Best Resume Formats for 2020 [3+ Professional Templates]
There are 3 common resume formats you can choose from:
- Chronologically reverse
- Combination (Also known as Hybrid)
Each of these formats has its own pros and cons, and the format you choose will have a significant impact on your job search.
And in this guide, we’ll teach you how to choose the right resume format for you.
Here’s what we’re going to cover:
- What are the 3 Main Resume Formats
- Resume Format Pros and Cons
- How to Choose Resume Format
- 7+ Basic Resume Formatting Tips
- 5 Free Resume Templates (You Can Steal)
- Resume 101 – What You Need to Know to Create a Persuasive Resume
- Resume Format FAQ
- So let’s get started!
What Are The 3 Main Resume Formats
As we mentioned before, the 3 main resume formats are:
- Reverse chronological – This is the most common and practical resume format. A reverse chronological resume lists your work experiences and skills in reverse chronological order.
- Functional – Also known as a skill-based resume, functional resume is the least popular resume format in 2020. What sets this format apart from the other two is that it focuses on your skills rather than your work experience.
- Combination (or hybrid) – As you probably guessed earlier, this is a combination of the other two formats. It focuses on both skills and experiences.
Here’s what you need to know about each of these resume formats.
Resume Format #1 – Reverse-Chronological
As we mentioned earlier, the reverse chronological resume format is the most popular format in 2020.
It usually looks like this:
And here’s what you’d include in a reverse-chronological resume:
- Contact Information – Your name, phone number, location, and e-mail address. In some cases, you can add useful links such as a GitHub profile.
- Resume Summary or Goal – A brief 2-4-sentence summary of your work experience or goal of applying for a specific position.
- Professional Title – Your Title. This should exactly reflect the location you are applying for.
- Work Experience – Your work experience in reverse chronological order. Whenever possible, talk about achievements rather than responsibilities.
- Skills Section – Skills relevant to the position you are applying for.
- Education – Your educational background. Pro tip – If you have a B.A., feel free to skip your high school education.
- Optional Departments – Volunteering, projects, portfolio, hobbies etc. While sections such as, may not change the rules of the game, they can help fill in some space on your resume.
- Recruiters and HR managers prefer this format.
- It’s easy to slide.
- Provides an easy-to-read chronological history of your work experience.
- The most popular resume format in 2020.
- It’s hard to fill in for a fresh graduate with no work experience.
- It makes career gaps very obvious. If you are a career changer, you may want to try one of the other formats. Which format do most employers prefer for resumés?,#How do I write a good 2020 resume?,#How should a CV look in 2020?,#How can I make my CV stand out 2020?,#How can I make my CV stand out?,#What are employers looking for in a resume 2020?,#How do I list my skills on a resume 2020?,#How do you write a killer resume?,#Should a resume ever be 2 pages?,#How many jobs should I list on a resume?,#What is the best layout for a resume?,#Should I upload resume as PDF or DOC?,#Should you use a template for a resume?,#Should you put retired on a resume?,#What should not be included in a resume?,#Is it OK not to include dates on your resume?,#What looks bad on a resume?,#Do employers like creative resumes?,#What are the 3 main types of resumes?,#How far back should a resume go?,#What is the best color for a resume?,#What’s a headline on a resume?,#How do I know if my resume is good?
Resume Format #2 – Functional
This resume format is also called a skills-based resume format. Its appearance is as follows:
As the name suggests, a functional resume focuses more on skills than work experience.
It is mainly useful for recent graduates or career changers, as your work experience is not the main focus of the resume.
What to include a functional resume:
- Contact Information
- Resume Summary or Objective
- Professional Title
- Skills Summary
- Additional Skills
- Work Experience
As you can see, the main difference from a reverse chronological resume is that the focus of the functional resume is the Skill Summary (or Strengths in the example above).
And it looks like this:
Example of Skills Summary (Areas of Strengths):
- Over 10 years of experience in the service industry as a bartender, waiter and bar manager
- Comprehensive information on cocktails, spirits, wines and all meal restaurant offers
- Experience of managing a team of 3 bartenders
- Ensuring the bar is always stocked
The point of a skill summary is to sell your skill-set rather than your work experience. The above summary, for example, could be that of a bar manager looking to apply for the position of a restaurant manager.
While it’s clear that the person does not have experience as a restaurant manager, the skill summary shows how his skills would make him a great candidate.
The pros and cons of a functional resume are as follows:
Functional Resume Format Pros:
- It is good for emphasizing certain skills.
- Useful if you are changing your career, as you can explain how your skills are transferred to the new job.
- Also useful if you are a recent graduate who has practical skills but does not have much work experience.
Functional Resume Format Cons:
- The functional resume format is not very popular in 2020, and most recruiters and recruiters are not familiar with it.
- Applicant tracking systems (ATS) have difficulty reading functional CVs.
Resume Format #3 – Combination (Or, Hybrid)
The combination resume form, also known as “mixed”, is a mix of functional and inverse chronological forms.
It also comes with a skills summary section, but with more focus on work experience.
Typical sections you’ll find on a combination resume are the same as those of a functional resume, the main difference being the focus on work experience.
What to include in a combination resume:
- Contact Information
- Skill Summary
- Additional Skills
- Work Experience
While a functional resume can have zero or minimal work history, a combination resume places equal emphasis on both.
Usually, the combination CV is for candidates with extensive work experience who need a way to highlight more work experience and skills with less space.
Combination Resume Format Pros:
- It allows you to show more of your experience and skills by using less space.
Useful for very senior professionals or managers who need to emphasize more than their work experience.
Combination Resume Format Cons:
- As in the functional CV format, applicant tracking systems have difficulty reading combination CVs.
- If you have just graduated or do not have much work experience, this resume format is not for you.
How to Choose the Best Resume Format
Now that we’ve covered all 3 common resume formats, you’re probably wondering which one is right for you.
Here is what we recommend:
In 99% of cases we recommend that you go with a reverse chronological resume format.
It is the most common and useful format in 2020:
- Applicant can read tracking systems without any problems.
- All recruiters and hiring managers are familiar with this format.
- This is the easiest way to work together, whether you’re a recent graduate or a senior professional.
The only case we’d recommend going with a functional or mixed resume is if you’re a career changer and even then, it’s still pretty risky.
Correct, a combination or a mixed resume will help you highlight your skills rather than work experience. However, neither of these resume formats are that popular in 2020.
After all the time you spend creating the resume, there’s a big chance that the applicant tracking system won’t be able to read your resume and delete it automatically!
At the same time, recruiters may not be familiar with these resume formats or they may think you are just trying to hide your inexperience and disqualify you based on that.
So, rule of thumb – when in doubt, go for reverse chronological resume.
7+ Essential Resume Formatting Tips
- Want to avoid all the hassle of formatting your resume? Just use an online resume builder. The software will help you structure your resume and the only thing you have to worry about is the contents!
- Do not go over a single page. The resume should be a summary of your work experience, not your whole life story.
- Use standard section headings. For example: your work experience should be called “Work Experience”, not “work history”. This is because application tracking systems search these titles for information.
- Choose a resume font that helps you stand out. We recommend Ubuntu, Roboto or Overpass.
- Configure your work experience section as follows: Company Name, Location, Job Title, Start and End Dates, Responsibilities, and Achievements.
- Speaking of responsibilities and achievements, list them in bullets. Prioritize achievements according to responsibilities and don’t exceed 6-8 rounds per position.
- Save your resume as PDF or Docx. Both formats can be read by application tracking systems. Whatever you do, don’t send a JPEG of your resume!
5 Free Resume Templates (You Can Use Right Away)
Did you choose your resume format? Great!
The next thing you need now is an easy-to-read professional resume template.
Here are some of our best templates (you can play!):
#1. Simple Resume Template
Are you looking for something simple yet professional?
Try our simple resume template – well designed, revisable and always a favorite of recruiters.
#2. College Resume Template
College is the perfect resume format for the new graduate.
It puts a little more emphasis on skills than work experience, but doesn’t overdo it like the functional resume format.
#3. Professional Resume Template
Expert is one of our favorite resume templates of all time – we created this in collaboration with several recruiters.
It’s easy to read and review, and recruiters can find the information they’re looking for in a snap!
#4. Modern Resume Template
Would you like your resume design to stand out? So Modern is the way to go.
It comes with a traditional structure and formatting of a traditional resume, with a little creativity sprinkled on it.
#5. Creative Resume Template
Are you applying for jobs in the creative industry?
Then our Creative resume template is the perfect choice for you.
This template is perfect for careers in marketing, advertising, design, and other creative fields.
Resumes 101 – What You Need to Know to Create a Convincing Resume
Choosing the right resume format is just the first step in building a compelling resume.
Would you like to learn how to make a resume that brings you a job?
Check out some of our top career resources:
- The Jobseeker’s Odyssey – This is our most important ebook. It covers literally everything you need to know about job search: how to make a resume, how to write a cover letter, how to apply for jobs effectively, what are the most common job interview questions, and much more. The book is full of values and pictures, which makes it an extremely easy reading.
- How to Make a Resume – Our comprehensive guide on how to make a resume from A to Z.
- Interview Questions and Answers – Are you struggling with job interviews? This guide contains ALL of the most common job interview questions on the market.
- How to Write a Cover Letter – Our ultimate guide to writing a cover letter (free templates included!)
- 50+ Resume Examples – Need some inspiration with your CV? Check out our CV samples for over 50 different positions and fields.
- 43+ Resume Tips – Complete list of all our resume tips, sorted by importance.
- 26+ Interview Mistakes – Whatever you do, avoid making these common interview mistakes.
And of course, for more industry-leading job-search advice, make sure to follow our career blog!
Resume Format FAQ
Still have questions about resuming formatting? We will answer them here!
#1. What’s the best resume format?
The best resume format is inverted chronological format, which is impractical.
- It is very easy to read and review.
- Recruiters and hiring managers are familiar with this format as most people use it.
- It is the most popular resume format in 2020.
- Applicant tracking systems can easily read a reverse chronological resume.
#2. Which resume format is best for students?
The answer is again chronological.
While a functional resume can help you highlight your skills more than work experience, it comes with 2 serious issues:
- Recruiters are not familiar with this and may think you are trying to hide the fact that you have no work experience.
- Applicant tracking systems are having trouble reading this resume format.
- Worried you don’t have any work experience?
- Here’s the thing – for most entry-level positions or internships you DO NOT need any work experience.
- The whole saying, “You need work experience to gain work experience” is a lie. No recruiter would expect an entry-level candidate to have any experience!
#3. What’s the easiest way to build my resume?
The easiest and most effective way to create a resume is to use a resume builder:
Look, if you use a text editor, you can spend hours formatting your resume, but the moment you make a small design change, the whole resume layout gets totally messed up!
On the other hand, there are many benefits of using a resume builder:
- Employer friendly layout. All of our resume templates have been created with recruiters in mind – they are extremely easy to read and review.
- It’s easy to create. Our resume maker is extremely easy to use. All you have to do is fill in the content – we take care of all the resume formatting.
- ATS friendly. Applicant tracking systems can read our resumes perfectly and ensure that you are not automatically disqualified when applying for positions.
- Free (with premium features). Our base builder is completely free, without any hidden paywalls! However, if you want to upgrade the resume design or access a few great features, you can always upgrade to Premium.
Want to give it a go?
Now, let’s do a quick recap:
- There are 3 common forms of resume: reverse chronological, functional and combination (or hybrid).
- The reverse chronological format is the most popular in 2020 and we always recommend you go with it.
- A functional resume focuses on skills rather than work experience and is often used by career changers or students.
- A combination resume is a mix of functional and reverse chronological formats, with equal emphasis on work experience and skill set.
- Both functional and combination resumes are not very popular and applicant tracking systems have trouble reading them.