When it comes to getting your dream job, there's one requirement every potential employer asks for. A resume. And it’s what separates you from the hundreds, or sometimes thousands, of other applicants.
A resume lists your work experience, qualifications, and supporting credentials, with the aim to help you land that position or at least, get you to the interview stage. With a well-designed resume that paints you in the best light, your chances of achieving that goal are increased even further.
In the article below we look at a range of different resume formats and how to pick the right one for your profession and industry.
Table Of Contents: The best format for your resume
According to a study by Ladders, Inc, eye-tracking software reveals recruiters spend an average of just seven seconds looking at each resume. With such little time, you need to make sure your resume captures attention. Whether for a job, internship, or scholarship, you’re competing against a number of other applicants, and a good resume helps you stand out with the best chance of progressing to the next round.
A resume is a snapshot of your educational and career highlights. A resume also:
There are three main types of resume formats: Chronological, functional, and combination. Chronological is the most common and what employers usually expect, however, there are situations where you’ll benefit from a different format.
This format works best for those with a long history of work experience. Each place of employment is listed in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent role first. It’s followed by your education, skills, and any additional information. This makes it easy for recruiters to get an idea of your professional history, presented in an easily digestible format.
Why you should use a chronological format
Chronological resume example
This format is good if you want to highlight specific skills, change careers, or if you have gaps in your experience. It also allows you to tailor your resume to the employer or industry. Start with a paragraph about your skills and what you have to offer, followed by specific work experience that’s relevant to the role. Focusing on your skills up front makes it easy for recruiters to see how you will be good for the role, even if you don’t have the work experience to back it up.
Why you should use a functional format
Functional resume example
This format works for showing a balance between skills and experience and is especially ideal for those who have spent significant time at one workplace and therefore don’t have a long list of previous employers. Start by highlighting your relevant skills tailored to the job, then list your experiment history in reverse chronological order. If necessary, you can address any gaps in your work history.
Why you should use a combination format
Combination resume examples
As we mentioned earlier, when you apply for a job, chances are you’re going to be going against hundreds, maybe even thousands, of other applicants. So if you want to snag the interview, you need your resume design that stands out.
Choose a resume font size that makes it easy to read. If there’s a bit of information to include, it’s better to have your resume run over a couple of pages than cram it with tiny text.
Always leave enough space around the edges, even if sending via a PDF. Your resume may be printed by a recruiter so margins ensure nothing gets cut off.
Use a classic font that is easy to read, avoiding anything that’s too decorative.
A resume is not the time to get creative with imagery. Depending on the role, a photo might help but anything else might distract from the information. Oh, and no emojis.
Often a resume is filled with words so section headers make it easy to navigate. It’s better to make these stand out with a bold text, box, or color.
Your resume should be written in a professional tone with some personality. You want your language to be formal, but not so much that you sound like a robot. Finding that balance is ideal, showing you can get the job done but can also relate to others.
The tone should be professional, polite, and with a touch of personality. Use language you’re comfortable with rather than big words you think will impress recruiters. Also, keep it serious, avoiding humor.
Reduce the number of words down to what’s necessary. Read it out loud to yourself to hear what words you can remove. Keep it brief and avoid waffle.
As above, bullet point gets straight to the point, making it easy for recruiters to scan your website. Use them whenever possible.
Some words are better than others. What you ‘achieved’ is far better than being a ‘go-getter’. Likewise, avoid industry jargon like ‘thinking outside of the box’ when it’s better to talk about ‘innovation’ or ‘ideas’.
The biggest mistake you can make is not thoroughly proofreading your resume. Always run it through a spellcheck
With so many templates on offer, it can be hard to determine what layout is best for you but it helps to consider the industry. To help you decide, here’s an article on different resume formats based on different industries.
In addition, Canva's Online Resume Maker can help narrow down your choices.
Traditional resumes are laid out in a straightforward way that makes it easy to skim. These are ideal when applying for roles at corporate organizations. Some great examples of traditional templates include Blue Lines Simple Resume, Gray Minimalist Resume, or Brown and Black Modern Digital Marketer Resume.
Graphic layouts add a little color or flair to help you stand out. They are more modern resumes and are best suited to creative industries. Try templates like Blue and Red Flat Public Relations Specialist Journalism Resume, Yellow and Gray Creative Resume, or Neon Green and Blue Creative Resume.
Explore more acting resume templates here.
At the least, it should have your name, phone, and email. Include a website address if you have one but an actual address is not needed. You may consider adding and working visa information, but not personal details like age or marital status.
This should be no more than a paragraph to introduce yourself and outline what sort of role you’re after. You can specify whether you want a full- or part-time role, or mention your goals, ambitions, or even desired work environment. Personal attributes, like having a great attitude, might also good to mention.
For a chronological format, start with your most recent role and work backward. Keep it brief with the business, followed by the city or country, and the dates you worked there. Instead of listing what kind of tasks you did, talk about what you achieve with qualitative evidence where possible.
The key here is relevance, so include skills, studies, or certification that is relevant to the role. Many people include the name of their high school, but this usually isn’t necessary.
If you do have relevant skills, take the time to list them. You never know what skills recruiters are looking for, and you don’t want to miss an opportunity. If you’ve been part of a panel or written an article about your industry, be sure to include it.
Companies like to see that you have interests outside of work, however, this is a professional CV so keep this section short. Use bullet points.
It’s common to include one or two names of past employers or reputable people the employer can contact to verify your resume. Before you add these referees, it’s courtesy to call ahead to let them know you are doing so. If you’re not sure whom you would want as your reference, simply put ‘Reference provided on request’.
Most job applications provide an option for a cover letter. It’s not always mandatory but you may like to add a note about why you’re right for the role, no longer than one or two paragraphs. It provides an opportunity to add anything else you think is relevant that may not be on your resume, such as a project you worked on at a previous job.
Writing your cover letter:
We said it before and we’ll say it again: proofread your resume. Spelling errors in a resume is a big no-no, but unfortunately, we all make mistakes.