The Best Resume Layouts & When to Use Them (+Examples)

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August 15, 2023
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min read

For many job seekers, writing a resume is hard enough. Do you really have to lay out your resume, too? If you want to stand out in the job market with a professional-looking resume, the answer is yes.

Your resume layout—or the way you organize the information in your resume—makes a big difference in the way this information is perceived. For best results, you’re aiming for a resume that’s professionally formatted and visually appealing. And the best resume layout presents your skills, experiences, and qualifications to potential employers in a way that ideally helps you get the job.

3 key takeaways: 

  • What your resume layout is and why it matters 
  • The best types of resume layouts
  • How to use Teal’s AI Resume Builder to create yours

What a resume layout is and why it matters

A resume layout is simply the way your resume is “laid out” or organized, including the resume sections you’ve included, the information they have, and the order they’re in, along with formatting, white space, and other design elements that contribute. There are a few key types of common resume layouts or formats—including a chronological layout, functional layout, or combination layout—that you’ll learn more about later in this article.

Your resume layout is important because it helps you make a good impression. A good resume layout makes the resume easier to read and scan (which is crucial for busy hiring managers). And your layout choices also affect how your resume and your experience is perceived.

Overall, resume layout has more of an impact on your job prospects than you might think. 

Tools like Teal’s AI Resume Builder can help you experiment with professional resume layouts until you find the right one. Use the Resume Formatting feature to “try on” each modern resume layout, rearranging the information in your resume with just a few clicks. Then customize your resume as much as you’d like, dragging and dropping resume sections to reorder them as desired. 

Basic rules for resume layout design

When it comes to the best resume layout, a big part of how to lay out a resume is knowing what information to include and how to group or categorize it. 

Will you organize your work experience and employment history by company, position, or by skills? Should you add a section for certifications or awards? In what order should you list past roles? In many cases, these questions will be answered by the resume layout you choose (you'll read more on popular layouts for a great resume, including resume examples, in a minute). 

Once you’ve got that down, you can move on to other aspects of the document. For example, margins and spacing are something you can’t overlook—including the proper amount of white space makes your resume much easier to read. Often, a medium-sized margin (about a half inch) is best.

Improve readability by choosing one of the best resume fonts, like Times New Roman, Poppins, or Roboto.

It’s also good practice to use bullet points so busy hiring managers can quickly scan through need-to-know information like your past job titles or relevant accomplishments.

And finally, if your resume is longer than, say, two pages, the best resume format is irrelevant. Most job seekers should keep things concise and stick with a single page for the best results (but if you have more than ten years of experience, you might need to bump that to two pages).

Types of resume layouts

Curious about the layout of a good resume? Dig into these common resume layouts to get a feel for the main resume formats a hiring manager is accustomed to seeing. 

Chronological layout

Chronological resumes list your work experience in reverse chronological order. So, you’ll start with your current or most recent position at the top of the document and then work backward to show the progression of your career. (If you’re creating a Canadian-style resume layout, chronological is your best bet.)

When to use it: If you have a consistent work history in a single industry or field. 

Functional layout

With a functional resume format, you showcase your accomplishments and skills instead of your work history. Most of the real estate on a functional resume is dedicated to your skills, not your past roles.

When to use it: If you want to highlight your skills and achievements—particularly if you’re a career changer or have gaps in your work history.

Combination layout

As the name suggests, a combination resume format includes elements of both a chronological and a functional resume. With a combination format, you’ll list your work history in reverse chronological order, but will also highlight your skills as you would with functional resumes.

When to use it: If you have a strong work history and diverse skills (such as a mid-career job seeker). 

Targeted layout

A targeted resume is a resume that you write with a specific job posting in mind. You’ll highlight or emphasize any of your skills that are most relevant to that one certain job. (To some extent, you should be doing this for every job you apply for—but a targeted resume layout takes it to the next level.) 

When to use it: If you’re applying for a dream job. 

Best resume layouts for 2023

The most popular resume layout for 2023 is a chronological layout. This chronological format is popular for the best resume because it’s common (making it easily recognizable), easy to scan, and demonstrates a consistent job history. 

Another tip if you’re looking for a job in 2023: Include data-driven accomplishments. Many companies are feeling worried about the economy and business growth. It’s a smart idea to use a simple resume template to bring in numbers and metrics that prove you can help.

Finally, for best results, keep your resume simple. This isn’t the time and place for Comic Sans or multiple bright, contrasting colors. Instead, present yourself as a professional by creating a minimal resume with a basic resume layout that focuses on you and your relevant skills and work.

Step-by-step guide to crafting your resume layout

Once you’ve chosen the format that’s right for you, here’s how to design resume layouts using the Teal AI Resume Builder

Step #1: Start a new resume

Log in to your free Teal account, open the Resume Builder from the left navigation menu, and click "New Resume." 

Step #2: Import your information

If you need to fill out your resume from scratch, you can do that now. But an easier method is to import information from your LinkedIn profile or from a preexisting resume. Click "Menu" and then select "Import Resume or LinkedIn."

You’ll walk through each of the resume sections, starting with a resume heading or header and going through:

  • Contact information
  • Target titles
  • Professional summaries/ Resume summary
  • Work experience 
  • Education
  • Skills 
  • Interests

Step #3: Choose your layout or format

Click "Formatting" from the menu of icons above your resume. You can click through four modern resume layout templates to see which basic formatting rules you like best. Then further customize your resume’s layout by tweaking elements such as: 

  • Font
  • Accent color
  • Margins
  • Location
  • Date alignment
  • Date format
  • Work experience groupings
  • Work experience date range

Each of these settings can be changed with a clickable drop-down menu. You can also reorder your resume sections as desired. Regardless of which sections you choose to add, the information should be clearly divided with bolded, underlined, or different color section headings for each one. 

Here you can also change the order of your sections with a drag-and-drop editor. Remember, for a chronological resume layout; you’ll list your past roles in reverse chronological order, using bullet points to list your responsibilities. (Or, if you choose to do a functional resume layout instead, start with relevant skills beneath your professional summary.)

After completing these three steps, your professional resume layout showing your past career paths will be ready to go. 

Resume layout examples

Take a look at our custom-designed resume templates to use them for your own resume, or to better understand how to create yours.

Chronological resume layout example

If you decide to use a chronological layout, you’ll list your prior work experience in reverse chronological order (see how the most recent position is at the top?). Then include your soft skills and other information underneath. Because this is a highly recommended layout, you may want to check out these reverse-chronological resume templates when you're ready.

Functional resume example

This functional resume layout example shows how to group your prior roles according to the biggest skills you used or accomplishments you reached in each one. Use a functional format to show a hiring manager the value you can bring. Check out these 9 functional resume templates if this layout is a good match for you.

Combination resume example

A combination resume takes the best parts of a chronological resume and a functional resume and brings them together. Just like this example, you’ll list your work history in reverse chronological resume format, then pull out and highlight your key skills. 

Targeted resume example

Last on the list of resume layout examples: Grab a potential employer’s attention with a targeted resume like this one. Each skill or other element you mention on a targeted resume layout should be closely aligned with the job description (of course, just make sure they’re skills that you genuinely have). 

Resume layout ideas and personalization tips

Want to get creative with your resume arrangement after seeing these best resume layout examples? Here are a couple of additional tips and ideas to try for the best resume layout:

  • Add some personality. Infuse your personal brand into your resume layout. For example, pick an accent color that matches your website or your alma mater or simply expresses your personality through a creative resume layout. 
  • Include a footer. Not all resumes (especially one-page resumes) need a footer. But when it comes to resume layout, a footer can pair nicely with your resume header to visually bracket the rest of the information. If you add one in the course of your resume writing, consider including your name and some sort of visual divider, such as a line.

Teal’s Resume Formatting feature is a great way to implement these basic resume layout ideas. You’ll find this feature within the AI Resume Builder.

Click through the layout templates and use the template settings to edit each one, changing graphic design elements like resume fonts, colors, or margin size using a simple drop-down menu. The Resume Builder makes it easy to play around with common resume formats and options to get a visual and decide which one you like best.

Use Teal’s AI Resume Builder for effective resume layout creation

Whew! You’ve covered a lot of creative resume layout ideas—and now, it’s time to take them and run with them, creating the best resume layout for your experience and skills to make hiring managers sit up and take notice of your job application.

But the support doesn’t stop here.

Sign up for Teal’s free AI Resume Builder to start building a new resume with the right resume layout (or to edit the one you currently have). Teal’s Resume Formatting feature can help you find the best format for a perfect resume with just a few clicks. And when you land that dream job, the love you poured into a professional resume layout will all be worth it. Get started today.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I decide which resume layout is best for a career change?

When making a career change, opt for a functional or combination resume layout. These formats emphasize skills and experiences relevant to the new field rather than chronological work history. Highlight transferable skills and include a qualifications summary to make a strong impression.

Can I use a creative resume layout if I'm not in a design-related field?

While creative resume templates are typically suited for design-related fields, they can be used in other industries to stand out. However, ensure it remains professional and that the design enhances, rather than obscures, your qualifications. Tailor it to the company culture and the industry's standards.

What's the best way to present gaps in employment on my resume layout?

To address employment gaps, a functional resume layout is often recommended. This format allows you to focus on your skills and accomplishments without drawing immediate attention to the chronological gaps. Be prepared to explain the gaps in your cover letter or interview in a positive light, focusing on growth and learning.

Hailey Hudson

Hailey Hudson is a full-time freelance writer and content marketer based out of Atlanta, Georgia. She writes in the healthcare, digital marketing, education, and pet industries.

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