Chronological resume format
The chronological resume format, also called a standard resume format, is the most commonly used. It’s also often considered the best format for a resume. In it, the applicant’s most recent experience is listed first — which is why it’s sometimes also referred to as the reverse-chronological resume. Most recruiters like how this resume format highlights experience, making it easy to see a candidate’s career progression. That’s why this is the best resume format for job seekers with plenty of work experience.
Who should use a reverse-chronological resume?
- You have a steady work history and stable employment.
- You want to show your career progression.
- You have had more than one job.
- Your skills closely match the job description.
- You have been employed for at least one year.
- You have no work experience.
- You have gaps in your job history.
- You are changing industries or roles.
- You have hopped around to different jobs.
Chronological resume examples
This resume layout works for any job or industry but is best for applicants with a solid work history. Use one of our chronological resume models from our massive library of examples as inspiration for writing your own.
In addition to the examples below, we offer free downloadable templates for Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Try out these templates to experiment with this resume format in Word or test out various resume formats in Google docs.
Functional resume format
Of the three resume formats, the functional resume format is the most unique. It de-emphasizes employment history in favor of an applicant’s relevant skills and achievements, making it ideal for job seekers with little to no work experience.
This format is frequently called a “skills-based” resume precisely because it focuses on your skills and training over professional experience.It is one of the best resume formats for students and is usually the best resume format for those looking for a first job since it allows you to showcase what you’ve learned through your education. Emphasizing skills is a great way to bridge the gap left by a lack of work experience.
Who should use a skills-based resume format?
- You are just entering the workforce.
- You are a student.
- You have had only one job or none.
- You have held several short-term positions.
- You have gaps in your work history.
- You are applying outside of your field.
- You want to highlight job advancement.
- Your experience closely matches the job description.
- You have a history of steady employment with more than one job.
Functional resume examples
A functional resume is appropriate for any job or industry. When building your resume, use one of these resume models to generate ideas.
Combination resume format
If you’re asking yourself, “What is a combination resume?” you are not alone. The answer is simple: this resume format is the middle ground between a chronological and functional resume, offering the best qualities of both.
Also known as a hybrid resume or a chrono-functional resume, this format gives equal weight to your work experience and skills, helping an employer see how the two are linked. This is the best type of resume format for job seekers with mixed or midlevel experience.
Who should use a hybrid resume?
- You are a midcareer professional who wants to showcase both a stellar work history and a unique set of skills.
- You have at least one year of relevant work experience.
- You have a consistent job history but want to emphasize specific skills such as leadership.
- You are coming back to work after a brief pause.
- You have substantial gaps in your employment history.
- Your experience includes some job-hopping.
- You lack the relevant experience for the position.
- You do not have the required skills to perform the job.
Combination resume examples
You can use this format for a job in any industry. Here are a few well-written combination resume models to help you start building your own resume.
8 resume formatting tips
Once you’ve studied the three different formats for a resume and chosen the one that’s right for you, you need to know how to structure a resume properly. Elements such as font size and style, margins, color choices, when to use bullet points and other small details like this are just as essential as the overall organization of your resume.
Don’t forget to check out our resume formatting guide to get more advice on composing a professional resume. Or, if you’re applying for jobs in Europe or certain fields in the U.S., you may want to use a CV. Learn how CVs differ from resumes, then make a CV in our builder to get professional formatting tips.
Start with a good resume example.
Studying one of our hundreds of resume examples can help you choose the best format for your resume. Studying resume format examples is especially helpful if you are learning how to write a resume because they will help you see at-a-glance how to organize your resume sections correctly and how to implement proper formatting.
Set your margins.
Generally speaking, you want 1 inch margins on all sides. While you can adjust them a little, be cautious because unusual margins can hamper the effectiveness of your resume.
Choose an easy-to-read font.
Be aware that many employers use applicant tracking systems (ATS). This HR software weeds out applications and may not be able to read intricate fonts. Therefore, when styling your resume, it’s best to choose a standard font, like Arial, Calibri, Garamond, Times New Roman or Helvetica. These fonts will be easier for an ATS to understand. Font size is important too. It must be large enough to be readable but not so large it's off-putting. The rule of thumb is a font point size of 10-12 in the body and 14-16 in headers.
Use bullet points in your skills and work experience sections.
Bulleted lists make your resume better organized and easier to read, guiding the eye to the key points. Using this technique will help your accomplishments stand out and make them easier to read.
Once you make a formatting choice, stick with it throughout the document. If your experience dates are written as month/year, then all dates should be month/year. If you use a 16-point font in one header, then use 16-point in all headers. Consistency is crucial to making your resume readable.
Watch your resume length.
Your resume length should never be more than two pages. Early in your career, one page may be suitable. As you gain more experience, you will need a second page. A good rule of thumb is one page per 10 years’ experience with a cap of 20 years of experience listed.
Don’t choose intense colors.
If you are a graphic designer or marketing guru, you can experiment with your color palettes, but most other job seekers should stick with neutral colors.
Avoid graphics and unusual formatting.
Unusual formatting choices in a resume could make your document unreadable by an applicant tracking system (ATS), which many employers use to do the initial screening of resumes. ATS software scans your resume for critical keywords but can easily get hung up on unusual formatting choices like graphics or images. To build a resume that is ATS-proof, keep the graphics design aspect of your resume simple and allow your key skills and qualifications to take center stage.
Resume formats: Key takeaways
- There are three main formats for a resume: Chronological, functional and combination. No matter your level of experience, skill set or career trajectory, one of these formats will serve your purposes.
- The best format for a resume highlights the strongest parts of your background, whether it be your education, skills or work experience.
- Other names for the three formats include reverse-chronological or standard, skills-based, and hybrid or chrono-functional.
- Keep in mind the fact that employers are likely to run your resume through applicant scanning software. Unusual formatting can be problematic when it comes to an ATS. While they look nice, an ATS may be unable to process things like graphics or images. Simple formatting helps ensure that your resume survives the screening process and makes it into the hands of the employer.
- Simple formatting is (usually) better. From font size to header styling, your formatting should be consistent, standard and easy to digest. Otherwise, your resume may get rejected by an ATS before it even has a chance to reach a hiring manager.
The nontraditional resume format is the shiny new toy in the employment world. These newer formats for a resume, ranging from video resumes to infographics, are well-suited for job seekers in creative roles, such as a fine artist, musician or television personality. If done well, a nontraditional format will help you grab an employer’s attention.
On the other hand, they may not be the best format for resumes being used in more conservative industries like finance or medicine. For traditional industries like those, we recommend sticking with the standard resume formats instead.
A skills-based resume, also known as a functional resume, typically starts with a skills section accompanied by a bulleted list of accomplishments to back up each skill. This type of resume is great for job seekers with little to no direct work experience, making it an ideal resume format for freshers looking for a job. If you do have some work experience to report, simply list it at the bottom of the resume in reverse-chronological order.
A reverse-chronological resume format, often called a chronological resume, is written in reverse-chronological order; meaning you begin with your most recent position and work backward. This is considered the best resume format for showcasing experience, making it easy for your prospective employer to see what you’ve done lately before digging into the jobs you had earlier in your career. Review our sample chronological resumes to learn how to write your own.
A standard resume is another name for the chronological resume. This resume format is also called the reverse-chronological resume format, which recruiters often agree is a great simple resume format for most people. It is typically the best resume format for experienced applicants.
Choosing the proper resume format for you depends largely on your experience level. Many people choose the chronological format, but if you’re changing careers, lack experience or have large gaps in your experience, then you may want to consider a functional or hybrid format.
The combination resume, sometimes called a hybrid resume, is the most versatile. You may want to use it if you are changing careers or don’t have extensive experience in the field yet. The advantage of the hybrid format is that it highlights your relevant skills while preserving the familiar chronological layout.
It’s best to use the functional resume format for an entry-level position if you do not have any relevant experience. A functional resume will allow you to display your relevant skills front and center while downplaying the lack of work experience.
Recruiters generally prefer chronological resume formats. Why? Because chronological resumes highlight work experience, and previous success is the best way to tell whether you’d be a good fit for the role. A strong, easy-to-scan work history gives the recruiter a quick snapshot of the candidate.
There are, however, some candidates who would benefit from using a combination or functional resume, both of which put more emphasis on skills and abilities. These formats are well-suited for first-time job seekers and career changers.
Remember: choosing the right resume format will help you land a job interview, but it’s just the first step. You must give your full attention to every step, from choosing the best layout to creating a matching cover letter. Cover letters serve an important purpose; it’s a wasted opportunity to neglect them.
Most job seekers should use a reverse-chronological resume format. This format is popular because it lists a candidate’s work history beginning with the most recent position and working backward. Employers like this format because it allows them to view your professional experience at a glance.
Readability is also extremely important. A simple and well-organized resume lets your qualifications shine. Additionally, it’s beneficial to avoid wasting space with unnecessary jargon like “references available upon request.”
Finally, in 2023, your resume is expected to look professional. Use a resume template that is polished and well-organized to have the best chance of getting an interview.