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 2022:
1. Chronological (for showcasing work experience)
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:
Frequently asked questions about resume formats
Now that you know a bit more about resume formats and formatting, here are some frequently asked questions about resume formats:
What is the best resume format?
The best resume format for most job seekers is the reverse-chronological format because it’s easy to read and follows a logical order of when you held each position in the order that you held it.
Additionally, hiring managers are most familiar with this format and will know exactly where to find what they’re looking for in your application.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s the best resume format for everyone. If you have a nontraditional work history or need to put emphasis on your transferable skills, you’re better off using a functional or combination resume instead.
How many formats are there for creating a resume?
There are three main formats for creating a resume: the chronological format, functional format, and combination format. However, there are some other less common ways of formatting your resume.
For example, job seekers applying to jobs in academia may want to use an academic CV, which follows a unique format. Additionally, if you’re applying for work with the federal government, you’ll need to use a federal resume.
Are hand-written resumes still used frequently?
No, hand-written resumes aren’t still used frequently and should be avoided. With the wide availability of resume builders and word processing software, there’s no reason to handwrite a resume.
Handwriting your resume comes across as unprofessional and makes your resume harder to read. Even if you don’t have access to an online resume builder or a subscription to Microsoft Word, there are plenty of free options (both on mobile and desktop) to put together an acceptable digital resume.
Does resume format matter?
Yes, resume format matters. Your resume is all about advertising your most valuable qualities as a candidate. If you have resume gaps or are changing careers, the right resume format can help highlight your strengths while downplaying some of your weaknesses as a candidate.
In a competitive job market, the right resume format can give you the edge you need to land an interview.
Other resume format QAs
Still unclear on certain resume format faux pas? Here are some commonly asked questions about resume formatting:
- Can I just put years on my resume?
- Is it OK not to include dates on your resume?
- Should I upload my resume as a PDF or Word Doc?
- What is the best font and size for a resume?
- How do you put your GED on your resume?
- How many years of experience should be on a resume?
- What should you name your resume file?
- What looks bad on a resume?