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How important is the right resume format? Is it necessary at all? Do recruiters pay attention to how you format a resume, or is it all about its content?

Read my article and discover 3 main resume formats for 2024. Learn how to format a resume, see which one is preferred by recruiters, and find a perfect template for your next job application.

Want to create a resume in the most common resume format? Our resume builder can do that just in minutes. Just pick a resume template you like best and follow the tips.

Create your resume now

Use this resume template

Sample resume made with our builder—See more resume examples here.

Based on an in-depth analysis of 11 million resumes created in our builder, we’ve gathered valuable insights from a diverse range of users across various industries and experience levels. Here are our top findings to help you craft a more effective resume:

Data-Driven Insights From Real-Life Resumes

  • 57.84% of resumes created in our builder are longer than 300 words, 28.23% have between 101 and 300 words, while 5.35% have less than 100 words.
  • 3.59% of our users have no work experience, while 28,86% declare less than 3 years of work experience.
  • The average number of skills added to resumes is 12.56.
  • The average job count in the work experience section per resume is 2.61.

Want to know more about writing a resume? Here’s a great guide to get you started: How to Write a Resume

What Is the Best Resume Format?

The best resume format is the reverse-chronological resume format. It’s also the most common resume format, working perfectly for most candidates. Plus, it’s recruiters’ all-time favorite, so it’s hard to go wrong choosing a chronological resume.

Here’s what Milena Makowska, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, has to say about this resume format:

Think about it: an average job opening attracts hundreds of resumes. If you follow a specific resume format, you will make HR’s job much more manageable.

Many of us consider chronological resumes as our go-to resume format. We know it best; it’s easy to scan, and we can see what you’ve been up to most recently. Usually, this information is the most relevant, and it helps us base our decision on what to do with your resume next.

However, you should always choose your resume format according to your work history. It should serve you as a candidate, not me as an HR specialist or the company you’re applying for.

Just like Milena said, you choose a resume format that works best for you as a job seeker. Consider your professional history and then make an informed decision about the type of resume you will write. It’s important to tailor your resume to the job offer, but better to stick to one resume format for all applications. 

Which Resume Format to Choose?

There are three standard resume formats: the chronological resume format, which focuses on your work experience; the functional resume format, which emphasizes your skills; and the combination resume format, which highlights both your experience and skills.

Choosing the right resume format depends on your professional experience. In the following chapters, I'll explain each format in detail. However, if you need a quick summary, below you'll find a table with hints on which resume format is best for you.

What Is the Best Resume Format for Me?

To determine the best resume format for you, consider the following options:

Chronological resume format is perfect for you if:

  • You’re looking for a job in your industry in which you have lots of experience. 
  • Your career progress was steady and within one industry.
  • You have no employment gaps. 
  • You want to have the most common resume format that recruiters of all industries prefer.

Functional resume format is perfect for you if:

  • You’re looking for a creative gig where your portfolio of projects and a broad skill set are more important than your work history. 
  • You want to transfer to a new industry, highlight specific skills, or don't have relevant work experience. 
  • You're either a creative worker, an overqualified candidate, a veteran, a freelancer, or a first-time job seeker.

Combination resume format is perfect for you if:

  • You’re applying for a highly specialized position for very experienced senior candidates. 
  • You want to change your career. 
  • There are many gaps in your employment history.

three resume formats example

Now, let me explain each format in detail and show you real-life examples. 

Pro-tip: As many as 7 out of 10 large companies use the Applicant Tracking System resume checker. Choosing a good resume template and a suitable resume format is only your first step in creating an ATS-friendly resume. Using specific resume keywords, selecting proper resume fonts, and labeling resume sections with headings will help you pass that test.

Chronological Resume Format

The chronological resume (also known as the reverse-chronological resume) highlights your relevant work experience, starting with the most recent one. You continue to list your positions and achievements going backward, placing them in reverse chronological order. 

Let’s see what it looks like.

Chronological Resume Format: Text Example

Here’s an example of a chronological resume created in our online resume builder:

Frank Shelby

Master Electrician


Resume Summary

Dependable master electrician with 10+ years experience with construction, residential, and industrial electrical installations Substantial knowledge of industrial control, circuit management, and power distribution. Named Mosaic Life Claire's employee of the year for 3 years in a row.


Master Electrician

Mosaic Life Claire, St Joseph, MO

March 2012–Present

  • Interpreted contract plans and specifications: one-line diagrams, cable and conduit schematics, and wiring diagrams.
  • Installed and repaired electrical systems, wiring, fixtures, and motors per plans.
  • Supervised and assigned work to apprentices, electrical helpers, and journey-level electricians.
  • Trained and mentored 15+ electrical apprentices.
  • problems and checked leakages in how and high voltage systems. Took the highest level of care for keeping the workplace area safe and organized by implementing the NEC safety regulations and guidelines
  • Installed circuit breaker panels, switches, relays, and grounding leads.

Key Achievements:

  • Increased efficiency by 33% by identifying our client's complex wiring issue. Scheduled a repair plan and supervised a team of 6 specialists.
  • Supervised an internal training program and fully trained 11 apprentices. 

Journeyman Maintenance Electrician

Mosaic Life Claire, St Joseph, MO

October 2007–March 2012Present

  • Troubleshot and maintained electrical work on low and high-voltage equipment, including variable frequency and DC speed control equipment.
  • Carried out preventive maintenance on electrical circuits and machinery.
  • Installed, maintained, and repaired switchboards and circuits.
  • Repaired a variety of telemetry systems two-wire alarm circuits, security systems, fire alarm devices and other electronic alarm systems

Key Achievements:

  • Installed energy-saving devices, which reduced the client's quarterly electricity consumption costs by 24% without affecting power efficiency.

Electrical Helper

Tradesman International Overland Park, KS

April 2003–October 2007

  • Helped with installing wiring conduits: struts and MS cables.
  • Used measuring tools to measure and cut wire and conduit.
  • Assisted in maintaining electrical tools and equipment. 
  • Prepared cost estimates for materials and services.


Associate of Science in Electrical Technology 

Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, KS

October 2005–July 2007

The Julliard School, New York, NY

August 2014–May 2018


  • Associate of Science in Electrical Technology Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, KS, January 2015
  • Certified Electrical Inspector-Master (International Association of Electrical inspectors)
  • ALA Certified Lighting Consultant (American Lighting Association), July 2007


  • Analyzing blueprints
  • Programmable Logic Controllers
  • Industrial Control Systems
  • Wiring diagrams
  • Mathematics Knowledge
  • Mentoring
  • Customer Service


  • English–Native
  • Spanish–Intermediate

Chronological Resume Format: Visual Example

Reverse Chronological Resume Sample

As you can see, this resume format focuses on your work experience. However, it’s not the only section you need to remember about.

Let’s find out how to structure a reverse-chronological resume.

Chronological Resume Format: Structure

  1. Resume Header
  2. Resume Profile (Resume Summary or Career Objective)
  3. Work Experience
  4. Education
  5. Skills
  6. Additional Information

These 6 sections form a complete document that will make recruiters’ jobs easier. They’re familiar with this resume layout, which helps them spot all relevant information within 7.4 seconds of looking at a resume. On the other hand, you need to put some extra effort into making your resume stand out from the other candidates.

Let’s see some simple resume tips to help you get noticed and impress recruiters even more.

Chronological Resume Format: Formatting Tips

  • List your relevant achievements (not only responsibilities) in your work experience section. That way, you'll show your career progress and your uniqueness.
  • Follow the reverse chronological order in your education section as well. List only your highest level of schooling if you have a few years of relevant work experience.
  • Highlight your key skills. But don’t just list them. Make them mirror your quantifiable work achievements and adapt them to the job ad.
  • Include some additional sections that might be useful for proving your skills. Give them context to make your recruiter realize how much value you’ll bring to the company.
  • Write your resume profile last, but place it on the top of your document. Select 2–3 accomplishments and skills from your resume that are most relevant to the job ad. 

Who should consider choosing this resume format? Take a look.

When Is a Chronological Resume Format Good For You?

This resume format is perfect for candidates with several years of professional experience who have progressed steadily and preferably in one industry. It’s also great for those with no significant gap in their employment.

However, following the chronological resume order is very universal. And therefore this resume format works also if you don’t have much experience. For example, if you’re writing a student resume, all you have to do is rearrange your resume sections a bit.

That being said, whether you’re writing an accounting resume, an IT manager resume, a nurse resume, a law student resume, or any other resume, this format might work out.

Time for a quick summary.

Chronological resume format pros:

  • Recruiters prefer and know it well.
  • Guaranteed to undergo an Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) resume test.
  • Highlights the peak of your career.

Chronological resume format cons:

  • Requires some extra effort to catch the recruiter’s eye.
  • Recruiters will notice any significant gap in your employment history.
  • Not an ideal format for career changers.

Let’s move on to our second resume format.

Want to learn more about the reverse-chronological resume format? Visit our complete guide to see more templates and examples: Reverse-Chronological Resume.

Functional Resume Format

The functional resume format, also called a skill-based resume, showcases transferable skills over work history. Its purpose is to disguise having little experience. With this resume format, you list your relevant skills, emphasizing how you’ve practically used them in the past.

This resume format will work well for creative jobs where a portfolio matters most, military transitioners, and candidates who don't want to seem overqualified.

Let’s take a look at the sample.

Functional Resume Format: Text Example

Let’s look at a functional resume sample created in our online resume builder. 

Thomas Blumenthal

Public Relations Specialist

Personal Info


Career Objective

Results-driven Penn graduate in Journalism and Social Communication seeking to leverage two years of internship and freelancing PR experience with Newton Software Communications Team Experienced in producing engaging online content (see my portfolio here) and press releases for tech start-ups and local IT companies. Non-profit blogger at Interested in new digital PR solutions, including the automatization of customer relations via Al-based email campaigns and chatbots.

Skills Summary


Able to work with many kinds of clients in a wide variety of fields. Excellent at researching clients' brands, industries, and markets very quickly and efficiently.


Skilled at writing all types of Public Relations texts: press releases, blog posts, bulletins, and email campaigns (outreach emails, sales emails, engagement emails). Able to produce up to 3,500 words of great, unique content on a daily basis.


Able to come up with innovative solutions to all types of problems and crises. Excellent in designing and implementing both ATL and BTL Public Relations and Marketing campaings in collaboration with graphic designers and art directors.


Proficient at managing social media relations across all major social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+.


Able to juggle multiple clients and projects. Have mastered prioritizing deadlines and task. Great at physical office administration and organizing paperwork.


Public Relations Intern

Adidas Originals, Philadelphia, PA

September 2021–Present

Office Assistant

Ogilvy and Mather, Philadelphia, PA

May 2019–September 2019


University of Pennsylvania, MA in Journalism and Social Communications

August 2014-08–Native May 2019


  • MS Office Suite
  • Wordpress
  • Adobe PS
  • InDesign


  • English–Native
  • Native/bilingual
  • Hebrew–Native
  • German–Intermediate
  • Spanish–Intermediate

Functional Resume Format: Visual Example

Functional Resume sample

The skills summary is the most important section of this resume format. But you still need more than that to impress your recruiter.

How to structure a functional resume? Read on and see.

Functional Resume Format: Structure

  1. Resume Header
  2. Resume Objective
  3. Skills Summary
  4. Additional Skills
  5. Work Experience
  6. Education

As you can see, these sections differ from those in the reverse-chronological resume format. 

The listed transferable skills are divided into subcategories and explained further. That gives recruiters an understanding of how those skills can be helpful for this job opening.

Take a look at these tips to improve your functional resume.

Functional Resume Format: Formatting Tips

  • Write a career objective explaining your professional goals. Include your skills and qualifications and add a link to your online portfolio, a blog, or a personal website.
  • Pick 4 to 5 hard and soft skills relevant to the job you’re after. Give examples of when and how you applied them. Use either bullet points or go for plain paragraphs.
  • List additional skills. They can include your language skills, software you’re proficient in, tools you’re familiar with, etc.
  • Briefly list your work experience. Add job titles, dates, and name locations of the companies you’ve worked with.
  • Add an education section. Your alma mater name and date of your graduation should be enough; however, if you have some relevant coursework, include it as well.

Let’s see who will benefit most from choosing this resume format.

When Is a Functional Resume Format Good For You?

While the previous resume format seems to work for all, this one is more specific. Use it if you’re one of the following three types of candidates:

  • Creative workers. The functional resume will give you creative space to highlight your skills. Just remember to add a portfolio for confirmation of your abilities.
  • Veterans. Highlighting a detailed military work experience in any other resume format is tricky. Recruiters are usually not familiar with these types of qualifications. Sowing your abilities might be a better idea.
  • Overqualified candidates. Having tons of relevant experience is valuable but often difficult to show on your resume. Sometimes it’s easier to show your skills instead. Especially considering what’s easier for your recruiter to wrap their heads around.

If you’re a graphic designer, military transitioner, or a Chief Executive Officer, the resume format you should choose is a skill-based one.

Let’s do a quick recap.

Functional resume format pros:

  • Takes the focus off your work history and places it on your skills.
  • Good creative resume format for non-traditional industries, overqualified candidates, veterans, recent graduates, or first-time job seekers.
  • Perfect for showing many, not always connected, qualifications.

Functional resume format cons:

  • Not easy to scan; might suggest you’re trying to hide something.
  • Might lower your chances of getting hired if the position you're trying to land is targeted at an experienced candidate.
  • Most likely to fail the ATS resume scan.

It’s time to see what our last resume format has to offer.

Learn all there is to know about this resume format. Templates, examples, tips: this how-to guide has it all. Read more: Functional Resume Format.

We analyzed 11 million resumes made using our builder, and here are the top 10 most commonly listed skills:

  • Teamwork and Collaboration
  • Problem-solving
  • Excellent Communication
  • Multitasking
  • Attention to Detail
  • MS Office
  • Analytical and Critical Thinking
  • Data Entry
  • Project Management
  • Team Management

Combination Resume Format

The combination resume format combines elements of a chronological resume and a skills-based resume. It places equal emphasis both on your skills and work experience. The skills summary section lists relevant skills, while the experience section validates them with examples of past accomplishments. 

This resume format is great for seasoned professionals targeting a specific position, career-changers, and candidates with employment gaps.

We’ll start with the example.

Combination Resume Format: Text Example

Below, you’ll see an excellent example of a combination resume created in our resume builder. 

Christian Hynes

IT Manager

Personal Info


Skills Summary

Programming and App Development

  • Developed and built 20+ mobile apps and 30+ websites, providing exceptional user experience. 
  • Named BCD M&E's "Top Programmer of The Year" for three consecutive years, 2009–2011.
  • 15+ years experience in C, C++, Cocoa, and Objective-C.
  • C Certified Professional Programmer (2006), C++ Certified Professional Programmer (2009).


  • 8+ years experience in team management (teams of 10-50 colleagues) and project coordination. 
  • Designed and implemented a new IT management model with Apple's New York Branch, increasing quarterly productivity by 33% and resulting in an increase in employee satisfaction.
  • Trained and mentored 50+ junior developers for certification exams (88% success rate).

Business Management

  • Coordinated 20+ projects with a budget of over $200,000.
  • Optimized procurement processes to reduce BCD M&E's annual costs by 27%.
  • Successfully cooperated with sales and marketing teams on new business strategies, which helped increase Apple New York's sales volume by 23%.


IT Manager

Apple, New York City, NY

March 2019–Present

  • Supervised the IT team in creating mobile apps providing the best user experience for Apple's customers all over the world.
  • Developed, reviewed, and tested innovative and visionary new applications using emerging technologies.
  • Guided talent that provides technical support and training while working in partnership with the business team.

Senior IT Specialist

BCD M&E, New York City, NY

August 2012–March 2019

  • Developed, reviewed, and tested websites for internal and external stakeholders. 
  • Led innovation in mobile applications.
  • Cooperated with procurement teams in optimizing procurement processes.


Oracle, Redwood City, CA

March 2006–August 2012


MS in Computer Science, Distinction 

The City College of New York, New York City, NY

September 2001–June 2002

BS in Computer Science

University of California, Berkeley, CA

September 1997–September 2001

Additional Skills

Adobe Photoshop


CRM Platforms

Google Analytics

Google Ads




Combination Resume Format: Visual Example

Combination Resume Sample

As you can see, the two main resume sections in the combination format correspond with each other. And what about other parts of your resume?

Let’s explore how to structure a combination resume.

Combination Resume Format: Structure

  1. Resume Header
  2. Skills Summary
  3. Work Experience
  4. Additional Skills
  5. Education

One section is missing in the combination format—it’s a resume profile. Describing your skills and experience will give your recruiter enough information while keeping your document readable and brief.

Have a look at these tips to improve your functional resume.

Combination Resume Format: Formatting Tips

  • Build the skill summary section with both your hard skills and your soft skills. Add up to 4 bullet points describing your professional achievements that prove those skills.
  • Make your work experience section correspond with the skills summary. Build this section the same way you’d do in a chronological resume. 
  • List additional skills, just like in a functional resume format.
  • Add your b and list your relevant coursework or other academic achievements, such as cum laude or Phi Beta Kappa.

Should you consider using this resume? Let’s find out.

When Is a Combination Resume Format Good For You?

Since this resume format combines the other two, is it good for every candidate? I personally advise you to use it only if you’re one of the three types:

  • Experienced professionals. A combination resume is ideal for showcasing your key achievements if you have a long career.
  • Career-changers. If you haven’t worked in your new industry yet, but have gained relevant skills in other roles, this is also a great resume format for you to choose.
  • Job-seekers with employment gaps and valuable experience. It’s easy to show your achievements with this resume format. If you can show them clearly, your recruiters will overlook the gaps. 

If you’re an experienced marketing director, senior software engineer, or a stay-at-home mom who’s either returning to the job market or following a new career path, a combination resume is perfect for you.

It’s time to summarize what we’ve learned here today about this resume format.

Combination resume format pros:

  • Showcases your most essential skills and validates them with examples of your work experience.
  • Suitable for people with gaps in their resumes who have many years of relevant work experience.
  • Makes your skills correspond with your work experience.

Combination resume format cons:

  • Suitable only for people with a lot of work experience targeting a particular position.
  • Most challenging resume format to create and make ATS-friendly.
  • Won’t work if the work accomplishments aren’t mirrored in the skills summary.

Now that you’ve learned about all 3 resume formats, let’s see which one’s best.

Find out more about this resume format from our guide: Combination Resume

How to Format a Resume?

No matter which resume format you've chosen or whether you’re writing a CV or a resume, make sure it looks good. Here are a few simple resume tips. Follow them, as they will tell you exactly what your resume should look like in 2024.

All 10 of the following guidelines apply to all 3 resume formats. 

1. Set standard margins

Keeping the right resume margin size will boost the readability of your document, making it easier for the recruiter to see that you're the right fit. Making your margins an inch on each side should do the trick. 

2. Mind the line spacing

Giving some white space in between the lines of your resume is another must-do for all candidates to keep their resume readable. Use single or 1.15 line spacing to make your document easier to scan.

3. Select a professional font

Choose a 11 or 12-point font that’s easy to read, but also professional-looking. Arial, Times New Roman, Helvetica, Georgia are some of the best fonts for a resume. But don’t be afraid to experiment with more modern, yet still smart, ones. 

4. Divide your resume into sections

You don’t want to have all your details scattered across your resume. Instead, keep your document well organized by creating sections with headings. And add an extra space before and after each section heading, to make reading even easier for your recruiter.

5. Apply bullet points

Use bullet points for each entry, whether you’re listing your achievements, skills, certificates, or hobbies. That’s a great way of boosting readability and keeping readers interested. Just don’t make them longer than two lines. Three lines are good for full paragraphs, not bullet points.

6. Be consistent 

Consistency is as important as readability. Be consistent with how you show each position, date format, what you bold, what you underline, and what you capitalize. This additionally shows great attention to detail, a skill valued by many employers for many professions.

7. Keep the right resume length

Aim at having a one-page resume. If you have a lot of experience or tons of skills relevant for the job opening, a two-page resume is also a good idea. Anything above that is different from the right resume length

8. Avoid using photos

Don’t use photos on your resume unless the job description specifically asks for them. Companies follow fair hiring practices that are free from bias and discrimination. Quite often, a resume with a picture will be rejected, only for that reason.

9. Name your resume correctly

Decide on a good name for your resume file. Your name, job title, and the word “resume” will always work great, as it gives the recruiter all the necessary information about this document: who has written it, why this person has written it, and what type of document it is.

10. Send your resume as a PDF 

Sending a PDF resume file, unless stated otherwise in the job description, will allow your document to remain intact, keeping the same structure and length. Plus, PDF format is operable on most devices, so your recruiter can surely access it.

Now, you know which resume format to choose and how to format a resume. It's time to select a perfect resume template.

Pro-tip: The same rules regarding a resume header apply to all three of these formats. You should make it stand out most because you don’t want your recruiter to miss it. Remember to include your name, job title, and contact information because you want your recruiter to contact you quickly. Finish it with a link to your LinkedIn profile. Your recruiters will surely check your online presence, so make it easier for them.

Creating a resume with our builder is incredibly simple. Follow our step-by-step guide and use content from Certified Professional Resume Writers to have a resume ready in minutes.

When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and our resume checker will tell you exactly how to make it better.

Resume Format Templates You Can Use

Whatever job you’re after, you can’t get wrong with professional resume templates. Here, you’ll find some examples from our builder that are ready to make in just a few clicks. All these templates are great for all 3 resume formats. They are also ATS-friendly, and you can freely adjust them to your needs. 

1. Nanica

Nanica is one of the all-time favorites among our users despite being a super simple resume format. The best thing about it? It has a very universal design with lots of white space. Highly recommended modern resume template for job applications in conservative fields: law, finance, and general business.

2. Primo

Primo is a simple, elegant, yet unique resume template with a timeline on the left side to make your work experience and education dates easier to track. A sidebar for your skills and extra sections lets you save space and fit more information onto a single page.

3. Cubic

I'd say Cubic is the prettiest resume format available in our builder. It’s a perfect combination of classical elegance and modern creativity. Subtle shading helps guide the reader's eyes across different sections. The side column for contact details and skills adds a dynamic twist to the design. This visual resume template is an excellent choice for applicants hunting jobs in IT, marketing, or sales.

4. Diamond

As the name of this resume template implies, diamonds highlight the key areas: section headings, skill levels, and bullets in the work history section. Full-width from top to bottom (no side column featured) makes it easy to go through your work history chronologically. This eye-catching resume template is excellent for candidates with many years of experience.

5. Newcast

With Newcast, you get a traditional and minimalist resume template with details that help your application stand out, like the tasteful icons for section headings and bar charts to indicate skill levels. If you're applying for a job at a company with a conservative culture, Newcast will be a great bet! 

That’s all! You’ve learned everything about resume formats, know all three types and can decide which is the best for you. Let’s do a quick recap. Then I’ll give you some more resume help, and we’ll end up exploring the FAQ section!

Now that you know all there is to know about a resume format, it’s time to learn how to format a cover letter. It’s a document you can’t skip to get invited for a job interview. Find out how to ace it: Cover Letter Format.

A great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:

See more cover letter templates and start writing.

Key Takeaway

There are certain things I need to remind you of before you create your job-winning document with a perfect resume format.

  • There are three main resume formats: reverse-chronological, functional, and combination. 
  • All these have pros and cons and are all created for a specific type of job seeker.
  • Reverse-chronological resume format is the best resume format for 2024. It’s the most commonly used among job seekers today. It’s also the easiest to scan for the recruiters.
  • Apply the standard resume formatting rules: one-inch margins, elegant font, 11–12pt font size, single line spacing, and additional space before and after headings.
  • Divide your resume into proper sections such as resume header, summary, work experience, education, skills, and extra sections.
  • Save space using bullet points in your work experience and education sections.
  • Make sure always to write an ATS-friendly resume to boost its chances of landing in your recruiter’s hands. Choosing a correct resume template from a professional resume builder will help you achieve it.
  • Pick the proper resume format for your individual situation.

All check? Start working with the selected resume format that will impress entire HR departments and get you hired ASAP! You got this! 

Just one more thing before you go.

Extra Resume Help

Below, you will find 10 additional links to help you work on your resume after choosing a resume format. 9 of them are guides with tips and examples; the last is our collection of the best resume samples for over 500 job titles. 

Visit those links and get as ready for writing a resume as possible:

Do you have any questions about choosing the best resume format for your position? Is there anything else you’d like to know about formatting a resume? Give me a shout in the comments. Let’s chat!

About Zety’s Editorial Process

This article has been reviewed by our editorial team to make sure it follows Zety's editorial guidelines. We’re committed to sharing our expertise and giving you trustworthy career advice tailored to your needs. High-quality content is what brings over 40 million readers to our site every year. But we don't stop there. Our team conducts original research to understand the job market better, and we pride ourselves on being quoted by top universities and prime media outlets from around the world.


Frequently Asked Questions about Resume Format

What is the best resume format for 2024?

The reverse-chronological resume format is the best resume format. Listing your work experience and education in reverse-chronological order, i.e., starting with the most recent position and working backward through previous jobs or degrees, works for both candidates and recruiters. There are several reasons why it’s the best job resume format to use:

  • Recruiters are familiar with it and find it easy to skim;
  • It enables you to place your best, most relevant experience and professional accomplishments near the top of the page, where the reader is likely to look first;
  • It’s the most ATS-friendly resume format, meaning that recruitment software has no trouble processing it.

All of Zety’s resume templates are available in the reverse-chronological format: you just need to fill in the blanks, and you could be ready to apply for your dream job in minutes!

What are the three resume formats?

There are three types of resume formats to choose from:

  • Reverse-chronological resume format: considered the standard resume format, it focuses on work experience and/or education, highlighting your accomplishments.
  • Functional resume format: also known as a skills-based resume, this professional resume format focuses on your skills and how you acquired them, providing only basic information about your work history. Although it can help to conceal gaps in employment, most recruiters aren’t very familiar with it, so it carries a risk of rejection. Plus, it’s not always ATS-friendly.
  • Combination resume format: a hybrid of the other two formats, it gives equal attention to your key skills and work history. However, it suffers from the same issues as the functional format: both recruiters and ATS software may have a problem with it.

The reverse-chronological format is the best choice for most candidates: go with a functional or combination resume only if you’re sure a non-standard format will give you an advantage.

What is the best resume format for students?

No. A student resume is similar to a traditional resume. They are not very different from entry-level resumes and resumes with no work experience

Most student resumes follow the standard reverse-chronological format, assuming you’re applying for a job. However, you do need to use a different format if you’re applying for a job in academia or writing a graduate school resume. In those cases, go with an academic CV rather than a resume.

Is resume format important?

Yes, following a resume format is important. It clearly organizes your skills, experience, and achievements to give hiring managers the information they need. 

It's also crucial for applicant tracking systems (ATS), which are used by many companies to scan and filter resumes. An effective format helps ATS read and understand your resume easily, increasing your chances of getting noticed.

What does an ATS-friendly resume format mean?

ATS-friendly resume format organizes information into clear sections and features key information as plain text—most ATS software can’t read text within images, for example. 

ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System(s)—software used by recruiters to sort incoming resumes. ATS software scans applications for specific resume keywords, such as key skills required for the role, rejecting irrelevant applications. 

To check whether ATS can read your resume, copy its contents into Notepad. If your information is still there and looks more or less organized, ATS should be able to make sense of your document. 

Is the resume format the same as the resume template?

No. The term resume format usually refers to the layout of a resume. It’s, for example, the type and order of information featured on the resume and the way it’s organized on the page, including document settings such as margins and line spacing. 

Meanwhile, a resume template is a blank document you can fill with your information—it’s much quicker than building your resume from scratch. If you’re interested, check out our list of free resume templates.

Can I get creative, or is a simple resume format always better?

Regarding resume formatting, it’s usually best not to get too creative and keep it simple. You want your document to be readable both to recruiters and to ATS software, so sticking to basic resume templates is advisable for most candidates. 

However, you may want to opt for a more complex resume design if you’re writing an artist resume or otherwise applying for a job in a creative field. Creative resume templates typically follow the standard format but feature bolder colors and graphic elements.

Which file format should I use for my resume?

Unless the job ad specifies a different format, submit your resume as a PDF. This file format keeps formatting intact and can be opened on any device, even a smartphone or tablet. Remember to give your resume file a professional name with no spaces, i.e., John-Smith-Waiter-Resume.pdf.

What’s the best type of resume template in 2024?

As of 2024, the reverse-chronological format is the most favored. This format is not only the most common but also highly effective for the majority of job seekers. It's a preferred choice for recruiters, making it a reliable option for you.

Which template offers the most space and a nice design?

Finding the right resume template can be tricky, but luckily for you, there are some online resume builders that provide resume templates. Not all of them, however are readable or ATS-friendly.

Zety offers not only highly readable, ATS-friendly modern resume templates, but also a resume checker to see how well your document is performing and what esle does it need to boost your chances of securing an interview. Plus, a consistent cover letter builder to help you create both application documents.

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Maciej Tomaszewicz, CPRW
Maciej is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and career expert and resume writer with a versatile professional background, creating tools for job seekers in various industries. His creative writing background and HR-related experience allow him to create highly readable articles clarifying even the most complicated professional development aspects. Since 2022, he has authored guides on professional resumes and cover letters, written articles on work-related scenarios, and developed research-based career advice.

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