4 Ways To Format a Resume

Updated : August 4th, 2022

Resume Format

The most experienced, suitable applicant in the world has little chance of getting their dream job with a lousy resume. According to CV research, hiring managers look at a resume for just six seconds before moving on to the next applicant. For this reason, it is important to use the best resume format possible. But figuring out how to format a resume isn’t always easy. Thankfully, we have outlined 4 ways to format a good resume that is sure to impress any potential employer.

4 Ways To Format a Resume

  1. Chronological Resume Format
  2. Functional Resume Format
  3. Hybrid Resume Format
  4. Targeted Resume Format

A professional resume is like any type of printed document in many ways: No one will spend their time looking at something that isn’t structured well. Would you spend your time reading a newspaper that was full of mistakes, wasn’t organized well, or used a font that was difficult to read? Probably not. This is why it is so important to select the type of resume that fits your individual needs and catches the eye of a potential employer.

Each resume format can be useful, depending on what type of position you’re applying for and the level of your skills and experience. To help you select the best resume format template, the pros and cons of each type are highlighted below.



1. Chronological Resume Format

Also known as a reverse chronological resume, this resume layout is the most common form of CV. It is preferred by many recruiters because of its easy setup. With this standard resume formatting, your work history comes first. Relevant skills, accomplishments, education, references, and other important resume information appear farther down the page.

An important thing to remember about the chronological resume format is that your most recent job experience is listed at the top and continues in reverse chronological order. This might seem strange, but it is the reverse chronological format that allows potential employers to focus on your most recent work history (career mobility) in that important first glance.

Chronological Resume Outline

The chronological resume format typically uses the following outline:

  • Contact Information
  • Resume Summary/Career Objective
  • Work Experience (employment history is the primary focus of a chronological resume)
  • Skills
  • Education
  • Honors and Accomplishments

The chronological resume format is the preferred resume format for workers in many different employment fields and is especially suitable for mid-level professionals. You should format your resume this way if you meet the following criteria:

  • You want to apply for a job in your current field
  • You have several years of experience
  • Your work career history is steady with few employment gaps
  • Your main goal is career progression

Make sure to carefully examine potential CV layouts to make sure they are the right type. Even if you love the look of a particular resume, there’s no sense in selecting it if it’s not the right type of format. You may want to avoid a chronological resume format if you are pondering a career change, have switched jobs several times recently, or have noticeable employment gaps.

Also, when creating a chronological resume, make sure to stick to recommended fonts. Unless you’re a graphic design artist looking for a new gig, avoid the temptation to use fancy fonts when writing your resume. Save that pretty cursive font and block letters for Christmas cards and birthday party invitations. Safe options include Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial, and Cambria.

2. Functional Resume Format

If a chronological resume layout isn’t the right option for your curriculum vitae, the functional resume format might be a better choice. This is a more modern resume format, especially for workers who would rather highlight their relevant skills, rather than focus on work experience. A functional resume format offers a creative solution if you need to downplay your work history and instead focus on job specifics or what talents have to offer.

Sometimes, there is nothing wrong with your work history, but your previous job title may be misleading. Here’s an example: Tia, a retail store manager, uses a functional resume to land a job as a hiring manager when her old CV just wasn’t doing the job. She had three years of experience running a local Sears store, and was responsible for hiring, training, and supervising a large number of employees. These were the same requirements listed for the hiring manager position.

Unfortunately, when applying for positions with her old resume format, potential employers would skip right over her CV. This happened because they only saw “retail manager” and didn’t realize that Tia had the skills that she needed. A functional resume format changed that and helped her land her dream job.

Functional Resume Outline

A functional resume format uses the following outline:

  • Contact information
  • Qualifications Summary/Personal Profile (why should recruiters or a potential employer hire YOU?)
  • Relevant Skills (the main focus of your functional resume)
  • Work Experience (this is a smaller, less prominent section)
  • Education (list your highest degree)
  • Honors and Accomplishments

Remember, with a functional resume format, you’re selling what you can do, not where you did it. You still need to list your work history, but a functional resume format won’t focus on it.

When should you look for a resume format template that focuses on skills over experience? You might want to format your resume this way if any of the following situations apply:

  • You are a recent college graduate with a limited work history (include any volunteer work)
  • You want to change fields or try a new career path
  • You have been a job hopper in the past, and your experience might be more of a hindrance than a help
  • You have employment gaps or have been out of work for a while

If you lack transferable skills but have relevant work experience, a different resume format may be your best bet.

3. Hybrid Resume Format

Known as a combination resume or hybrid resume, this CV format is just what it sounds like, a combination of chronological and functional. If you feel that you have both skill and experience, but want to transfer to a different industry, a hybrid resume is a good choice.

This type of resume format is growing in popularity, especially among applicants who have extensive professional experience but are trying to change their career path. Let’s think about our friend Tia again: If Tia had 10 years of experience as a manager of several different retail stores, she might have chosen a hybrid resume format over a functional format. Again, it’s all about using what you have and marketing yourself through the right CV format.

Hybrid Resume Outline

This innovative combination resume format works well for those who:

  • Want to showcase both skill and professional experience
  • Are experts in their current field but want to make a career change
  • Are taking on a job in their current field that is very different from what they’ve done in the past

A hybrid resume format is similar to a functional resume in the sense that a strong professional profile and list of skills are front and center. The difference with this CV layout is that you don’t minimize your work experience. Instead, you place it prominently below the skills section.

4. Targeted Resume Format

A targeted resume format works well for students or those with no skills or work experience. Instead of crafting a CV with a generic layout, those building a targeted resume focus on the job itself. Keep reading for resume-specific examples of how this type of formatting works:

Let’s say you’re a student who doesn’t have a lot of experience or skills, but you really need to earn some cash. You see a job posting for a babysitter online, and now you’re trying to figure out how to create a resume, but your lack of experience, specific skills, and education have you feeling down. A targeted babysitter resume format could work here!

The key to formatting a great targeted resume is to focus on selling yourself to a potential employer. You want to convince the potential employer to give you a closer look. To do so, make sure that you change the sample resume format you select into something more tailored. It should:

  • Address a specific job opportunity
  • Use powerful words and persuasive language
  • Play on your strengths and downplay any gaps or weak spots

Following these steps will help you craft the best-targeted resume possible:

  1. Take your core resume and make sure that all information is updated.
  2. Research the job requirements for the specific position and work them into your resume. For example, a great RN resume format might include that you are CPR certified and have passed an approved nursing program.
  3. Try to include any of the duties of the position with your prior work experience. For example, if this new job requires that you supervise other employees and you’ve done that in the past, include it in your resume.
  4. Check it twice! Never print a resume without checking it for grammar and spelling errors. Are your address and phone number correct? Did you include all pertinent information? Is your resume format perfectly aligned? It’s usually a good idea to let a fresh set of eyes or a software program like Grammarly check out your resume before you send it out to potential employers.

Formatting Your Resume

When you format your resume, make sure to include a resume cover letter that is not “one size fits all.” It’s important to tailor your resume; the last thing you want is for a recruiter to think you are sending out a generic resume to every employer.

Deciding on a resume format and creating the perfect CV is one of the most critical parts of any job search. Writing a resume that highlights your experience, education, skills, and accomplishments will allow you to showcase yourself in a way that will attract plenty of potential employers. It all comes down to how you are packaging yourself when you format your resume. Now that you know your options and have looked at several outlines, it is time that you find the perfect resume template for you and fill in the blanks! Chronological, functional, hybrid, or targeted: which will it be?



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