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Understanding Resume Formats

The Best Resumes Start With
A Great Resume Design

Resume formats should be chosen wisely. The best resumes are the ones that fit your situation best. Find out how resume design can impact your job hunting success.

I'm going to get into how to choose the right format for a resume as you read on down this page, but if you'd rather get professional help, then I highly recommend a service called You can read about it here. It is truly "resumes made easy"!
Which resume format will make the best resume design for you?

The word "resume" comes from the French word for summary. It follows then that a resume serves as a summary of your work history. But it is much more than that.

A resume is also your marketing tool to portray your talents and to sell your future employer on the potential benefits you'll bring to the organization.

You're probably familiar with resume formats that list your various jobs in reverse chronological order, along with a listing of your job duties. At one time, this was the only format recruiters expected to see. But the truth is that this resume design really isn't going to make the best resumes for every person or every situation.

If you lack experience, have a spotty work history, or want to change careers, a different format may work better for you... one that will highlight your strengths, while de-emphasizing your weaknesses.

Choices in Resume Formats

Get the Right Resume for Your NeedsMost experts seem to agree that there are 3 main resume designs or formats:

  • The Chronological Resume Format. This traditional resume design presents your job history and education strictly by date, with the most recent first. The emphasis is on your work history.

  • The Functional Resume Format. This resume design is less common. It is sometimes called a skills resume or skills-based resume because skills, rather than work history, is the focus. It usually contains a summary of qualifications that is organized by education, experience, and skills.

  • A Combination Resume Format. You may also hear this resume type called a hybrid resume. It's exactly what the name says, a mix of the other two types, and is becoming more and more popular, because it focuses the reader on your skills, while still providing a fairly descriptive job history.

  • Curriculum vitae. This is a wholly different resume design used by people in education and research in the U.S. and by all job seekers in other parts of the world. The CV, as it is known for short, goes into much more depth than a typical resume, and can be several pages long.

Or Maybe Resume Format Means Something Else to You?

However, if you found this page through a web search for the term resume formats, you might have been thinking of other factors, such as...

  • Should I go with a printable paper resume, a digital resume sent through an online service or via email or an electronic resume to be displayed on a website?

  • Should my resume format be just text, or can I add geographic elements such as lines and boxes, or even pictures?

  • What kind of file format should I save my resume in... plain text (TXT), a Microsoft Word file (DOC), or a PDF file?

  • Should my resume be designed around one particular employer (a targeted resume), or is it more general, to be used for any job I may apply for (sometimes called an inventory resume)?

For the best resumes, use the right format

On this website, I'll use the term "resume formats" to mean chronological, functional, etc. I'll refer to the other factors in terms of layout or templates. These factors will be discussed in other areas of this website.

So, to sum up, it is important that your resume be individualized to both you and the job that you are seeking. But almost as important is creating your best resumes by choosing the best resume formats for each situation.

You may want to consult with a professional resume writing service to help make that decision. But if you're the type who likes to do things on your own, you may be wondering how one goes about selecting the right format.

Thought you'd never ask!

First off, you can click the links above to learn more about each resume design choice. You can also visit this page to learn about how to choose between formats...

Learn More About Writing a Resume

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