Top Resume Format for 2021 (Examples Included)

a picture of business person and resume format

Which resume format is best? Creating a resume is not just about plotting some bullet points that showcase your skills and experience. It's about having the right resume format. It's about having a professional resume and following a functional resume format that showcases hiring managers and recruiters that you're the perfect candidate.

Perhaps you already know this, but creating the perfect resume can be difficult sometimes.

There are so many things to remember, like listing relevant skills, employment history, work history, and relevant information, that you just might forget the most important component of your entire resume: the resume format, the thing that really makes a traditional resume.

Let's get down to business

In this article, we're going to present you with, not just one resume template, but five, so you can choose which resume format will make your resume the best professional resume it can be.

Resume formats, from reverse chronological order to combination resumes and functional resumes, are important because they showcase to hiring managers that you mean business when your resume is clean and organized.

best resume format and tips

What happens if you don't follow a resume format?

Without a resume format, you can't truly showcase all of your skills, achievements, and experiences.

Therefore, our goal with this article is to provide you with excellent resume formatting tips that will help you have the best resume for what job you're applying for.

best resume format and tips

Choosing a resume format

You may be aware of this fact from other resume builder websites, but there are actually a number of ways to format your resume.

Here is a list of standard resume formats:

Standard resume formats:
  • Functional resume format
  • Combination resume format
  • Chronological resume format
  • Reverse chronological resume format
  • Skills based resume format

One thing to always remember is that many hiring managers use an applicant tracking system to narrow down which of most job seekers actually have the right qualifications for the job.

What applicant tracking systems do is round up all of the keywords employers need and run a search through the resumes and job application to see which candidates are actually experienced professionals.

best resume format and tips

Tip: Regardless of what format works best for the job posting you are applying for, be sure to include relevant qualifications, contact information, your professional experience, and a skills summary.

Now, regardless of which resume format you choose that works best for you.

best resume format and tips

There are details that every resume, regardless of resume format, should include.

They are the following:

Details to include
  • Contact information
  • Work history (and company name of the company worked for)
  • Educational history
  • Job duties, job description, and job titles
  • Hard skills
  • Soft skills
  • Relevant accomplishments
  • Professional achievements

best resume format and tips

Tip

Be sure to include a resume summary and/or resume objective at the top of your resume layout.

Functional resume format

A functional resume format is one of the common resume formats used and it might be the right resume format for you depending on the job you're applying for.

Like most resume formats, a functional resume showcases everything a hiring manager needs to know about you in just one page.

The goal of the functional format is to present hiring managers with a cohesive resume, which also allows for the job seekers to easily update their resumes if they stay within the same industry.

With that said, functional resumes focus on presenting the most in the easiest and efficient way they can.

Format summary:

A functional resume example would be a simple resume that includes the necessary information a hiring manager may be looking for in an employee.

Here is a visible example.

Example

Functional Resume Format

best resume format and tips

Text version example

444 Synergy Drive

Chicago, IL, 60610 USA

773-444-5508

[email protected]

susannesmith.com

linkedin.com/susansmith

-

Resume objective

A highly passionate chemical engineer with a BA in engineering from Northwestern Medical. Seeking to start my career in a place that embraces the science behind cancer research and the science of proteins. Interested in developing and creating new chemical compounds on a regular basis.

Skills summary

Science background

  • Led research and development around the use of proteins in in the body.
  • Worked with other scientists to create over 10,000 tests that studied the human body.
  • Designed chemical compounds for lab tests and lab animals during clinical trials.

Clinical work

  • Created more than 100 lab tests that led to Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials.
  • Worked closely with senior lab technicians and scientists.
  • Assisted lab technicians in following lab protocols and regulation/compliance.

Work history

iMedicine

March 2020 to present

Chicago, IL

-

NewU Labs

May 2018 to May 2020

San Diego, CA

Education

BA in Chemical Engineering

Northwestern Medicine, 2009

Additional skills

  • Proficient in Microsoft Office, clinical trial work, regulatory compliance, problem-solving, and more.

Languages

  • French and Spanish

Resume example for students

Below is a functional resume sample for students.

Bryan Anderson

Conceptual Artists

-

599 Emery Lane

Geneva, IL 60134 USA

630-744-5867

[email protected]

banderson.com

linkedin.com/b.anderson

-

Resume objective

A passionate, experienced individual who recently graduated. Looking to secure a position as an artist within a 3D studio. Able to contribute a wide variety of creative needs. From typography, layouts, font design, and 3D/4D animation design. Looking to use my art to increase brand awareness and develop strong marketing campaigns alongside a bigger brand.

Skills summary

Design background

  • Developed creative executions that spoke to customers through billboards.
  • Worked with clients to research, concept, design, and execute art pieces through a variety of mediums.

Client work

  • Assisted sales teams in creating collateral for their marketing/sales efforts. And tried to reach the customer where they frequented.
  • Became a problem-solver and executor within three small businesses.

Illustration work

  • Created more than 10,000 infographics.
  • Developed new graphic design concepts for promotional campaigns.

Work history

New Solutions

April 2020 to present

Chicago, IL

-

Marketing Fields

April 2018 to April 2020

San Diego, CA

Education

BA in Graphic Design and Fine Arts

Columbia College Chicago, 2009

Additional skills

  • Proficient in Adobe Suite, Illustrator, 3DS Max, Maya, PageMaker, Illustrator, Adobe After Effects, and many more.

Languages

  • French and Spanish

Combination resume format

What is it?

A combination resume format follows, like the name suggests, a combination of resume formats and can also be known as a hybrid resume.

best resume format and tips

Typically, a combination resume or hybrid resume follows reverse chronological format or chronological format as well as skills based resume format or a functional resume format.

The choice here is truly up to the person creating the resume and what career path they are following, but the three standard resume formats are reverse chronological order, functional format, and skills based resume format as these are the most common resume formats used.

best resume format and tips

Tip

The best resume format is entirely up to the job seeker, the job search they are doing, and the recent position they had within a company in the same industry.

If you don't know which resume format works best for you, a hybrid resume or combination resumes, may be the perfect resume format.

Format summary:

A combination resume is a resume that follows a combination of resume formats.

Here is a visible example:

Example

Combination Resume Format

Text version example

John Smith

123 Main Street • Oakland, CA 12345 • (123) 456-7890 • [email protected]

Education

Effectively managing staffs in both the blood bank and business arenas

Single-threaded leader, Results-oriented, high-energy, hands-on professional with 12+ years’ experience and a successful record of accomplishments with blood banks, training, and communication.

Key skills:

  • Experience in Quality Assurance and general Customer Service.
  • Excellent Verbal Communication Skills.
  • Team Building & Leadership Skills.
  • Internal Communications Support.
  • Experience in Training and Payroll.

Professional Experience

American Red Cross, Oakland, Calif.

Education Manager February 2013 – Present

Successful educational project manager with five years experience for Northern California blood centers. Worked closely with FDA regulated manufacturing equipment, as pertaining to CGMP, CFRs, California State and American Association of Blood Bank (AABB) regulations.

Accomplishments:

  • Provided daily operational review and general quality control of educational accountability.
  • Responsible for assuring compliance of 23 organizational quality systems.

Blood Communications Systems., Sunnyvale, Calif.

Supervisor May 2008 – February 2013

Supervised contract support for six blood transmission systems companies.

Accomplishments:

  • Provided customer support/resolution, training in all blood banks.
  • Handled quality control, payroll, special projects/plant extensions, and staff evaluations.

Education

Stanford, San Jose, Calif.

Bachelor of Science (GPA; 3.8; Major: Administration of Criminal Justice), May 2010

Certifications

  • NCCT Phlebotomy Technician Certification
  • NCCT Certified
  • CATV System Technician

Information Technology Skills

  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • ADP / Workforce Now
  • Proficient in Various Payroll Software Systems

Chronological resume format

What is it?

Chronological resumes follow, as their name suggests, a chronological format.

This means that the person's professional history, along with their educational history is in chronological order of the dates in which they occurred.

best resume format and tips

Now, this resume template is not as heavily used as, let's say, the reverse chronological resume format because hiring managers want to see your latest achievements, not what you once started off as.

They want to see your career progression and how far you've come.

Format summary:

A chronological resume follows chronological order.

Here is a visible example:

Example

Chronological Resume Format

best resume format and tips

Reverse chronological resume format

What is it?

Now, the reverse chronological resume format is the opposite of the chronological resume format, and this format may be one of the best resume formats to choose from.

This is because, with the reverse chronological resume format, you're showcasing your latest experience at the top of your resume.

This way, once a hiring manager sees your contact information, resume objective and resume summary, they're presented with your latest work right after.

The chronological format is ineffective in showcasing your most relevant information, and this is something most job seekers may not know, putting you ahead of the competition.

Format summary:

A reverse chronological resume follows the person's experiences in reverse chronological order, showcasing the most recent job title and skills at the top rather than at the bottom of the page.

Here is a visible example:

Example

Reverse Chronological Format

best resume format and tips

Text version example

For a student/new graduate

Brian Marks

Software Engineer

(665) 654-9487

linkedin.com/bmarks22

Career objective

A highly analytical student who is currently holding a 3.96GPA in the field of Computer Science. Currently a student at Columbia University, who is going to be seeking an internship, then deciding on either a full-time employment path or a Master's Degree in Computer Science.

Education

Columbia University

BA in Computer Science

2017-2021

Current GPA: 3.96

Favorite field of study: New software engineering code standards.

Thesis title: Advanced computer systems for a changing world.

Key achievement: Dean's List 2015 - 2017

Projects

Fantasy football software

  • Built a fantasy sports betting prediction engine. Took multiple sources of data and built models that helped other enthusiasts better understand how their sports bets could pay off.

Movie recommendation engine

  • Assisted in the build of a movie recommendation engine that helped other engineers better address predictive behaviors using weather, music, and other factors.
  • Made visualization tools using JavaScript and other code languages.
  • Built a recommendation model. And a user model that allowed one user to follow the other user.

Market analysis

  • Through freelance work I was part of building a market analysis system that helped Business Analysts save about 10-15 minutes per hour. That accumulated up to multiple hours per week and days per week.
  • Was part of a freelance group of engineers who assisted an SVP of Engineering.

Skills

Programming skills:

  • SQL
  • Python
  • Logistic regression
  • Ruby
  • Ruby on Rails
  • NodeJS
  • MongoDB

Certifications

Key certifications:

  • CSM (Certified Scrum Master) - Project Management Institute

Skills based resume format

What is it?

While there are definitely more types of resume formats, the last relevant one we will be discussing is the skills based resume format. This resume format does a good job of highlighting skills.

Tip

It's okay to be career changers.

Sometimes career changers need to change careers for multiple of reasons.

From being in the healthcare industry to joining the culinary industry and being an entry level candidate, it's important to note that you can have transferable skills.

Even if you end up having a multitude of resumes with different resume formats, it'll be interesting for you to see your career progression.

As the name suggests, skills based resumes showcase someone's skills.

Here is a visible example:

Example

Skills Based Resume

best resume format and tips

Key Takeaways

Whether you're an entry level candidate in a new industry or you're the head honcho at [insert company name here], the way you format your resume is essential.

It not only showcases your professional experience (and we all know how important professional experience is), but it also showcases to hiring managers that you are a perfect candidate for the position and you're not like most job seekers.

Maybe, you've never read a career blog, but that's okay.

best resume format and tips

With this article, you'll be ready to create the perfect resume, and it all starts by following a resume template.

In the end, just remember this: regardless of what resume format you follow, it's important to include job description (in fact, the job description may be one of the most important things on your resume), work history, transferrable skills, and skills summary, and, of course, your contact information.

While there are plenty of resume formats out there, we highly recommend you follow the reverse chronological order format. Or format your resumes like a hybrid resume or combination resume as they are truly the best resume formats to choose from.

Remember, there is applicant tracking that goes into your resume getting viewed, and truthfully, the functional format and chronological resume are not your best resume options.

And if you had to choose between a functional or combination resume, please go with the latter option -- you can thank us later!

A professional resume is made when the person creating it puts thought and good intention into it.

Moreover, following a resume template always helps to assure you have the right resume format and your resume is the best resume it can be.

If you have to take one thing from this article, let it be this.

There's no one type of resume. Just like there's not just one type of job, one industry or anything else like that. In fact, you and your coworker are not even the same even if you work the same or similar jobs.

best resume format and tips

With that said, your resumes may follow different resume formats and that's okay.

Just remember these things:

  1. Your resume should only be one page long (enough said)
  2. You should always be concise in your resume (this is the only thing a functional resume has going for it -- employers oftentimes do not like functional resumes)
  3. Keep your font size consistent (this may be fine in an article where you have headers and stuff and maybe even for the headers on your resume, but everything else needs to be the same font and the same font size)
  4. Make sure to use the right tense (use past tense to describe past work history and employment history, use present tense to describe present work history and employment history)
  5. Do not lie on your resume (you should know why this is so important)
  6. Be sure to save your document (we can't tell you how many times we've thought we had our latest resume saved to only discover an old resume following an old resume format that is no longer relevant or helpful to us).

best resume format and tips

Now go out there and create the perfect resume following the perfect resume format! We've already given you common resume formats, informed you of the best resume format, and even provided you with resume formatting tips and examples. Now, it's your turn to show us what you've got and land that job!

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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