Writing a resume is hard enough without having to worry about how it’s organized. So let us help. We’ll show you how to choose the best resume format for you — the format that best highlights your skills and experience and downplays any weaknesses.
Additionally, we’ll provide some helpful resume formatting tips that cover everything from your margins to font choice.
The 3 best resume formats
These are the three most commonly used resume formats in 2021:
1. Chronological (for showcasing work experience)
The chronological resume is the gold standard resume format, so we created an easy copy-paste outline for you to use.
1. Contact Information
FIRST AND LAST NAME
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone: 895 555 555 | Address: 4397 Aaron Smith Drive Harrisburg, PA 17101 | Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/yourproﬁle
2. Resume Introduction
Expert [industry] professional with [# of years] years of experience. Seeking to leverage my qualifications in [relevant skills] to fill the [position name] position. A diligent worker looking to quickly take on more responsibility and help [Company Name] achieve its goals.
3. Work or Relevant Experience
Most Recent Job Title
Employer Name / Location / Start Date – End Date
- Include a bulleted list of your accomplishments
- Make sure you quantify (add numbers to) these bullet points
Earlier Job Title
Employer Name / Location / Start Date – End Date
- List relevant accomplishments from an earlier job
- If you no longer hold this job, make sure you use past tense verbs to describe your experience
Degree Name / Major
University, Location | Start Date – End Date
5. Skills and Certifications
- List your relevant skills and certifications
- Include a range of hard skills and soft skills
- Be as specific as possible. Mention the actual names of software or tools you’re able to use
6. Additional Resume Section
- Here’s where you can add any other relevant information
- For example, this section could be for any of the following: publications, languages, volunteer experience, or relevant hobbies
Most job seekers use the chronological resume format without realizing it.
Chronological resumes highlight your work experience, with your most recent position at the top. Hiring managers want to know where you’re at in your career, so featuring your experience near the top of your resume helps them quickly evaluate your application.
If you’ve been gradually moving up in your industry, use a chronological resume to highlight that progression. Think this resume format suits you and your background well? Download any of our free resume templates to get started.
Just remember that there are instances where using a skills-based resume or a combination resume might better showcase your talents as a professional, so it’s a good idea to first learn the pros and cons of each format before making your resume.
- I want to demonstrate vertical career progression.
- I want to apply to a job in a similar field.
- I don’t have large work experience gaps.
- I have multiple gaps in my employment history.
- I am considering working in a new industry.
- I frequently change jobs.
2. Functional (for highlighting skills)
The functional resume format focuses on your relevant job skills. So you might see it referred to as a “skills-based” resume on some websites.
Instead of focusing on your work history like the standard chronological resume format, the functional format lists your strongest job skills at the top of your resume in a large skills section.
Because functional resumes focus on your professional skill-set, this is the ideal format if you have many job-related hard and soft skills.
- I have unusually large gaps in my employment history.
- I am in the midst of a big career change into a new industry.
- I want to promote a specific skill set.
- I want to highlight my upward career mobility.
- I am a student or entry-level candidate that lacks experience.
- I lack relevant or transferable skills.
3. Combination (for equally emphasizing skills and experience)
A combination resume is a blend of the chronological and functional resume formats.
- Lead with a big skills section (like a functional resume)
- End with a detailed work experience section (like a chronological resume)
If this seems like a lot of information to include, that’s the point. Combination resumes, or “hybrid” resumes, are best if you’ve developed many skills over the course of your career, and have plenty of experience using those skills.
- I want to showcase a relevant and well-developed skill set.
- I want to transfer to a different industry.
- I am a master at what I do.
- I have zero work experience.
- I want to emphasize my educational background.
- I lack the relevant qualifications and skill set for a role.
What’s the best resume format for you?
Just because the chronological resume format is used by most job seekers doesn’t mean it’s the best option for everyone. Each format serves a specific purpose, so only one will work best for your skillset and professional background.
How to choose the right resume format
Use the following infographic to quickly determine which resume format you should pick when writing your own resume:
Resume formatting tips
Although it’s your resume’s content that will get you interviews, the minor details of your resume like your margins, line spacing, and text alignment are also essential. That’s why it’s important that your resume formatting is professional and easy to read.
Here’s a quick checklist you can use to make sure your resume is looking good before you send it off:
Resume format FAQs
Still unclear on certain resume format faux pas? Here are some commonly asked questions about resume formatting: