Resume Format Guideline: 10+ Resume Formats And Free Templates To Download

resume-format-guideline-chronological-resume
Chronological resume 
resume-format-guideline-functional-resume
Functional resume
resume-format-guideline-combination-resume
Combinational resume

When applying for a job, how your resume looks is the first thing that a hiring manager and recruiter notice, rather than its content. And if your resume appears messy and crowded, it could hurt your chances of making a positive first impression. So, before writing your resume, you should understand resume formats, from the reason behind using a particular format to which one you should use, depending on your level of expertise and the job you're applying for.

In this article, we will explain all thing resume format for you to know. And by the end of this blog, we'll also provide you with our free resume templates to download. Stay tuned!

TABLE OF CONTENT

What is a resume?

Before getting into what resume format is and which type you should use for your job application, let's briefly look at the definition.

A resume summarizes your skills, work experience, educational background, and all related information relevant to the job you're applying for. The purpose of a resume is straightforward: to demonstrate your ability to a hiring manager and recruiters. 

Read this article to know more about What is a Resume? [Definition, Element, Writing Tips, and Examples]

How to Properly Format Your Resume

If you decide to create your resume from scratch, learning how to format your resume layout properly can be beneficial as you know which session to highlight and which not to. Resume formatting involves:

  • Setting the margins right,
  • Choosing the font size for resume headings and body content, and
  • Picking the resume's length.

Here are some general formatting rules of a standard resume:

  • Your resume should be at most three pages, ideally around two pages, unless you have accumulated 5+ years of relevant work experience;
  • Use at most three font sizes on your resume for a clean look. Your name should be in the largest font. As for the headings of each session, you can use 14pt font, and pick an 11 or 12 for the rest of your resume content;
  • Use a 1.25 - 1.5 line spacing to avoid an all-cramped-up resume look;
  • Unless you work in design and have your purpose, don't be "too creative" with your font. Stick with professional fonts like Roboto, Open Sans, Overpass, or Ubuntu.
  • Understand the common resume section names. E.g., always go for "Work Experience" instead of "Work History";
  • Use bullet points to list information will make your resume so much easy on the eye. Remember to write concise sentences;
  • Be consistent with all date formats. E.g., use only "November 2018" or "11/2018" instead of combining them;
  • Save and send your resume as a PDF file so your layout stays intact no matter which device it's opened. Unless it's mentioned in the job description that you should send it as MS Word, PDF is the safest choice when it comes to standard resume format. Another note on the side: never send your resume in PNG or JPG files (you'll never believe how many people actually send their resume in these types).

Three Most Common Resume Formats For Job Application

When seeking employment, it's important to be aware of the various formats for resumes that are commonly used. Generally speaking, there are three primary formats: chronological resume, functional resume, and combination resume.

Understanding the differences between these formats and choosing the one that aligns best with your experience and qualifications can increase your chances of making a positive impression on potential employers.

Each of them emphasizes different aspects with respective pros and cons. Choosing the right job resume format will affect your job search significantly!

Chronological Resume (“Reverse-Chronological”)

chronological resume format lists your work experience in reverse chronological order. Latest experiences and accomplishments would come first, so the hiring manager can quickly scan through your working history to have an idea of what you’ve been working on lately or ten years ago. 

The reverse-chronological resume format is the most common resume format to show a steady work progression and career path. Insert keywords in the job description to make it an ATS-compliant resume.

Pros

  • Preferred by most recruiters and employers.
  • Highlights work history progress.
  • Demonstrate career mobility and qualifications.
  • Most recognized ATS(Applicant Tracking Systems)-compliant format resume.

Cons

  • Career gaps are obvious.
  • If your career path does not follow a regular progression, it may bring attention or question.

Functional Resume (“Skill-based”)

A functional resume format categorizes your experience and details into different skills. It focuses on how your skills are related or transferable to a job title. The hiring manager will know your talents and expertise at a glance but not knowing your work history. 

Pros

  • Covers limited, unstable, or interrupted work history.
  • Highlights career expertise and specialization.
  • Ideal for a career change like the military to civilian, or moving to a new area

Cons

  • Recruiters would be sensitive enough to know you are hiding something.
  • Not suitable if you lack relevant skills for the job description.
  • ATS system might have a problem scanning the document.

Combination (“Hybrid”)

Combination resume is the hybrid version of chronological and functional resume formats. It comes with a skill summary section known as “professional profile” or “qualifications summary” and includes a reverse-chronological work experience column.

Pros

  • Highlight strong work history along with skills and personal achievements.
  • Ideal job resume format for the experienced or career changers with a substantial working background.

Cons

  • Longer and less concise than chronological and functional resume format.
  • Repetitive descriptions could cause negative impressions.
  • ATS system might have a problem scanning the document.

Other Resume Formats and Designs to Consider

Standard resume

To create a standard resume format, either go with either reverse-chronological or combination resume format. Use less than two colors for a cleaner look, black and white is the most common choice.

Formal resume

For a formal resume format look, stick with reverse-chronological resume format and typical resume fonts like Helvetica or Open San. It is suggested to keep it black and white. Use only one column throughout the page to keep readers’ eyes focused.

Simple resume

A simple and basic resume format would appear like a formal one, but you can add columns with a dark background and white texts, or small icons to make it less bureaucratic. This resume format is more suitable for non-desk jobs job seekers, for example people who works in F&B, students look for part-time job at a local restaurant, etc.

Modern resume

A modern resume format might include stylish fonts for headings, small and unified icons, and 2 matching colors for design openness. Some modern resumes use progress bars to express skill level, but it’s somewhat subjective, and HR knows it.

International resume

Research regional requirements before you start writing an international resume/CV. For instance, European “CVs” are basically U.S. “resumes” with a bit of difference. Read this article to know the difference between CVs and Resumes.

If you want to work in a foreign country, be clear on your resume about your nationality, visa status, and language abilities. You might need to consider including or excluding specific personal details like a photo and birthdate, depending on the country.

Attractive resume

If you want to stand out from countless other candidates, designing a resume format using patterns, colors, fonts, and infographics might work. However, keep subject matter easy to read and section columns clear.

Professional resume

Resume format for experienced or professionals should include thorough chronological work history, measured accomplishments, solid skills, and certificates. Leave hobbies or interests out to avoid looking too casual.

Besides the seven standard resume format mentioned above, you can also check out the Latest Resume Templates from CakeResume. These include the newest resume format, suitable for your needs.

CakeResume is the best free resume builder that provides free resume templates and allows you to download for free. You can create a resume from scratch using our resume editor or choose from these resume templates. Remember to share with us your final result!

How to Choose the Right Resume Format

If you're struggling to decide on a resume format, we've got you covered with professional format guides tailored explicitly to 8 different types of job seekers.

1. Fresher & Student

For freshers and students with limited or no work experience, a functional resume format would be the best first job resume format or resume format for internship.

If you have volunteer work, internship experience, or extracurricular activities, include them in your experience section by timeline (turning it into a simple combination resume format) to help recruiters get a sense of what you accomplished in the past and what you are capable of. 

Not sure about functional resume format? We also have a whole article talking about resume format for freshers that you can refer to. Check it out for more detailed information.

💡 TIPS: Functional resume format lists your skills by categories to showcase your ability and hide your lack of working experience.

2. Experienced Job Seeker

For those who are experienced and have a substantial work history, consider using a combination resume format. 

A combination resume format can present your solid work experience by timeline and by expertise. A carefully crafted hybrid resume should be concise enough to deliver primary skills and abundant working experience altogether. Resume format for the experienced should emphasize strong skills with quantified achievements and make work experience explicit rather than repetitive.

3. Teacher

For teachers or educators, your teacher resume format should be chronological resume format or combination resume format.

List educational institutes you’d worked for starting from the latest, and add bullet points to describe critical responsibilities and key quantified achievements. List your education such as majors and minors, master’s degree. Put relevant skills on your resume that match with the teacher’s job descriptions on the employment offer.

💡 TIPS: If you’re applying for a teaching job abroad, it is suggested to utilize an international resume format.

4. IT (Information Technology)

A good IT resume format is usually formatted using a combination resume with a modern design. Apply quantified results and key accomplishments throughout, include a brief but strong summary and bullet-pointed work experience.

Specify your skills with a sentence instead of submitting a vocabulary like ”communication”. Organize your Github, personal website, and side projects. It should include the detailed process of your work. 

5. Nurse

If you apply for a nursing job, the best nursing resume format would be a combination resume format. List your nursing experience, such as a hospital nursing assistant, with quantified achievements. Listing your certified nursing license can mark your specialization and help you stand out. Highlight soft skills to communicate your value.

📝 Common skills for a nursing resume:

  • Communication
  • Emergency response
  • Patient safety
  • Attitude
  • Confidence

6. Accountant

Use a simple layout with chronological or hybrid resume format to include your skills and certificates. In your work experience section, you should use bullet points to mark the most recent accomplishments at the front with quantified results.

7. Engineer

A common & standard chronological resume format would not bring you any trouble. However, the resume format for engineers can also be functional or skill-based. You can divide sections into skills, work experiences, and projects to present reliability and problem-solving skills. Prioritize the skills that are specified in the job description.

8. Bank

A formal resume template is the best for a bank resume format. Since you’ll be competing against thousands of other applicants, a professional & ATS compliant resume format is more likely to get you an interview. 

Check your contact information and LinkedIn profile to align with resume experience highlights. Unify your online presence to leave a positive impression.

💡 Use job descriptions and quantified results to prove you can meet both clients’ and the banks’ financial goals.

Some FAQs about Resume Format

Suppose you are finishing your resume, congrats. There are only a few things left to check. See some FAQs below to refine your resume.

💬 In which format should a resume be sent? Resume format in Word or PDF?

There are simply too many platforms to send your resume:

Are you applying directly through surveys on the companies' websites?
Perhaps you have to send your resume via email address? 

Different channels affect your strategies to choose between .doc or .pdf.

It’s hard to say which is better since the scenario can vary. See the comparison to decide which file format you’ll use.

Send Resume Format in ms Word/.doc

Pros: 

  1. ATS (Applicant Tracking System) checker can read word documents nice and smoothly. 
  2. It works better for a large company that runs ATS with an outdated computer system.
  3. Recruitment companies might want to edit or mark notes on your resume document.

Cons:

  1. Older versions of Microsoft Word could destroy your neat layout (We all know how that feels). 
  2. Stylish fonts could get lost and appear garbled.
  3. It leaves less creative flexibility for you to design.

Send Resume Format PDF file/.pdf

Pros:

  1. PDF resumes are cross-platform friendly: accessible from mobiles, laptops, to computers.
  2. The layout and fonts stay exactly the same as you designed.

Cons:

  1. Older versions of ATS may have problems scanning PDF files and miss texts in images, or skip graphics.
  2. PDFs created by Photoshop or Illustrator are often too big to send or upload.

💬 What font should a resume be in? (detailed answer for size & style)

When choosing your resume fonts, keep one thing in mind: It's all about making your application easy-to-read, relevant and noticeable by HR. If you're *not* applying for design roles, make sure your resume font size is clean and convenient for skimming.

A good resume layout decides the first glance of your hiring manager.

Resume Fonts

  • Play safe by going for the usuals: Arial, Calibri, Helvetica, or Times New Roman.
  • If you're sending a PDF file, variable ones offered by Google like Catamaran add a modern touch. Remember to avoid display fonts & never use handwriting styles.

Text Formatting

  • Assign clear paragraph styles to Headings and normal texts.
  • Try Bold for Headings, italic for dates, and normal for texts. 

Font Size

  • Keep your description texts between 10-12pt (≈13-16 px), and Heading text 12-14pt (≈16-19 px)

Line Spacing

  • Line Spacing is also crucial for skimming through the resume.
  • Set it between 1.2-1.5, depending on fonts. Creating a comfortable reading experience for HR is a must.

How long should a resume be?

Most resume length should be 1-2 page —  for applicants with less than five years of working experience, and ideally 1 page for freshers, and students. If your resume exceeds one page or even two pages, consider reviewing and removing irrelevant content, or avoid reiterating the same information. 

The reason for a one-page resume format is to ensure your document is brief, condense, straight to the point, and easy to read. You have only 6 seconds to catch their attention, so list only the essence.

A CV for job application could be longer than a resume, but no more than 2 pages of A4 for most candidates.

💬 What to include in a resume: 10 Key Sections

There are ten key sections you should include in your resume. You can click on the title to see more details, but here is the sum up of all resume sections:

  1. Personal details 
    It is necessary to add (1) your full name, (2) primary phone number, (3) email address, (4) country and city you’re currently in, and (5) LinkedIn, Github, or personal website. Remember to update them and provide the latest version of your profile.
  2. Resume Headline 
    It is a one-line phrase that briefly summarizes a candidate’s experience, strengths, and qualifications.
  3. Summary or Career Objective 
    3-5 sentences that define you as a professional individual. It has to be short, strong, and relevant to the position you're applying for. 
  4. Professional Work Experience 
    It should include (1) organization, (2) job location, (3) role title, and (4) beginning and end dates. Quickly highlight a candidate's suitability for the role.
  5. Portfolios and Projects
    It is vital if you are a designer, software engineer, or marketing professional. Adding projects and portfolios can make your resume more appealing and professional.
  6. Skills 
    List your qualification requirement for the job position you’re applying for. That includes hard/soft skills, computer skills, or language skills.
  7. Education 
    Add (1) school title, (2) the city and country, (3) duration of the study, (4) major and degree. List GPA, relevant coursework, academic honors if you have an outstanding record. 
  8. Certificates and Licenses
    
    It brings a positive impression. List online course certificates or competition awards by expertise or chronologically, depending on your needs.
  9. Hobbies or interests (Optional) 
    While it may not be a game-changer, the "Area of Interest" section is an opportunity to show off the personal side of you. Write specific achievements about your interests.
  10. References on resume (Optional)
    
    It is not requested in most cases but can help employers further evaluate the candidate based on an objective perspective. 

If you would like to build a more customized resume format using online resume maker, CakeResume provides rich choices of resume template-snippets segmented by sections. By dragging and dropping resume template-snippets, building a resume template/format on your own is just like a piece of cake.

Free Resume Templates to Download

Chronological resume

resume-format-guideline-chronological-resume-download
Created with CakeResume

Functional resume

resume-format-functional resume-download
Created with CakeResume

Hybrid / Combination resume

resume-format-guideline-combination-resume-download
Created with CakeResume

After choosing your desired resume format, the next big step is to write a professional resume! If you're having difficulty in generating quality contents for your resume, feel free to refer to this ultimate resume writing guideline and land your dream job with ease 🎉 

--- Originally written by Wu Chao Min --- 

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