The Most Common Resume Formats

The Most Common Resume Formats

Every job seeker knows that the resume’s purpose is to tell a short story of who you are and what you can bring to the company. But, a resume is certainly not an essay, therefore, there needs to be some sort of standardized, orderliness to it; a format.

We polled some of the busiest recruiters in major cities and one of the questions that we asked is ‘What is most popular or common resume format?’

Here are the two top results of that poll:

  • The Chronological Resume Format,
  • The Functional Resume Format.


The first decision then is which format will best highlight your experience and education? The most common format is the chronological resume; actually it’s the reverse chronological resume because your most recent experience would be listed first, then down the line into your employment history. The problem with the most common resume format is that it looks a lot like all the others and therefore, comes across as ordinary. Ordinary resumes might be set aside if the recruiter has a stack of resumes on her desk.

Next in line is the functional resume format also known as a skills-based resume format. In the skills-based format, your experience is listed based on relevance to the position for which you are applying. This format certainly highlights what you can bring to the job, but it also may leave a lot of questions in the mind of the recruiter.

What’s really needed is something that will catch the recruiters attention and interest. This can be tricky and some people might go overboard with this concept. For example, putting your resume on yellow paper would certainly open eyes, but also it would raise eyebrows and the resume would probably wind up in the circular file. Another bad idea would be to include your photo. Recruiters everywhere say this is a bad idea.

One idea that has had good results in the past and will continue to have good results in the future, until everyone wears it out, is the ‘fail blurb’. A ‘fail blurb’ is a short mention of one of your failures on a previous project. At first this sounds like a very bad idea, but recruiters know that it’s when we fail that we learn and grow and recruiters and HR managers love to see this.

Admitting a failure will demonstrate…

  • Humility,
  • Honesty,
  • Growth on the job.
  • Ability to learn from mistakes,
  • and ability to lead by example.


Of course, all of that will not fit on your resume, but you can be sure that you will get an interview because the recruiter will be so interested in your ‘failure experience’. It will be a great talking point and will put you and the recruiter on the same page.