read a lot of resumes, you know they start to blend together. And depending on how they are arranged, it is easy to lose sight of the most important experience.

Most people don't even know there are different resume formats, but what you choose can make a huge difference in the amount of callbacks you get.

Choose The Right Resume Format

When arranging your resume, you have two basic formats to choose from. How do you pick the right format for your career experience? Does it really matter which option you select?

Yes, it matters a lot actually!

While you’re essentially sharing the same information, each varies in construction. The different formats impact potential employers in distinct ways. Here’s a closer look at both and tips on which one you should use.


Chronological resumes highlight accomplishments and skills in reverse chronological order with a framework of current and past employers. This is the format most people are familiar with. You'll list each role in reverse order and add in details about each company and position.

Chronological resumes typically get the best results by offering a direct look at your skills in an easily understandable outline. For each role, be sure to highlight successes.

Summary Or Functional

A summary resume showcases your skills, work experience, and expertise instead of listing your past jobs in order. You'll still cover the jobs, but they won't take up as much real estate on your resume and will come after highlighting your skills.

If you’ve changed career paths or jobs frequently, and want to highlight your expertise instead of your patchy job history, a summary resume can work well. Instead of listing out each role or company in order, you'll choose categories of skills/experience and list your successes under each.

Use caution, if a company emphasizes a focus on career building and longevity, summary resumes could work against you. Hiring managers may view you as a chronic job hopper or find it confusing.

Not Sure Which Fits Your Background?

Summary resumes work best to downplay your career moves and highlight the experience and skills you have gained. Chronological resumes work best if you have had a steady career progression.

If you aren’t sure which to use, I recommend creating a version of each and run them by a few people you trust. Preferably at least one person will have extensive hiring experience. If you can find someone hiring for a similar position to what you are looking for, that would be spectacular!

Also, if you have used one format and aren't getting good results, consider a change. If you get declined repeatedly, it might be worth the time to ask if your resume format or design had a bearing.


Another consideration on your resume format is if you want to include an Objective.

The objective statement can help employers quickly figure out if you are suitable for a job. It’s a quick screening device for hiring managers when sorting through piles of resumes.

Using an objective statement can have advantages – it targets your goals for employment and highlights how you will be a great fit for a role.

However, it also has the potential to be detrimental to you. Some hiring managers may overlook resumes with objectives which don’t conform exactly to specifications of current openings. It could actually limit the options you have, keeping you from being considered for jobs you’re qualified for.

Are you sure of the exact, specific position you want? Do you know what niche you want to be in? If so, state this information in your objective. If not, then you may want to simply skip the objective when you create a resume.

Choosing the right format and implementing it strategically will help your resume look its best and help move you into the YES pile!

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Rikka’s articles appear in trade magazines like LBM Journal, ProSales, Remodeling, and more.



Rikka’s advice has been featured on Fast Company, NFIB, AmEx Open Forum, CBS Small Business Pulse, Huffington Post, and more.



Rikka is selected to speak at local, regional, and national conferences like KBIS and ProDealer Summit.