What is the best resume format?


06 February 2023

What is the best resume format? illustration

What is the best resume format?

One question that puzzles both the fresh graduate and the ones who have changed jobs several times during their career of several years is what is the best resume format, if there is one. We take a look at what is the best resume in this post.

The best resume format is one that gets the job done. What do we mean by getting the job done – well, getting the owner of the resume a job that the person wants. Then one can ask how could one prepare such a resume format, the also known as the best resume format, that gets the job. The best resume format carries a few traits that are common among the bests. So, we can now call them best resume formats. The common traits are brevity, pointedness and simplicity.

Idea in Brief

I have close to 30 years of experience across industries and have changed jobs several times during these 3 decades of work experience. I have learned so much from my experiments on which templates work the best. My personal discovery was that the best resume format is situational and context based. Sorry to disappoint you already, but it is the truth.

1. Brevity

Brevity stands for being brief, meaning the best resume formats have just enough information. Resume is a summary of someone’s career highlighting aspects that are relevant to the job the job seeker is applying to. Take my case for example – I worked in many industries over a long period of time and it’s s struggle to pick and choose which ones I want to include. The tip I follow for my best resume format is asking myself whether the hiring manager understand what I am writing given the hiring mangers lack the luxury of time and so are driven to extract value from merely scanning the resume quickly.

The best resume format then is the one that starts with actionable, relatable keywords in the achievements section - like led, ideated, championed, orchestrated, designed, delivered, etc., followed by what the achievement was and what improvement it had on status quo that qualifies to be an achievement.

Similarly, in the sections where one introduces each of their work stints, the description should not be more than 2 lines and each word should add value. If a word doesn’t add value, remove it so the brevity is improved.

2. Pointedness

Pointedness is about being ruthlessly focused on the job one is applying to. Let’s this apart a bit more. The first thing the hiring manager or the hiring partner in the recruitment team looks at is the objective statement. So, the career objective needs to be nailed. It needs to be written, highlighting key aspects of one’s career summary to date and connect this summary to why one is applying to this particular job at this point of time. 3.For example, imagine am currently in the auto components industry and trying to pivot to financial services. It will be silly of me to write paragraphs on my achievements that touch the technical problems native to the auto components industry. I would have done a better job if I just focus on aspects that are relevant to the financial services role I am applying to now. So, keep in mind that the best resume format has pointedness. Limit to only those transferrable, relatable aspects to the job you are applying to.

An example statement for a mid-career professional moving from auto components industry to financial services could be –

“Experienced strategic problem solver and passionate people manager with 10+ years of progressive experience in the auto components industry seeking change management opportunities in the financial services industry”.

3. Simplicity

Simplicity in everything is the essence. The best resume format is easy on the eye, easy to understand how it is structured and the key traits of the candidate almost immediately get unleashed to be grasped without much effort.

We have a ton of free resume templates that you can download and start building on. So, do check them out for your degree, experience level and the nature of the role you are applying to. Have a picture or not – it doesn’t really matter. What matters is each of the sections is clearly laid out with appropriate font sizes so the sections become easier to recognise for the reader.

Colored or black and white – again doesn’t really matter as long as the resume is easy on the eye. Having said that do definitely stay clear of funky colors unless you are applying to jobs in the media industry – print, ads, television, movies, etc.

Remember - Brevity, Pointedness and Simplicity

Finally, don’t keep the last page of the resume 50% blank because you couldn’t limit the content. It just looks clumsy. It is a normal tendency to value things that we have more than what they actually do. So keep in mind that as long as you have covered the main points of your career, less is definitely always more.

What is the best resume format? illustration