Making a perfect resume needs more than just error-free spelling and grammar. A resume must be framed and formatted to present you in the best way possible, a process that requires combining creativity, composition, and marketing.
Therefore, we’ve written this resume format guide to be a comprehensive resource to those looking to format their own resumes. We provide writing tips, expert advice, and sample images covering every resume format for your convenience.
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Table of Contents:
- How to Choose the Best Resume Format
- How to Format a Resume
- Resume Format Examples
- Quick Resume Formatting Tips
How to Choose the Best Resume Format
Use the chart below to get a quick idea of which resume format will be best for presenting your unique job experience.
How to Format a Resume
As you may have seen above, job seekers have three options when it comes to formatting their resume: Chronological, Functional, and Combination. Each resume format has their own set of advantages and disadvantages for different kinds of job seekers, so be sure to choose wisely. Check out the in-depth writing guides below to get every bit of information needed to create the best resume for you:
Resume Format Examples
To get inspiration and an idea of what your resume can look like, we’ve created three huge libraries of resume format examples. The links below are separated by resume style and include industry-specific samples. Visit each library and find your industry.
Quick Resume Formatting Tips
- Chronological Resume Format
- Functional Resume Format
- Combination Resume Format
1. Chronological Resumes
As the name suggests, a reverse chronological resume presents your work experience information from newest (most relevant) to oldest (least relevant). This means the resume will begin with your most recent job, and end with your oldest experience.
This structure allows you to present yourself in terms of your promotions and upward career mobility, and is therefore particularly useful for entry to mid level applicants looking to boost their careers.
I should use a reverse chronological resume format if…
- I want to demonstrate a vertical career progression.
- I want to apply to a job in a similar field.
- I don’t have large work experience gaps
I shouldn’t use a reverse chronological style if…
- I have multiple gaps in my employment history.
- I am considering working in a new industry
- I frequently change jobs
To learn more about what should be in included in a reverse-chronological resume, click here.
2. Functional Resumes
The functional resume format frames the candidate in terms of the skills and abilities he/she believes are most relevant to the job opening.
Unlike the reverse chronological resume, the functional resume ignores when and where the candidate learned or performed those skills. Instead, it simply lists them at the top of the resume in order of most relevant to least relevant skills. Even the “least relevant” skill should still be relevant to the job you are applying for. “Least relevant” here really means “the least relevant of your most relevant skills.”
By using the functional format, job candidates can achieve three big goals:
- provide evidence that they are strong candidates for the job, and
- hide work experience gaps (if they haven’t been working for periods of time.)
- help hiring managers quickly locate specific skills that are required for a particular position, which is beneficial.
I should use a functional resume format if…
- 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 shouldn’t use a functional style if:
- 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
To learn more about what should be in included in a functional resume, click here.
3. Combination Resumes
A combination resume is literally a combination of the reverse-chronological and functional resume formats. Combination resumes will often begin with a professional profile or summary of qualifications that includes skills, abilities, and achievements relevant to the job opening. (This is the functional part.)
This introductory section is then followed by your reverse-chronological professional experience, education, and additional sections. (This is the reverse-chronological part.)
I should use a combination resume format if…
- 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 shouldn’t use a combination resume format if…
- I am a student or entry level candidate.
- I want to emphasize my educational experience.
- I lack relevant qualifications and skills.
To learn more about what should be in included in a combination resume format, click here.
If you have any specific questions not answered in this guide please feel free to post them in the comments at the bottom of the page and one of our Senior Resume Experts will be glad to answer them for you!
PS. Need that job? Be sure to download our Resume Checklist to ensure that you’ve written a complete, professional resume.
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Our Resume Checklist
Try to limit the letter to three-quarters of a page in length. Remember, your letter will be read by someone with limited time and needs to be designed for clarity and impact.
Your name, address, and telephone number should be typed on the letter. It is preferable to use standard business form, with your address and telephone number and the date at the top right, and the addressee's name, title, and address at the left, above the salutation. At the close of the letter, your full name should be typed just below your signature. Letters should be addressed using the appropriate title in the salutation. Never use a first name unless you know the addressee personally. Ms. should be used if a woman's preference is not otherwise clear. The cover letter template illustrates the typical business correspondence style to which your letter should conform.
Like the resume, your cover letter should be carefully drafted and typed. Don't just rely on spell check, since some mistakes will not be caught by spell check. Have a friend read over the final draft to make sure that it is typo-free, as your ability to draft a perfect document is of great importance to all legal employers.