As nervous applicants, most of us care about how we present ourselves in person.
For example: would you go to a job interview and meet your potential boss in sweatpants and a ketchup-stained shirt?
We really, really hope not.
But what about the first impression you make on paper?
The right resume format can be the difference between snagging your hiring manager’s attention and having your job application lost in the rejection pile.
Fortunately, we’re here to help. We’ll be taking a deep dive and covering the following topics:
As this is one of the more in-depth resources available, you can bookmark it for future reference.
If you’re in a hurry and need actionable steps to get started right away, click here to go straight to our resume formatting tutorial with Teal’s resume builder.
Otherwise, let’s start with the basics.
A resume is a document that shows a person's education, work history, skills, and other relevant details. Job seekers use resumes to apply for jobs, as employers often request them during the application process.
A well-crafted resume should emphasize your strengths and accomplishments, spotlight your skills and qualifications, and offer a concise overview of your professional background.
Unsurprisingly, job seekers succeed most when personalizing their resumes to a specific position.
Starting your resume from scratch? Check out this helpful resource: How to Write a Targeted Resume.
The term “resume format” refers to the layout and structure of a resume, which is designed to provide a snapshot of your professional background and qualifications.
The goal is to grab a potential employer’s attention so they stop and read your resume – with the ultimate goal of having them invite you for an interview.
There are many resume formats, each with unique pros and cons. But choosing the best resume format ultimately depends on your experience and the job requirements for the position you’re applying for.
No matter which format you go with, crafting a resume that's clear, concise, and tailored to the specific job application is essential.
That is the key to making a great impression and getting your foot in the door!
Formatting your resume makes a difference in how potential employers see you as a candidate.
Here's why getting your resume formatting right is so important:
Catching a potential employer's attention is key when it comes to your resume.
A polished, well-organized resume looks visually appealing and signals that you take your work seriously.
To grab attention, use a clean resume layout, choose a professional font, and ensure there's plenty of white space to make it easy on the eyes.
Also, use bold headings and bullet points to break up text and make it easier for people to skim through your document.
Remember, you only have a few seconds to make a lasting first impression, so ensure your resume is inviting to read.
Organizing the information on your resume is vital for showcasing your skills and experience.
Ensure each section is clearly labeled and easy to find.
Within these sections, list information logically, such as chronological order for work experience (we’ll get into the chronological resume format in a moment).
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.
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 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.
Tailor your achievements to the specific job you're applying for, focusing on those that are most relevant to the position.
A well-formatted resume creates a professional image, immediately sending a positive signal to hiring managers.
Here are a few tips for building a professional resume:
Remember, your resume is an extension of your personal brand, so take the time to make it shine.
A polished, professional resume speaks volumes about your attention to detail and can increase your chances of getting an interview.
In a moment, we’re going to teach you how to format your resume depending on your unique set of skills and experiences.
Before we do, though, let’s clarify four of the most popular types of resume formats.
There are four main types of resume formats that you should be familiar with to follow along with the rest of the article.
These formats include:
Let’s take a closer look at each in more detail.
The chronological resume format is popular among job seekers, as it presents their work experience in reverse chronological order.
This format is super straightforward—list your work history, starting with your most recent position and going back in time.
You may have also heard of this as a “reverse chronological format.”
Doing so showcases your career’s progression and can highlight loyalty if you stay with the same company for long periods.
In other words, the chronological resume format is especially great for those with a strong, continuous work history in the same field.
It should clearly show how your career has evolved over time, which can be important in industries like law, medicine, or academics.
In a chronological resume, each job entry includes the job title, company name, dates of employment, and your key responsibilities/achievements.
This gives potential employers a clear picture of your work experience and your contributions in previous roles.
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.
A chronological resume format is ideal when you have a solid, continuous work history in a specific field.
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.
The functional resume format focuses on your skills, experience, and achievements rather than your work history.
It's designed to showcase your most relevant qualifications for your desired job instead of just listing job titles and history.
Your work history is briefly mentioned in a functional resume, with minimal details, while skill sets group your experience and accomplishments.
This makes it easy for hiring managers to spot your qualifications and learn if they match the job requirements.
Functional formats are especially helpful for those with gaps in their employment history, career changers, or individuals with limited work experience.
It allows you to highlight your skills and accomplishments, even if they weren't gained through traditional employment. This can be a huge plus for recent graduates or people who have completed relevant training or certifications.
But be aware that some employers might be skeptical of functional resumes, as they need to provide a clear timeline of your work history.
A functional resume can be an excellent way to emphasize your skills and accomplishments, but it's important to consider the potential pros and cons before committing to this format.
Should you use a functional or chronological resume? Read this article to learn more: Functional vs. Chronological Resume.
A functional resume format is great for people with gaps in their employment history or those making a career change.
This format emphasizes your skills and abilities rather than your work history, allowing you to showcase your transferable skills and demonstrate your potential value to a new employer.
The skills-based resume format is a style that emphasizes your skills and qualifications related to the job you're applying for. This format is designed to showcase your specific skill set and highlight how you're a great fit for a particular position.
Just like the name suggests, the focus here is on your skills rather than your work history or job titles.
This format is especially helpful for those with specialized skills and qualifications directly related to the job they're applying for – think technical fields like engineering or computer science.
The skills-based format is also particularly effective at emphasizing transferable skills that can be applied across different job functions or industries.
However, this format is not the best choice for individuals with limited work experience or those who haven't acquired specialized skills for the job they're applying for.
In such cases, a different resume format – like a hybrid resume format – may better highlight their relevant experiences and achievements.
This format is handy for expert freelancers or contractors in industries where specific skills are more important than a traditional career path.
It’s also the preferred format if you have large gaps in your working history, don’t yet have a working history, or you’re making a career pivot.
The hybrid format is a mix of both chronological and functional formats.
It's designed to showcase your work history and specific abilities, making it perfect for candidates with a strong work background and relevant qualifications.
In a hybrid resume, your work history is presented in reverse chronological order, just like the chronological format.
However, instead of listing job titles and responsibilities, the focus is on your specific accomplishments and achievements.
Your skills and abilities are then grouped together, similar to the functional or skills-based format, allowing readers to quickly spot your qualifications and see how they match the job requirements.
The hybrid resume format is particularly helpful for people with a strong work history, relevant skills, and qualifications. It lets you highlight your specific accomplishments/achievements while also mapping out your career progression.
This can be especially great for mid/senior-career professionals with a variety of experiences and skills that relate to the job description they're applying for.
With that in mind, creating a hybrid resume can be more time-consuming than other formats. It requires careful thought and organization of your work history and skills sections.
Fortunately, there are platforms designed to make this process a lot easier.
Our AI Resume Builder lets you quickly build a hybrid-style resume by putting your most relevant skills at the top, followed by a chronological format for your work history:
Plus, the fonts, margins, and format are customizable so that you can tailor the look of your combination resume in seconds.
In a rush? Head to the section where we teach you how to format a resume with Teal.
A hybrid 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.
Choose this format if you want to emphasize both (history and skills), presenting a well-rounded picture of your professional background.
We’re going to take a look at a few resume examples:
Remember, a hybrid or combination resume is often the most impactful.
If you have both accomplishments and years of consistency under your belt, use it.
While this post only covers five resume examples, our team has developed a extensive selection of over 700 resume examples to help you win in 2023.
Each example from that guide gives you a professional resume broken down by professional title and experience.
A hybrid format is probably your best bet if you're a job seeker aiming for a creative role.
Creative positions often prioritize skills and abilities over a traditional work history, and hybrid or combination resumes let you showcase your relevant talents and experiences tailored to the job you're after.
If you don’t have work history or are transitioning, a skills-based or functional resume may be best.
This resume shows that you’re an accomplished worker in a creative field while still portraying a professional demeanor.
In other words, you’re showing hiring managers that while you’re a creative spirit, you’re a serious candidate with an eye for detail. This will likely please more left-brained-leaning managers, too. 😊
Remember to include your portfolio at the top because that’s where your visual creativity should shine brightest.
We made the resume from the iage above with Teal from scratch in under 5 minutes.
Sign up for free and give it a try!
If you're a job seeker with little or no experience, a functional resume format is your best option.
This format emphasizes skills and achievements over work history, which is ideal for those with limited job experience. You can showcase relevant skills and experiences from other aspects of your life, like volunteer work or academic accomplishments.
You demonstrate your potential to excel professionally, even without much work experience, by focusing on your skills and achievements.
Remember to tailor your resume for the specific job you're applying for and stand out to potential employers.
We took the same resume from the previous example and assumed Jane Smith, our graphic designer, had no working experience.
Instead, we formatted this resume to highlight her skills and qualifications.
First, you’ll note that the professional summary is slightly longer. That’s because there’s an invitation to visit this candidate’s portfolio to see more creative examples of her work.
Everything else makes it clear that this applicant has the proper training, knowledge, and hands-on experience to be considered for an interview. This resume would be particularly useful to those entering the workforce or making a career change.
But as Jane Smith starts getting more work history, this resume would ideally change to a hybrid format.
A chronological or hybrid resume format is probably the best choice for job seekers aiming for senior-level positions.
These formats emphasize work history and career progression, which is crucial for senior roles that require a proven track record of success and leadership. Highlight leadership experience, quantifiable achievements, and relevant skills and qualifications demonstrating your ability to lead and make strategic decisions.
However, prioritize professional achievements from roles within the last ten years. You should do this to emphasize your most recent accomplishments but also to keep your resume as concise as possible.
Tailor your resume to the specific job and industry, using industry-specific language and emphasizing relevant accomplishments and experience.
Your resume should provide a clear and compelling picture of your experience and qualifications for the senior-level position.
There’s a lot of information here, so it was good to still fit everything on one page.
The contact information at the top is all professional (nothing that goes to private social media accounts or websites).
The professional summary is shorter because this candidate has the skills and work history to speak for themselves. This frees up more space for the extensive work history without cluttering the resume.
The skills mentioned are all related to senior-level positions, in this example, in the field of marketing.
But what makes this shine are the descriptions in the work history.
In concise, bullet-point form, they show this candidate's measurable impact on previous companies. The information is scannable and easy to digest, perfect for an overworked hiring manager.
The functional or combination resume formats are your best options when making a career pivot. A functional format lets you emphasize transferable skills and experiences rather than focusing on your work history in a specific field.
On the other hand, a hybrid format enables you to showcase transferable skills and relevant work experience.
This format is also suitable for career pivots, as it demonstrates your previous experience while emphasizing transferable skills applicable to your new career path.
In this example, we imagined Jane Smith wanted to move from marketing to coding.
Her professional history is only four lines long and is followed directly by a short list of her technical skills.
Then her certifications are displayed prominently at the top to show additional training taken to prepare for the career change.
This frees up plenty of space for the long work history that follows.
And while this last note isn’t about formatting, note how all the descriptions of accomplishments explicitly highlight transferable skills.
For job seekers looking for a technical role, a skills-based resume format is one option if you don’t have much experience n your field.
Technical roles often require specific technical skills and qualifications, which can be showcased effectively using a skills-based format. This allows you to present your technical skills and qualifications up front rather than burying them in a chronological list of previous work experiences.
That said, the hybrid method would be preferred if you have a consistent/robust working history.
Just remember to keep the skills up at the top and present professional achievements in a measurable way.
This would be a hybrid resume for a technical role. It initially came in at two pages, but a quick change to the font (from Robotto to New Times Roman) condensed everything down to one.
We also could have made the margins smaller, but this template leaves white space around the edges.
Keeping your resume simple and easy to read is important to ensure that hiring managers can quickly understand your qualifications.
Write with a clean and easy-to-read font, such as Arial or Times New Roman, and make sure the font size is large enough to be easily read – typically between 10 and 12 points.
Remember: keep the formatting consistent throughout the document.
Use the same font, font size, and formatting for headings, bullet points, and other text throughout the resume. This will make your resume look polished and professional and make it easier for hiring managers to focus on your qualifications and experience.
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. So, use bullet points to list your:
When using bullet points for professional achievements, begin each with a strong action verb and use specific examples.
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.
For instance, if you use bold font for section headings, use it consistently throughout the resume. Similarly, if you use bullet points for listing everything relevant to the job description, use the same bullet point style and indentation for each point.
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 margins, line spacing, and blank lines to create space between different sections of your resume.
This will help to highlight essential information and make it stand out.
Avoid cluttering your resume with too much text or information, making it difficult to read and overwhelming for hiring managers.
Before turning your resume in, inspect it visually to ensure the information is inviting.
Tailoring your resume to the specific job you are 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, carefully review the job description and note the required skills, qualifications, and experiences.
Use this information to customize your resume by emphasizing relevant skills and experiences that align with the job requirements.
Adjust your summary statement, work experience descriptions, and skills section to showcase your most relevant qualifications.
Keeping your resume concise is an important aspect of standard resume formatting rules.
While providing enough information to showcase your qualifications and experiences is important, a resume that is too long can be overwhelming and challenging to read. Ideally, your resume should be no longer than one page, two pages max.
To keep your resume concise, focus on providing only the most important and relevant information.
Use bullet points to highlight key skills, and avoid long paragraphs of text.
Be selective with the information you include, and only have experiences and qualifications relevant to the job you are applying for.
Proofreading your resume is crucial to ensure it is error-free and presents you 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. You can also use a spelling and grammar checker tool to help catch errors that you may have missed.
Finally, have someone else review your resume for errors and provide feedback on the content and formatting. Another set of eyes can often catch errors that you may have overlooked.
By proofreading your resume carefully, you can ensure that it is polished and professional and presents you to potential employers in the best possible light.
Alright, now you have all theory resume formatting theory you need under your belt.
Let’s jump straight into our tutorial and learn how to make and format your resume in two easy steps with Teal.
You can get started for free if you don’t have an account already. This lets you test the software and see if it’s the right fit for you.
Click Resume Builder from the left-hand menu and Start a New Resume.
Give your resume a name that’s clear and professional.
The name of your resume should include your name, the target title, and the company you’re applying for (ex. Smith - Graphic Designer - Graphic Design Inc).
This will make finding the right resume from your dashboard easier when applying to multiple positions.
Now you’ll need to fill in the following sections:
There are two ways you can approach this.
While you should always personalize each resume to the position you’re applying for, having a strong baseline is highly recommended.
To save some time, you can import your contact information and work history from a current resume or your LinkedIn profile.
Simply head to your resume’s editor and click Menu at the top. Then click Import Resume or LinkedIn:
This will allow you to add your LinkedIn profile URL or upload a resume from your computer.
Once each section has been filled out, you can manually make any necessary changes.
To do so, follow along with the next section.
The great thing about Teal is that you can manually modify any section of your resume with just a few clicks.
So even if you don’t have a resume or LinkedIn profile to upload, building your first resume is just as easy.
Click the section you want to add to or edit:
And Teal’s editor will guide you through the entire process with helpful tips and suggestions on the right-hand side:
Fill in each field as required to finish your resume in minutes.
Need a little extra help with the writing?
Teal comes with generative AI to help you write resume sections that are higher quality and faster to make.
When you come to a section that requires more writing, you can click Generative AI for a bit of assistance:
Then polish the output to ensure accuracy, and you’ve now successfully implemented AI to build a stronger resume.
All that’s left is formatting the information to your liking.
Teal gives you many options when it comes to formatting your resume.
At the top of your editing dashboard, click the Formatting icon (it looks like a paint roller):
There are three sections you can change:
Let’s look at how each element can change your resume’s format.
Teal gives you four options for templates:
This allows you to change the layout of your resume quickly but, as with all formatting settings, won’t affect the information itself.
When you’ve chosen your resume’s layout, you can head over to the resume template settings.
This is where you can make changes to the following elements:
Each of these settings can be changed with a clickable drop-down menu:
This gives you control over your resume layout, so you can have it look exactly the way you want!
Finally, you can change the order of each section in your resume with a drag and a drop.
Simply arrange each section of your resume in the position you’d like it to appear:
That way, if you want a chronological resume format, you can prioritize your work experience as the first section.
You can emphasize your Skills, Interests, Certification, and Education sections for a skills-based and functional resume format.
And for hybrid or combination resumes, order the information in whichever way makes the most sense for the position you’re applying to.
Just like that, you’ve created and formatted a resume in under 5 minutes!
So if you haven’t already, sign up for your free trial with Teal, try out the Resume Builder, and learn how easy it is to start formatting your resume today.