Organizing Your Resume So It Makes Sense


The importance of a good, solid, professional resume does not need explanation. It is the single item that is meant to garner an employer’s interest in you. If you ever had a college professor tell you to write 8 pages about a light subject, you can feel pressured to be as wordy as possible. When it comes to your resume, you have the opposite plight: you must reduce everything about yourself and your experience into a single page.

Clearly, the content and length of your resume are important, but what about the organization? How you organize your resume is also incredibly important because there are different types of resumes, all of which are formatted differently. You must make various organization choices based on who you are, what you are applying for, and where you are in life. This may sound confusing, and that is because many people are confused by the organization choices. Let us explain it to you.

1. Chronological Resume

The traditional resume format, a chronological resume is a simple summary of an applicant’s education and job experience. It follows a present-to-past timeline, working backward. This is ideal for those that were educated and are experienced in the related field and are looking to organize their resume so that it demonstrates a pattern of growth and upward mobility. Your existing resume is likely in this format, though it might not be the best option for your needs.

Stack of resumes on a blue background.

2. Functional Resume

An alternative format, a functional resume underscores an applicant’s skills, work experience, honors, and accomplishments. These fields are arranged by the field or area of strength, like supervision, social media marketing, healthcare, or government work. This is an ideal resume type for those that are returning to work in their desired job field after several years of absence, have decided to begin working in a new career field, or have worked for a long time in the same field without much growth or promotion.

3. Modified Chronological Resume

Usually the most successful format, a modified chronological resume involves the organization of one’s professional experience in chronological order while highlighting relevant and impressive details with the same categorical organization of the functional format. This type of resume is laid out as follows:

  • A header that includes your name and good contact info
  • 1 or 2 profile sentences that express your overall experience and strengths
  • Work history in reverse chronological order, focusing on experience from the past 10-15 years
  • Education information, including institution names, your GPA (if it was 3.0 or higher), honors, and relevant extracurricular activities (New graduates and those with less than 5 years of relevant work experience should place this info before employment history.)

Building an organized, streamlined resume that will bolster your education, experience, and accomplishments depends on the use of the proper format for you. We think you can certainly impress any employer with a solid, well-planned resume. You will rarely be in a small pool of applicants for any job position. When employers are narrowing down their list of people to interview, they will eliminate resumes that are poorly organized or unprofessional first, even if the content is impressive. Be sure you make it past that elimination every time.