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Top 3 Resume Formats in 2023 (Tips & Samples)

Top 3 Resume Formats in 2023 (Tips & Samples)

Learning how to format a resume is essential for job seekers. When hiring managers review resumes, they merely skim them for the most relevant information. So, recruiters and hiring managers will first notice how a resume looks before what it contains.

If the resume layout looks messy or cluttered, chances are you won’t get a good first impression. A great resume format must capture your key skills so it’s easy for hiring managers and their applicant tracking system (ATS) to see you’re a good fit for the job description.

In order to write a professional resume, there are some proven foundational principles you must follow. It doesn’t matter whether you are writing a resume for your first job, or improving a resume you’ve had for years, the same principle applies.

Most resume formats focus on the same core sections: a header, a career progression or professional summary, an employment history, a skill section, and an education section. Also, you can include additional areas like licenses, key accomplishments, or other relevant details.

There are three main resume formats every job seeker ought to know. In this guide, we will be reviewing each of these resume formatting styles as each resume objective is ideal for different types of job seekers. Each resume format organizes your credentials such that it highlights your relevant skills, background, and experience to match the job description.

Note that no resume format guarantees a job interview. Rather when choosing the best resume format consider your unique career profile. So to get started, we will share some tips to help you choose the best resume formats for your career progression.

Tips for Choosing the Best Resume Format

A resume format refers to how your documents, experience, and skills are organized. However, it is essential to choose the ideal resume format for the job you are applying for and best suits your experience level.

Fortunately, with a resume builder writing an ATS-friendly resume is made easy with several resume templates of the best resume format for 2023. This online resume builder features different templates that are visually appealing and easy to read and interpret.

Also, this sample resume template comes with a combination of different layouts and distinguishing features. Using this creative format organizes and highlights your abilities, experience, and professional goals easily. Below we share five tips to help you decide the best resume format.

Identify Your Professional Needs

Firstly, consider your experience level and professional needs when searching for the best resume format. Always remember that the requirements of each job are not the same.

As such, before you choose the resume format to use, do a quick skills summary research to understand what the industry demands. These could be anything from certifications to technical skills, specific software proficiency, industry knowledge, or soft skills like leadership, project management, or communication abilities.

Also, analyze the job description to understand what the position demands by looking for keywords and the requirements mentioned in the posting.

Understand Common Types of Resumes

All resume formats aren’t equal. There are three standard resume formats which we will discuss later in this guide. Each of these resume formats is different, as they showcase your qualification and experience differently.

So, determining which resume format has the right features that meet your needs is vital. Although most resume templates you will find on a resume builder are customizable, it’s best to go with one that requires the least editing. As such, understanding what each resume format focuses on will make it easy to choose a good resume format.

The goal of understanding the common types of resume formats is to help you choose one that presents your qualification and experience in the most relevant and compelling way to increase your chances of standing out as the best applicant to hiring managers.

Customize to Fit Your Audience

When writing a resume, your audience is the hiring manager. So, customizing your resume to be concise and focused can get you considered by a hiring manager or search committee almost immediately. In contrast, a general resume will get you put in the file much longer.

Customizing your resume to fit your audience is simply being able to sell yourself to your potential employer.

Every industry is slightly different, but the idea is to use statements in your resume that are meaningful to your employer. For example, use general terminologies to downplay the differences and emphasize the similarities between your previous job position and the current job you are applying for.

Also, choose an ATS-friendly resume format that allows you to use the right keywords for your target. The majority of large employers use applicant tracking software to store resumes.

The terms often used for searching are typically job titles, key skills, education, and location. Customizing your resume with relevant keywords to fit these terms is one of the best practices to ensure visibility with employers.

Tailor Your Format to Match the Position

Over 90% of recruiters favor job seekers with relevant skills and professional experience. Unfortunately, if you have the right skills and experience and are qualified for the job but didn’t organize your resume properly, you will easily go into the discard pile.

When choosing a resume format, always remember that you will have to tailor it to match the job posting. Most job posting includes a list of responsibilities and preferred or required qualifications.

Hence, you should often review the job posting and note the requirements. This will help you know how to structure your application. You will also have an idea of the keywords to use throughout your resume to show you are a good match for the role.

Tailoring your resume demonstrates your skills and experience align with the job. If you have a proven record of performing similar responsibilities, consider including it in your resume to increase your chances of being considered.

Choose a Design That Highlights Your Accomplishments

Most job seekers know to include the responsibilities and duties of their previous or current position in the work history section on their resume. But many people fail to emphasize their achievements and accomplishments.

So, when choosing a resume format, ensure it features a section that allows you to highlight your accomplishments.

Highlighting your accomplishments on your resume can be a stand-alone section or included throughout your summary, skill, education, or professional experience sections.

Listing your accomplishments in your resume helps recruiters better understand the strengths and talents that set you apart from other candidates. The type of achievements or accomplishments you can include in a resume are numerous.

For example, if you graduated with a First Class academic honor, you can also indicate it in your resume. This information demonstrates your intellectual ability, which many employers will appreciate in a candidate they eventually hire.

Additionally, you can include relevant professional accomplishments like earning industry-specific certification, exceeding position goals or earning, and so on. You can review the job posting to better understand what accomplishment will impress the employer.

Examples of Popular Resume Formats

The three main resume formats are chronological, functional, and combination resumes. While these three resume formats are popular, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all resume format. This means the resume format is not the same for every job seeker. So, understanding the pros and cons of these common resume formats will help you know the proper format to use.

Chronological Resume Format

The chronological resume format is a type of professional resume format that prioritizes relevant professional achievements and experience.

Although chronological and reverse chronological resumes are used interchangeably, they are different. The difference between the two is the order in which the work experience is organized.

A chronological resume organizes a resume with the most recent or relevant work history placed first, while the reverse chronological resume format is the opposite.

Both resume formats are simple to use, making them one of the common resume formats used by practically every job seeker.

Many recruiters are familiar with the chronological format because it’s easy to skim and emphasizes your work history, making them spot all relevant information in a flash. The chronological and reverse chronological resume format is ideal for individuals with rich and consistent professional experience.

How To Structure a Chronological Resume Format?

The key difference between the chronological resume format and other resume formats is how you structure the work experience section. The work experience section showcases your employment history and career progression.

Also, the placement of your professional experience and education section depends on your career level and the relevance of your education to the industry of choice. A typical reverse chronological resume format includes the following information in this order:

  1. Contact Information

    A reverse chronological resume format starts with your name and contact information. Include your full name, email address, and phone number. Some optional information you can add includes your mailing address, link to your LinkedIn profile, or portfolio if appropriate.

  2. Professional Summary or Career Objective

    The next thing to do in a reverse chronological resume is to write a short professional statement. This section should provide your potential employer with a quick context of your career objective as they review your application.

    You can include a summary of your meaningful achievements and skills if you have several years of experience in a particular industry. While new graduates can consider describing their values and short-term goals.

  3. Work Experience

    When you get to this section in a reverse chronological format, start by writing about your most recent job. Ensure the job titles are relevant to the position you are applying for.

    Also, each employment history should have the same date format and several bullet points detailing your responsibilities in each role.

  4. Technical Skills, Soft Skills, or Hard Skills Most Relevant to the Job

    The skills and abilities section is another important section in the reverse chronological resume format. In this section, use bullet points to highlight your skills and abilities. You can include relevant soft (interpersonal) and hard (technical) skills you possess.

    However, the most important consideration in this section of chronological resume formats is to list skills relevant to what recruiters are looking for. So, carefully read through the job posting to identify those skills the employer wants.

  5. Education

    Your education background in a reverse chronological resume should include the schools you’ve attended, areas of concentration, and diplomas or degrees earned. The list of your educational achievements in reverse chronological format should start with the most recent first and go backwards in time.

  6. Other Important Information

    Finally, a reverse chronological resume always has a little space at the bottom for important information. This section of a reverse chronological format resume includes information like volunteer experience, awards, professional associations, licenses, or certifications.

Chronological Resume Format Pros

  • Emphasizes career progression
  • Reader-friendly chronological history
  • Demonstrates commitment and longevity
  • Validates industry experience

Chronological Resume Format Cons

  • Makes career gaps very obvious
  • Not suitable for transitioning into a new industry

Functional Resume Format

The functional resume format is frequently called a “skills-based” resume format. This type of resume format focuses on individual skills and training over professional experience, making it common among students with little to no field experience.

Also, this resume format enables you to showcase your achievements related to those skills.

Summarily, the functional resume takes the spotlight away from your work experience by highlighting what you are good at instead.

How To Structure a Functional Resume Format?

If the functional resume is a good fit for you, then go ahead to design and customize your resume. There are two crucial components of a functional resume; your career objective and skills summary. A typical functional resume format includes the following information in this order:

  1. Contact Information

    When you choose to format a resume using the functional format, a contact section comes first. In this section include your full name, phone number, email, city, and state of resistance. Note that you don’t have to write the street address on a functional resume if you’d like to keep that information private.

  2. Brief Career Objective 

    The next block to include in a functional sample resume format is a brief career objective. In this section, tell the employer about your interest in the job.

    Also, explain concisely how the job fits into your career goals. You can include in the objective skills, education, or certification that are relevant to the job, and mention the responsibilities you’ve possibly handled in the past to motivate the employer.

  3. Summary of Qualifications

    When using the functional resume formatting style, a quick summary of your qualification is the first of three skills sections. This section uses bullet points to highlight the skills and attributes that qualify you as the most qualified for the job.

  4. Skills Section

    In the second of three skill sections included in a functional resume layout, highlight your soft, hard, and technical skills. Ensure these skills are the ones you didn’t touch in your summary of the qualification section.

  5. Another Skill Section (Broken Down into Categories)

    In the third section, often called the professional skills section, divide your skills into subsections. Use keywords from the job description to inform your skill categories, if possible. Under each core skill, include four to five bullet points listing your impressive achievements and experience.

  6. Work Experience

    In a functional resume formatting style, there isn’t a lot of space for work experience. But including the little work experience you have can be helpful to your employer, especially when it’s relevant to the position.

    List the workplaces and your key contributions. Leave dates off in this section or use only the year if preferable. It’s best to include this section below your main skills section.

  7. Education

    At the bottom of a typical functional resume example is a list of your educational background. In this section, include the name of the institution you attended, area of study, specialization, and any relevant achievement and diploma received.

    Some people leave the educational section off their functional resume if it’s not relevant or if it will bring up more questions for the employer.

  8. Additional Information

    Finally, you can consider adding other information like professional associations, awards, training programs, languages, certifications, or volunteer experiences. Including this section in your resume is not compulsory, but if it would help position you as a strong candidate, then add it.

Functional Resume Format Pros

  • Good for highlighting specific skills
  • Useful for recent graduates with practical skills
  • Useful when switching careers
  • Offers flexibility and customization

Functional Resume Format Cons

  • May raise questions about work history
  • Not a very popular resume format for 2023

Combination Resume Format

Finally, this is also one of the best resume formats, known as a chrono-functional or hybrid resume format. The combination resume template is the middle ground between a chronological and functional resume format.

The advantage of this resume format is that it gives equal weight to your skills and work experience. As such, using this hybrid resume format helps employers see how the two are linked. The combination resume format is the best resume format for individuals with mixed levels of experience or one making a slight career transition.

How To Structure a Combination Resume Format?

A hybrid resume format is a flexible resume format that allows you to list your work or skill experience first, depending on the role you are considering. For example, if you have many unique skills that are valuable to the industry, consider listing them above your work experience.

Similarly, if you have a diverse employment history that is relevant to the job posting, then you can consider listing work experience first. A typical combination resume format includes the following information in this order:

  1. Contact Information

    Regardless of the resume format you use, contact information is often the first section. In this section, include your name and contact information to make it easy for employers to get in touch.

    Ensure the information you use is accurate and recent. Use your current phone number and email address. Optionally, include a mailing address or a link to online portfolios if necessary.

  2. Brief Professional Summary 

    Also, typical combination resume format examples include a brief professional summary. This summary should be short (ideally no more than two lines) to promote your most relevant experience. Use a resume objective when writing this section if you are new to the workforce and lack relevant experience.

  3. Skills Section

    From the summary of qualifications to relevant skills, there are many ways to name this section. But ensure you review the job posting before writing this section.

    Ensure you use keywords that will help get the attention of the employer and past automatic filters. Also, you can include skills and abilities you’ve learned from previous employers and how they relate to your next position.

  4. A Second Skills Section (Optional)

    In some combination resumes, you can include a second skill section. In this section, have a bullet list that covers any skill you didn’t list in the first skill section.

    Prioritize any skill the employer list as required in the job posting and weave these skills into your professional experience section.

  5. Work Experience

    In the work experience section, include a list of your work history. List your positions in reverse chronological order starting from the most recent one.

    Also, include a bullet list of your chief responsibilities to support your skills section.

  6. Education

    Adding an education history section is important in every resume. The education section helps supplement the resume, particularly if you don’t have rich professional experience.

    This section should list the institution name, degree type, areas of study, and year of completion, amongst others.

  7. Other Important Information

    Finally, if you have other important information relevant to the resume objective, include it at the bottom of the resume. This information can be anything from volunteering experience to awards, special training/certifications, professional associations, and so on.

Combination Resume Format Pros

  • Ideal for applicants with a noticeable employment gap
  • Allows you to show off your experience and skills
  • Appeals to a variety of industry

Combination Resume Format Cons

  • Requires careful organization
  • Can be longer than other resume formats

Optimizing Your Resume for 2023

If you are worried about creating a resume that will impress the hiring manager and pass through the applicant tracking system easily, consider choosing one of the three standard resume formats above.

However, irrespective of the resume format you choose, be it the reverse chronological order, functional, or combination resume format, optimizing is vital. Optimizing a resume is easy when you know the aspects to adjust.

Below is an highlight a few tips to help you improve your resume.

Layout and Design

The looks, format, and structure of your resume are vital as they enhance the content of the resume. Great content is better when coupled with the right layout and design because it makes the resume easy to read.

The ideal layout and design to use in your resume varies by industry. So, it will help to look for a resume example in your industry as a guide.

Factors to consider when reviewing the layout and design of a resume are the file format, consistency, visual emphasis, and font.

The choice of font you use in your resume can make a big difference. Using two different fonts in your resume, one in the header and one in the body gives a clean, simple, and easy-to-read look.

Also, placing certain visual emphasis on your resume like group icons, charts, and graphs, can improve the look of the resume.

Also, thinking of yourself as a brand when applying for jobs and keeping things consistent is a good idea. Keep the style, font, and color of your resume, cover letter, and portfolio consistent.

It’s also a good idea to save your resume in a PDF file format. A PDF eliminates the chances of the formatting getting messed up when the hiring manager opens it.

Use of Technology

Traditional hiring methods have worked for several years and still work. But the advancement in technology has revolutionized the hiring process.

Some recruiters rely on artificial intelligence scanners to select relevant resumes and streamline the hiring process. Understandably, employers rely on these scanners because they reduce bias and help employers determine the most qualified candidate for the roles.

As a job seeker, optimizing your resume for these scanners gives you a better chance of being a match.

Furthermore, using resume builders is another technological tool that makes optimizing your resume easy. These platforms come with several resume format examples, so all you have to do is fill them with relevant information.

Personal Branding Elements

In today’s workforce, where jobs are abundant, getting the attention of potential employers against completion is tough. But personal branding can make your application shine a tad bit brighter.

Hardly is it that you are the only one applying for a role, meaning there is competition, potentially hundreds or more candidates. As such, a strong resume and cover letter may not be sufficient to stand out from the crowd.

Rather differentiating your application profile from other candidates with a touch of personal branding can give you an edge.

Many potential employers review candidates’ online presence, such as social media, as part of the recruitment process.

Negative online presence issues like controversial public posts can be detrimental to your application. As such, it’s important to create a positive, trustworthy, and reputable brand.

Formatting for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

An applicant tracking software is designed to read applicants’ resumes and interpret the data. With many employers using this system, it’s important to use an ATS-friendly resume format to increase your chances of getting picked.

In formatting your resume to be ATS friendly, ensure you refer to the job posting you are applying for to identify the job titles, skills, and keywords to include in your resume.

Also, use clear, simple language so as not to confuse the system. The font you use can also have an impact on the system’s ability to read your resume, so use common fonts like Arial, Times New Roman, and others for optimal readability.

Keep at least a 1-inch distance on all sides so the resume doesn’t look crowded. Using unnecessary graphics or embellishments can confuse the ATS and make your resume look unprofessional.

Also, special characters and symbols can be misinterpreted, so minimize them, or better still, don’t use them. Furthermore, tables and columns may help your resume look organized, but they can lead to critical information getting garbled by the ATS.

Intelligently Utilizing Keywords and Phrases

Finally, optimizing your resume with the right keywords and phrases are standard resume formatting rules. Include role-specific keywords that are relevant to the industry.

Also, ensure you place the keywords in the right location on your resume. Two major role-specific keywords to always use in a standard resume are the company name and the exact position title.

Also, include education, license, and certifications that are relevant to the position you are applying for. And when describing your duties and accomplishments, always use action verbs. If you are unsure which keywords and phrases to use, you can find them by performing a Google search for “(industry) resume keywords.”

Date: 10 June 2023
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