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Recruiters don’t read resumes carefully. They skim them for the most relevant information. So, how do you make them love your resume in mere seconds? Through elegant and professional resume formatting!
Let me show you an easy way to choose the best resume format for you.
In this guide, you’ll get:
- Examples of three all-time standard resume formats.
- How to choose the best format for your resume.
- Details on proper resume formatting so it lands you an interview.
- A curated selection of pre-formatted resume templates.
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Looking for a specific part of the article? Click on the section that interests you:
- The 3 Main Resume Formats
- Which Resume Format Is the Best?
- General Resume Formatting Rules
- Sample Pre-Formatted Resume Templates
- Key Points
- Frequently Asked Questions About Resume Formats
The 3 Main Resume Formats
The three main resume formats to choose from are:
- Reverse-chronological resume format—Highlights work experience and career progression.
- Functional resume format—Emphasizes transferable skills.
- Combination resume format—Focuses on both skills and experience.
Most of the time, you’ll want to use the reverse-chronological resume format. It’s regarded as the best format for a resume and is preferred by most recruiters and HR experts.
But “most of the time” doesn’t mean “always,” and choosing the appropriate resume format is yours to make. We made a handy decision tree to help you with this process:
You can also approach choosing a resume format from a slightly different perspective. Since the reverse-chronological style is the best one, let’s start from it and work backward to determine if it's the best choice. If you answer “Yes” to all the following questions, you should use the reverse chronological format.
- Have I achieved measurable results in my work history?
- Have I held consistent employment without gaps?
- Am I staying on my career path?
If you answered “Yes” to all of these questions, you’re clear to use the best resume format. We recommend you also use the reverse-chronological resume if you have no work experience at all. In that case, focus on your academic and extracurricular achievements rather than work experience.
If there were any “No” answers, see the next set of questions:
- Do I have zero relevant work achievements?
- Am I looking to emphasize my skills over my work achievements?
- Do I prefer to highlight my resume sections without strict chronological order?
A functional resume format might be your best choice if you answered “Yes” to the above questions. If there were any “No” answers, consider using a combination format instead.
Now, I’ll show you all the details about all of these resume formats:
1. Reverse-Chronological Resume Format
The reverse-chronological resume format is the most common and widely accepted resume style. In this format, you present your work experience in reverse chronological order, which means your most recent job is listed first, and you work backwards through your employment history.
This format is like telling your professional story in a timeline that starts with the present and goes back in time. The main advantage is its familiarity to employers and hiring managers. Recruiters encounter it most frequently, so they know exactly where to find the information they need. This format excels at highlighting your career progression and growth over time.
Here’s what a reverse-chronological resume format looks like:
The structure of a reverse chronological resume is as follows:
- Resume Header
- Resume Profile (Professional Summary or Career Objective)
- Work Experience
- Additional Sections
Pros & Cons of Reverse-Chronological Resume Format
And here are some great tips to make your reverse-chronological resume stand out:
- To show the importance of your skills, don’t just list them in a resume skills section. Make sure also to mention them in your job achievements.
- Additional sections on your resume really make a difference. Consider adding 1-2 of them. Some of the best choices are certifications on the resume, known languages, publications, or volunteering experience.
- If you’re showing multiple degrees in your resume education section, apply the reverse-chronological format to it as well.
- Write a targeted resume. Include specific resume keywords you can find in the job ad.
Chronological Resume Format Example #1
Dedicated bartender with over 5 years of experience creating memorable experiences for patrons in high-paced establishments. Managed busy bars with an average nightly volume of 200 customers, consistently exceeding sales targets. Adept at fostering a positive and energetic atmosphere, contributing to a 25% increase in repeat business. Seeking to bring proven mixology skills and a commitment to excellence to a dynamic team at Spirited Haven.
Cheers & Chill Lounge
- Skillfully crafted a variety of cocktails and drinks, catering to diverse customer preferences.
- Managed a high-volume bar, serving an average of 150 customers nightly, ensuring prompt and accurate orders.
- Created and maintained a welcoming atmosphere, resulting in a 20% increase in repeat customers.
- Collaborated with the kitchen staff to ensure seamless coordination between food and beverage service.
- Implemented upselling techniques, contributing to a 15% increase in beverage sales.
Sip & Savor Bar
May 2017–August 2019
- Assisted in preparing and serving a wide range of beverages, including cocktails, beers, and non-alcoholic drinks.
- Maintained cleanliness and organization behind the bar, adhering to health and safety regulations.
- Engaged with customers to understand their preferences and provided personalized drink recommendations.
- Supported the bartender in managing inventory and restocking supplies, contributing to efficient operations.
Willowridge High School, Houston, TX
Graduated in 2014
- Mixology and cocktail crafting
- Customer service excellence
- High-volume order management
- Knowledge of various spirits and beverages
- Inventory management
- Up-selling techniques
- Team collaboration
- Excellent communication skills
- Italian—ACTFL Advanced High
Chronological Resume Format Example #2
Junior Data Analyst
Phone: (555) 123-4567
Analytical and detail-oriented Junior Data Analyst with a solid statistical analysis and data interpretation foundation. Proficient in extracting, cleaning, and transforming data to provide valuable insights for informed decision-making. Possesses strong skills in data visualization and a commitment to accuracy. Eager to contribute to forecasting and analysis projects at Just Data.
Bachelor of Science in Data Science
University of Maine, Orono, ME
September 2019–May 2023
- Relevant Coursework: Statistical Methods in Data Science, Machine Learning, Predictive Modeling, Big Data Analytics
- Completed projects on Sales Forecasting Models and Customer Segmentation Analysis
Data Analyst Intern
ABC Tech Solutions, Orono, ME
- Assisted in data collection, cleaning, and analysis for client projects.
- Enhanced data cleaning processes, reducing data errors by 7%.
- Automated weekly reports using Python scripts, saving an average of 15 hours per month for the analytics team.
Department of Statistics, University of Maine, Orono, ME
September 2020 – May 2022
- Contributed to three published research papers in peer-reviewed journals.
- Assisted in data collection and interpretation.
- Contributed to the successful acquisition of research grants totaling $50,000 for ongoing projects.
- Data Analysis
- Statistical Modeling
- Data Cleaning and Transformation
- Python (Pandas, NumPy)
- Excel (VLOOKUP, PivotTables)
- Data Visualization (Tableau, Power BI)
- Attention to Detail
- Team Collaboration
- Data Science MicroMasters Certification, edX, September 2022
- SQL for Data Science Certification, Codecademy, March 2021
Expert Hint: If you’re looking for a job outside the USA or one in a scholarly field, you might have to apply using different documents. If that’s the case, check out our guides on how to write a CV and how to create a biodata format.
2. Functional Resume Format
The functional resume format focuses on your transferrable skills rather than your work history. Also known as a skill-based resume format, it's handy when you have employment gaps, are changing careers, or have a diverse set of skills that may not be evident in a chronological list.
In this type of resume, your work history is mentioned but in a condensed way. It emphasizes the skills used or acquired in each position rather than the timeline itself. The functional format can be particularly beneficial for people with non-linear career paths or those who have taken career breaks, such as parents returning to the workforce.
Here’s what a functional resume format looks like:
The structure of a functional resume is formatted this way:
- Personal Information
- Resume Objective
- Skills Summary
- Additional Skills
- Work Experience
Pros & Cons of Functional Resume Format
If you’re considering using the functional resume format, use these amazing tips to enhance your resume:
- Pick up to 5 soft and hard skills that are crucial for the job you’re trying to get. Explain them in detail, giving examples of when you used them to great effect.
- Think about adding relevant coursework to your education section. These classes you’ve taken will prove your skills further.
- Don’t focus on your work experience. You don’t need to think of what strong resume bullet points to add to your job description.
- Include links to sites that can prove your skills, such as a personal blog or online portfolio.
Functional Resume Format Example #1
Results-driven accountant with extensive experience in financial management and compliance. Proven track record of optimizing accounting processes for efficiency and accuracy. Seeking to contribute expertise to Financial Dynamics Inc. Reduced financial discrepancies by 15% through meticulous auditing at XYZ Corporation. Managed end-to-end financial reporting for 10+ projects, ensuring compliance with regulatory standards.
- Streamlined financial processes at ABC Ltd., resulting in a 20% reduction in reporting time.
- Oversaw budgeting and forecasting activities, contributing to a 10% increase in overall cost efficiency.
Audit and Compliance
- Conducted thorough financial audits, identifying and rectifying discrepancies, leading to a 15% improvement in accuracy.
- Ensured compliance with accounting standards and legal requirements, preventing potential financial risks.
- Managed financial aspects of 10+ projects, from initiation to completion, ensuring adherence to budgets and timelines.
- Implemented effective project accounting procedures, resulting in streamlined financial tracking and reporting.
XYZ Corporation, Belforest, AL
ABC Ltd., Mobile, AL
June 2015–February 2017
Bachelor of Science in Accounting
University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL
September 2011–June 2015
- Financial Reporting
- Budgeting and Forecasting
- Auditing and Compliance
- Project Accounting
- Microsoft Office Suite
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA), CPA Institute, July 2015
- Running a financial blog and contributing to forums
Functional Resume Format Example #2
Creative Event Planner
Dynamic event planner with a passion for creating memorable experiences. Proven success in managing events from concept to execution. Seeking a challenging role at Dream Events Inc. Orchestrated 15+ successful events, exceeding client expectations. Implemented efficient vendor management strategies, reducing event costs by 10%.
- Planned and executed 15+ events, ensuring seamless logistics and exceeding client expectations.
- Collaborated with vendors to negotiate contracts, resulting in a 10% reduction in event costs.
- Built strong client relationships, understanding their visions and translating them into successful events.
- Conducted pre-event consultations to align strategies and expectations, resulting in high client satisfaction.
- Developed and managed event budgets, ensuring financial efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
- Implemented cost-saving measures, contributing to a 10% reduction in overall event expenses.
Senior Event Planner
Elite Events Management, Lafayette, LA
Perfect Occasions, Lakeshore, LA
June 2015–February 2018
Bachelor of Arts in Event Management
University of Louisiana, Monroe, LA
Graduated June 2020
- "Crafting Memorable Moments: A Comprehensive Guide to Event Planning Success." EventPro Journal, August 2020.
- “Strategic Vendor Management: Enhancing Efficiency in Event Execution.” Event Insights Magazine, November 2018.
- "Client-Centric Event Planning: Building Lasting Relationships in the Industry." Event Professional Quarterly, March 2017.
- Event Coordination
- Client Relations
- Budget Management
- Vendor Negotiation
Expert Hint: While writing, keep an eye out for these common resume mistakes. Don’t let them mess up the content and formatting of your resume.
3. Combination Resume Format
The combination resume format is often called the hybrid or chrono-functional resume. It blends elements of both previously mentioned resume formats. This format allows candidates to highlight their skills and qualifications from the start while showcasing a detailed work history.
The combination format benefits candidates with diverse skills and experience who want to emphasize their qualifications for a specific job, are changing career paths, or have gaps in employment.
A finished combination resume will look like this:
The layout of a hybrid resume is as follows:
- Personal Information
- Summary of Qualifications
- Additional Skills
Pros & Cons of Combination Resume Format
If you’re set on using this resume format, here are some tips to make it work:
- Maintain a balance between your skills and work history sections. Your skills should reflect the job's requirements, and your work history should showcase your professional accomplishments.
- Begin your resume with a compelling qualifications summary. This section should clearly demonstrate how your skills align with the job.
- The skills section is the heart of a combination resume. Customize it for each job application by selecting skills that match the specific job requirements. Be concise and prioritize relevant skills.
- Quantify achievements whenever possible. Utilize power words and action words to strengthen your qualifications.
Combination Resume Format Example #1
Randy A. Mitchell
Senior Software Engineer
Results-driven Senior Software Engineer with over 8 years of experience in full-stack software development. Proficient in designing, implementing, testing, and maintaining complex systems. Led a cross-functional team in the development of a scalable e-commerce platform at TechSolutions, resulting in a 30% increase in sales and improved user experience. Excited to contribute technical expertise and leadership skills to elevate software engineering initiatives at TechnoGen.
- Led the development of a robust e-commerce platform, increasing sales by 30% and enhancing user experience.
- Collaborated with a team of engineers to design and implement scalable and maintainable software solutions.
- Spearheaded the migration of legacy systems to modern technologies, improving system efficiency by 25%.
- Directed a cross-functional team of developers, ensuring timely project delivery and adherence to coding standards.
- Mentored junior engineers, fostering a collaborative and innovative development environment.
- Implemented agile methodologies, resulting in a 20% increase in project delivery efficiency.
- Developed and maintained backend services using technologies such as Java, Spring Boot, and Node.js.
- Designed and implemented responsive front-end interfaces using React.js, contributing to a seamless user experience.
- Integrated third-party APIs and services, enhancing overall system functionality.
- RESTful APIs
- Microservices Architecture
Senior Software Engineer
TechSolutions, Sacramento, CA
- Led a cross-functional team in developing a scalable e-commerce platform, resulting in a 30% increase in sales.
- Implemented DevOps practices, improving deployment frequency and reducing time to market by 20%.
- Conducted code reviews and implemented best practices, ensuring high-quality code and system stability.
CodeCrafters, Eugene, OR
January 2014–July 2018
- Collaborated with product managers and designers to implement new features and improvements.
- Participated in the design and architecture of software solutions, contributing to the overall system scalability.
- Resolved complex technical issues and bugs, ensuring the reliability and performance of software applications.
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
September 2010–June 2014
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate, Amazon Web Services, July 2015
- Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) - Scrum Alliance, August 2013
Combination Resume Format Example #2
Construction Project Manager
Dedicated Construction Project Manager with over 10 years of experience overseeing complex construction projects. Adept at managing project timelines, budgets, and resources while ensuring high-quality workmanship. Led to the successful completion of a major commercial development project, resulting in a 15% increase in client satisfaction. Eager to bring strong leadership and project management skills to advance construction initiatives at Dynamic Builders.
- Successfully managed the full lifecycle of construction projects from planning and design to completion.
- Oversaw project budgets ranging from $5 million to $20 million, ensuring cost-effective resource allocation.
- Implemented project management methodologies, resulting in on-time and within-budget project deliveries.
- Led cross-functional construction teams, fostering collaboration and ensuring efficient project execution.
- Conducted regular project meetings, providing clear communication and maintaining team morale.
- Trained and mentored construction teams, resulting in increased productivity and skill development.
- Coordinated with subcontractors, architects, and vendors, ensuring seamless project coordination.
- Implemented rigorous quality control measures, resulting in a 10% reduction in rework and project delays.
- Conducted regular site inspections to ensure compliance with safety standards and construction specifications.
- Collaborated with quality assurance teams to develop and implement construction best practices.
- Managed the construction of commercial buildings, including office complexes, retail spaces, and industrial facilities.
- Oversaw the construction of residential projects, ensuring compliance with building codes and regulations.
- Coordinated with architects and engineers to address design modifications and ensure project feasibility.
- Construction Scheduling Software
- Budget Management
- Risk Assessment and Mitigation
Construction Project Manager
Dynamic Builders, Boulder City, NV
- Managed the successful completion of a major commercial development project, resulting in a 15% increase in client satisfaction.
- Oversaw project budgets, ensuring cost-effective resource allocation and adherence to financial constraints.
- Coordinated with subcontractors, suppliers, and construction teams to ensure project milestones were met.
Solid Structures, Reno, NV
January 2013–June 2016
- Assisted in the planning and execution of construction projects, ensuring compliance with project specifications.
- Conducted regular site visits to monitor progress and address any construction-related issues.
- Coordinated with project stakeholders, including architects and subcontractors, to facilitate smooth project execution.
Bachelor of Science in Construction Management
University of Nevada, Reno, NV
September 2006–June 2010
Expert Hint: A summary of qualifications pairs well with a resume headline. Try it out to instantly draw attention to your application.
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Which Resume Format Is the Best?
The reverse-chronological resume format is the best choice for most candidates. This resume format puts your most recent work experiences first. Recruiters also prefer it because it's easy to read. This format shows how your career has moved forward, highlighting your skills and experience.
Also, the recruiters’ perceptions of the applicant’s academic qualifications, work experience, and extracurricular activities were critical in determining their decisions. And all of these resume sections can be found in a reverse-chronological resume.
Expert Hint: The perfect resume needs to be accompanied by an equally perfect cover letter. Since cover letters are necessary for most jobs, learn how to write a cover letter and unlock your job application’s full potential.
General Resume Formatting Rules
Outside the specific characteristics of each of the mentioned resume formats, there are general formatting rules that are pretty much universal:
- Use a clean and professional resume font.
- Organize content with clear headings.
- Set one-inch margins on all sides of the resume.
- Include adequate spacing for readability.
- Keep the resume length appropriate (up to a two-page resume).
- Use bullet points to list achievements.
- Include contact information at the top, but don’t include photos on your resume unless it’s a bona fide occupational qualification.
- Use a professional email address.
- Proofread for grammar and spelling.
- Save the resume as a PDF rather than DOC unless specified otherwise.
- Avoid using excessive jargon or abbreviations.
- Ensure that dates and details are accurate and consistently formatted.
Seems like a lot of points to remember. Fortunately, you can help yourself by using pre-formatted resume templates.
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 what is the best resume format:
- The best resume format is the reverse-chronological resume format.
- It works best for experienced employees but also benefits entry-level candidates.
- This format showcases your experience from the most recent one and going backward.
- The reverse chronological format is preferred by recruiters and easily parsable by the ATS.
Frequently Asked Questions About Resume Formats
What is an ATS-friendly resume format?
An ATS-friendly resume format is compatible with Applicant Tracking Systems software. This resume layout ensures that your application can be easily parsed by ATS. Things like images and infographics drastically reduce ATS compliance, while using resume keywords increases your chances.
Which resume format is the most ATS-friendly?
The reverse-chronological resume format is the most ATS-friendly. Its clear structure, focusing on work history and experience, aligns well with ATS systems. Make sure to use standard resume fonts, section headings, and bullet points for optimal ATS compatibility.
What is the best resume format for a resume with no experience?
A reverse-chronological resume is the best choice when writing a resume without experience. It highlights your relevant experience, even if it's limited. This can include internships, part-time jobs, and volunteer work. And if you have zero experience, you can allow your education section and bonus resume sections to be your selling point.
What resume format do employers prefer?
Employers typically prefer the reverse-chronological resume format. It's the most common and familiar format, making it easy for recruiters to find the information they need. It also allows them to see your career progression, the relevance of your experience, and how up-to-date your skills are.
Can I use a creative resume format?
Although tempting, many creative resume formats are overdesigned. This makes a lot of them confusing for both ATS scans and human recruiters. But if you’re applying for a job in the creative field, you may opt for an unorthodox resume design, such as an infographic resume.
Is a simple resume format a good choice?
Yes, a simple resume format is often the best choice. It offers a clean and easy-to-read layout, which can make a positive impression. This format is particularly suitable for those in traditional industries or roles, where a straightforward and professional appearance is preferred.
Is a resume template the same thing as a resume format?
A resume template and a resume format are related but not the same. A resume format refers to the overall structure and organization of your resume. Meanwhile, a blank resume template is a pre-designed document to help you create a resume in a specific format more easily.
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. But if you’re applying for an academic position or writing a grad school resume, forget what you’ve just read. Instead, go with an academic CV rather than a job resume.
How do I format a resume in Word or Google Docs?
- Set the page margins to 1” on all sides.
- Pick a classic resume font in 11–12 pts.
- Create the following resume sections: header, profile, work experience, education, skills, and additional sections.
- Leave lots of white space between the resume sections.
- Follow the best practices for resume length.
What is the best resume format for freshers?
The best resume format for freshers is the reverse-chronological resume format, but with a few changes. Instead of using a resume summary, start with a resume objective. On top of that, put your education section above your work history section (if you have any work experience at all.)
What is the best resume format for remote workers?
The best resume format for remote workers is still the reverse-chronological format. To enhance it, consider emphasizing your remote work skills like self-motivation and communication skills. Remember to tailor your resume's content to showcase your ability to excel in a remote work environment.