Best Resume Formats


There are two main components of resume writing: content and format. We have numerous pages detailing what content to include in different sections of your resume, but we also want to provide an overview of the 3 commonly accepted resume formats: Chronological, Functional, and Hybrid. We will also review how to select the best format for you and link to examples of each.

Are you creating a resume or CV?

First things first. Do you know if you need to create a resume or a CV? There are key differences, and knowing them will prevent easily avoidable mistakes. In general, if you are applying for a job within the U.S. or for a U.S.-based organization, use a resume. When applying for a job within Europe or for a European organization, write a CV.

Here is a quick reference for all the major regions:

  • Europe: CV
  • U.S.: Resume
  • Australia/New Zealand: Either
  • Asia: Resume
  • South America: Resume
  • Africa: CV

We have listed all the differences in our article: Resume vs. CV

Which resume format is best for me?

When choosing a resume format, you should consider what aspects you want to highlight: your work experience or your key skills? Also consider which one is most relevant to the job you’re applying for. This is the first decision you’ll need to make when creating a resume, and it determines how you will tell the story of your career.

The most commonly used resume format is the chronological format, which focuses on work experience. Keep in mind this format works best for companies using applicant tracking systems (ATS) to scan resumes, so you should have good reason to choose another format. We will explain the differences and when another format might be a good option for you.

Chronological resume format

The standard and preferred format for a resume.

Good option for

  • Job seekers who have full-time work experience

 Pros

  • Highlights work experience and accomplishments
  • Employers are used to reading this format
  • Compatible with ATS screening software

Cons

  • It assumes you have traditional work experience

Learn more about the chronological resume and download a free template.

Functional resume format

Focuses on skills instead of work experience.

Good option for

  • Job seekers without any work experience but who have the necessary skills
  • Job seekers going through a career change (i.e. accountant who wants to become a web designer)
  • Job seekers who have primarily had small jobs or “gigs” for many clients

Pros

  • Allows job seekers to highlight skills acquired outside of work
  • Doesn’t penalize job seekers without work experience
  • Accommodates non-traditional work experience (i.e. freelancing, gig economy)

Cons

  • Less commonly used, so employers are not used to seeing it
  • Harder for ATS to scan

Learn more about the functional resume and download a free template.

Combination resume format

Combines the best of both worlds and showcases work experience and skills.

Who should use this format?

  • Senior job seekers with lots of work experience
  • Job seekers who have not been employed recently or whose relevant experience was a long time ago

Pros

  • Highlights skills acquired over a long career
  • Includes work experience in reverse chronological order (good for ATS scanning)

Cons

  • Less commonly used, so employers are not used to seeing it
  • Can be used inappropriately by less experienced seekers

Learn more about the combination resume and download a free template.




Vicky Blom

As a recruiter, I have been helping candidates find a new job for over 5 years. On this website I share my knowledge to help you make a good resume.

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