To fit particular fields or positions, resumes are available in a variety of formats. Your resume’s presentation of its contents, which is based on its format, is one factor used to gauge its quality. The information on your resume can be organized if you choose a good format, highlighting your strengths and downplaying your weaknesses. The layout choice specifies how the content of your resume should be organized. Although some careers or employers may require a particular format, the majority of resumes contain standard sections like personal data, education, employment experience, awards and honors, publication listings, skills, and interests.
The three common layout types are chronological, functional, and combination. Each type is designed for a different audience and has a different purpose. You will have a good chance of getting a job if your resume objectives are stated clearly, the format is appropriate, and you impress the employer during the interview. The various resume styles and how to choose the best one for your needs will be covered in this article.
What are the Most Commonly Used Resume Formats?
Chronological, functional, and combination are the most commonly used resume types. This is because they are the most preferred by employers and are easy to review, both manually and with ATS (applicant tracking systems). Recruiters usually have to review multiple resumes within a short period of time. As a result, they utilize ATS to expedite the initial screening process.
The three types are typically easy to scan, hence their popularity. However, some applicant tracking systems (ATS) have found it challenging to process resumes in a functional format because some of them may have trouble scanning functional resumes. Employers can quickly identify their prioritized requirements if you use any of the types, which improves your chances of being invited for an interview. Resumes that take too long to review are easily dismissed.
However, note that each type varies in complexity and, consequently, popularity. Below are details on the three most commonly used types of resumes and how they differ.
The oldest and most commonly used format is a chronological resume. It is also known as a traditional or reverse-chronological resume. The fundamental components of this type of layout are name and contact details, a summary, professional experience, relevant skills, and education, in that order. It lists your work experience in reverse chronological order, with more recent jobs listed first. This format is best for job candidates who have a continuous history of employment in the same field or industry, no gaps in their employment history, and a clear career progression where each position they have held has been more senior than the one before.
The format is thus suitable for applicants with plenty of experience. If you decide to use this format with no experience in the profession, consider outlining your volunteer work, internships, relevant coursework, and extracurricular activities.
Examples of job positions where a chronological layout would be suitable include positions where experience is key, such as retail manager or creative director. Additionally, it is appropriate for various positions within the same industry, such as construction workers and project managers for construction projects.
Functional resumes are preferred by job seekers who have gaps in their careers, are new to the profession or industry (changing careers), are applying for jobs that prioritize skills, and/or wish to highlight their skills rather than their work history. This type of layout allows you to conceal employment gaps or a lack of experience by presenting your skills as though they were gained on a continuous basis instead of through specific jobs. It focuses on the skills that are relevant to the job position.
It contains the same components as the chronological format, except that the skills section takes precedence over the work experience section. This resume is not suitable for applicants who want to illustrate their steady career progression and achievements in different positions. Lastly, functional resumes are not easily scanned by ATS (applicant tracking systems).
This resume format is appropriate for entry-level positions such as administrative assistants, warehouse associates, or first-time job applicants. Also, the format is suited for skill-based positions such as web developers, mechanics, etc.
The combination resume, as its name implies, combines the best aspects of both the chronological and functional formats, depending on the job requirements and preferences of the employer. It is thus the most flexible format of the three. You should arrange the components based on the employer’s main requirements. Though it is advisable to list any relevant skills (as in a functional resume) above work experience (as in a reverse-chronological order), this format is suitable for applicants who have limited experience and seek a higher-level job, are changing careers, and have transferable skills. It has the advantage of contextualizing your skills and work achievements.
Examples of positions where a combination resume would be best suited include mid-level positions such as nurse practitioner or marketing manager with some experience. Also, the resume can be effective if you are switching careers or re-entering the workforce and there are gaps in your work history.
How to Effectively Format a Resume
Formatting a resume may seem simple, but it is a critical aspect of the job search. The time you invest in creating a well-structured and effective resume format will help you attract the attention of the right employers, highlight your best qualifications, and help you achieve your job search goals.
Given below are the different ways to format a resume:
1. Set proper margins
Determine the appropriate margins for your resume. The standard margin for most professional resumes is one-inch on all sides. However, if you have to outline a lot of information, you can lower the margin size to 0.75 or 0.5 on all sides.
It shouldn’t be any lower than 0.5 because anything outside of this margin will be removed when the file is converted to PDF or the resume is scanned using ATS.
Also, left-align text in your resume. Center-align your name, contact details, and headline. Please note that this is the only section that can be center-aligned in a resume.
2. Use a professional font
The contents of your resume should be legible and presentable. You, must, therefore, use a professional font. You do not want the recruiter to have difficulty reading your resume. You can use serif (with tails) or sans-serif (without tails) fonts. Sans-serif fonts are, however, recommended for resumes.
Examples of serif fonts are Arial, Calibri, Cambria, Times New Roman, Garamond, Constantia, Helvetica, Corbel, Gill Sans, and Avenir.
These fonts are easy for ATS to read. Stylized fonts are difficult for most ATS programs to scan. This is crucial, as most recruiters use the ATS to screen job applications. ATS programs will often have difficulty reading and scanning intricate fonts. Thus, avoid thin or light fonts that negatively affect your resume’s legibility.
3. Set an appropriate font size
Your resume should be written so that it is easy to read for employers. You should choose a font size that is large enough for the recipient to read. Additionally, it must neatly fit on a single page. Thus, you must choose the appropriate font size. The recommended range of font size is 10-12 points. For a simple and short resume, use 12 points, but if you want a long, detailed resume, consider using 10 points. If the resume is still longer than a page with a 10-point font, review it and omit any unnecessary sections and details. You should keep the font size at 10 points. For example, remove filler words such as “that,” “like,” etc., select 2-3 key points for each role, combine similar or interrelated details, and adjust the spacing between different sections.
With filler words: Prepared reports that highlighted the progress of several projects that were used by management in making decisions.
Without filler words: Prepared project progress reports used by management for decision-making.
4. Stylize section headers
To facilitate scanning by the ATS, section headers should be bold and easy to read. You can also use a larger font like 12-14 points or underline the headers. Stylizing the headers like this also makes it easier to review by ATS. It helps recruiters and tracking systems to identify key information quickly. You can also apply the same formatting for your name and contact information.
When stylizing section headers, do not use lines that run across the page. This is because if ATS systems are used to read a resume with such formatting elements, errors like scrambled text will normally occur, making it difficult for the system to read the resume.
5. Standardize headings
All sections in the resume should be clearly labeled with a header reflecting each section’s content and purpose. The headers help you organize your resume by placing all your important information in one place. There are industry standards for labeling headings. For example, you should label your experience as “work history” instead of any unconventional term such as “my profession journey” or your academic qualification as “school history,” which should be “education.” It is important to use standardized headings so as to avoid confusing the reader or ATS.
6. Use bullets
Bullets help to divide the text into smaller sections, which makes the content easier to read. You can use bullets to present essential experiences, skills, and achievements clearly and concisely. Under the experience section, each bullet point should start with an action verb. However, you should avoid using only one or two bullet points; if you have fewer than three points, list them in a sentence, use other listing styles, or none at all.
7. Use consistent spacing
You should keep the spacing consistent throughout the resume. The information submitted through an online hiring platform is “parsed” or extracted by the ATS, which rearranges your resume into a digital candidate profile. Most ATS programs will not recognize multi-word keywords if the words are separated by extra spaces. Check your word spacing several times before submitting, especially between keywords that are multiple words.
8. Use neutral colors
Colors should never be the core element of your resume. You should use a color that does not attract attention or distract the reader. Neutral colors are always recommended. However, there is an exception; you can use different colors if you are applying for a job related to the visual arts or any creative field, such as graphic design. However, it is always best for other professions to use only neutral colors.
9. Be consistent
Once you have decided on your preferred format for your resume, adhere to the proper order or arrangement required by that layout throughout the document.
Resume Format Examples
You can access different resume templates on our site for guidance. Use them as a study guide for how to format your resume. The templates highlight the fundamental elements of a standard resume and can thus be modified to match your situation and the job’s requirements.
Selecting the Best Resume Format
Resume writing is difficult because you must condense an entire career history into a single, easy-to-read document. If you want to be noticed during your job search, it’s critical to select the format that best displays your positive traits. When meeting the recruiting team, HR, or talent acquisition for the first time, you only have one chance to make a good first impression. Therefore, choosing a suitable format for your resume is just as crucial as writing it.
Here are several valuable tips to help you format a resume:
Consider your work experience
The selection of any candidate is ultimately heavily influenced by their work experience. Determining the best way to present the specifics of your professional experience is therefore crucial when creating a resume. Assess the measurable skills and achievements in your work experience. and how this information relates to the job you are applying for.
If you are a seasoned professional and are applying for a senior position, you should use the chronological format.
If you have limited experience, for example, as an entry-level applicant or are in a profession where skills are prioritized, use a functional resume. Additionally, you can use this format if you have multiple or long gaps in your work history.
However, applicants with moderate experience, mid-level applicants, and job seekers changing careers or re-entering the job market should use the combination resume format. Combination resumes are also used in cases where you have a diverse work history that may not be directly relevant to the job position you are applying for.
Understanding when and how to use each format to best highlight your qualifications as an applicant is crucial.
Frequently Asked Questions
A good resume should be organized, factual, and brief, ranging from one to two pages. It should outline the applicant’s personal details, skills, work history (employer, responsibilities of previous positions, and achievements), and academic qualifications.
There is no standard approach regarding the selection of a resume type. As a result, it depends on the applicant’s skills and previous experiences. However, the chronological format is the most common resume format and is suitable for nearly every job, as it is also the most preferred by employers.
If you have a significant work history, use the chronological resume.
You should use the combination format. This format will emphasize your experience and skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for.
Use the chronological format to make it easy for employers to scan and read your resume using ATS. Alternatively, use the combination resume.
No. The format of the resume simply determines how you organize your resume. Regardless of the industry, the format will be the same and the arrangement will be consistent. However, in order to choose a suitable format, you should consider the employer’s and job requirements’ priorities.
resume formats have advanced to more modern formats such as infographics and videos. However, such resume formats are limited to certain professions, such as the creative industry. Conservative industries like law and finance should adhere to traditional formats.
No. Hand-written resumes are often seen as unprofessional. There are multiple tools to help you create resumes. You should utilize them to create a widely acceptable resume.
The most common format for resumes is the chronological format. It is best for providing an overall view of the applicant’s work history, skills, and education.
This is due to the fact that functional and combination formats enable job applicants with little or no experience, primarily young people, to highlight their skills and diverse work history when applying for a job.