Resumes & Cover Letters

Resume Format Guide (With Tips and Examples)

August 25, 2020

A great resume can help you stand out from other applicants. Formatting your resume properly is an important step in your job search. In this article, we will discuss the best ways to format your resume for your career objectives.

Three popular resume formats:

Three popular resume styles are chronological, functional or combination. Certain roles may be more suited to one style. Your goal should be to present your information in a way that allows employers to recognize easily why you are an ideal candidate.

Chronological resume

The chronological resume will display your work experience in reverse-chronological order. Note your most recent position at the top. This is a very traditional format and is often used in many industries today.

A chronological resume often lists information in this order:

  • Contact details
  • Objective/goals statement
  • Work experience
  • Relevant skills
  • Education
  • Additional information (i.e., volunteer work and special interests)

A chronological resume suits candidates whose employment record is consistent. If you've spent the past several years in the same profession advancing steadily to more senior positions, this type of resume format is a good option for you.

Functional resume

A functional resume features skills rather than work history. It may include information in this order:

  • Contact details
  • Summary or objective statement
  • Relevant skills
  • Experience
  • Education
  • Additional information (i.e., volunteer work and special interests)

A functional resume is also a good idea if you're re-entering the workforce after a lengthy pause.

Combination resume

A combination resume may work for you if you don't have many gaps in your employment history. A combination resume is a blend of the chronological and functional resume types. It emphasizes your work experience along with your relevant skills.

The combination resume often includes the following information in this order:

  • Contact details
  • Goals or objective summary
  • Work history
  • Relevant skills summary
  • Education

The combination resume is a more flexible format; you can list either your skills or your work experience first depending on which you consider more important for the role.

How to format a resume

A well-formatted resume is an easy-to-read document. Employers only plan a short amount of time to look through resumes, so your formatting decisions must present the information clearly and make your most impressive qualifications easy to find.

Here are the key steps for formatting a resume:

  1. Choose appropriate margins
  2. Select a font
  3. Adjust the font size to 12 point
  4. Use section headers
  5. Use bullet points where appropriate
  6. Look at other resumes

1. Choose appropriate margins

Standard margins for resumes are one inch on all sides. If you adjust your margins out of this measurement, it is best to keep them under 1.5 inches. Left-aligning your resume makes it easier to read. Using center-alignment judiciously for headers is an option if you want to further stylize the resume.

2. Select a font

Many companies employ an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to aid in screening resumes. It doesn't always read and interpret intricate fonts correctly. Avoid “light” or “thin” fonts as they are often more difficult to read. Sans serif fonts (fonts without tails) are excellent fonts for resumes. Their clean lines are easy to read.

Here are several examples of the best resume fonts:

  • Avenir
  • Calibri
  • Cambria
  • Constantia
  • Corbel
  • Franklin Gothic
  • Garamond
  • Georgia
  • Gill Sans
  • Helvetica

3. Adjust the font size to 12 point

Generally, 12 point font is a standard size. Anything more might appear cartoonish or unprofessional. If you think you need a smaller font to include more information, you may actually need to streamline.

4. Use section headers

Stylizing the font for section headers can help employers quickly find the information they are looking for. You can do this in a few different ways:

  • Make your section headers bold
  • Enlarge section headers to 14 or 16 points
  • Use underlines for section headers

These adjustments can also be applied to your contact details at the top of the resume.

5. Use bullet points where appropriate

Bullet points can be used to list achievements in an eye-catching way, but if you have less than three pieces of information, simply list them in sentence form.

For example, under a position you've held in the experience section, you would use bullets to communicate how you were successful in that role:

  • Consistently operated overhead cranes, hoists, power tools and other project equipment in a safe manner
  • Anticipated needs of 11 on-site workers and delivered parts to 23 field technicians
  • Completed weekly service reports, time cards and other related project equipment paperwork

In the education section, you might not have three or more ideas to share, so it might look something like this without bullet points:

McGill UNIVERSITY
Aug. '11–May '15
Ph.D. Mathematics

6. Look at other resumes

Researching other resumes that have been submitted for positions you are interested in can help you decide on a format. Examples are available for various fields on the internet. You may notice a certain format is particularly popular for a specific job, and it can be used for inspiration for your own. You may also confirm that the format you have chosen aligns with the industry you are seeking to find a role in.

Resume format examples

Here are some popular resume format samples:

Chronological

Mario Tremblay
1234 Durocher
Montreal QC H3N 6YJ
MTrem@email.com

Objective

Communications professional seeking a position in a nonprofit organization. I'd like to put my public relations skills to work and exercise my passion for philanthropy.

Experience

*Public Relations Manager
Charity Help, 2017–Present
Plan and direct public relations programs to increase awareness of Charity Help in the community. Manage PR staff. Mentor to junior public relations personnel.*

*Public Relations Specialist
Charity Help, 2015–2017
Collaborated with PR team on all fundraising efforts and special projects. Developed the organization's brand guidelines.*

*Communications Coordinator
Synergy Company 2013–2015
Increased brand visibility via social media campaigns and digital advertising. Conceptualized and distributed printed marketing information.*

Professional Skills

  • Public relations
  • Corporate communications
  • Management/Team mentor
  • Interpersonal communications
  • Workflow streamlining

Education

Brock University, 2008–2012
Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology

Volunteer Work

Salvation Army
Soup Kitchen Manager
2016–Present

Functional

Tim Torrance
1234 Town road
Toronto, ON, P7H 2G9 Canada
TTOR@email.com

Objective

I am a hardworking sales professional with more than 10 years of experience seeking a senior sales position in the automotive industry.

Areas of Expertise

*High-end cars and specialty vehicles
I have a wealth of experience in selling luxury vehicles ranging from classic sedans to custom turbomachines. In previous roles, I've expanded the customer base, handled account management in high volume showrooms and bespoke operations.*

*Relationship Management
I am skilled in fostering new client relationships and I understand how to deepen connections with existing clients. I have drawn on my experience as an amateur race car driver to build rapport thereby increasing client retention rates.*

*Sales Team Leadership
I have overseen a team of more than eight salespeople at a time. I enjoy coaching and mentoring junior sales representatives. I have repeatedly helped teams exceed monthly, quarterly and yearly quotas.*

Work Experience

*Regional Sales Manager
York Autos 2012–2017
Managed a team of sales associates. Trained and mentored new sales representatives. Collaborated with over 100 existing clients and 60 potential clients.*

*Account Manager
Luxury Car Den, 2008–2012
Managed a large account list including private custom work and mid-sized fleet orders. Optimized account growth through regular follow up on a monthly basis with quarterly updates.*

*Junior Sales Associate
Drive Away Deals., 2006–2008
Increase awareness of Drive Away Deals inventory in the Luxury automobile market through on-site education. Shared information about new models to help establish relationships with new prospects.*

Education

University of British Columbia 2002–2006
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration

Certifications

Certified Formula One Driver

Combination

Jane Sorrel
555 Main Avenue
Kingston, ON J7H 2B8
jsorel3@email.com

Professional Experience

*Creative Director
Taxi Ads, 2015–Present
Oversee a team of 12 creatives; designers and copywriters. Manage all in-house projects. Confirm all deliverables meet brand stipulations.*

*Senior Graphic Designer
Taxi Ads, 2013–2015
Create designs for all digital work. Initiated website revamp. Formulated the current in-house brand style guide utilized by the entire creative department.*

*Graphic Designer
Swift Logos, 2010–2013
Designed concepts for web and print design, featuring websites, mobile sites, digital ads, business cards and trade show material.*

Related Skills

*Team Management
Mentor, coordinate and lead team meetings for creatives.*

*Project Management
Oversee creative process; timeline, resource coordination, internal communication. Share progress reports with outside stakeholders.*

*Branding
Design logos, create brand styles, offer brand color possibilities and make style guides to secure continuity across all projects.*

Additional Skills

Illustration, Typography, Liaison, Administration, Mobile Design, Adobe Creative Suite

Education

Concordia University Montreal, 2005–2009
Bachelor of Art in Graphic Design. Certificate in Advertising.

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