How to Choose the Best Resume Format in 2020 [+Examples]

Covering the three main resume formats, this article will teach you how to pick which one is right for you. We’ve filled it with actionable examples ready to be used in your own job hunt.
2/26/2020 7 min reading time Karin Lykke Nielsen @KarinLykke
How to Choose the Best Resume Format in 2020 [+Examples]

The right resume format can make it or break it in your job hunt.

It will pass applicant tracking systems. It will open doors to hiring managers’ offices. It will land you a job.

Learn about the different types of resume formats in our guide and get smart about your choice.

There are even resume format samples for you to take inspiration from. Choosing the correct resume format will give you the edge you’re looking for. 

This article will cover: 

  • The three top resume formats [with examples]
  • How to choose your resume format
  • Resume formatting tips and tricks

The three top resume formats

No resume format is better than the next, per se. But, and there is always a but, some do work better than others. It depends on your situation. 

The top three resume formats are

  • The reverse-chronological resume format
  • The functional resume format (also known as the skill based resume format)
  • The combination resume format (hybrid)

I’ll explain each resume format in detail below with pros and cons plus resume format examples. 

1. The reverse chronological resume format

The reverse-chronological resume format is by far the queen of resume formats.

It’s the most widely used and the one that recruiters and hiring managers are most familiar with.

In this format you focus on your work experience, with the most recent (or your present) jobs listed in the top of your experience section. This way the recruiter will see your most recent experiences first, and as she moves down along the document she will get to your oldest experiences. 

Reverse chronological resume format example:

reverse chronological resume

Pros and cons for the reverse chronological resume format


  • The most recognized resume format out there, also by ATS
  • Great for showing your career progress
  • Ideal if you’re looking for a job in the same field you’re currently in


  • Any gaps between employments will become very obvious 
  • This resume format is not ideal if you are changing career path 
  • Job hopping become very apparent

2. The functional resume format

In the functional resume you emphasize your skills and other qualifications rather than your professional experiences.

When using this format you more or less ignore the when and where part of your professional life and instead focus on the what part.

Your skills will be displayed in the top of your resume in order of most relevant to least relevant. However, make sure that even the “least relevant” skills are still relevant to the job in question.

Functional resume format example: 

functional resume

Pros and cons for the functional resume format


  • Good for hiding large gaps in your work history 
  • Good for changing careers 
  • Good for promoting a specific skill or skill set


  • Doesn’t show off a clear career progress
  • This format is not good if you lack skills that come with experience
  • This format is not good if you lack transferable skills

3. The combination resume format

The combination resume format is, as the name implies, a combination of the two previous.

Thus, it combines elements from both resume formats. You should begin your combination resume with a resume summary followed by either a skills section or a work experience section. Additional skills should be added after the skills section. Since both work experience and skills play a big role there is not much room left on your resume for education. 

Combination resume format example: 

combination or hybrid resume

Pros and cons for the combination resume format


  • Good for showing off skills
  • Helps you hide employment gaps
  • Good if you have a lot of experience in one field


  • Not good if you don’t have any experience
  • Not good if you want to highlight your education
  • Not good of you don’t have a lot of skills to highlight

How to choose your resume format

Still not sure how to decide on which resume format to choose? Our resume format guide below will show you. 

Reverse chronological resume

Best if: 

  • You are looking for a job within your current field
  • Your skills and work experience match each other
  • You are experienced within your field and haven’t had any large employment gaps

Functional resume

Best if:

  • You have employment gaps you want to hide
  • You want to change careers
  • The job you’re applying to puts more emphasis on your skills rather than your experience

Combination resume

Best if:

  • You have specific skill sets you want to highlight
  • You have employment gaps you want to hide
  • You are applying for a job that requires a specific set of technical skills

4 Resume formatting tips and tricks

Congratulations on making it this far in the read.

The rest of our resume format guide is very hands on and practical.

We’re going to guide you through the best way to format your resume so you’re sure to get the best result from your efforts. 

These four tips below are super easy to follow and apply to your already existing resume. 

1. Resume length

Always go for a one-pager resume. This ensures a clean and organized layout which the recruiter can easily decipher. An organized and neatly formatted resume indicates an organized and neat person which is always a plus for a potential employer. 

2. Resume fonts

As a rule of thumb you should always choose a font sans serifs. That means, a font that doesn’t have serifs.

Fonts with serifs have little marks added to them and this can potentially botch up the applicant tracking systems. So to be on the safe side, use fonts that don’t have serifs such as Arial or Calibri. 

Pro tip: all fonts in Jofibo’s resume builder are sans serif. 

3. Alignment

It’s always a good idea to keep the body of your resume left aligned. Why? It just looks a lot more clean and organized where any other alignment will easily make your text look cluttered and messy. This also increases your chances of getting past the applicant tracking systems.

4. ATS friendliness

All three tips above will increase your chances of getting past the dreaded applicant tracking systems. But there are more things you can do easily: 

  • Keep your format simple. Avoid any fancy graphics - this will not impress the bots
  • Keep your bullet points round - don’t be creative and use arrows or anything else
  • Use standard headings - don’t customize for instance Employment History to something else 

Key take aways

If you only take away one thing from this post, let it be this: choose your resume format with care. Make sure it matches both where you are in your career and the job you’re applying for. Below is a quick overview of what we’ve been through. 

  • There are three resume formats: reverse chronological resume, functional resume and the combination resume
  • Each has its strengths and weaknesses
  • Reverse chronological resume is perfect to show your career progress
  • Functional is good for changing careers
  • Combination is great to show off your skills
  • You should always keep your resume at one page length
  • Always keep it as simple as possible
  • Make sure you live up to the applicant tracking systems’ demands

Are you ready to build your own resume for free? 

Professional resume examples to help you build a job winning resume:

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