Your resume is important for introducing you to prospective employers. The goal is to showcase your qualifications, skills, and career accomplishments to make the case that you’re a worthy candidate for a given position. One of the first things you’ll need to do to create a compelling resume is decide which format will help make you shine.

Structuring your resume in the right format can help ensure you present yourself to recruiters in a clear, engaging way. For the majority of people, the chronological resume format is the best one to choose. But there could be situations where it might make more sense to structure your resume differently, such as if you’re changing careers, have a nontraditional working background, are in a creative field, or have other reasons.

In addition to the chronological resume format, other format options include functional resumes, combination resumes, targeted resumes, and creative resumes. This guide will break down each format to help you decide which one is best for your job search.

Chronological Resume Format

A chronological resume presents your job history, starting with your most current position and working backward. This is the most common resume format for people with a traditional job history, as it is experience-focused and demonstrates your career growth and professional accomplishments.

  • Chronological resumes are easy to read
  • This format illustrates how your career has progressed and your promotions
  • The format is recognizable to Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)
  • It can make any gaps or changes in employment more noticeable
  • Past accomplishments could get lost if they happened a while ago
  • If you have a nontraditional work history, it can be difficult to use this format

When to use a chronological resume format

Job seekers who have had a fairly consistent work history should use a chronological resume. It’s the type of resume that recruiters and hiring managers expect to see, so it’s easy for them to scan to get a sense of your professional accomplishments.

Chronological resume template and example

Your chronological resume should include the following sections to help create a narrative that tells your professional story:

  • Contact information
  • Profile (a two- to three-sentence summary of your professional accomplishments and skills)
  • Key skills (a bulleted list of your five to 10 top skills)
  • Professional experience (start with your current job and work backward)
  • Education and certifications

Your Name
(123) 456-7890
[email protected]
New York, NY 12345
LinkedIn | Portfolio


A digital marketing leader with over 10 years of experience defining brand strategy and executing high-impact campaigns for enterprise clients. A proven track record of spearheading digital marketing initiatives to drive audience engagement and enhance market penetration. Adept at collaborating with diverse cross-functional teams, stakeholders, and C-level executives.

Key Skills

  • Brand messaging
  • Cross-functional leadership
  • Data analytics
  • Digital marketing strategy
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) marketing


Professional Experience

Digital Marketing Director, Avant Marketing Solutions Inc., New York, NY
October 2017 – present

  • Oversee all aspects of digital marketing campaigns for enterprise client accounts valued at $400,000 to $1.5 million, define brand strategy in alignment with business objectives, and implement data analytics to monitor and enhance campaign performance
  • Manage, build, and develop a marketing department with 25 team members, establish a collaborative, forward-thinking work culture, and provide coaching and mentorship
  • Implement a wide range of digital marketing strategies to increase monthly web traffic for clients by 20% to 45% on average

Digital Marketing Manager, Brooklyn Marketing Professionals Inc., New York, NY
May 2013 – October 2017

  • Managed and executed over 40 end-to-end digital marketing campaigns for large business accounts, analyzed competitor pages and marketing trends, and conducted link-building keyword optimization to increase organic click-through-rate (CTR) by 3% to 5% on average
  • Led initiatives to revamp brand messaging and SEO marketing strategy for a client account valued at $700,000, resulting in a 35% increase in monthly web traffic



Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Digital Marketing
Columbia University, New York, NY September 2009 – May 2013


Digital Marketing Certification, HubSpot, July 2014

Functional Resume Format

A functional resume is a skills-based resume. Unlike a chronological format that lists your jobs in descending order, a functional resume groups your key skill sets together. It allows you to elaborate on how you applied those skills in various work settings. While it’s not as common as chronological resumes, it can be useful for people with nontraditional work histories.

  • It can help career changers illustrate how prior skills transfer across sectors
  • This format emphasizes your qualifications rather than where you worked
  • It can help lessen the impact of employment gaps
  • ATS may not be able to read this format as well
  • They may not be as easy to read
  • May be harder to show career growth since it is not a narrative structure

When to use a functional resume format

A functional resume can bring skills to the forefront for people who want to change careers, have had large gaps in employment, or have limited experience. Just be mindful this type of resume format isn’t the norm, so you run the risk of recruiters not preferring it or ATS that aren’t adept at reading it.

Functional resume template and example

The bulk of your functional resume should be your main skills, with examples below each. Set up your functional resume with the following sections:

  • Contact information
  • Profile
  • Key skills (these will be headers, with bulleted lists of how you applied each skill)
  • Education
  • Professional experience (just a list of job titles, employers, and dates of employment)

Your Name
(123) 456-7890
[email protected]
LinkedIn | Portfolio
City, State Abbreviation zip code


Dedicated and results-oriented customer service representative with over seven years of experience. Proven track record of delivering solid support for Software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies. Strong foundation in communication and multitasking. Thrives in dynamic customer-centric roles, providing unparalleled service remotely.

Relevant Skills

Customer service:

  • Assisted customers with complex cases, reducing escalations by 19%
  • Communicated customer requests to the product team, contributing to efforts to put the users first and improve software performance
  • Dedicated two hours each week to learn about proprietary software and current blockers, making it easier to solve problems and keep customers happy

Effective communication:

  • Interacted with customers via their preferred method of communication (phone, email, or live chat) to maintain a 98% satisfaction rating
  • Translated complicated concepts, making it easier for customers to understand
  • Created a Slack thread to maintain constant communication with over 20 staff from the product and sales teams


  • Discovered a recurring login problem attributed to outdated browser compatibility, leading to a 17% reduction in login-related support tickets
  • Created a step-by-step guide for customers when the product experienced a temporary service interruption, allowing them to continue working with limited disruptions
  • Satisfied a customer who was struggling for weeks with data syncing by identifying and adjusting an issue with their firewall settings



Associate of Science (A.S.) Business Management, September 2020 – June 2022
Portland Community College, Portland, OR

Professional Experience

Customer Service Representative, DataWave Solutions, Medford, OR
November 2018 – September 2020

Customer Service Representative, Cloud Innovations, San Jose, CA
May 2014 – November 2018

Combination Resume Format

A combination resume format is what it sounds like – a hybrid resume that has elements of both a chronological and a functional resume. It brings the skills section to the forefront but also includes a detailed but somewhat condensed professional experience section.

  • Focuses on skills but also provides a brief chronological job history
  • It allows for more flexibility in presenting your best attributes
  • It could be repetitive if items in your skills section also appear in your experience section
  • These resumes can run longer than other formats

When to use a combination resume format

A combination resume can be effective for new or recent graduates who don’t have a long work history to showcase but want to emphasize skills and then list part-time jobs or internships. But it can also be useful for someone who’s been working for a long time and has had many jobs since the combination resume allows them to condense past experience.

Combination resume template and example

Your combination resume should be broken into these sections:

  • Contact information
  • Profile
  • Key skills (with quick bullets until a skill heading)
  • Professional experience (just one or two bullets for each)
  • Education and certifications

Your Name
(123) 456-7890
[email protected]
LinkedIn | Portfolio
City, State Abbreviation ZIP code


Results-driven bank teller with more than 10 years of experience, excelling in customer relations, institutional banking, and commercial finance. Recognized for effectively delivering banking solutions that help clients meet their financial aspirations. Holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting.

Technical Skills

  • BankWare
  • Cash-handling
  • Federal financial regulatory compliance
  • Finastra
  • Transaction processing


Professional Skills

  • Cross-selling
  • Cultural competency
  • Customer confidentiality
  • Customer service
  • Detail oriented



Bachelor of Science in Accounting, August 2010 – May 2015
Boston University, Boston, MA


  • Certified Bank Teller, American Bankers Association, 2016


Professional Experience

Lead Bank Teller, US Bank, Columbus, OH
June 2018 – present

  • Connected with customers to cross-sell banking products, contributing to a 30% increase in new account sign-ups and a 20% increase in credit card applications within a fiscal year.

Bank Teller, Chase, Columbus, OH
August 2015 – May 2018

  • Identified and prevented fraudulent transactions, protecting against potential losses exceeding $100,000.


Targeted Resume Format

A targeted resume format is when you create a resume tailored for a specific job. Ideally, always tweak your resume when possible to highlight the specific skills and qualifications listed in your job posting of interest.

  • You can improve your chances of being called if you can demonstrate a close match to the job description
  • In most cases, you can turn your master resume into a customized one by reworking your profile section, reordering items, or listing a different skill or two
  • Targeted resumes require more time and effort, especially if you’re applying to many jobs
  • If your resume is too closely matched to the job posting, it could make a recruiter suspicious

When to use a targeted resume format

Creating a targeted resume can benefit you anytime you’re applying for a position you are well-suited for and really want. If you’re applying to dozens of jobs, you may not have time to do this for every one, but it’s a must when contacting dream employers.

Targeted resume template and example

A targeted resume should include the same major sections as a regular resume template. The details within will be customized for each prospective employer.

Your Name
(123) 456-7890
[email protected]
LinkedIn | Portfolio
City, State Abbreviation zip code


Accounting professional and CPA with six years of experience preparing financial reports, reconciling accounts, and harvesting revenue loss by identifying banking errors. Works closely with the chief financial officer (CFO) as a financial adviser and key voice in strategic budgeting.

Key Skills

  • Accounts payable/receivable
  • Cross-functional collaboration
  • Data analysis
  • Financial planning
  • QuickBooks
  • Tax accounting


Professional Experience

Senior Accountant, Epitome Products, El Paso, Texas
October 2019 – present

  • Decreased company financial errors by 10% during a two-year period
  • Collaborates with company president and CFO to address strategic financial planning and arrange effective audits
  • Prepares monthly closing and profit loss statements for C-suite leaders and board of directors
  • Improves client relationships by resolving past-due and missed payments
  • Expedited QuickBooks processes, training accounting support staff to utilize the program more efficiently

Staff Accountant, KMH Associates, Concord, New Hampshire
June 2015 – October 2019

  • Prepared debit and credit documents for a client base exceeding 200
  • Assisted with weekly account audits
  • Analyzed all client transactions with clients, vendors, and employees to ensure accuracy



Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Accounting, September 2011 – June 2015
Temple University, Philadelphia, PA


  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA), New Hampshire State Board of Accountancy, 2015
  • QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor, QuickBooks, 2017


Creative Resume Format

Creative resume formats are design-focused and unconventional and typically used to stand out visually. It might look like an infographic or an advertisement with various imagery, colors, and fonts. These formats are best if you are sending a physical paper resume by mail or handing one to a recruiter, or uploading it as a PDF to your website.

  • They are eye-catching and can give a design-oriented job seeker the chance to showcase their skills
  • They can help you stand out from other candidates
  • Many recruiters prefer a traditional resume over a creative one
  • This format will not do well with ATS, which only works with text-based resumes

When to use a creative resume format

If you’re applying for a position in the visual arts or a similar role, you may wish to craft a creative resume to showcase your design skills. However, it’s wise to also have a traditional, text-based version of your resume if you’re applying to jobs online.

Creative resume template and example

A creative resume doesn’t have a specific template, though it should include the major elements on any resume: contact information, profile, key skills, education, and professional experience.

Your Name
(123) 456-7890
[email protected]
LinkedIn | Portfolio
City, State Abbreviation ZIP code


A digital creative director with six years of experience specializing in user experience (UX) design, brand graphics, and social media asset creation. A proven track record of designing engaging newsletters, social graphics, and other brand assets for health care clients to increase user engagement. Adept at collaborating with key organization stakeholders in marketing, sales, site development, and leading large-scale branding initiatives.

Key Skills

  • Adobe Creative Suite
  • Branding
  • Digital advertising
  • Graphic design
  • Visual communications


Professional Experience

Digital Creative Director, Enterprise Healthcare, Atlanta, GA
August 2021 – present

  • Coordinate with creative teams and marketing departments to deliver brand assets for web pages, mobile applications, and digital campaigns that contribute to over $1.2 million in annual revenue
  • Spearhead a successful rebrand, which contributed to a 40% increase in new business
  • Oversee digital marketing and social media campaigns, leading a team of over 15 marketing specialists, graphic designers, and UX designers

Associate Creative Director, Blue Eagle Marketing, Atlanta, GA
February 2017 – June 2021

  • Developed new and enhanced creative projects, including visual assets, corporate communications materials, and social media assets for client accounts valued at $1.5 million and up
  • Coordinated with client stakeholders and external freelance content teams of more than 25 to develop cohesive brand aesthetics across platforms
  • Executed a complex rebrand with a fintech startup that led to a 72% increase in user engagement



Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Marketing, August 2012 – May 2016
Emory University, Atlanta, GA


  • Adobe Certified Professional, Certiport, 2017


Choosing the Right Format for You

To decide which resume format is best for you, do the following.

Assess your career goals and experience

Does your career history consist of successive jobs without any major employment gaps? Have you mostly worked in the same field? Are you fresh out of college or have you changed careers? Depending on how you answer these questions, a particular resume format may suit you best.

Consider the industry and job type

Some types of jobs and industries are more “traditional” and expect things to be done in a certain way. For example, if you’re looking for a government job, you wouldn’t use a creative resume format. In the case of some employers, such as a web design startup, a visually interesting resume might help you stand out.

Tailoring your resume format

As your career progresses or if you’re seeking a particular type of role, you can experiment with different resume formats as needed. For example, you might start out with a combination format when you’re a new graduate, but after a job or two, a chronological resume would be more appropriate.

Tips for Crafting an Effective Resume

No matter which type of resume format you choose, the content itself is ultimately most important. Every resume should contain your current contact information, a summary of your qualifications and strengths, key skills, employment history, and education. The format will simply determine which of those sections are emphasized and their placement.

Other general resume strategies

  • When including bullet points, use strong action verbs and include data points that convey the value you have brought to past employers
  • Triple-check your grammar and spelling
  • Tailor your resume for specific job postings when possible
  • Incorporate keywords that are frequently mentioned in the job descriptions for your field


Andrew Stoner

Executive Resume Writer and Career Coach

Andrew Stoner is an executive career coach and resume writer with 17 years of experience as a hiring manager and operations leader at two Fortune 500 Financial Services companies, and as the career services director at two major university business schools.

Written by professional resume writers and loved by hiring managers

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Frequently Asked Questions About Resume Formats

How long should a resume be?

A resume should be as long as necessary to tell your story. In general, aim for a one-page resume, or if you’re a more seasoned professional, it can be two or more pages. The goal is to include only relevant information and be concise.

Are resume objectives outdated?

Rather than add an objective that discusses career aspirations, modern resumes include a profile section that summarizes the candidate’s qualifications and accomplishments.

Should you format your resume for applicant tracking systems?

Many employers and recruiters rely on ATS to scan and filter resumes by searching for specific keywords. These systems only read text and cannot understand graphical elements. As such, having a text-based, keyword-rich resume is best practice when applying for jobs online.