Ch. 3: Resume Format

Resume Format


In the last chapter, Ch. 2: The Best Typefaces and Fonts for Your Resumé, we covered the best (and worst)typefaces and fonts for your professional healthcare resumé. . Here, in chapter three, we will move along and discuss the three professionally recognized and widely accepted resumé formats that recruiters have come to expect from candidates.

Recruiters have come to expect specific layouts when browsing resumés and searching for candidates to fill their positions, so it's vital to learn how to how to format a resumé properly.Doing so will help make you look professional and will, ideally, help inspire the recruiter to pick up the phone to schedule an interview. In contrast, if your resumé is in complete disarray and difficult for them to extract information from, you may be quickly rejected. An easy way to avoid this mistake is to follow one of the three tested resumé formats that have and will continue to be the cornerstones of resumé-building.


Choosing a Resume Format


Depending on your situation, the position you're applying to, and/or the company that you're interested in, different resumé formats will be needed. It's up to you to decide which is most appropriate. Thankfully, we've created this resumé-building guide to help you as you start the process. Below, you'll find each format, when and when not to use each, and resumé format examples.


1. Reverse Chronological


A reverse chronological resumé format is traditionally the most familiar and widely used format, thanks to how the information is streamlined and easily interpreted for the reader from top to bottom. With a reverse chronological resumé, your healthcare or hospital jobs are displayed from most recent at the top to oldest at the bottom.


Use reverse chronological if:

Avoid reverse chronological if:

You want to emphasize positions, career growth, and achievement by showing continuous professional development.

You have extended gaps in your employment history.

You’re applying to a position that is aligned with your career goals and experience.

You’ve changed jobs quickly in the past, implying that you’re not dedicated to one position.

You have few gaps and want to logically display you career information in a clear way.

You’re looking to make a jump from one career to another.


The reverse chronological layout, top-to-bottom:

  1. Personal Information/Contact
  2. Qualifications Summary
  3. Professional Experience
  4. Education
  5. Skills
  6. Certifications/Awards/Other


Reverse chronological resume example:

In our opinion, the reverse chronological format remains the all-around best resume format due to its simplification of information and easiness to understand.


2. Functional


The functional resumé format de-emphasizes specific job titles and companies, highlighting skills gained and accomplishments instead. This format is typically used if the applicant has held many positions that are unrelated to the one they're applying for or if there are gaps in the applicant's work history.

In order to build a functional or skills-based resumé, examine your skill areas and construct categories for each, ultimately targeting the position you intend to apply for. While this can be a great way to show off your acquired skills, ones that are often transferable to many positions, the drawback of using this format is that employers can find it somewhat confusing or more difficult to interpret, since your positions are not listed in chronological order.


Use functional if:

Avoid functional if:

You’re looking to apply to a position within, or closely related to, your field.

You’re looking to jump into a new career path or industry.

You have minimal gaps in your employment history.

You’ve frequently switched positions and have many gaps in employment.

You want to portray your experience in a linear.



The functional layout:

  1. Personal Information/Contact
  2. Qualifications Summary
  3. Skills
  4. Professional Experience
  5. Education
  6. Certifications/Awards/Other


Functional resume example:

In the healthcare setting, the reverse chronological format is often preferred over the functional resumé format, however, it’s best to use whichever format highlights you in the best possible way.


3. Combination


The combination resumé format is simply a hybrid of the reverse chronological and the functional formats. It puts the spotlight on achievements and skills, while still including your former positions and employers within any skill categories that you construct.


Use combination if:

Avoid combination if:

You want to emphasize a central, relevant, and highly-developed skill for the position you’re applying to.

You have little experience, are an entry-level candidate, or a student.

You’re very experienced and are highly-skilled in every aspect of your skill.

You’ve changed jobs quickly in the past, implying that you’re not dedicated to one position.

You want to make a career change and jump into another field.

You’re looking to make a jump from one career to another.


The combination format:

  1. Personal Information/Contact
  2. Qualifications Summary
  3. Skills
  4. Professional Experience
  5. Education
  6. Certifications/Awards/Other


The reverse chronological format is used in conjunction with the skills-based elements of the functional resumé to create a combination style resumé:




Depending on your situation and the position you're applying to, any of these resumé formats can be viable choices for your intended healthcare position. Carefully consider each of the above options, and the reasons to use one versus another, and start building your resumé from there.

Of these three resume formats, we recommend staying with the tried-and-true reverse chronological format whenever possible. It streamlines your information, it’s easy to interpret, and frankly, it’s easier to create than the others. However, if you have a good reason to use the other formats, like large gaps in employment or career changes, please don’t hesitate to use your other resumé-building options.


Next: Ch. 4: Resume Action Verbs