The Job Seekers’ Ultimate
Resume Format Guide

Build a Resume Now

You’ve found the job you want now you have to construct a resume. Whether it the first job you are seeking or you are a seasoned worker, you have to determine which resume format works best for you. Below is JobHero’s primer on the three resume formats recruiters and businesses expect to see.

The 3 Resume Formats

Chronological format
The most common resume format choice for job seekers, this format places your work experience front and center. This is best for applicants with a long work history.
Functional format
Sometimes called a skills-based resume, this format focuses on your skills and experience, rather than emphasizing your work history. This best for job seekers with little work experience or gaps in their work history.
Combination format
Combining the best of components of chronological and functional, this format lists your most relevant skills while also highlighting your most notable work accomplishments. Best for applicants seeking a career change, or job seekers who have held a variety of roles for the same employer.

Chronological Resumes

A chronological resume, also referred to as the reverse-chronological format, is bread-and-butter resume format of choice for most recruiters. This format clearly shows your career progression - where you were employed, the positions you’ve held, and for how long.

Format works best for:
  • Job applicants with a long work history and track record of accomplishments, as it accommodates the recommended maximum length of two pages.
  • Job seekers applying to well-known companies, as recruiters are familiar with the format and prefer it.
  • Applicant tracking systems (ATS), software used by hiring managers to quickly scan and discard resumes that don’t fit the job description.
Format drawbacks:
  • This format makes gaps in your work history evident.
  • This format is not convenient if you are applying for a position in a field you have not worked in before.
  • Not good for entry-level applicants as the format shows your lack of experience.

How to Format a Chronological Resume

This resume format includes these sections:

  • HeaderCenter-align this at the top of the page and include your contact information. Put your name, location (city and state), email address and phone number.
  • Summary StatementBriefly summarize your qualifications and what type of position you’re seeking: "Certified elementary teacher seeking teaching positions in K-2" or "Experienced electrician seeking a position that utilizes my knowledge and repair skills in a commercial or residential environment."
  • Work ExperienceSummarize your past jobs in reverse-chronological order. Start with the most recent and go back about 5-10 years, depending on how many jobs you’ve had. This is the best format for people who have held long-term jobs and worked for multiple employers. Chronological resumes that include measurable achievements in the section standout to hiring managers.
  • EducationList any relevant degrees and where you earned them.
  • AwardsList any notable professional awards you’ve received.

Functional Resumes

A functional resume focuses on what you’re good at over what you’ve accomplished. Work history is still provided, but it’s primarily a list of job titles and employers.

Format works best for:
  • Job seekers who don’t have the exact work experience required for the position.
  • Job applicants with gaps in their work history or candidates returning to the workforce.
  • Job-hopper or those who are transitioning into a new career.
Format drawbacks:
  • This format could cause recruiters to believe you are purposely excluding employment history details.
  • How to see career progression and development in the format because lack of emphasis on work history.
  • Applicants in traditional fields don’t fare well with this format because hiring managers are looking for specific information in resumes.

How to Format a Functional Resume

This resume format includes these sections:

  • HeaderThe top of functional resumes are not formal as the chronological. There are multiple templates that place your contact information various designs at the top of your resume. The information is the same: your full name, city, state, professional email address and phone number.
  • Summary StatementKeep it short, and use it to briefly summarize your qualifications and the position you are seeking and why.
  • Work ExperienceThis section outlines your core qualifications for the position you are seeking. This should be a concise bulleted list with a short explanation of the skill or achievement.
  • Relevant SkillsThis is the focal point of a functional resume. It should be closely tied to the skills mentioned in the job posting. This listing of skills should include achievements, with industry accepted metrics to show impact.
  • Work HistoryThe section is vastly different from the chronological format. List the job title, how long you worked there, the company name and its location.
  • EducationList the degree you obtained and where it was earned.

Combination Resumes

A combination resume incorporates the best of two formats - the functional skills-focused approach and the chronological highlight of work experience. The combination, sometimes called hybrid, resume works well for individuals who have lots of relevant work experience, strong skills and accomplishments.

Format works best for:
  • Job seekers with a significant amount of work experience, strong skills and accomplishments or who have worked for the same employer.
  • Senior executive applicants that require highly-specialized skills.
  • Job candidates seeking a career change, as it allows them to point out transferable skills.
Format drawbacks:
  • Resume page length can become a problem as this format can easily go beyond the recommended two pages.
  • Writing in this format can easily lead to repetition in the skills and work history sections.
  • Though it is great for a career change, this format exposes job hopping and employment gaps.

How to Format a Combination Resume

This resume format includes these sections:

  • HeaderThis includes your contact information. Provide your name, location (just city and state), business-professional email address and phone number.
  • Qualifications Summary/Skills SectionThis section should highlight your current job title and key skills and responsibilities. This is a good place to include job-related keywords to help you get past applicant tracking systems.
  • Professional ExperienceThis section is for your work experience. List the company, job title and how long you worked there with bullet points underneath that mention key responsibilities and most importantly measurable achievements.
  • Education/CredentialsJust like the other two formats, the education section is found at the bottom of your resume. List relevant degrees and where you earned them.