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Best Resume Format Guide

Best Resume Format Guide

Are you having trouble landing your dream job?

If you have sent out many resumes and received little or no response, it is time to reexamine your resume. This essential document is your way of presenting your key skills and experience to potential employers.

Creating the perfect resume can take time and practice. You need to present and summarize a lot of important information on just a couple of pages.

So, let’s discover the perfect format that will appeal to hiring managers in my best resume format guide.

best resume format guide

Why Resume Format Is Important?

Hiring managers usually receive large numbers of resumes, especially when a new job has been advertised. They are only able to devote a small amount of time to sorting through and reviewing each one. If yours is not correctly formatted, it is likely to be set aside and may even be completely overlooked.

Your resume is your first opportunity to impress the hiring manager and create a lasting impression. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to grant you an interview will be based on your resume. If you regularly submit resumes and do not receive a response, you probably need to reformat and rethink them.

The Most Popular Resume Formats

There are three main resume formats to choose from. The chronological, functional, and combination resume format. Each of these comes with its own pros and cons that should be taken into account. Let’s take a closer look at each option so that you can choose which format fits your needs.

The Chronological Resume Format

This resume format mainly focuses on your work experience and the associated skills. You need to list your work experience in reverse-chronicle order, with your current or most recent role at the top. This is the most common resume format and is usually used by people who have an impressive career history.

The chronological resume format features your contact information at the top, followed by your summary statement. Next, you need to highlight your relevant skills and list all of your professional experience. After providing details of your education, the last section is reserved for additional information like special interests and volunteer work.

best resume format

When to use a chronological resume format

This type of resume format is ideal if you have an extensive employment history that demonstrates progression. Ideally, each role that you include should be an advancement from the previous one. It demonstrates to hiring managers that you are a talented and driven employee who has impressive skills and experience.

However, you may have experienced a setback in your career path and decided to change industries. Or maybe been forced to accept a lower-paid and less impressive role at some point. In this case, it is better to opt for a different format.

Pros

  • Preferred by hiring managers and recruiters.
  • Very easy to skim.
  • Highlights your work experience.

Cons

  • Not ideal for people with no work experience.
  • Makes career gaps very obvious.

The Functional Resume Format

This resume format emphasizes your relevant skills rather than your work experience and allows you to present them most appealingly. Additionally, this is particularly useful if you have certain work-related skills that make you stand out from the crowd.

It starts with your contact information at the top, followed by your objective summary statement. The next section highlights your relevant skills and presents a summary of your professional experience. Followed by your education and any additional information that you want to highlight.

resume format

When to use a functional resume format

This type is ideal if you have gaps in your resume. You can demonstrate that you have the required skills for the job even though you may not have as much experience. You can also highlight your transferable skills if your previous work experience has been in a different industry.

However, this resume format may be slightly too limiting in some cases. You may find that the skills you need to highlight are not as complete as they could be. If you do not have gaps in your employment history, you may want to present it more effectively.

Pros

  • Ideal for highlighting specific skills.
  • Perfect for people who are changing career paths.
  • Good for people with little or no work experience.

Cons

  • Hiring managers are not so familiar with this resume format.
  • It can be difficult for applicant tracking systems to read.

The Combination Resume Format

As the name suggests, this resume format combines the styles of the chronological and functional resumes formats. It allows you to equally emphasize both your relevant skills and work experience. Because these sections will be particularly large, you will usually remove the summary statement and special interests section to accommodate them.

As with the others, you should list your contact information at the top. However, the other sections are much more flexible. After your summary statement, you can proceed with your skills or work experience, depending on which are most impressive.

Unique skills first…

If you have certain unique skills that the hiring manager is likely to appreciate, make sure you list those first. Alternatively, if your current or previous job is strongly connected to the job you are applying for, add this first. Carefully reading the job description will indicate what the hiring manager is looking for in the ideal candidate.

resume format tips

When to use a combination resume format

This resume format is ideal if you are making a slight career transition but still have the required skills. Although, it may not be immediately obvious from your employment history why you are right for the role. This will allow you to directly connect your most impressive skills to your career history and show how they go together.

Pros

  • Highlights related work experience.
  • Ideal for senior professionals.
  • Emphasizes unique and valuable skills.

Cons

  • Difficult for applicant tracking systems to read.
  • Not ideal for people with limited work experience.

Step by Step

Choosing the right one is only part of the battle. You also need to make sure that you correctly format all of the information so that it is easy to read. Following this step-by-step guide will help to make the process especially quick and easy.

The Header

Your first name and surname should go at the very top of your resume. You should choose a larger font than the rest of the resume and make sure your name is in bold. Underneath your name, add your address, email address, and phone number.

Make sure you have a professional email address that contains your name rather than a humorous email address. If your email address looks unprofessional in any way, consider creating a separate email account. This email account can be used solely for professional correspondence to keep it separate.

The Education Section

No matter which resume format you are following, you should start with the education you most recently completed. Ideally, this should be a university degree such as a Master’s Degree or Ph.D. If you have not obtained these qualifications, focus on your GPA and always include the month and year of completion.

resume format guide

The Experience Section

This section should include all of the experience that is relevant to the position you are applying for. These will usually be jobs and internships, although they could also include extra-curricular activities. List these experiences in reverse chronological order with the most recent first.

The size of this section will depend on the amount and type of experience you have and your chosen resume format. Make sure that each of the experiences you include directly relates to the job you are applying for. The skills that you gained from each experience should be highlighted so that they are not overlooked.

Include essential experience…

If you have a lot of relevant experience, you may want to create two separate sections. Make sure that each of the sections has a title such as (name of the industry) Experiences and Additional Experiences. This will help all of your experiences to stand out without supplying a long and confusing list.

Each experience should feature a header with the name and location of the organization and your job title, along with three or four sentences describing the work you did and what you accomplished. Make sure you use strong action verbs so that each sentence has as much impact as possible.

The Skills Section

This section is ideal for presenting important skills that you have not gained while working. These could be language skills, which will be useful in a wide range of different industries. These days, many companies value employees who are fluent in more than one language.

When listing your technical skills, give specific details of the software you are familiar with. The job you are applying for will guide you toward which are likely to be especially valuable. Include details of certification or training programs you have completed that are also relevant to the job.

The Activities Section

This section is particularly important if your work experience section is rather short. All of the activities that you list should reveal important work-related skills such as leadership. If you have the space, provide a short description of your most impressive achievements and the associated responsibilities.

Tips For The Best Resume Format Guide

When formatting your resume, you need to make it look professional and inviting. Hiring managers should be able to scan your resume in a few seconds to see if you have the required skills. If so, they will then be able to go back over your resume and finish reading it within a couple of minutes.

Apply the appropriate margins

Make sure you set the margins of your resume so that the information easily fits within the page’s readable space. This usually means allowing an inch of blank space on each of the sides. However, if you have a lot of information that you need to pack onto the page, you may need to adjust the margins.

Reducing the margins on each side of the document to .75 inches allows you to include a lot more information. If you need to adjust the margins further, make sure they are above .5 inches on each side. Otherwise, your text will run outside the margins when your document is converted to a PDF or processed by an ATS.

Left alignment…

Make sure that you left-align all of the text on your resume. This will give your resume a clean and professional appearance. However, you can center-align your name, contact information, and headline if you wish. Helping to ensure this information stands out and makes an impact.

Choose the right font

Make sure you choose a professional font that is clear and easy to read. While a modern and quirky font may make you stand out from the crowd, it will not look very professional. Times New Roman, Arial, and Verdana are the fonts that are preferred in the business world.

If the company is using an applicant tracking system, it can struggle to read and interpret an intricate font. Especially light and thin fonts, which can also be difficult to read by both human eyes and computer software. Ultimately, you aim to make sure your resume is as clear and as easy to read as possible.

the resume format tips

Select the right font size

It is essential to select the right font size when formatting your resume. If the font size is too large, you will not be able to fit as much information onto the page. In addition, a large font size can appear to be rather childish and unprofessional.

However, it is also essential to make sure that the font is not too small. While a tiny font allows you to include more information, it will also make your resume too crowded. If the hiring manager has to squint to read your resume, they are likely to set it aside.

The ideal size…

Ideally, your font size should be between 10 and 12 points. This helps to make sure that all of your text is clear and easy to read. Choose 10-point if you have a lot of information and scale it up to 12-point if you have blank spaces to fill.

If your resume still doesn’t fit on one page, consider making the information more concise. Shorten your sentences as much as possible and reveal any filler words. Combining two similar points into a single sentence can also help to save space.

Highlight the section headers

Each of your headers should be highlighted so that they stand out. There are many ways of doing this, depending on the amount of available space you have and your preferences. If you have the space to spare, increasing the heading size by one or two points can make a big impact.

Using a bold font for your section headers also makes them stand out, while you could also choose to underline them. All of these options will make sure that your headers are the first things that the recipient sees. However, putting your heading in italics can be confusing and should be avoided.

Make use of bullet points

Using bullet points in your resume helps to break up the information and make it easier to read. Bullet points are especially effective when listing your achievements and skills. However, you should only use them when you are listing information and can use at least three bullet points in a row.

Stick to one page

If you have a sentence or two hanging over to the second page, reduce the font size slightly. You can also try adjusting the spacing between paragraphs and sections so that everything fits.

Keep it professional

It is important to use formal English when writing your resume. Make sure your resume is free from slang terms and industry jargon. Avoid first-person pronouns such as ‘I.’

Consistency

Make sure you have used the same formatting and punctuation style throughout your resume. All of the heading sections should be the same size and style. If you have chosen to underline or put your headings in italics, make sure you do this for all of them.

Tailor your resume

You should create a unique resume for each job that you apply for. While your contact information and education details will remain the same, you will need to alter others slightly. Although it is essential to make sure that all the information is accurate, it should essentially be focused on the job.

Perform a final check

Ultimately, your resume is only as good as your editing skills. Even if your formatting and information are impressive, a few typos can undermine all your hard work. Taking a few minutes to carefully read and edit your resume can make all the difference.

Ask for feedback

Once you have finished formatting your resume, it is a good idea to ask a friend or colleague for feedback. They may be able to suggest skills to include that help make your resume stronger. It can also be useful to have a fresh perspective before you send it out.

Your friend or colleague is also likely to find spelling and grammar mistakes that you have overlooked. When they review your resume, ask them to pay close attention to the formatting. They should also give you a score out of ten for readability, professionalism, and consistency.

Want to Know More About Resume Writing?

Well, we’ve got some great tips for you with our Best Cover Letter Format, the Most Important Skills To Put On A Resume, How To List Education On A Resume, How To List References On A Resume, our Motivation Letter Writing Guide, and our Hobbies Interests To Put On Resume in 2023.

We also found some great online guides with Optimize Your Resume: DOs and DON’Ts the SamNova Way, English for Academic CVs, Resumes, and Online Profiles, the Resume Formats book, Land Your Dream Job: Join the 2% Who Make it Past Resumé Screening, Resume Writing: 10 Ridiculously Simple Tips, the Resume Format Guide and the How to Write an Amazing IT Resume to get that resume to shine!

For the Linked in users out there, check out the Expert Resumes and Linkedin Profiles for Managers & Executives, CVs, Resumes, and LinkedIn: A Guide to Professional English as well as the Marketing Yourself in the Age of Digital: CVs, Applications, Interviews, Social Media, LinkedIn.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, three main types of resume formats are recognized and appreciated by hiring managers. The type of format you choose will depend on the situation and the information you want to present.

It is important to understand that each of the formats serves a specific purpose and highlights your information differently.

If you are still unsure which one to choose, consider creating three copies of your resume, with one in each format. This will allow you to compare them and see which one you prefer. Take particular notice of how each format reveals your skills, education, and work experience in different ways.

All the very best with your Resume!

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