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Best Resume Format for 2022: Guide & Examples

A resume format emphasizes the importance of your professional achievements and skills to hiring managers. There are three standard formats, and understanding how to format a resume and writing to that format is key to effectively highlighting your accomplishments and top skills. Our resume templates showcase the three formats and our resume examples can inspire you to create the perfect resume for the job you want.

The three most popular resume formats

The three standard formats are the chronological resume, the functional resume and the combination resume.

While every resume format has a summary, skills, work history and education section, each resume format structures those sections differently. The right one for you will depend on factors such as, your years of work experience, your skill sets and how your qualifications match the job you want.

Chronological Resume Artwork

Chronological resume format

Ideal for:

  • Candidates with multiple years of experience in the same field seeking a job in the same industry.
  • Job seekers with no employment gaps.
  • Jobs that place heavy importance on experience.
Functional Resume Artwork

Functional resume format

Ideal for:

Combination Resume Artwork

Combination resume format

Ideal for:

  • Mid-level candidates with some experience in their industry.
  • People switching to a different career field with some transferable skills and work experience.
  • Candidates re-entering the job market.

Chronological resume format

The chronological resume (also known as the reverse-chronological format) is the most popular resume template format. The chronological resume emphasizes your work history section, where you list information about current and past jobs with the most recent job first.

The key to making the most of this format is to focus on unique, detailed work achievements that show you’ve made steady, significant progress in your career. You should also highlight key skills that fit the job description. Take a look at the chronological sample resume format below and how the information is organized:

Save time by using a preformatted resume template in our Resume Builder

Tips for writing to the chronological resume format

  1. Resume summary:
    In a few sentences, give an overview of your top qualifications for the job, with an emphasis on your career highlights.
  2. Work history:
    Don’t list standard, mundane tasks — instead, present accomplishments that make you stand out, using specifics when possible (e.g., “Managed benefits for office team of 55 employees”).
  3. Skills:
    Feature skills you have that are most relevant to the specific job you’re applying to, including practical skills (such as specific software or technical knowledge) and soft skills (such as communication abilities or attention to detail).
  4. Education:
    Present your highest academic credential (e.g., college degree), along with the name of the institution where you got the credential. You can also include specific certifications or courses you’ve taken that apply to the job you want.

Chronological resume format pros and cons

Pros:

  • Preferred resume format of recruiters and hiring managers.

  • Provides a concise snapshot of your work history.

  • Easy to see your career progression and important skills.

Cons:

  • Any employment gaps are noticeable.
  • Not the best resume format if you don’t have much career experience (e.g., you’re a first-time job seeker or are switching over from a different career).

  • Not the best fit if your career doesn’t follow a standard progression.

Functional resume format

When you think of “function,” you think of skills and abilities that fulfill your work duties — in other words, your work functions. The functional resume format thus concentrates on all the skills and training you have that fit the job rather than career experience.

In a functional resume, your skills are broken into important subcategories (e.g., “Technical Skills” or “Soft Skills”). Be sure to tailor your skills sections to fit the skills that the specific job needs. Your education section should also feature any specialized classes or training that pertain to the job you want, as the functional sample resume format below shows:

Save time by using a preformatted resume template in our Resume Builder

Tips for writing to the functional resume format

  1. Resume Objective Statement:
    Also known as a career objective, this resume opener is two to three sentences that explain your skills, qualifications and most importantly, goals for employment. Here is an example of an objective statement: “Recent graduate with bachelor’s degree in accounting, seeking position that makes use of analytical, decision-making and problem-solving skills. Fully versed in Microsoft Excel functions, including pivot tables, and proficient in Hyperion and Oracle. Brings collaborative, positive, deadline-focused approach to work.”
  2. Skills:
    Unlike the other formats, a functional resume has several skills sections:

    • The “Summary of Qualifications” is used to describe up to three of your best skills acquired through internships, projects or extracurricular activities that are relevant to the new job.
    • Use “Professional Skills” or “Relevant Skills” sections to further explain your most-used hard skills. A professional skill, or hard skill, is an ability acquired through practice, education and repetition that is job-specific (like data management, editing, translation or budgeting).
    • Make sure to include a good mixture of “soft” skills: intangible traits that are not tied to one specific job, like team player, well organized or problem-solving
  3. Work history:
    Keep this section to the point, listing any previous positions or professional experiences, names of the companies you’ve worked for and your dates of employment. If you don’t have formal work experience, any relevant internships, volunteer work or extracurricular activities can be used.
  4. Education:
    In addition to your academic credentials, supply details on relevant additional training or certifications (e.g., certification in Adobe Creative Suite for graphic design work).

Functional resume format pros and cons

Pros:

  • Useful format for recent graduates or first-time job seekers.

  • Excellent for highlighting skills, particularly transferable skills across jobs or industries.

  • Good format for presenting a wide range of qualifications.

Cons:

  • Emphasis on skills rather than work history might not be a great fit for jobs that require experience.
  • Not the best resume format for job seekers who can show off consistent career development and achievements at previous jobs.
  • Applicant tracking systems (ATS) can have difficulties scanning this format.

Combination resume format

The combination (or hybrid) resume format, as its name suggests, combines elements of both the chronological and functional resume formats, marrying a meaty skills section with details on work achievements.

Combination resumes can work for a variety of circumstances. If you have a few years of experience in a particular field and are applying for a higher-level job, this format can feature career progression and key skills. It’s also a good option if you’re switching careers but can feature “transferable” achievements and skills from previous jobs. Use the combination sample resume format below as inspiration:

Save time by using a preformatted resume template in our Resume Builder

Tips for writing to the combination resume format

  1. Summary: Provide a two to three-sentence summation of your best skills and work experiences. If you’re coming from a different job field, this is also your opportunity to explain how your skills and experiences from previous positions fit your new career path.
  2. Skills: A combination resume may split your skills into two sections: a summary of skills and a key skills section. In your skills summary, describe your prime abilities, referencing how you’ve used them in previous jobs. Your key skills section will focus on specific abilities that address requirements from the specific job.
  3. Work history: As with the chronological format, focus on unique achievements from previous jobs, quantifying your results whenever possible (e.g., “Improved on accounting processes, gaining $4 million for the company in the last fiscal year”). Zero-in on accomplishments that can be applied to your new job or career (e.g., highlight your mathematics skills and attention to detail from an accountant job if you’re applying for a statistician position).
  4. Education: Present your top academic achievements (e.g., high school diploma or graduate degree) and additional training that has a bearing on the job you want (e.g., first aid and CPR training for a medical assistant job).

Combination resume format pros and cons

Pros:

  • Skills and work experience share the spotlight in this resume format.

  • Emphasizes relevant work highlights rather than your whole career.

  • Contextualizes your skills in your work achievements

Cons:

  • Not a great fit for first-time job seekers or workers who lack experience.

  • Skills and work achievements must complement each other for the format to be effective.

  • Format can be difficult for applicant tracking systems (ATS) to scan.

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Resume Formatting Tips

Formatting Tips

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Resume formatting tips

Here are some essential tips for formatting a resume:

  1. Margins matter. Stick to one inch on all sides of your resume.
  2. What’s the point size? Stick to 11 or 12 across the page.
  3. Keep the font professional. Select a font like Arial, Times New Roman or Verdana.
  4. Save space with bullet points. Use them to list skills, certifications, work experience and achievements.
  5. Single or 1.5 line spacing? Choose either one for your resume.
  6. Save your resume as a PDF or a DOC. Most employers universally accept both file formats.

Resume format examples

These resume examples show you the versatility of the resume formats and how to write in that format for a specific job.

This functional resume format example includes a professional skills section that highlights the candidate’s top three skills and uses bullet points to further explain what they did that required the use of that skill. As you can see, it places a bigger emphasis on skills rather than work experience.

This functional resume format example features two skills sections. In this case, the candidate has an employment gap and they want to highlight the skills they possess that make them a great fit for the job.

As we established in this article, combination resume formats are a great option for people who are switching careers and have some transferable skills and experience. This combination resume format example utilizes the work history, relevant skills and professional skills sections to show the employer that they have what it takes to excel.

Mid-level candidates who want to grow within the same industry also benefit from combination resume formats. This resume format example shows how this format perfectly balances your skills and work experience to highlight your knowledge and potential.

This chronological resume format example wonderfully shows why this resume format is the most popular one. Your work history follows your professional summary, detailing your extensive experience before diving into the skills you possess.

Key resume format take-aways

To wrap up, let’s do a quick recap:

  1. There are three standard resume formats: chronological, functional and combination (or hybrid). They organize your resume differently.
  2. The chronological format (also known as the reverse-chronological) is the most popular resume format and it emphasizes work history.
  3. A functional resume format is great for highlighting skills rather than work experience and is usually recommended for first-time job seekers or people changing careers.
  4. The combination resume mixes the chronological and functional resume formats and puts equal emphasis on work experience and skill set.
  5. Make sure to apply the standard resume formatting rules: one-inch margins, professional font, 11-12 point size and single or 1.5 line spacing.
  6. Remember to use bullet points and save your resume as a PDF or DOC file format when you’re done.

Resume formats FAQ

What is the best resume format?

Bottom line: Companies prefer an organized resume that best presents your qualifications. The best resume format is the one that best presents your achievements. That will be different depending on your professional experience.

Those with a long distinguished career should choose the reverse-chronological resume format, and employers would expect to see a two-page resume.

Those who are mid-career and have held multiple jobs might select a combination resume format to place their skills above their work experience.

If you are beginning your career or are re-entering the workforce after a long absence, a functional resume format might be the best option to put your skills up front and minimize the focus on your gaps in employment.

Whichever resume format you pick, make sure it does the best job of highlighting your achievements and skills.

What is the best resume format for a college student?

The functional resume format is a good choice for students and recent graduates who usually have little to no relevant work experience. However, if you’ve had a part-time job, volunteer position or internship or have taken a relevant class that relates to the job you want, be sure to include these experiences in your work history or education sections. This may also apply to high school students looking for their first job.

What is the best resume format for a job seeker with experience?

The chronological resume format is best for experienced job seekers. This format focuses on your work history, so you can use the bulk of the page to discuss your past duties and accomplishments. You can also mention specific professional milestones you’ve achieved over the years. Hiring managers like seeing your entire job history at a glance.

What is the best resume format for someone who has had the same job for over 20 years?

A combination resume format is best in this situation. Emphasize the skills you’ve acquired over your career as well as specific job highlights, showing employers how you’ve developed professionally over this timespan, even if you’ve kept the same job title.

What resume format is ATS-friendly?

The chronological and combination resume formats are very ATS-friendly. However, it’s important to note that ATS systems continue to grow more sophisticated and can parse resumes in any format, so long as you use the right resume template. Their help filtering through applications is why at least 98% of Fortune 500 companies use applicant tracking systems, such as Workday and Taleo.

Our resume templates are professionally designed with these systems in mind, so you don’t have to worry about your resume not making it to the recruiter’s hands.

Do resume formats work differently in different industries?

Not necessarily. A resume format establishes the way your resume will be organized and what information will be highlighted. For example, the chronological resume format heavily emphasizes career progression and work experience, so the work history section is front and center. On the other hand, a functional resume format focuses on skills and what you can do, so it’s ideal for first-time job seekers and people changing fields.

That being said, if you’re a candidate with years of experience in one industry but your potential employer places a bigger emphasis on skills rather than work history, you might want to consider using a functional or combination resume format. It all comes down to what you want the employer to know about you and your abilities.

Some industries and jobs, like education, science and entertainment, may prefer the CV format and they’ll state it in the job description. A curriculum vitae is a comprehensive document that details your top skills, entire work history, academic background and other accomplishments (such as recognitions and publications) relevant to the job.

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