How to Choose the Best Resume Format [+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.
2/3/2021 7 min reading time Karin Lykke Nielsen @KarinLykke
How to Choose the Best Resume Format [+Examples]

The right resume format can make it or break it in your job hunt and 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 resume examples]
  • How to choose your resume format
  • Resume formatting tips and tricks

The three resume formats

There are three types of resume formats: 

  1. The reverse-chronological resume format
  2. The functional resume format (also known as the skill based resume format)
  3. The combination (hybrid) resume format

Each has its strengths and weaknesses and you’ll need to decide on which one to choose based on your situation. 

Let’s go through each resume format in detail below with pros and cons. There’ll be resume examples throughout the article to help you visualize them better. 

1. The reverse-chronological resume format

When it comes to resume formats, the reverse-chronological resume format is definitely the most widely recognized. Many recruiters prefer this format because it allows them to easily get an overview of a candidate’s work history and professional skills. In this format you will keep focus on your work experience, with the most recent (or your present) jobs listed at the top of your experience section. This will allow the recruiter to see your most recent experiences first and your oldest experiences last. 

Reverse-chronological resume format example

Image of a reverse-chronological resume example from a senior account manager with more than 10 years experience

Pros and cons for the reverse-chronological resume format

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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

Next up we have the functional resume format. In a functional resume you heavily emphasize your skills and other qualifications rather than your professional experiences. You might say that instead of focusing on the where and when part of your professional life, you focus on the what part. Display your professional core competencies in the top of your resume in order of most relevant to least relevant (but make sure that even your “least relevant” competencies are still relevant to the job opening). 

Functional resume format example

Image of a functional resume example from a senior account manager

Pros and cons for the functional resume format

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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

Third and last is the combination resume format. In short, this is a combination of the two previous resume formats. As such it combines elements from both of them. The combination resume is made up of a resume summary followed by either a core competencies section or a work experience section. Additional skills can be added after the core competencies 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

Image of a combination resume example from a senior account manager

Pros and cons for the combination resume format

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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

If you’re still in doubt about which resume format to go for we’ve created a resume format guide to help you out below.. 

Reverse-chronological resume format

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 format

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 format

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

Image of how to choose your resume format with pros for a chronological resume, a functional resume and a combination resume

Four resume formatting tips & tricks

Alright, so far so good. Hopefully you now have a clear idea of which resume format suits you and your situation the best. The rest of this guide is much more hands on and practical (we know some of you love this). Read on for some good advice to format your resume in order to maximize your chances of getting an interview.

The four tips below are super easy to follow and you can apply them instantly to an already existing resume. 

1. Length

As for the length of your resume, we recommend you always go for between one and three pages. It’s more transparent and easier to decode for the recruiter. Make sure it’s nice and neatly organized since this will suggest you are an organized person. Recruiters love that. 

2. Fonts

In order to make your resume look modern and updated we recommend you always use a font sans serifs. Fonts with serifs, such as Times New Roman which we all know, will only make your resume look old-fashioned and outdated. The fonts we see work the best are fonts like Arial or Calibri (hint: 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.

4. ATS friendliness

All three tips above will increase your chances of your resume being read correctly by the applicant tracking systems. But there are more things you can do easily:

  • Keep your format simple. Avoid any fancy graphics
  • Keep your bullet points round
  • Use standard headings such as the ones in Jofibo’s resume builder

Key take aways

The most important lesson from this article is 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, functional and combination
  • Each has its strengths and weaknesses
  • Reverse chronological is good to show your career progress
  • Functional is good for changing careers
  • Combination is good to show off your skills
  • You should always keep your resume at one to three pages length
  • Always keep it as simple as possible

Are you ready to build your own resume? 

Below here are some great resume examples from different professions.

Marketing Manager resume example

Marketing Manager resume example

Front End Developer resume example

Frontend Developer resume example

Cashier resume example

Cashier resume example

Sales Associate resume example

Sales Associate resume example

Electrician resume example

Electrician resume example

Nursing resume example

Nursing resume example

Secretary resume example

Secretary resume example

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