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Career Coach

Are You Using the Right Resume Style?

Published March 4, 2015 8:32 AM by Renee Dahring
Resumes come in a variety of styles. If you are a new graduate or a seasoned NP/PA about to embark on a job search trying to figure out what resume style is appropriate can be extremely frustrating. Your resume is your first contact with a potential employer and you want to get it right. No one has ever been offered a job based on a resume alone; however, there are plenty of applicants who were passed over because of their resumes. Often candidates are passed over not necessarily because their resume was inaccurate, but because it was not the right style and format for our profession. 

Let's review the 2 most popular resume styles:

The "functional resume" uses category headings to organize your information.  You might see headings such as "skills" or "experience" with a short (or not so short!) paragraph underneath with further details. The paragraph is a sort of summary paragraph and is not job specific.  In other words the explanation is a collection of duties or accomplishments acquired from a variety of positions or experiences. 

Chronological resumes are organized by date and guide the reader through the applicant's background starting with the most recent first and working backwards in time. Each job is listed separately and includes the particular skills the candidate accomplished under each previous job. In this style the reader knows exactly what you did and when you did it. Chorological resumes use separate headings for your education, licenses and previous work experience. 

So which style do healthcare recruiters and hiring managers prefer? 

The answer is chronological. The functional resume is suited more to the business world than it is to healthcare. In our professions we like to be able to follow the job seekers professional development over time. It's important to us to know what type of setting the candidate performed certain types of procedures and skills. The functional resume tends to backburner dates in favor of highlighting experiences. It's very disorienting to us if we are unable to determine what your particular role or duties were in each of your past positions. We get very nervous if dates are not clear to us. It makes us wonder if the job seeker is hiding something (like job hopping) if dates are murky. 

We also prefer a more traditional resume. Fancy formatting and unique fonts on your resume don't impress us. Including photos and graphics on your resume also does you no favors. No need for famous or inspiring quotes - we are really only interested in the facts. Your resume needs only to communicate how your skills match an employer's needs.


One page is ideal for your resume but if you have to use 2 pages try to make sure your most important info: education, license and pertinent work experience is on the first page.  

Renee Dahring March 25, 2015 8:10 AM

I have always used chronological resume.  I was taught that in NP school.  I recently read that our resume should be no longer than one page.  Is that true?

Colleen , Urgent Care - FNP March 20, 2015 7:42 PM
Charleston SC

I'm glad I checked your blog tonight because that was exactly the answer I needed to my question tonight!  As always, thanks again.  :)

Connie March 5, 2015 11:47 PM

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About this Blog

    Occupation: Nurse Practitioners and NP Recruiters
    Setting: correctional healthcare/career consulting/teaching
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