Who should use a chronological resume format?
- Anyone who is applying for an executive-level position.
- Job seekers who have 10+ years of experience in the same industry.
- Applicants who want to show off an impressive career progression.
Every job advertisement receives around 250 applications, so if you want to be one of the handful of people that get a callback for an interview, you’ll need to do more than just pack your resume with your best skills and most impressive career achievements.
Now that you have a clearer idea of the elements of a resume, you must choose the resume format that best fits your level of work experience.
Choosing the right format and how you organize your information is just as crucial as what you include in a resume.
Here’s how to choose the best resume format for you:
Although the chronological resume is the most popular, it’s not ideal for every job seeker. Opt for the functional or combination formats if you have less than 10 years of experience.
Employers need to know who you are.
Share your essential contact information in the header section of our resume templates.
Contact information you should include:
Optional contact information:
Contact information you should leave out:
A resume headline is an optional section that states your most attention-grabbing qualifications and your intentions as a job seeker.
This section should be high in your resume, ideally between the contact information and resume summary.
Check out these examples of resume headlines to get a better idea of what to include in one.
An excellent resume headline includes your job title, years of experience and one or two of your most impactful skills or qualifications.
You can find more resume headline examples for your desired job title and learn how to write this punchy intro in our resume headline writing guide.
Recruiters spend around 7 seconds scanning your resume, which is why you should include a brief but impactful opening statement. It should only be a few sentences long and show employers your resume matches the role.
There are two ways you can write this opener; you can opt for a resume summary or a resume objective. But what’s the difference between them, and which should you use?
The resume summary, also called a summary statement or professional summary, is the recommended approach because it concisely summarizes characteristics that make you ideal for a specific job.
Your resume summary should include some of your most job-relevant skills and feature at least one career achievement. Include keywords from the job description and use action verbs; avoid phrases with “I” or “my” pronouns.
Formula to write a resume summary:
Resume summary examples
Graphic designer resume summary:
“Creative graphic designer with seven years of experience creating brand identities for over 15 clients. Experienced in logo typography and color palette creation using Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and After Effects. Created augmented reality (AR) graphics for a mobile smartphone game application which reached an audience of 2 million people.”
Accountant resume summary:
“Diligent Accountant with three years of experience working in the public and private sectors. Adept at creating detailed financial reports and establishing and maintaining budgets. Provided strategic financial planning consultations to corporate clients like Unilever and Walmart.”
In need of a stronger resume summary? Have our Resume Builder suggest a resume summary for your desired role.
The resume objective, or career objective, communicates your goals for a job and the skills and education you have to achieve them. This statement is ideal for less experienced candidates, such as students and those relocating or changing careers.
This paragraph should contain two or three sentences mentioning job-relevant qualifications and skills that compensate for your lack of formal experience.
Formula to write a resume objective:
Strong resume objective examples
Blogger resume objective:
“Blogger with experience in fashion, beauty and lifestyle writing for personal blogs and digital publications seeking affiliate writer position at Teen Vogue to provide engaging and informative shopping advice with excellent copywriting, research and trends analysis. Possess social media management skills and basic graphic design abilities.”
Physical therapy aide resume objective:
“Physical therapy aide certified by Borough of Manhattan Community College seeking physical therapy assistant job at HD Physical Therapy Clinic to offer my PTA services in recordkeeping, equipment setup and data monetization. Self-motivated, organized and responsible PTA that works with initiative.”
Hiring managers will pay close attention to your work history section, so a big part of your success will lie in your work experience.
Your work history section is the bulk of your professional accomplishments.
You must organize this section in reverse-chronological order, so employers see your most recent or current job and work your way down
When you’re listing each job, include:
You don’t need to include every job you’ve had in your resume, but beware of creating gaps between roles!
You should include up to 10 years of career experience in your resume. Focus on the jobs that showcase a logical progression of your career.
For instance, if you’re applying for a graphic design job and spent three years babysitting during your bachelor’s degree, you shouldn’t include this role.
However, if the skills you gained in a job help you excel in the role you’re applying for, include the job in your work experience.
For example, someone who babysat for years can include this experience in their resume if they apply for an elementary school job.
Your work experience should tell employers what you’ve achieved in each role; they want to see your impact. A boring list of responsibilities isn’t going to cut it.
Instead, focus on unique achievements that show you’ve exceeded your role. For example
Numbers speak louder than words!
When writing your work history descriptions, include numbers and metrics to highlight your success. When recruiters scan your resume, dollar amounts or percentages quickly catch their eye.
Some examples of quantifiable metrics on your work history are:
Prove you’re an excellent fit for the role by using resume keywords. You can find keywords by scanning the job ad for skills and qualifications.
You must use these skills and keywords precisely as they appear on the job ad since recruiters and applicant tracking systems (ATS) will scan your resume for them.
However, don’t clutter your resume with buzzwords like “team player” or “people person,” as these will look insincere, and ATS will flag duplicate content.
Look at this fictional job advertisement for a retail sales associate and highlight the keywords. Then, let’s see how you would include these keywords in your resume’s work history section.
We are hiring a dynamic and motivated sales associate for our new location in Altamonte Mall.
You will be responsible for various tasks on the sales floor, cash registers, fitting rooms and stockroom.
Once you’ve noted all the keywords in the job ad, pick the ones that accurately describe your professional experience and skill set. Check out how to use the keywords when describing your work history:
Sales associate work history example:
Sales Associate | Urban Outfitters – Tampa, FL
November 2021 – Current
Cashier | AVO Boutique – Tampa, FL
August 2019 – November 2021
Sales Associate | The Gap – Tampa, FL
January 2019 – August 2019
Take advantage of our pre-formatted resume templates primed to bypass any applicant tracking system
Start sentences with strong action verbs when you begin to write your work history. For example, “Developed new social media strategy” has more impact than “Was responsible for our social accounts.”
Make sure you use different action verbs throughout your work history. If you need some inspiration, check out this list:
Your skills section should include six to eight skills describing your expertise for the desired role. You should have various skills that showcase you’re a well-rounded candidate; therefore, you need hard, soft and technical skills.
Hard skills refer to the specialized knowledge you need to perform a job. You gain hard skills through education or training, so they will vary depending on the job you apply for.
10 hard skills examples
Soft skills are personal abilities that help you interact professionally with your teammates and ensure you do your job as efficiently as possible. You can find these soft skills in candidates across all industries.
10 soft skills examples
Technical skills are a subcategory of hard skills, and they reference your ability to use digital tools and technology for your job’s daily tasks. These skills also vary according to role and industry.
10 technical skills examples
An ideal skills section should include a balanced mix of all skill types: soft, hard and technical to showcase you’re a well-rounded candidate.
How you present your skills on your resume will look different depending on your resume format. You can check out the FAQ on this page to learn more about how to write skills sections or reference our functional and combination resume guides.
Your education section will communicate that you have the academic training to perform your job. Although some companies are dropping college-level educational requirements, the education section provides recruiters with a trusted reference for your knowledge and skills. Besides, jobs in education, law, finance and health care will always require some education or licensing.
Example elements of an education section:
Examples of optional education information:
Now let’s review a few education examples:
Example of a high school student education section
Lincoln High School
Dallas, TX – June 2019
High School Diploma
Example of a GED graduate education section
General Educational Development Diploma (GED)
San Diego, CA – 08/2019
Pro Tip: If your degree is older than five years, consider removing the graduation date to avoid unfair hiring bias from employers determining your age.
Example of a BA graduate’s education section
University of California – San Diego
San Diego, CA
B.S. in Marine Biology
Example of a postgraduate law student education section
Columbia Law School
San Diego, CA
New York, NY – Expected graduation in June 2023
You don’t have to limit your resume’s content to these sections!
Once you’ve mastered these five main resume sections, you can customize your resume with additional sections.
Instead, include as many achievements as you can in designated custom sections.
Some examples of additional resume sections are:
You can create a separate section to list any licenses or certifications you possess.
Even if your role doesn’t require it, you may voluntarily add licenses or certifications showing you have formal training in your field.
List licenses or certifications in your resume by including:
Example of licenses on a resume:
Example of certifications on a resume:
You can add an honors or awards section for any academic or professional recognition you’ve received.
“Honors” tend to relate to academic achievements, whereas “awards” refer to academic and professional accolades.
Types of honors and awards you can include on a resume
Example of an honors resume section:
Example of an awards resume section:
You can add a section in your resume to showcase any large-scale projects you’ve led or participated in your company or even personal side projects.
This “Projects” section benefits less experienced candidates who want to show employers they have experience in specific areas of expertise relevant to the role.
Example of a projects resume section:
If you’re a writer or an academic investigator, you may want to showcase any publications you’ve written during your career.
Depending on your field of study, you will use different citing methods such as APA, MLA or Chicago.
If you’re working in academia and have a long list of publications, you might be better off with a curriculum vitae (CV) instead of a resume. If so, we can also show you how to write a CV.
Example of a publications resume section:
Sharing volunteer work in your resume is a great way to show you mesh well with a company’s culture.
Besides showing your commitment to helping others, volunteering also allows you to develop skills to help you professionally.
Example of a volunteer work resume section:
Digital Marketing Volunteer
Habitat for Humanity-Restore
East Bay/Silicon Valley, CA
02/2022 – 03/2023
Administrative Support Volunteer
Building Futures with Women and Children
Bay Area, CA
10/2019 – 12/2021
Writing this section is as straightforward as listing the languages you can speak. However, you can add extra information, such as your fluency level.
Example of a languages resume section:
Spanish: Native language
Including a section for internships is a great addition to your resume if you’re a new job seeker just starting your career.
You can compensate for your lack of formal work experience with various internships you’ve completed.
Example of an internships resume section:
Full-stack Developer Intern | Onyx, Miami, FL
01/2023 – Current
Software Testing Intern | DEF Software Solutions, Miami, FL
08/2022 – 11/2022t
Include additional sections if they showcase relevant skills and experience for your desired job. Don’t overstuff your resume and extend it beyond two pages with information that won’t benefit recruiters.
Double-check information like dates and the spelling of company or school names, and ensure your contact information is accurate and current.
It won’t matter if you’re the most qualified candidate in the world if your resume contains spelling and grammatical errors.
Check each of your resume sections for typos and formatting errors. Read the page from top to bottom, run it through an online spell-checker like Grammarly or have a copyeditor friend review it before deeming it ready for recruiters.
Take advantage of our Resume Builder’s built-in spell-checker, which revises your grammar and syntax as you write
A cover letter helps you sell yourself to the employer by providing more context to the career accomplishments showcased in your resume.
We already covered how important it is to tailor your resume for every job application to increase your chances of getting hired.
The same goes for the cover letter, another document you should continually customize to show different employers how you can fulfill the role’s specific demands.
Do you need a quick cover letter for your next job application? Our Cover Letter Builder writes full-page letters according to your desired job, matches your working style, and accounts for any gaps in your work history in mere minutes
To wrap up, let’s review the major steps for writing a resume:
When learning how to make a resume, start with a strong summary of your qualifications and emphasize the value of your skill set and industry knowledge. If you have limited work experience, move your education section above the work history and list any academic honors. Remember, you may have internships or volunteer experiences that can make up for formal experience.
To learn how to write a resume that will pass an ATS, you’ll need a clean, easy-to-scan resume template. You’ll also need to study the ad carefully to ensure that your content mentions the most critical keywords from the job posting. Customize your resume whenever you apply for a job to emphasize your most relevant skills and experience for the role.
The amount of work experience you should include in your resume will depend on your years of experience. You don’t need to include every single job you’ve ever had. Instead, list your most recent and relevant experience for your desired role.
Job seekers with no experience: Include any internships or apprenticeships you’ve completed during your education or training. Mention your participation in college associations (especially if you occupied a leadership position) or any special projects you completed during your final year. Make these accomplishments stand out in a functional resume.
Entry-level candidates: List all your work experiences up until now and emphasize quantifiable accomplishments.
Mid-level candidates: Provide a detailed description of any responsibilities that went beyond your job description, showing you’re prepared for a promotion.
Senior-level candidates: Showcase every role you’ve had up until the past 10 to 15 years.
If you’re writing a functional resume, you will choose three core skills that best reflect your abilities (even better if they’re keywords from the job ad). For each core skill, you will include two to three bullet points describing what accomplishments prove you excel in that respective skill.
Teacher functional skills section example:
Combination resumes can have just one listed skills section, or you can pair it with a “summary of qualifications” or “summary of skills.” In the summary of qualifications, you can share more job-relevant skills and achievements that demonstrate you’re prepared for the role. Junior and mid-level job seekers can use this summary of qualifications to show employers they’re ready for the job despite having little experience.
Customer service representative summary of qualifications example:
Summary of Qualifications
More resources for writing your resume
How to Write a Resume Education Section
How to Write a Resume When You Have No Work Experience
Avoid These 10 Resume Mistakes
Sources: Finances Online, “10 Current Resume Trends & Forecasts for 2022/2023 You Should Be Thinking About”