The best things in life are free. That applies to free resume templates, too—browse our hand-picked free resume template collection and download your favorites straight away!
Recruiters don’t read resumes carefully. They merely skim them for the most relevant information. Only the very best resumes will get more attention. From those job seekers that use an elegant, professional resume format and proper resume formatting.
Let me show you an easy way to make a resume like that in no time.
In this guide, you’ll get:
- Examples of three all-time standard resume formats you can use for your job application
- Easy-to-use tips and tricks for choosing the best resume format
- Details on resume formatting so it lands you an interview
- And a curated selection of pre-formatted resume templates
Save hours of work and get a job-winning resume like this. Try our resume builder with 20+ resume templates and create your resume now.
What users say about ResumeLab:
I had an interview yesterday and the first thing they said on the phone was: “Wow! I love your resume.”
I love the variety of templates. Good job guys, keep up the good work!
My previous resume was really weak and I used to spend hours adjusting it in Word. Now, I can introduce any changes within minutes. Absolutely wonderful!
Table of Contents
What Are the 3 Main Resume Formats?
- Reverse-chronological resume format. Most commonly referenced resume format for job applicants at all experience levels.
- Functional resume format. Also known as a skills-based resume.
- Chrono-functional resume format. Called a combination resume or a hybrid resume, too, as it combines the two above formats.
How to Choose the Best Resume Format
The reverse-chronological resume format is best to:
- Highlight your work experience
- Make it easy to skim content
- Have recruiters make quick decisions
The functional resume format is best to:
- Emphasize your skill set
- Showcase any creative work
- Hide hiccups in the employment history
The combination resume format is best to:
- Validate your skill set
- Provide good grounds for a career change
- Write a 2-page resume
Having a proper resume format is all about dividing your resume into specific sections and putting them in the correct order. Below, you'll see a breakdown of how each of these resume formats works. You'll also get further recommendations for choosing the best resume format for you.
Expert hint: When should you use a resume, and when is it better to use a curriculum vitae? It depends. CV and resume have different meanings across languages. Read about the difference between a resume and a CV.
Reverse-Chronological Resume Format
The best resume format is the reverse-chronological resume format. It puts emphasis on your work experience and education, showcasing your career progression. This resume format starts with your most recent jobs and ends with your earliest successes.
What is the main thing to include on a resume with a reverse-chronological format?
Work experience. And that’s exactly why it’s so popular amongst jobseekers and valued by recruiters. Recruiters focus mostly on name, job title, current and previous positions, and education when reviewing resumes. The reverse-chronological resume format makes all that information easily available.
The reverse-chronological resume format consists of
- Personal Information
- Resume Summary or Resume Objective
- Work Experience
- Education Section
- Skill Set
- Additional sections (Certifications, Conferences, References, Awards, or Hobbies and Interests)
Let’s check how the reverse-chronological resume format works in practice:
Sample Resume Format: Reverse-Chronological Resume
PMP, IT Specialist
Strong IT Project Management Professional with 6+ years' experience, looking to improve quality, cost, & time for Dennison-Height Global. At Accurit, cut costs by 28% in 5 months and received the Shingo Silver Medallion. At RBM, cut waste by 20% and trained 78 employees in Lean Principles. PMP-Certified.
IT Project Manager
Accurit International, Inc.
- Oversaw all major IT projects for 4+ years, focusing on cost reduction.
- Implemented Six Sigma and Lean Training for all 78 employees. Slashed costs by 28% in 5 months through employee idea collection and implementation.
- Through implementing standardized work and clear visual systems, increased efficiency by 18% and received the Shingo Silver Medallion in 2017.
IT Project Manager
- Team leader for 12 IT specialists in a high-volume manufacturing business.
- Switched all 235 employees to a new scheduling system for improved cost management.
- Realized payroll cost savings of 15%.
- Implemented a new cost-tracking project to cut inventory waste by 20%.
- Managed project to train all IT staff in Lean principles.
- Ran a project to install hour-by-hour WIP monitors in all cells, boosting hourly efficiency by 20% and saving $340,000 per year.
- Managed project to replace 100+ aging workstations. Worked with suppliers to save 25% on costs. Saved an estimated 150 man-hours a year in computer time.
- Initiated a project for improved security, cutting risk scores by 25%.
B.S. in Computer Science, UMass Boston
Agile, Scrum, Business Process Improvement, Vendor Management
Leadership, Collaboration, Communication
- 2018 Northeast Shingo Lean Conference, Spoke on a panel about vendor management.
- 2016 Change Management Conference, Led session on Agile w/99% audience score.
This resume format gives you an additional edge: it’s sure to pass an Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) scan. Like recruiters, the ATS bots are familiar with this resume format, so they’ll extract your data without glitches. A report has shown that almost 98% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS in recruitment. You can use an ATS-friendly resume template to make it past the bots.
Functional Resume Format
This resume format focuses on the candidate’s skills instead of work history. It includes a skill summary section designed to highlight their essential skills required for the position. It also showcases achievements related to those skills.
The key ingredients of the functional resume format are:
- Personal Information
- Resume Objective
- Skills Summary
- Additional Skills
- Work Experience
See the example to get an idea:
Sample Resume Format: Functional Resume
Public Relations Specialist
Results-driven Penn graduate in Journalism and Social Communications seeking to leverage two years of internship and freelancing PR experience with Newton Software Communications Team. Experienced in producing engaging online content (see my portfolio here) and press releases for tech start-ups and local IT companies. Non-profit blogger at www.pr-matters.wordpress.com. Interested in modern digital PR solutions.
Able to work with many kinds of clients in various fields. Excellent at researching clients' brands, industries, and markets very quickly and efficiently.
Skilled at writing all types of Public Relations texts: press releases, blog posts, bulletins, and campaigns (outreach emails, sales emails, engagement emails). Able to produce up to 3,500 words of great, unique content on a daily basis.
Able to develop innovative solutions to all types of problems and crises. Excellent in designing and implementing both ATL and BTL Public Relations and Marketing campaigns in collaboration with graphic designers and art directors.
SOCIAL MEDIA RELATIONS
Proficient at managing social media relations across all major social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Google+.
Able to juggle multiple clients and projects. Have mastered prioritizing deadlines and tasks. Great at physical office administration and organizing paperwork.
Public Relations Intern
Adidas Originals, Philadelphia, PA
Ogilvy and Mather, Philadelphia, PA
MA in Journalism and Social Communications, University of Pennsylvania
As you can see, there's minimum information about your work experience section in this resume format. Just the bare facts, such as names of positions, company names, and dates of employment, are enough. It’s a big plus if you’re a freelancer or have gaps in your work history.
The main disadvantage of this resume format? Recruiters aren’t familiar with it. It’s more difficult to navigate than the typical reverse chronological resume.
Expert hint: Avoid using a functional resume format unless you work in a creative field or are transitioning from the military. In these cases, a portfolio or detailed military job descriptions may be more important than a traditional resume.
The ResumeLab builder is more than looks. Get specific content to boost your chances of getting the job. Add job descriptions, bullet points, and skills. Easy. Improve your resume in our resume builder now.
Nail it all with a splash of color, choose a clean font, and highlight your skills in just a few clicks. You're the perfect candidate, and we'll prove it. Use our resume builder now.
Chrono-Functional (Combination) Resume Format
In the combination resume format, the top of your resume is also focused on skills. But verifiable, quantified proof backs up every single skill listed. The work experience section is less detailed than the reverse-chronological format but still shows your career progression clearly.
The combination resume format is made up of
- Personal Information
- Summary of Qualifications
- Additional Skills
Bringing theory to practice:
Sample Resume Format: Chrono-Functional/Combination Resume
Phone: 505 555 0177
Summary of Qualifications
Programming and App Development
- Developed and built 20+ mobile apps and 30+ websites providing exceptional user experience.
- Named BCD M&E’s “Top Programmer of The Year” for three consecutive years, 2009-2011.
- 15+ years experience in C, C++, Cocoa, and Objective-C.
- C Certified Professional Programmer (2006), C++ Certified Professional Programmer (2009).
- 8+ years of experience in team management (teams of 10-50 colleagues) and project coordination.
- Designed and implemented a new IT management model with Apple’s New York Branch,
- increasing quarterly productivity by 33%.
- Trained and mentored 50+ junior developers for certification exams (88% success rate).
- Coordinated 20+ projects with a budget of over $200,000.
- Optimized procurement processes to reduce BCD M&E’s annual costs by 27%.
- Successfully cooperated with sales and marketing teams on new business strategies, which helped increase Apple New York’s sales volume by 23% in 8 months.
Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, CRM platforms, Google Analytics, Google AdWords
Apple, New York City, NY
- Supervised the IT team in creating mobile apps providing the best user experience for Apple's customers all over the world.
- Developed, reviewed and tested innovative applications created with cutting-edge technologies.
Senior IT Specialist
BCD M&E, Newark, NJ
- Developed, reviewed, and tested websites for internal and external stakeholders, led innovation in mobile applications.
- Cooperated with procurement teams in optimizing procurement processes.
Oracle, Redwood City, CA
MS in Computer Science, Distinction
The City College of New York, New York City, NY
BS in Computer Science
University of California, Berkeley, CA
General Resume Formatting Advice
A good resume format helps recruiters find what you want them to see and shows your best strengths and accomplishments. Here's how to achieve that.
- Set one-inch resume margins on all sides.
- Divide your resume into different sections. These sections include a resume header, summary or objective, work experience, education,and skills. Additionally, you can include extra sections, such as references, courses, certifications, publications, and conference attendance.
- Choose a clear, legible, and elegant resume font. Go for 11 or 12 pt. Use 14 to 16 pt for your name at the top and bold for section headings.
- Put a single blank line before and after your section headings.
- Use reverse-chronological order in the experience and education sections.
- Use bullet points strategically to save space and help you convey your message concisely.
- Try to make a one-page resume. A two-page resume is fine for top-level jobs (learn more here: How far back should a resume go).
Save your resume in PDF or Doc format. It will help to ensure everything looks well on other screens.
Sample Pre-Formatted Resume Templates
Here are a few resume format examples. Our online resume builder formats the templates for you, so you can focus on writing great descriptions of your experience.
Cubic is a modern resume format designed for confident professionals who aren’t afraid to showcase their achievements. It’s neat, organized, and can hold a ton of information without looking crowded or overwhelming.
Modern uses subtle color accents to guide the reader’s eye straight to the key sections. This is what a great resume looks like. It's perfect for creative and professional, office based fields. No wonder this professional resume format is so popular among our users!
You just can’t go wrong with Nanica! This simple resume format is like a Zen garden: it creates a minimalist, lightweight look with lots of white space. This is one of the best resume formats for professionals who prefer sleek, distraction-free resumes.
If you want a simple resume template that oozes confidence and authority, try Squares. It’s the ideal resume format for business jobs because it gives your resume a calm yet assertive look. As a nice bonus, you also get a personal logo with your initials.
Some things never go out of style. The Vintage resume template is one of them—this professional resume format is as timeless as a power suit. It relies on subtle accents to create structure and highlight what’s important.
Double your impact with a matching resume and cover letter combo. Use our cover letter generator and make your application documents pop out.
Want to try a different look? There's 21 more. A single click will give your document a total makeover. Pick a cover letter template here.
Here’s a recap of the main points from this guide:
- There are three standard resume formats: reverse-chronological, functional, and chrono-functional (combination).
- The reverse-chronological format is the best resume format and will work for all candidates.
- A functional resume format is good for creative roles, as it focuses on skills.
- A chrono-functional resume format suits very experienced jobseekers.
- Whichever resume format you'll choose, remember to: divide your resume into sections and use clean formatting.
Frequently Asked Questions about Resume Formats
What are the 3 resume formats for a job?
As of 2023, there are three main resume formats:
- The reverse-chronological format is the most common one. It lists your work history and shows what you’ve achieved while working for each employer. It can also be tweaked to focus on your academic achievements if you don’t have much work experience yet.
- The functional resume format is also known as the skills-based resume format. It focuses on your resume skill set rather than your work history, so you may use it to gloss over employment gaps and employment histories that aren’t perfectly neat and linear. However, many recruiters aren’t familiar with functional resumes and might reject them. Also, companies use Applicant Tracking Software to parse resumes, and functional resumes aren’t ATS-friendly
- The chrono-functional format gives equal attention to your skills and work experience. It can be useful in certain situations but has the same drawbacks as the functional resume format.
What is the best resume format in 2023?
The reverse-chronological resume format is the standard and best resume format to use in 2023. In a reverse-chronological resume, you list your work experience and educational background, starting with your most recent jobs and ending with your earliest successes.
Here’s why it’s the golden standard:
- It offers a quick overview of your key achievements and professional growth over the years, arranged in an easy-to-read order.
- It can be skimmed in a few seconds—recruiters don’t have the time to read more complicated documents.
- It’s easily scannable by Applicant Tracking Software that helps evaluate candidates.
Which resume format do employers prefer?
Most employers and hiring managers prefer the reverse-chronological resume format. It’s a resume that lists your work history and education in reverse chronological order, with bullet points that show what you achieved while working for each employer. This resume format is ATS-friendly
What file format should a resume be in?
Unless the job ad clearly asks for a specific resume file format, it’s best to go with a PDF file. The reason is that a PDF resume looks the same on every device, so your resume will always look perfect, no matter if the recruiter opens it on a PC, a Mac, or a phone.
However, keep in mind that some companies use applicant tracking software that doesn’t support PDF files. In this case, the job ad will specifically ask for resumes to be submitted as DOCX or even TXT files.
Which resume format is the most ATS-friendly?
Applicant Tracking Systems are primarily designed for reading reverse-chronological resumes. Other resume formats might confuse the software and lead to your resume getting rejected.
Here’s how you can make sure you have an ATS-friendly resume:
- Avoid unusual resume formats.
- Choose an ATS-friendly resume template.
- Write the resume profile in a way that mentions the company and the position you’re applying for.
- Make sure your resume sections have standard headings.
- Borrow resume keywords from the job ad.
- Avoid pictures and infographics.
- Save your resume as PDF or in the file format specified in the job ad.
Is there a special resume format for students?
The reverse-chronological format is best for a student's resume. Just put the education section of your resume above the work experience section. A resume with no experience should highlight academic achievements or other relevant accomplishments, such as volunteer work or personal projects.
How do I format a resume in Word or Google Docs?
- Set the page margins to 1” on all sides.
- Pick a classic combo of resume fonts (one for headings, one for body text), or use a single font throughout your resume.
- Set the body font size to 11–12 pts, depending on the font.
- Create the following resume sections: header, profile, work experience, education, skills, and any additional sections you may find necessary (like languages or volunteering work).
- Leave lots of white space between the resume sections.
- Follow the best practices for resume length.
Got more questions about resume formatting? Need further help writing a resume? I’m here to listen and assist. Drop me a line in the comments. Let’s chat!