What is the best resume format for 2023? Which resume format will help you put your best foot forward, make the best first impression, and land the job you dream about?
Perhaps more than any time in history, the time is right–right now–to go after your dream job.
While it is true that it is a job hunters’ employment market in 2023, job search and career success isn’t just about landing any job, it is about landing the right job. The job you really, really want! And there is no denying that your resume plays a major role in landing that job.
Why Does Your Resume Format Matter?
Think about it. Your professional resume is essentially your calling card. It is your introduction to hiring managers and recruiters.
Your resume formatting and the way you choose to communicate your professional skills and work history on the one or two pages that is your resume, are responsible for creating the first impression that these prospective employers have of you. And, like it or not, first impressions matter and more importantly, are often lasting impressions.
Choosing the right format can help you write your professional resume and tell your career story in a compelling and persuasive way that is relevant to the job and gets the attention of recruiters and hiring managers.
The best resume format for you will help you promote your relevant skills for the job and write an accomplishment-filled story of your employment history.
Creative resume formats, if chosen thoughtfully, can even play a primary role in helping you stand out from the hordes of other job seekers competing with you for your dream job.
On the other hand, the wrong resume format and resume layout can make your resume difficult to read. The wrong type of resume can lead you to stuff it with too much or the wrong information and can even make your description of your work history so confusing that it is skipped over by the hiring manager.
The 3 Main Types of Resume Formats
There are three primary types of common resume formats that job seekers use to apply for jobs. These three standard resume formats are the chronological resume, functional resume, and combination resume.
By far, the most practically useful and effective style of resume is what is known as the combination resume format or hybrid format.
But most job seekers are more familiar with the two other types of resumes which together form the foundation for the combination format (and that is why it is called the combination resume format).
Chronological Resume Format
A chronological resume format (also known as a reverse chronological resume format) lists your work history in reverse chronological order with your most recent employment listed first.
A strictly chronological resume is just that: a listing of your work history in reverse chronological order, usually with no professional summary or even any type of resume objective or skills summary. Your education would follow your job history listing.
When people think of a traditional resume, it is this chronological resume format that they are usually thinking of. It is a good format to show career progression and it is an excellent type of resume for accurate entry into applicant tracking systems (ATS).
But, the truth is that while the chronological listing of your work history in a chronological resume is widely preferred by employers and recruiters (especially as compared to the functional resume format, which we’ll cover in a moment), a “strict” chronological resume is almost never used or recommended anymore.
For this reason, none of the resume templates offered by Distinctive Resume Templates are created in this “strict” reverse chronological format.
Functional Resume Format
The functional resume format is the least common of the three main resume formats. But strangely, even though it isn’t commonly used, it might be the most commonly asked for resume format by job seekers looking for help from pros.
This is probably because the functional resume format is often touted as the “solution” to a problematic work history that doesn’t lend itself to a traditional style. And while, yes, it can be a solution in some cases, when actually job searching in the real world, the cons of this format often outweigh the pros.
In short, the functional resume format focuses on skills and experience, rather than employment history like the chronological resume. In fact, functional resume formats de-emphasize or sometimes even completely leave out the chronology of your work experience.
This skills-based resume structure can be useful under certain circumstances. For example, you might choose a functional resume format if you are making a dramatic career change, if you are starting a new career, if you are returning to the workforce after a significant period of time off, or if you have significant gaps in your work history.
Here are three example resumes in the functional format style from our resume templates portfolio.
The first page of a two-page resume, this example resume template for career changes is styled in the functional format.
This simple one-page resume in the functional format is the perfect resume template for an early-career professional.
Another resume template for changing careers, this example resume begins with a strong functionally formatted summary.
However, in general, the functional format is usually used to hide something less-than-attractive in a person’s background. And, for that reason, it raises red flags and makes an immediate negative impression on many hiring managers.
The functional resume format can also cause problems when your resume is entered into an applicant tracking system, as most of these databases are programmed to emphasize your career path chronology.
While not a “pure” functional resume example, many of the resume templates offered by Distinctive Resume Templates are structured in a format that emphasizes the functional over the chronological.
Here are 3 more functional resume format templates that illustrate. Notice the strong emphasis on a professional summary, with lots of page space dedicated to presenting professional qualifications, soft skills, experiences, and accomplishments. The employment history is given less space and in some cases, may even be just summarized on the second page.
The first page of this skills-based resume template is in the functional style; the second page is a career chronology.
This achievements-filled resume template places lots of visual emphasis on the functionally formatted section.
Designed as a resume template for tradespeople, this one-page resume is styled in the functional format.
Combination Resume Format
The combination resume format is by far the most recommended type of resume for most job seekers as it provides the best of both worlds.
Similar to functional resumes, combination resumes begin with a strong resume summary statement skills summary that highlights your most relevant qualifications and experience for the job you are applying for.
Also similar to functional resumes, a combination resume can be especially useful if you don’t have a lot of directly-related work experience or if you are making a career change. This is the perfect resume format for selectively highlighting any aspect of your career or experience, no matter where it falls in your work history.
How a combination resume differs from a functional one, is that after this strong professional summary, the combination format places an equal emphasis on your work history. Beginning with your most recent job and job description, the remainder of your resume will summarize your educational and work history and career progression in reverse chronological order. Here are three example combination resume formats:
Popular as a premium executive resume template, this example is also styled in the combination format.
The first of two pages, this quality resume template is another great example combination format resume.
This combination style of resume is the most commonly used resume format and is often recommended by professional resume writers as the best resume format for most job seekers. It is a good resume format for almost all situations, drawing from the best of both the chronological resume and the functional resume styles.
The three additional sample resume formats shown below are all examples of the combination resume style. The combination resume is especially flexible and allows for lots of creativity, so all of the resume examples are very different. Still, each is organized in what is considered the style of a combination resume.
A Few Final Resume Formatting Pointers
When it comes to your resume format, less is often more. A well-written and formatted resume uses white space effectively and highlights your most relevant skills for the job.
The best resume format balances content with eye appeal and is designed to help draw the reader along from key point to key point as shown in the following example resumes.
Designed as a resume template for experienced professionals, this hybrid format resume is eye-catching and uses design strategically to draw the reader in.
This hybrid/combination resume template for professional jobs is a perfect format to win a competitive edge and interviews in diverse industries.
This minimalist resume template shows how even the simplest design and resume format can be eye-catching and attention-getting.
Whether you choose a functional or combination resume, or even a straight chronological resume, one way to make your resume stand out is to use a creative resume format and design.
Beginning with a professionally designed resume template (aka resume builder) is a fast and easy way to create a dream-job-winning resume for 2023. So whether you are just starting your job search or you are ready to update your current resume, here are 3 more creative resume templates showing different resume format examples to inspire you.
With its unique format, this project manager resume template is a great choice for anyone who works in consulting, contracting, or other short-term project jobs.
This elegant resume template provides another unique, hybrid format to help you keyword-optimize your resume and draw the eye to your key accomplishments.
No matter which resume format you choose, it is important to ensure it is an ATS-compliant resume template. All our resume templates are designed to be ATS friendly.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best resume format for the current job market?
Many experts agree that the best resume format is the combination resume format, also known as the hybrid format. It combines the strengths of both chronological and functional resume formats, providing a balanced focus on skills and experience, as well as employment history.
Why does the format of my resume matter?
Your resume format matters because it plays a significant role in creating the first impression for hiring managers and recruiters. The right format helps communicate your skills, experience, and career story effectively and persuasively, ensuring your resume grabs attention and stands out from the competition.
What are the three main types of resume formats?
The three main types of resume formats are chronological, functional, and combination. The chronological format focuses on work history, listed in reverse chronological order. The functional format emphasizes skills and experience over chronological work history. The combination format provides a balanced focus on both skills and work history.
What is a functional resume format and when should it be used?
A functional resume format focuses on skills and experience rather than chronological work history. This format can be useful when making a significant career change, starting a new career, returning to the workforce after a significant period off, or if there are significant gaps in your work history.
How can I make my resume stand out?
To make your resume stand out, consider using a creative resume format and design. Starting with a professionally designed resume template can make this process easier. These templates are designed to balance content with visual appeal and effectively guide the reader’s attention.
What are the advantages of a combination resume format?
The combination resume format is advantageous as it draws from the best of both the chronological and functional resume styles. It allows you to highlight your most relevant qualifications and experiences upfront while also showcasing a clear, reverse-chronological work history. This format is flexible, adaptable, and suitable for almost all job-seeking situations.
What role does a well-formatted resume play in my job search?
A well-formatted resume can greatly improve your chances of landing your dream job. It helps you present your skills and experiences in a clear, concise, and visually appealing manner, enhancing readability and increasing the chances of your resume being noticed by hiring managers. It can also help you stand out from other candidates applying for the same role.