Which Resume Format is Best?

How do you know which resume format to use?

Which resume format should I use? - Based on a question posed on the "Ask a Resume Expert" page

Question from E. in PA: "I have been working as a chemist/senior chemist for 15 years for an environmental lab. I have a biology degree and have decided that I want to get a job in the biology/Pharmaceutical industry. Before my career as a chemist I did do some biology work, but only for a year or two after college. How would you suggest I construct my resume since most of my employment history is in chemistry? "

Our response: The basic question is: Which resume format is best given my situation. The first thing that I would suggest is using a functional resume format. Under the heading, define your job objective, then directly under that, summarize your biology-related skills, accomplishments, and experience. It doesn't matter that some of those skills/experiences are "dated". You have them and they are of value. Any experience or achievement that pertains to the position you are seeking should be included in that summary of qualifications. If you keep the focus on "Biology/Pharmaceutical" (to whatever extent you can), you will show the prospective employer that you have some/all of the qualifications they are seeking.

As with any resume, you should tailor the information (work experience and education to the position and company to which you are applying. You may have to spend some extra time in thought about this, but it will truly be worth it. Not only will you have a solid resume, but you'll also be better prepared for the interview.

The last thing I'll mention is that you might want to briefly mention your change in careers in your cover letter, especially if you feel your skill set is somewhat limited.

Homework: I would suggest reading this article on Changing Careers.

And taking a look at this information regarding a Functional Resume Format.

Then these Resume Format Examples which will allow you to see how the resume formats look with all of the information included (and one person's information in all three formats). That's something you won't find on any other resume website. Sometimes determining which resume format is best in your situation depends on how your information looks in all three formats. You may not realize which one works best for you until you try all three.

If you still think you'd like more information, understanding how a variety of skills are transferable from position to position is very helpful.

To learn Which Resume Format is best for you, click here to read about the three most common styles

You may want to also read about Targeting your resume and how that benefits you AND prospective employers


If you have a resume-related question, you can Ask a Resume Expert by following this link


Search our site: