Comprehensive Guide To Resume Formats (With Examples)

Chris Kolmar
By Chris Kolmar
- May. 5, 2021

Find a Job You Really Want In

“Submit your resume.” Three seemingly innocuous words that you’re sure to run into when you’re applying for a job.

It sounds so simple and isn’t at all a representation of the amount of time and intense thought that goes into making your resume, especially since you don’t just get to make one basic one and be done with it.

As you get more work experience or decide to switch fields, you’re going to need your resume to communicate differently than it did when you were looking for your first job. A new format can help with this.

Whether you’re making your first resume or need to revisit it before you apply for a new position, keep reading to learn about the three most widely accepted resume formats that you can use throughout your career.

Most Common Resume Formats

Each of these resume formats has its strengths and weaknesses, and you’re likely going to need to use more than one of them at some point in your career.

The three most common resume formats are chronological, functional, and combination.

Chronological Resume

The chronological resume’s name is a little misleading, as it requires you to arrange your work history in reverse chronological order. This is probably the most common resume format, and it’s great to use when you have some work experience in your field that relates to the position you’re applying for.

For instance, if you were pursuing a career in marketing and you earned your degree in marketing, interned at an advertising firm, got a job in the marketing department at a company, and are now applying for another marketing-based role, a chronological resume is likely going to be your best choice.

This is also the best choice if you aren’t sure which resume format to choose.

There are a few different ways to arrange the content on your chronological resume, and you’ll choose what works best for you based on your skills, experience, and even the particular role you’re applying for. Usually, though, your summary will come first, followed by your work experience or professional history, relevant skills, and educational history.

Here’s an example of how this arrangement looks:

Lester Knopp
lesterknopp@email.com | 444-333-2222 | Pawnee, Indiana

Summary

Passionate about finding new ways to connect customers with an organization, I have six years of experience in marketing and am now looking for an opportunity to grow my skills in a position as a marketing manager.

Work Experience

Marketing Coordinator
New Blue Apparel
Chicago, Illinois
August 2018-Present

  • Managed email marketing campaigns, increasing click rates by 10% in one year.

  • Worked with graphic designers and copywriters to create emails and social media posts that effectively communicated our message.

  • Shot and edited footage to create 16 marketing videos for the website.

  • Oversaw and completed projects for an average of three internal clients each month.

  • Updated website content.

Social Media Manager
Illinois State University
Fredricksville, Illinois
June 2015 – August 2018

  • Helped develop social media strategy for university’s profiles on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

  • Developed and managed a six-month Facebook marketing campaign, resulting in an 8% ROI.

  • Curated and scheduled content for social media.

Skills and Certifications

Salesforce, MailChimp, Adobe Photoshop (moderate), Adobe Illustrator (moderate), Microsoft Office Suite, Google Analytics Advanced Certification, Facebook Analytics, Twitter Analytics, HootSuite.

Education

Bachelor of Science in Marketing
August 2011 – May 2015
Illinois State University
Freidricksville, Illinois

Functional Resume

A functional resume is a great option for a job seeker who may not have a lot of experience in the particular field that they’re trying to enter. This includes recent graduates as well as more seasoned members of the workforce who are trying to change career paths or who have had some significant gaps in employment.

While a chronological resume organizes your work experience by the positions you’ve held, a functional resume arranges it based on the skills you acquired from your different positions. These include both technical and soft skills.

For example, if the description of the job you’re applying for wants someone who has strong communication and organizational skills, you’d make those your headers and then turn the ways you’ve demonstrated those skills into your bullet points. You can and should still add your work history, but that isn’t the main focus and is usually at the bottom of the page.

The beauty of this resume format is that it doesn’t matter if you demonstrate your communication skills as a camp counselor, a student body president, or a restaurant server, it just matters that you have them.

Here’s an example of what this type of resume may look like:

Rosa Martinez
rosam@email.com | 333-222-1111 | San Francisco, California

Summary

Graphic designer who recently graduated from the University of California Los Angeles. Passionate about creating a good design that solves a problem. Looking for an opportunity to apply and grow my skills.

Summary of Qualifications

  • Advanced knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite

  • Comfortable with managing multiple projects and deadlines at once with minimal supervision

  • Problem-solver who works well on a team or independently

Skills

Graphic Design and Illustration

  • Created original logo and branding for small businesses. The design won, “best branding” in a nationwide collegiate business plan competition

  • Illustrated 15-page children’s book for literature student’s senior project

  • Produced a unique poster for each of the 36 campus events coordinated by the student council

Typography

  • Designed two new fonts.

  • Handled typography portions of two group graphic design projects

Print Production

  • Formatted all final student council graphic design team designs and submitted them to the printer

Organization and Time Management

  • Created schedule of deadlines for student council graphic design team

  • Led four teams to complete group projects on time and with a grade of 90% or above

  • Managed a part-time job and a full class load for four years while maintaining a 4.0 GPA

  • Kept track of table reservations and server workloads at a four-star restaurant

Work Experience

Graphic Designer | 2017-2019
UCLA Student Council | Los Angeles, California

Hostess | 2015-2017
Malino’s Italian Restaurant | Los Angeles, California

Education

Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design | 2015-2019
University of California Los Angeles

One of the most important things to remember with this resume format is that the skills you choose to highlight should reflect the ones listed in the description of the job you’re applying for. The purpose of your resume is to show why you’re the best candidate for this particular position, so make sure recruiters know the exact reasons why you are the best fit.

Combination Resume

Aptly named, the combination resume is a combination of both the chronological and functional resume formats.

This type of resume focuses more on your skills than a chronological one does since it puts them at the top, but it also features more of your work experience and the responsibilities you held than a functional one does.

Because of this, this resume format is a great choice if you have a lot of work experience that doesn’t align perfectly with the position you’re applying for. Focusing more on your skills than your position titles allows you to show how your experiences can and will transfer to this new job.

Here’s an example of a combination resume:

William McKay
wmckay@email.com | 777-888-9999 | Topeka, Kansas

Skills Summary

Curriculum Development

  • Created curriculum for the department of four second-grade classes for three years in a row.

  • Developed curriculum plan that the principal used as an example for the rest of the fourth-grade teachers.

  • Trained six new teachers in curriculum development.

Communication

  • Implemented a new parent communication plan that received high parent reviews and was used by other teachers.

  • Presented science lab instruction best practices at a statewide education conference.

  • Persuaded the school board to add art classes for fourth-grade students.

Time Management

  • Created a grading checkpoint system that kept grading on track throughout the year.

  • Taught new instructors how to grade and plan lessons promptly while still minimizing the amount of after-hours work they have to do.

Experience

Second Grade Teacher | Wichita Public Schools
2018-Present | Wichita, Kansas

  • Taught second-grade classrooms ranging in size from 15-25 students.

  • Headed council of all second-grade teachers at the school.

  • Coordinated field trips for all four second-grade classes.

Fourth Grade Teacher | Cedar Point Public Schools
2016-2018 | Cedar Point, Kansas

  • Taught classes of 30-35 fourth-grade students.

  • Coordinated fourth-grade family talent show fundraising event, raising $7,500 for the school.

Additional Skills

Microsoft Office Suite, Gradekeeper, What2Learn, QuizFaber, Adobe Illustrator (basic), Edmodo

Education

Bachelor of Arts of Elementary Education
Wichita State University | August 2012 – May 2016
Summa Cum Laude

Tips for Formatting Your Resume

  1. Remember that less is more when it comes to design. There are a million eye-catching resume templates out there, and while there’s nothing wrong with adding some polish to yours, it’s best to keep it simple.

    Don’t choose one that overpowers your message with graphics or gets too creative with formatting. Not only will that make it more difficult for recruiters to scan through and understand, but your entire resume may get stopped by an automated Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

    Your goal for your resume design should be to make it neat, professional, and easy to read.

  2. Keep your margins ½ inch or larger. Start with a one-inch margin, and then shrink it down as you need to. Don’t make it any smaller than ½ inch, though, because that not only looks unprofessional, but it may also risk your text getting cut off when it transfers through computer programs or is converted to a PDF by the recipient.

  3. Select the right font. You should only use one font for your resume, two at the most. Typically, a sans-serif font (one without the little tales on the letters) such as Avenir, Calibri, or Helvetica is a good choice, but you can also use a serif font such as Georgia or Cambria.

    Once you choose your typeface, set the size to 10-12 points. If you go outside of that range, it gets more difficult to read and looks like you’re either trying to cram in too much content or are compensating for not having enough.

    If you don’t have enough content, use a 12-point font, increase your margins slightly, and find ways to add some more white space in between each section. If your resume still looks sparse, you might just need to add some more information. Think through class projects, volunteer work, or job responsibilities that would add value to your resume.

    If you have too much content, on the other hand, shrink your font down to 10 points and look for ways to make your writing more concise. Cut out unnecessary words such as “that,” “a,” “an,” and “and.” Your resume bullet points can be bare-bones and missing articles and still get your point across.

  4. Set your section headers apart. This includes your name and your contact information that you put at the top of your resume.

    You can do this by making your headers and contact information bold, underlining them, making them a slightly larger font size (12-14 points is acceptable for headers), using a different typeface, or a combination of these.

    If you do decide to use a different typeface for your headers, make sure you use the same one across all of them. Also, if you used a sans-serif font in your resume body, choose a serif font for your headers, and vice versa.

  5. Make readability the priority. Once you’ve formatted your resume, go back over it and make sure it’s easy to follow. Ask a friend to do the same if you can.

    If there’s anything that trips you up, change it, even if that means you have to change your design. Ease of use should trump aesthetics when it comes to your resume.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating / 5. Vote count:

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Never miss an opportunity that’s right for you.
Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

Find The Best Job That Fits Your Career

Major Survey Entry Point Icon

Where do you want to work?

Related posts