Your resume is your most important job search document. It is essentially your own personal advertisement. Since your resume is designed to sell your skills and abilities to a potential employer, deciding on the best format to showcase your skills can make all the difference. Read on to learn the pros and cons of commonly used resume formats and how they can help you land a remote job.
7 Resume Formats to Land a Remote Job
A good resume gets your foot in the door to secure a coveted interview. Resumes take on even greater importance for remote workers who may not have an opportunity to make an in-person impression. Throughout North America, resume formats and standards are generally the same. A resume is no more than two pages long and covers your professional experience over the past 10 to 15 years. However, there are a few different options on how best to present that experience.
Below is an overview of four traditional resume formats and discussion regarding whether these formats are still relevant in today’s remote job market. Following this is a description of three additional customized resume formats.
Traditional Resume Formats
If you have been in the job market for a while, you may have come across the following four resume formats. These are the formats commonly used prior to the ubiquitous use of applicant tracking system (ATS) software. While each still has merits, new job search strategies and hiring techniques require us to adjust to the challenges of finding a remote position in today’s job market.
1. Chronological Resume Format
A chronological format is a resume that focuses on a list of your professional experiences in reverse date order. So, your most recent experience is listed at the top and you go back in time from there. For each position, the title, company name, location, and dates of employment are included, as well as a description of the position and your accomplishments.
Pros: Employers prefer this type of resume. They can quickly see your jobs, years of experience, and whether there are any gaps in your employment history.
Cons: The pros become cons if your resume is weak in experience or if you have significant gaps in work history.
When to use: This format is perfect if you are looking to move into a position that is similar or a step up from the one you currently hold and have prior related experience.
When not to use: This is not optimal if you lack related work experience or have recent or significant gaps in work history.
Tips for remote job seekers: Highlight current or previous remote job duties or experience. Try using wording such as telecommute role, virtual teams, and remote leadership. Also, make sure to focus on your accomplishments in each position. Remote employers appreciate knowing you can deliver on your projects.
The takeaway: No matter what format you choose, include a section that lists your work history in reverse chronological order. This is what employers expect and ATS software systems require in order to accept your electronic submissions. If you don’t include this, you run the risk of having your resume automatically disqualified from consideration.
2. Functional Resume Format
A functional resume is one that focuses on your skills and experience instead of dates and titles. Major skill categories are developed and elaborated on in a list format. For example, you may want to create categories to describe your communication skills, technical skills, leadership skills, etc. Categories should be targeted to the position sought.
Pros: This format is a good option for people who have recently graduated. It also works for those who are looking to change careers or have gaps in their work history. The format allows for experience outside regular employment to be incorporated including volunteer work, roles in professional associations, research projects, and so on.
Cons: Employers don’t like this format for many of the same reasons a jobseeker wants to use it. It’s difficult to associate accomplishments with specific experience, identify gaps in employment, or notice a lack of experience. For that reason, exclusive use of this format is not recommended, as it stands a good chance of not being considered.
Tips for remote job seekers: Develop categories where you can highlight remote work experience or skills like working independently, communicating virtually, etc. Also, include your experience with any required collaboration software or technical equipment.
The takeaway: This is a good approach for remote jobseekers when they want to emphasize their skills due to a lack of relevant and/or recent work experience. However, a section of your resume still needs to be devoted to your chronological work history if you have it. It is also important to co-locate your duties and accomplishments with the job title, so it can be read correctly by the ATS software.
3. Combination Resume Format
As its name suggests, a combination resume uses both a functional and a chronological approach to highlight both skills and experience. Modern resume formats generally allocate the top third of the first page of your resume to expanding on the functional aspects of your resume. This is followed by a chronological listing and description of your professional roles.
Pros: This is one of the most flexible types of resume formats and can be tailored to the specific remote job desired. The flexibility allows job seekers to highlight their strengths and minimize their weaknesses while still providing all the essential information required by employers.
Cons: There really are no cons to this format. You provide the historic details required while still highlighting the skills and experiences that make you perfect for the position.
Tips for remote jobseekers: Bring forward remote job experience or skills that might be important to your next employer in the functional highlights.
The takeaway: While this is a good format for emphasizing the skills and experience that are most important to the position you are looking for, make sure that your accomplishments are clearly associated with a specific company/organization. Employers don’t like to guess where you got experience or achieved that goal.
4. Targeted Resume Format
A targeted resume is one that has been written for a specific position. All the skill descriptions, job duties, education, and additional information are developed to address the requirements of one job.
Pros: Targeting one job this closely provides well-qualified applicants a real leg up on the competition. To employers, you will appear custom-made for the position they are advertising.
Cons: Obviously, this is a very time-consuming approach and you may not want to invest this much effort into each application. Also, make sure that you don’t mirror the job advertisement too closely. For example, stay away from using specific phrases used in the ad. You may come across as inauthentic.
Tips for remote jobseekers: If you are a first-time remote jobseeker, you may want to try using this approach. It helps you get used to what employers are looking for and address those requirements directly. After a few applications, you may be able to cut and paste some core content.
The takeaway: The more closely you target your resume to the position being advertised, the better chance you have of getting an interview. While you may not have time to completely recreate your resume, you should customize your document slightly for each application. Make sure you highlight how you meet the main requirements of that specific position, but be careful not to embellish your experience or repeat the job requirements verbatim.
Specialized Resume Formats for Landing a Remote Job
In addition to the general resume formats listed above that are used to apply for most corporate and non-profit positions in North America, there are a few specialized options used only in specific instances.
5. Curriculum Vitae (CV)
A CV is a very detailed professional history. In addition to in-depth job descriptions and educational history, you provide information regarding research projects, patents, publications, scholarships, awards, and professional affiliations. There is no page limit to a CV.
In North America, a CV is only required when applying for academic, medical, scientific, or research positions. Whether office-based or remote, the CV format is the same and is usually part of a larger application package.
While you may not be required to have a CV, it is not a bad idea to have one, anyway. Because it is so comprehensive, the information you add can be useful later when you are rewriting or refining your two-page resume. This assures you capture all your accomplishments whether they are in-demand or relevant now or later in your career.
6. Federal Resume Format
A federal format resume is one that is exclusively used to apply for government jobs through the USA Jobs web portal. As with a CV, it is a very detailed document. However, this format goes even further to include specifics such as salary, supervisor names, and number of hours worked per week. This format also asks for details regarding volunteer experience and roles in community organizations.
If you are considering applying for government positions, read the website documentation carefully and follow it to the letter. It is important to address every single requirement the position lists, so customize your resume for each position.
7. International Resume Formats
Last, but not least, especially for digital nomads, are resume formats geared to securing a remote job in countries other than North America. Before applying to a position in another country, do your research. Each country has slightly different customs and cultural standards that you need to be aware of and abide by if you want to be seriously considered for a position.
For example, in some European countries you are expected to provide your information CV-style and include personal details that you would not add in the U.S. such as gender and age. In many Asian countries, you are expected to provide a photo. The best way to find out the specific requirements is to find experts or resources developed in-country and follow their lead. Don’t assume you know, as standards are always changing and some differences are subtle.
A last word…
Whatever format you choose to optimize your job search efforts, make sure to go over your resume thoroughly before you apply for each position. If you’re feeling lost and need some help, reach out to our Career Services specialists to create a professional resume that will stand out from the crowd to potential employers.
iStock Photo Credit: tommaso79
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