How to Format a Resume

how to format a resume

With countless resume templates floating around on the internet, it can be challenging to know which one is right for you. Whether you are writing a resume for your first job or just writing a resume that you want to stand out more than it already does, you want to ensure it is professional. 

Unless you are applying for a specific industry, your resume should follow a specific template that more or less mirrors all of the other resumes that are sent in. This may sound counterintuitive when you want yours to stand out from the crowd, but a resume essentially serves as your professional handshake. It needs to include the information hiring managers and recruiters need, and that information needs to be easy to find, which is why formatting it correctly is so important.

Your resume should include the following information:

  • Header, with your name and contact information
  • Objective, or professional goals
  • Work experience
  • Education, which includes your highest level of academic achievement, awards, certifications, and other training
  • References, which should usually be listed as “upon request”

Top Three Ways to Format Your Resume


The reverse-chronological resume style closely mirrors the format of the information listed above. Most recruiters and hiring managers prefer this style because it emphasizes your work history and allows hiring managers to track your progression within your field. 

Also, because it is so common, it can be processed through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) easily. This makes your hiring manager’s job easier and earns you some brownie points in their eyes.

The format of this style of resume is:

  • Header and contact information
  • Resume objective
  • Work experience (starting from your most recent employment and working backward to your earliest job)
  • Skills summary
  • Education and certifications

The downside to this format is that it requires consistent updating and editing to show how your career is progressing. However, if you have any large gaps or are changing careers or fields, recruiters will notice that right away. If this is the situation you are in, elaborate on it in your cover letter or during the interview process.

Functional Resume

Functional or skills-based resumes flip the order seen in reverse-chronological resumes. This format highlights your skills and emphasizes your strengths rather than your previous job titles or experience. This is ideal for job seekers with previous freelance experience and part-time positions, or those who are first-time job seekers. 

The downside–it is much more difficult for recruiters to quickly skim over and find key terms or experience they need for an open position. Hiring managers may have more questions during the interview stage because it may look like you were trying to hide something about your employment history.

The format you will follow for a functional resume is:

  • Header and contact information
  • Resume objective
  • Skills summary
  • Work experience
  • Education and certifications

By pushing your work experience toward the end of your resume, you are putting the spotlight on your skills and what you bring to the table. However, this approach will bury any career progression or advancements you have made.

Combination Resume

A combination or hybrid resume combines both the reverse-chronological and skills-based resume styles to build a complete picture of your skills and experience as they pertain to the job you are applying for. Like a functional resume, your skills are the focal point of the resume.

Here is how you will format a combination resume:

  • Header and contact information
  • Skills summary, with the professional experience and achievements supporting each skill
  • Additional skills
  • Work experience
  • Education

Highlight the skills most relevant to the job you’re applying for. Beneath each skill, list the related experience and professional achievements–this tells the story of your quantifiable and measurable accomplishments. 

Job hunting is a competitive sport, so be sure to have a strong team supporting you. If you are unsure of which resume suits your needs or want some examples of effective resume templates, The Jub offers a wide array of professional-yet-approachable job-seeking advice.

Author: Becky is a contributor for theJub. She’s a writing and talent acquisition specialist who loves to apply her skills through creative writing and editing.

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