The Best Resume Formats to Use in 2024 [+ Examples]

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April 12, 2024
Edited by
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min read

3 key takeaways

  • What a resume format is (plus three types you should know about)
  • How to choose the best resume format for your experience (with examples and templates)
  • How to format your resume with the free Teal AI Resume Builder

You have the experience, you have the skills, but how do you make a good first impression on paper?

It's all about your resume format.

The right presentation can snag a hiring manager's attention. But the wrong one might send your application into a digital black hole.

Learning how to structure a professional resume that emphasizes your strengths and impact is key. And knowing how to format that resume can transform just a "piece of paper" into your next opportunity.

Want to choose the best resume format for your experience without more research and manual work? Sign up for Teal for free.

What is a resume format?

Resume format refers to the layout and structure of a resume, which is designed to provide a snapshot of your professional background and qualifications. 

There are many options, each with unique pros and cons. But choosing the best resume format ultimately depends on your experience and the job requirements of the position you’re applying for.

A resume format comparison chart
Choose a resume format that aligns with your experience and today's hiring practices.

Why is it important to format your resume?

Formatting your resume makes a difference in how potential employers see you as a candidate.

Here's why getting it right is so important:

Grabs attention

Catching a potential employer's attention is key when it comes to your resume.

A polished, well-organized resume looks appealing and signals that you take your work seriously.

To grab attention, use a clean layout, choose a professional font, and make sure there's plenty of white space to make it easy on the eyes. Also, incorporate bold headings and bullet points to break up text and make it easier for people to skim through your document.

Not sure what this looks like? Check out the best resume templates designed and optimized by career experts based on what has proven to drive hiring decisions.

Organizes work experience

Resume organization is vital for showcasing your skills and experience. This means every section is clearly labeled and easy to find.

Then, within these sections, list information logically, such as chronological order of work experience By doing so, potential employers can quickly identify your most recent roles and accomplishments.

Properly arranging your information helps hiring managers find what they're looking for and makes your resume more user-friendly and professional.

Highlights achievements

Your resume is the perfect place to showcase your accomplishments, and the right formatting can make them stand out. Use bullet points to list achievements concisely and clearly.

Start each bullet point with a strong resume action verb and quantify your successes with numbers, percentages, or other metrics whenever possible. This gives potential employers a better understanding of your impact in previous roles.

For example:

Boosted employee productivity by 200% and achieved 50% fewer misplaced documents by creating/implementing a new filing system

Presents a professional image

A well-formatted resume creates a professional image. It's a direct reflection of your personal brand and immediately sends a positive signal to hiring managers. 

Here are a few tips for building a professional resume:

  • Pay close attention to details like consistency in font style and size, alignment, and spacing
  • Double-check for grammatical errors and typos, which can make your resume look sloppy and unprofessional
  • Use a resume file format that's widely accepted and easily parsed by applicant tracking systems (ATS), like a PDF

The best resume formats to use 

Now that you understand what they are and why you need them, it's time to get familiar with the three main resume formats.

These formats include:

  • Chronological resume format
  • Functional resume format
  • Hybrid or combination resume format

1. Chronological resume 

The chronological resume format (or reverse chronological resume format) is the most popular. This layout emphasizes your most recent work experience first.

Using this format is super straightforward—list your experience, starting with your most recent position, and work backward.

How to format a chronological resume

 In a chronological resume, each job entry includes the job title, company name, dates of employment, and key achievements with impact relevant to the position you're applying for. This gives potential employers a clear picture of your work experience and your contributions in previous roles.

A chronological resume format includes the following sections in this order:

  • Contact Information
  • Target Title
  • Professional Summary 
  • Work Experience
  • Education
  • Certifications
  • Skills
  • Optional
    – Projects
    – Awards and Scholarships
    – Volunteering and Leadership
    – Publications

How is a chronological resume organized?

The chronological resume is organized by time, with the most recent experiences listed first.

The core of this organizational style is the Work Experience section, where each job is presented in reverse chronological order to showcase a clear timeline of your career progression.

This meticulous structure helps employers quickly understand your background, accomplishments, growth trajectory, and the skills you bring to the table.

When to use a chronological resume format

A reverse-chronological resume format is ideal when you have a solid, continuous work history in a specific field. It's the most common resume format, so hiring professionals are most familiar with it.

It's great for showcasing your career growth and highlighting your relevant experiences.

Choose this format to emphasize your consistent work history and progression in a particular industry.

However, this format might not be the best choice for everyone. If you have large employment gaps or are switching careers, a different resume format might be better for highlighting your relevant skills and experiences.

Example of a chronological resume format 

An example of a chronological resume format
Use a chronological resume format to show your most recent experience first.    

2. Functional resume 

The functional resume format, also known as the skills-based resume, focuses on your skills, experience, and achievements rather than your work history. 

It's designed to showcase your most relevant skills that align with a specific job instead of listing job titles and work experience. And while your work history is briefly mentioned with minimal details, the primary focus of a functional resume template is your skill set group.

A functional format can be helpful for those just starting out, anyone with gaps in their employment history, career changers, or individuals with limited work experience. Just be aware that some employers might be skeptical of functional resumes because they don't offer a clear timeline of your work history. 

How to format a functional resume

 In a functional resume, the more expansive Work History section is replaced with a Skills section focusing on three or four skills with achievements and impact (in the form of resume bullet points). These skills should always be relevant to the position you're applying for—giving potential employers a clear picture of how you used them in previous roles.

A functional or skills-based resume format generally includes the following sections:

  • Contact Information
  • Target Title
  • Professional Summary
  • Skills (with achievements and impact)
  • Employment History (if applicable)
  • Education
  • Certifications
  • Optional
    – Projects
    – Awards and Scholarships
    – Volunteering and Leadership
    – Publications

How is a functional resume organized?

The functional resume format focuses on organizing skills and prioritizing your top aptitudes that align with a specific job.

The core of this organizational style is the Skills section. Each skill is presented clearly, followed by resume bullet points that outline the ways you used that specific ability to have an impact.

This structure helps employers quickly understand how your competencies align directly with the needs of the position they're trying to fill.

When to use a functional resume format

A functional resume format is a fine option for job seekers just starting out, those with gaps in their employment history, or anyone making a career change.

As this professional resume format emphasizes your skills and abilities rather than your work history, it's a good way to showcase transferable skills and demonstrate your value to a new employer.

When choosing between a functional vs. chronological resume, remember while a functional resume can be a great way to emphasize skills and accomplishments, it's important to consider the potential pros and cons of not showing your comprehensive work history before committing to this format.

Example of a functional resume format 

An example of a functional resume format
Use a functional resume format to highlight your relevant skills.

3. Combination resume 

The combination resume format (also called a hybrid resume format) combines chronological and functional formats.

It's designed to showcase your work history and specific abilities, making it a great professional resume template for those who want to focus on hard skills and work history.

The combination or hybrid resume is particularly helpful if you want to highlight your specific expertise while also mapping out your career progression. It's especially great for those in industries focusing heavily on tools, software, technical expertise, or specific methodologies.

Pro Tip: If you're trying to decide between a combination resume and another format, Teal's AI Resume Builder lets you quickly build a hybrid-style resume using the Drag-and-Drop Editor. This way, you can decide what works best for you without having to manually format your content (and then manually reformatting it if you don't love what you see).

Customizing a resume format with Teal
Change the order (and name) of your resume sections in one click.

How to format a combination resume

In a combination resume, your work history is presented in reverse chronological order, just like the chronological format.

However, because it's a hybrid between the two other formats, rather than putting skills at the bottom, a combination resume also focuses on skills by listing them directly beneath the professional summary and above your work experience.

A combination or hybrid resume format generally includes the following sections:

  • Contact information
  • Professional Summary
  • Skills
  • Work Experience
  • Education
  • Certifications
  • Skills
  • Optional
    – Projects
    – Awards and Scholarships
    – Volunteering and Leadership
    – Publications

How is a combination resume organized?  

The combination resume is organized by skills and work experience, focusing on your top skills and relevant work history that align with a specific job description.

The core of this organizational style is the layout. A list of skills (preferably hard skills) is presented clearly, followed by work experience with resume bullet points outlining your achievements and impact in specific roles.

This structure helps employers quickly view your skills without taking emphasis away from your background, accomplishments, and growth trajectory.       

When to use a combination resume format

A combination resume format is the perfect blend of chronological and functional resumes.

It's ideal for those with a mix of experiences or a combination of work history and specific skills. This format is a great option if you want to emphasize both history and skills, presenting a well-rounded picture of your professional background.

Example of a combination resume format

An example of a combination resume format
 Use a combination resume format to highlight your relevant skills while focusing on work experience.

Choose a resume format with Teal

With Teal's flexible resume design, you can change your resume format in just a few clicks. Use the Drag-and-Drop Editor to move any section, change the name of those sections to fit your experience, and more!

Examples of the best resume formats 

Now that you understand the different types of formats, let's take a look at a few resume format examples for:

  • Candidates with no experience
  • Candidates making a career pivot 
  • Creative roles 
  • Technical roles 
  • Senior-level roles 

Teal Note: While this post only covers five examples of resume formats, you can also find an extensive selection of over 1500 resume examples developed by experts to help you win in 2024. Each example gives you a professional resume broken down by professional title and experience. 

Teal's resume format examples
Find a sample resume format for your specific role.

Best resume format if you don’t have work experience

Writing a resume with no relevant work experience offers the chance to highlight the skills and strengths you've developed in other areas of your life. The resume format you choose should provide an opportunity to showcase your potential, adaptability, and diverse experiences that have shaped your unique skill set.

Benefits of a functional resume format for no work experience

If you're a job seeker with little or no experience, a functional or skills-based resume might be one of the better resume format options.

A functional resume will help you emphasize transferable skills over work history, which is more ideal for those with limited job experience. You can showcase relevant skills and experiences from other aspects of your life, like volunteer work and academic accomplishments.

If you'd rather stick to a more traditional resume format, you can also swap your Work Experience section for a more comprehensive Education section that includes relevant courses or projects.

Example of a resume with no work experience

An example resume format for no work experience
Use a functional format to focus on skills and less on work history.

What to love about this resume

First, you’ll note that the resume summary or short professional bio still focuses on what this candidate has done rather than talking about their professional goals or objectives.

The use of data, numbers, and metrics in the Skills section indicates this applicant has the proper training, knowledge, and hands-on experience to be considered for an interview.

But it's worth noting that as Ayesha Patel gains more work experience, this resume would ideally change to a chronological or hybrid format.

Best resume formats for pivoting careers

When pivoting careers, a functional resume can be useful as it allows you to highlight relevant skills. However, a hybrid resume is often more effective, blending your skills and experiences with a concise work history.

This combination resume format showcases not only your qualifications and abilities in new areas but also provides context with your career progression, making it a strong choice for career transitions.

Benefits of a combination format when pivoting careers 

A combination format enables you to showcase transferable skills and relevant work experience.

This format is great for career pivots, as it demonstrates your previous experience while emphasizing transferable skills applicable to your new career path.

Example resume format for a career pivot

An example resume format for a career pivot
Use a combination resume format to focus on work history and transferable skills.

What to love about this resume

This candidate focuses on the transferable skills they have that align with a specific job while being clear about relevant certifications and work history.

This simple resume format is clear and easy to scan, and it highlights the right skills and experience for a prospective new position.

Best resume formats for creative roles

Creative roles are inherently dynamic and multifaceted. A creative resume template that focuses on both what you've done and how you've done it provides a more comprehensive look at your qualifications.

Benefits of a chronological resume format for a creative role

A chronological format is probably your best bet if you're a job seeker in a creative position.

Creative roles often prioritize a traditional work history and a portfolio of your work. A chronological resume lets you highlight your experiences tailored to the job you're after, while a separate portfolio showcases your skills.

Example resume for creative roles

An example resume format for creative roles
Use a chronological resume format to focus on creative work history.

What to love about this resume

This resume reveals an accomplished person in a creative field by highlighting a consistent and progressive work history.

In other words, it balances creativity with professionalism, showing hiring managers that while this person is a creative spirit, they're a serious candidate who has made an impact in other positions.

Pro Tip: When you're applying for a position in a creative field, remember to include your portfolio URL at the top of your resume in your contact information. Your portfolio is where your creativity will shine brightest.

Best resume formats for technical roles 

For technical roles, the best resume formats emphasize proficiency in tools, software, and technical methodologies.

A reverse-chronological format that highlights your most recent technical experiences and projects can be effective. But, combining this with elements of a functional resume to create a hybrid format, where specific technical skills, tools, and software are also prominently displayed, ensures that your expertise aligns with more specific tech requirements.

Benefits of using a hybrid format for a technical role  

Using a hybrid resume format for technical roles merges the structured detail of your work history with a focused showcase of your tech skills.

This approach not only highlights various tools and technologies but also contextualizes them within your professional journey. It provides a balanced view, demonstrating how your technical capabilities have been applied and developed through your career, catering specifically to the nuanced needs of technical positions.

Example hybrid format for a technical role

An example resume format for technical roles
Use a hybrid resume format to focus on your tech stack and work experience.

What to love about this resume

This resume reveals an accomplished person in a technical field. It highlights the right tools and tech for someone in this position alongside a consistent and progressive work history.

In other words, it balances tools and professionalism, showing hiring managers that this person has the right experience and skills for the job.

Best resume formats for senior-level positions

For senior-level positions, your resume format should chronicle your career progression and highlight the strategic impact of your contributions. Think of it as a document that tells the story of your leadership, decision-making, and the significant results you've driven.

Benefits of using a chronological format for a senior-level position

For senior-level and executive positions, a chronological resume is best because it clearly outlines leadership experience, measurable achievements, and relevant skills and qualifications—demonstrating your ability to lead and make strategic decisions. This format prioritizes work history and career progression, important for roles requiring a solid record of success and leadership.

However, keep in mind it's important to prioritize professional achievements from roles within the last ten to fifteen years to:

  • Emphasize your most recent accomplishments
  • Focus on experience that's relevant to the position
  • Keep your resume as concise as possible

Example resume format for a senior-level position

An example resume for a senior-level position
Use a chronological resume format for a senior-level position.

What to love about this resume

In concise, bullet-point form, this reverse chronological resume shows the measurable impact this candidate had at previous companies.

Without being too long or over the top, all of the information is scannable and easy to digest, perfect for any hiring manager to review easily.

9 resume format best practices

Ready to format your resume? Here are some best practices for getting it right.

1. Keep it simple and easy to read

Keeping your resume simple and easy to read is important to ensure that hiring managers can quickly understand your qualifications.

To do this:

  • Write with a clean and easy-to-read resume font, such as Arial or Times New Roman
  • make sure the font size is large enough to be easily read, typically between 10 and 12 points
  • Keep the formatting consistent throughout the document
  • Use consistent font, font size, and formatting for headings, bullet points, and other text

2. Use bullet points

Bullet points are an excellent way to make your resume more readable and user-friendly.

They allow the reader to scan your resume and identify key information. Use them to list your:

  • Skills
  • Professional achievements with impact
  • Multiple certifications or degrees

When using bullet points for professional achievements, begin each with a strong action verb and use specific examples.

3. Be consistent 

Consistency helps to create a cohesive document and makes it easier for hiring managers to read and understand your qualifications.

Ensure consistent formatting for headings, font sizes, and bullet points. Use the same font, font size, and formatting throughout the document.

4. Include white space

Proper use of white space is crucial to create a visually appealing and easy-to-read resume. White space refers to the areas of the page that are left blank or unoccupied by text or images.

Use resume margins, line spacing, and breaks to create space between different sections. This will help to highlight essential information and make it stand out.

5. Customize your content 

Tailoring your resume to the specific job you're applying for can increase your chances of getting noticed by potential employers.

Rather than sending out a generic resume, take the time to customize it to the specific job and company. To do this:

  1. Carefully review the job description
  2. Note the required skills, qualifications, and experiences.
  3. Customize your resume by emphasizing these skills and your experiences that align with the job requirements

6. Keep it concise

Keeping your resume concise is an important part of standard resume formatting.

While providing enough information to showcase your qualifications and experiences is important, a resume that's too long can be overwhelming and challenging to read.

To keep your resume concise, focus on providing only relevant experience and skills.

7. Proofread carefully

Proofreading your resume is crucial to keeping it error-free and presenting yourself in the best possible light.

Typos, grammatical errors, and formatting issues can make you appear unprofessional and decrease your chances of getting hired.

To proofread your resume carefully, read it slowly and pay attention to each sentence. Check for spelling and grammar errors, and make sure that the formatting is consistent throughout the document.

8. Use an ATS-friendly resume format

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are digital filing systems used by recruiters to organize resumes and during the hiring process.

To make sure your resume scans correctly into these organizational tools, use a resume file format that's widely accepted and easily parsed by the ATS, like a PDF.

9. Take advantage of Teal's free resume templates

One of the best ways to save yourself time and quickly get up and running with your resume is to find a quality template that is designed for best practices.

Teal has over 100 free resume templates spanning multiple styles and formats that you can use.

Teal's resume templates
Use a resume template to get a proper resume format every time.

How to make and format your resume with Teal (in two steps)

Step 1. Create your resume

Start by logging into Teal

If you don't already have an account, you can get started for free. This lets you test the software and see if it’s the right fit for you.

Click the Resume Builder icon from the left navigation menu. Then click "New Resume" in the top right corner. 

Now, create your resume. Fill in the resume sections by following the built-in guidance. (You can also upload an existing resume or your LinkedIn profile to save time.)

Pro Tip: If you're feeling stuck, try Teal's AI to create your professional summary and resume bullet points. AI will give you a great starting point and help you beat the blank page.

Step 2. Format your resume 

Teal gives you complete control over your resume formatting so you can submit every application with confidence.

Some of Teal's resume format options
Customize your resume format as often as you need, for free.

To see flexible resume formatting options, click the Design tab at the top of your screen.

Teal's flexible resume design features allow you to blend your unique style and career journey so you can apply with confidence. Let’s look at how each feature can improve or change your resume’s format.

Resume presentation

This is where you can make changes to the following elements:

  • Presentation: Choose from 10+ ATS-friendly modern, traditional, or creative templates
  • Style: Select new fonts, accent colors, & line height

Resume sections

This is where you can change the organization of your resume:

  • Sections: Reorder all of your resume sections
  • Section titles: Rename any of your resume sections to match your experience and preferred format

Resume settings

Here you can customize the layout of specific information:

  • Format: Dates, location, and experience
  • Highlight: Opt to focus on specific companies, positions, degrees, and more

Advanced resume design

If you opt for a Teal+ membership to take advantage of more advanced tools, Teal+ is $9/week and with it you get:

  • Advanced Styles: Change your bullet points and dividers
  • Text Sizing: Choose different text weights, sizes, and customize headings, titles, and more
  • Text Transformation: Opt for all CAPS or as written depending on your preferences
  • Vertical Spacing: Change up your white space between sections
  • Border Formatting: Add, remove, and format borders between sections

Choose the best resume format with Teal

Your resume formatting impacts your first impression on potential employers. The best resume format is visually appealing at first glance while effectively highlighting your key strengths and experiences.

Teal's AI Resume Builder offers a comprehensive solution for all your resume formatting. With a wide range of templates and design options, Teal eliminates the tedious manual work of formatting and researching best practices. 

Whether you want to change your resume's structure or refresh its style, Teal's user-friendly platform empowers you to adjust your format with just a few clicks—giving you full control over the presentation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best format for a resume?

The best resume format depends on your career history and the job you're applying for. Chronological, functional, and hybrid formats each cater to different needs, with chronological being the most common and well-received.

What kind of resume do employers prefer?

Employers typically prefer a resume format that is clear, well-organized, and highlights your relevant experiences and skills. Chronological resumes are often favored because they provide a straightforward timeline of your work history, but the best choice can vary based on your industry and career stage.

What is a common mistake made on resumes?

A common mistake on resumes is the lack of proper formatting and attention to detail, which can lead to a cluttered appearance and make it difficult for employers to quickly find the most relevant information.

Using Teal’s free AI Resume Builder can help you avoid these issues with ATS-friendly templates and design tools that ensure a professional, clean presentation.

Kayte Grady

Kayte, Senior Copywriter at Teal and Champion of ADHD professionals, is a seasoned writer passionate about storytelling and career growth. With a data-driven approach to content marketing and a word-nerd knack for resume builder analysis, Kayte’s on a mission to empower job seekers to land a job they love. Constantly pivoting and reinventing herself, this social-worker-turned-marketer found growth and camaraderie in tech—a genuine surprise given her never-ending devotion to the paper calendar.

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