Want to improve your chances of landing a job? Lay out your resume correctly.
Resume layouts help you structure your resume for maximum impact. If you put every section in the right place, recruiters can simply scan your document to glean the critical details in just a few seconds.
Job seekers who fail to lay out the sections in an easy-to-follow way will pay a price. Thankfully, we’re here to help you make it right.
The best resume layout for most candidates
Before we get into the complete list of layout options, we want to show you a resume layout that works perfectly for most job seekers, regardless of their career field or experience level.
The layout below is a chronological resume, which puts work experience at the forefront. The organization makes it very clean and easy to read, which is essential when recruiters only spend about seven seconds looking at a resume.
If you are gearing up to apply for a job and need a resume quickly, this layout would be an excellent selection.
Now that you’ve seen the perfect layout, let’s dive into why this resume layout works so well, particularly the choices in margins, font size and other formatting options.
Resume layout guide: margins, font size, line spacing and style
A great resume layout is clean, well-organized and easy to read. Organizing your resume effectively is one of the most important ways of impressing an employer and getting your document through those pesky applicant tracking systems (ATS).
All you need to do is follow a few basic formatting rules to create a professional layout. Once you’re done reviewing the tips here, you can find even more in our resume formatting guide.
Set your margins
Resume margins should always be about 1 inch on all sides. Going above or below 1 inch will quickly make a resume look too cramped or too padded. 1-inch margins strike the right balance.
However, in the event that you’re trying to get your resume length down to one or two pages, feel free to adjust the margins on the sides to about .6 inches. Never make them smaller than that, and only do so cautiously.
Another vital consideration is line space. Line spacing should be set between single space and 1.5 spacing. Finally, every section must have a line break after the section header.
Choose a professional font
No matter how well you lay out your resume, a poor choice of font can make you look unprofessional. Limit yourself to safe, reliable font types.
Any of these fonts would be appropriate on a resume:
- Times New Roman
On that note, be careful about font size. Your font should be no smaller than 10 points and no larger than 12 points.
Keep the design simple
While it may be tempting to try to stand out with a complicated design, you’re much better off sticking with one of our simple resume layouts. Unless you are applying for a graphic design role, employers will mainly consider whether your resume is easy to read. They won’t care as much about your use of color or impressive design tricks.
We offer templates in a variety of styles, including creative, simple and professional, all of which are compatible with Google Docs and Microsoft Word. Peruse our library of resume templates to find the perfect resume for you!
Make an eye-catching header
Contact info is one of the most essential parts of your resume, so you’ll want to make it easy to spot. One way to do this is to set your header apart using shading and color.
There’s no need to go overboard — we still advocate for a simple design — but you do want to be noticed. Here’s an en example of a fittingly attention-grabbing header:
Organize content into easy-to-scan sections
A well-organized layout will draw the eye from section to section using clearly defined headers, all using the same line spacing and font size and type.
As for which sections to include, every resume should have:
- Contact info
- Professional summary or resume objective
- Work experience
- Skills, featuring hard/technical skills and soft skills
- Education credentials
Depending on what you have to offer, you may want to consider including additional sections like certifications, volunteering, languages, awards and professional associations.
Use bullet points effectively
Bullet points are a great way to make your document easily scannable. You can use them in the following areas:
- Four to six bullet points for each job in your work experience section
- Listing your skills in your skills section
Ultimately, use bullet points whenever you need to break up the text to highlight key points.
Be mindful of length (no more than two pages)
Unlike CVs, which list your entire professional history, resumes don’t need to be exhaustive. Instead, they should focus on the most recent (and relevant) history.
If you have fewer than five or six years of experience, your resume should be no longer than one page. After that, you can consider adding a second page if you need more space for your accomplishments.
In the end, never go longer than two pages. Prune more distant work experience or shorten your skills section — whatever you need to do (within reason) to get your resume to the appropriate length.
Resume layout examples in every style
Resume layouts come in many different flavors. From clean and crisp to colorful and creative, there’s a layout style perfect for anyone.
Each layout serves a different type of job seeker. For example, if you work at an investment bank or a law firm, you should pick a professional resume layout that is neat and understated. On the other hand, if you’re an on-set photographer in the film industry or a wedding DJ, the best resume layout for you might use a more colorful style.
Here are four of the most popular resume layout examples to choose from.
1. Professional resume layouts
With an eye-catching blue header and plain white background, this professional resume layout is notable for its elegant design. The sections are laid out on top of one another, making the page easy to scan from top to bottom, and the use of bullet points in the skills and work experience sections brings a sharp focus to the applicant’s accomplishments.
This design is ideal for candidates who want to come off as professional, straightforward and highly accomplished.
2. Creative resume layouts
With creative layouts, you get to have a little more fun. The layout above creates a balance between light and dark. The gray sidebar includes the contact info, summary statement, skills and profile photo. In the U.S., putting a photo on your resume is rare, but in creative fields, particularly film, it can add a human touch. Additionally, the geometric patterns in the background are a texture the employer is unlikely to find in other candidate resumes.
On the right, work experience and education credentials take center stage, with the text extra easy to read over the white background. There’s plenty of spacing and judicious use of bullet points to make the whole document breathe.
This layout is great for anyone in a creative field who wants to stand out from the competition.
3. Simple resume layouts
Choosing a simple resume layout helps bring attention to your core skills and accomplishments. This layout in particular leaves plenty of white space between the resume sections, making for an uncluttered design. By putting the sections in a single column, one on top of the other, the page is also streamlined and easy to read. Finally, notice the line on the left side of the work experience section that makes it even easier to walk through the candidate’s work history from job to job.
This layout is perfect for anyone who wants a no-frills resume design.
4. Modern resume layouts
Modern resume layouts offer a contemporary twist on classic styles. Take this one, for example. With sections placed one after another, going from professional summary to work history to skills to education, this is structured like several other layouts on this page. However, while the style remains clean and crisp, the font is less standard, giving the resume a unique quality as if it’s been made on a typewriter.
This layout is an excellent choice for job seekers who want to be polished yet unique.
See more modern resume layouts.
Now that we’ve shown you how the style can vary dramatically from layout to layout, let’s see the three ways you can structure a layout. Knowing where to place each resume section is a significant part of creating a winning layout.
How to choose the best resume layout for you
There are three primary resume layouts based on section structure. Each differs slightly in its purpose:
You need to understand the nuanced differences between these resume layouts to choose one that is appropriate for you and the role you seek. Now, let’s see the three options for formatting your resume and how they differ:
As the image illustrates, chronological resumes focus on work experience. This format is by far the most widely used in the job market, so recruiters and employers have come to expect it.
Functional resumes put an emphasis on skills, downplaying a candidate’s work history. In some cases, this style will include a second or even third skills section. Combination resumes do precisely what the name suggests — combine the qualities of the chronological and functional by giving equal weight to experience and skills.
Now, who should use each of these formats?That depends on where you are in your career.
Let’s run down which job seekers are suited for each format.
Use a chronological resume layout if:
- You can showcase a clear career trajectory.
- You’ve held more than one or two jobs.
- You’ve been employed for at least one year.
Use a functional resume layout if:
- You recently graduated high school or college.
- You have no work history.
- You’ve held a series of short-term positions.
Use a combination resume layout if:
- You are returning to the workforce after a break.
- You are in the middle of your career and want to highlight your experience as well as skills.
- You have a solid work history but want to showcase specific skills.
Once you decide which one of these core layouts best serves your career, you can finalize the look, feel and structure of your resume.
Browse our layout library to find a look that works for you. Then, if you’d like more information about any of the layouts above, see our guides:
We hope our resume layout guide has helped you understand the importance of structuring and styling your resume.
While we highly recommend using our Resume Builder to lay out your resume quickly and professionally, you can always download a Microsoft Word resume layout if that’s more convenient.
Now, if you’re in the middle of a job search, we have plenty more resume and cover letter guidance to share: