October 23, 2015

Formatting Your Resume: the Best Ways to Group Your Work Experiences

BirdIf your resume is not skimmable, it is basically worthless. Almost no one will sit and read every word of a long, dense resume or CV, so it is important to highlight what you want recruiters and hiring managers to see immediately.

There are a lot of different ways to format and arrange your resume. The key is to find the one that makes sure recruiters see exactly what you want them to see — and then pick up the phone to call you.

Common Resume Formats to Consider

The most common resume format is the chronological format, which is also referred to as the reverse chronological format. You’ve probably used this one before — at the very least, you’ve definitely seen it. In the chronological format, you simply list the jobs you’ve had and hold currently, in order from the most recent to the least recent, along with relevant dates and job descriptions.

This format can be great if you have the “perfect career path” and are on track to obtain the job of your dreams — or if you are at least working within the right industry. While this style will really highlight your career development over the years, it can also call unwanted attention to gaps in your employment history and jobs you’ve held that are irrelevant to your dream job.

If your work history is largely composed of many different jobs in many different industries, the chronological format may also give off the notion that you don’t exactly what you want out of your career.

The functional resume format has not been as common in the past, but as the “career for life” has fallen out of fashion and more and more people find themselves having two or three careers, this format has steadily become more popular. The point of this format is to highlight your skills and how they meet the requirements of the job to which you are applying.

hybrid format combines the the chronological and functional styles, using bits and pieces of each. There is no real formula for resumes of this type: it just requires that you play with your experience and goals to see what works best. For example, you could group your experiences into categories and Flocklist them chronologically within those groups.

A hybrid-style resume can be utilized by and adapted for pretty much anyone out there, specifically through the grouping of different experiences together to highlight your strengths.

How to Group Your Experiences to Best Serve Your Needs

Grouping different experiences together on your resume lets you section out and highlight important aspects of your career while giving you more freedom than a basic chronological timeline of your career.

This tactic is extremely beneficial for those who are working a job to make money while simultaneously studying for or pursuing a career about which they are more passionate. This format is similarly great for students or people with minimal work experience. This resume style allows you to more easily showcase your classwork and volunteer efforts.

How you arrange your resume — that is, how you group and present your skills and work experiences — matters tremendously. There should be a logic to your groupings.

One of the best ways to group experience categories is to utilize buzzwords found in the description of your desired job. Some headlines that I typically use include, “Leadership Experience,” “Professional Experience,” “Clinical Experience,” “Research Experience,” and “Nonprofit Experience.”

Another great way to show that you are motivated to do what you love while still supporting yourself and/or your family is by grouping your experiences into “Professional Experience” and “Unrelated Experience.” The “Professional Experience” category highlights all of your skills that directly apply to the job you’re vying for, while the “Unrelated Experience” category highlights your consistent career path and your reliability. This grouping tactic is extremely beneficial for those in higher education or research-based fields and those who use CVs rather than resumes in general.

Why Should I Care About How I Group My Experiences?

Your resume probably contains a lot of information for recruiters to dig through. Grouping this information into smaller sections makes your resume more reader-friendly and more manageable. By creating smaller sections for the reader to focus on, you help your readers retain more of the information than they would if they were to simply skim over a long document with no section headings.

PilotCareful grouping of your experience also gives you the opportunity to put your most relevant experience first, even if it is not your most recent experience. Basically, grouping sections of your resume together lets you manipulate the document to read as you want it to read.

Why leave anything up to chance? Use smart grouping tactics to control the impression you leave on a recruiter — thereby upping your chances of landing an interview and maybe even the job!

Read more in Resume Format

A native San Franciscan, Michele Lando is a certified professional resume writer and founder of writestylesonline.com. She has a passion for helping others present the best version of themselves, both on paper and in person, and works to polish individuals' application packages and personal styles. Aiming to help create a perfect personal branding package, Write Styles presents tips to enhance your resume and style and boost your confidence.