Chronological Resume Format

Best for experienced professionals

A chronological format is the most popular type. Recruiters prefer it because it puts the most focus on your work history. If you’ve done similar tasks before, it’s strong proof you’ll succeed in the new role!

Chronological is a good resume format for:

  • Job seekers who’ve worked in the same industry for many years (10+ ideally).
  • Applicants who want to show off their career progression.
  • Anyone who is applying for an executive-level position.

Not ideal for:

  • Candidates with less than 10 years of experience.
  • Job seekers who are changing to an industry in which they have no work experience.
  • People who have long gaps between jobs.
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Executive Assistant Chronological Example Resume
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How is a chronological resume organized?

Here’s how to order the sections of a chronological resume:

  • Contact information

    Include your name, email address, phone number and city/state location. Your mailing address is not required. It’s also appropriate to add links to your LinkedIn profile, professional portfolio or website here, if applicable.

  • Professional summary

    Your professional summary is your elevator pitch, two-to-five sentences highlighting what you bring to the table. List your most impressive career statistics, sought-after skills and experience.

  • Work experience

    The work experience section is the primary focus of a chronological resume format, so it should be very detailed. Work history should be listed in reverse-chronological order, with your most recent job at the top. Use data and metrics wherever possible to show your work’s impact for past employers.

  • Skills

    List your most relevant hard and soft skills in this section, paying close attention to those called out in the job ad. It’s standard to list six to eight skills in this section.

  • Education

    For your education section, list your highest degree(s) (e.g., MBA, JD or BA/BS) in reverse-chronological order. If you don’t have a college degree but have a lot of work experience, you can leave this section off your resume.

Combination Resume Format

Best for mid-career professionals

Combination resumes are a happy medium between chronological and functional formats because they focus equally on your skills and work experience. Although they’re not as common as combination formats, they’re growing in popularity and are useful for many roles and scenarios!

Combination is a good resume format for:

  • Job seekers who have had at least two jobs in their field.
  • Candidates who are shifting to a new industry from their previous work.
  • People who are applying for a job that is a promotion from their current role.
  • Those entering a field wherein they have work experience but after an extended leave.

Not ideal for:

  • Candidates with more than 10+ years of experience.
  • People with less than three years of work history.
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Actress Combination Example Resume
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How is a combination resume organized?

Here’s how you can order the sections of a combination resume format:

  • Contact information

    Include your name, email address, phone number and city/state location. Mid-career applicants should consider adding links to their LinkedIn profiles, professional website or online portfolio, if applicable.

  • Professional summary

    Your professional summary should be two to five sentences highlighting the most impressive skills and experience you have developed so far in your career. Think of it like a “greatest hits” of your achievements in the workforce.

  • Summary of qualifications

    Your summary of qualifications should include information about your degrees, relevant training, academic achievements, and a high-level overview of your professional skills. Only include this section if the job requires it.

  • Skills

    Study the job ad to determine the most critical hard and soft skills for the role. Then, add any other relevant skills and training that will make you stand out. Since a combination resume balances skills and experience, make sure this list doesn’t repeat skills you mention in your work history word for word. Try to vary your language!

  • Work history

    List your work experience in this section in reverse-chronological order, with your most recent job at the top of the list. This section should be detailed, so include any metrics that showcase your professional successes.

  • Education

    List your advanced degrees in reverse-chronological order. If you don’t have a college degree, list your high school in this section. Otherwise, leave it off.

Functional Resume Format

Best for entry-level applicants

This format is the least common and is mostly for people trying to focus on their skills because they lack work experience. However, since dates in the work history section are often omitted, it’s also a good format for anyone who has had a long absence from the workforce.

Functional is a good resume format for:

  • Job seekers who have little to no work experience.
  • Applicants who want to show off their skills and education.
  • Those with multiple gaps in their employment history.

Not ideal for:

  • People seeking management or executive positions.
  • Candidates with a long and steady work history.
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Tutor Functional Example Resume
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How is a functional resume organized?

Here’s the order sections in a functional resume format:

  • Contact information

    Be sure to add your name, a professional email address, phone number and city/state location. You shouldn’t add your mailing address, it’s considered outdated.

  • Objective statement

    An objective statement or career objective is your introduction to an employer and where you explain what you hope to achieve in the role. Unlike the other two resume formats, which use a professional summary as standard, here it’s ok to use an objective statement if you need more experience to summarize.

  • Skills

    Study the job ad to determine the role’s most critical hard and soft skills for the role. Then, add any other relevant skills and training that will make you stand out. Since a combination resume focuses on skills and experience, feel free to make this a long list.

  • Professional Skills

    In this section, refer to the three top skills you possess and make sure they feature both hard and soft skills. They can also come from a formal job description. All skills selected should be as relevant as possible. Then break down in sentence form a list of at least three job duties associated with each of the three skills you chose.

  • Work history

    Here, note any relevant work experience you have had, even if it isn’t directly related to your desired role. Including volunteer experience, fundraising projects, or even chores such as babysitting or yardwork is totally acceptable. Dates are optional, unlike in the other formats.

  • Education

    List your degrees in reverse-chronological order, with your most recent degree at the top of the list. If you still need to get an advanced degree or certification, list your high school education.

3 things to consider when choosing a resume format

Before you write your resume, you should figure out which resume format best fits for your experience level and the role you seek. Here are three things to consider that will help you decide how to format a resume:

Choose Your Format

  1. What’s your experience level?

    Different resume formats highlight different aspects of your background. If you want to demonstrate your strong career progression, choose a chronological resume format. With some work experience, between three and ten years, your best choice is a combination resume format. Use a functional resume format if you’re new to the industry but want to emphasize the skills you’ve developed in school.

  2. Do you have a consistent work history?

    If you have gaps in your employment history, this should be a consideration when choosing the best resume format for your job search. If you have taken time off for personal reasons, a functional resume format would emphasize relevant skills over your work history. Or, if you have a small gap in employment and want to apply to jobs related to your previous field, the best resume format for the job would be a combination resume, which highlights your transferable skills. Alternatively, the chronological resume format is a solid choice for a professional with a consistent work history and career growth.

  3. Can you make your resume format ATS-friendly?

    A well-organized resume is critical to getting past an applicant tracking system (ATS). Most companies in the U.S. use ATS software. It weeds out unqualified candidates by scanning resumes for keywords they program it to seek. A well-organized resume format that is easy to scan and puts your most impressive achievements front and center is critical to making it past the ATS and into the hands of a human recruiter. That’s why it’s good to stick to one of the three main resume formats. Using an ATS-friendly format for your resume can increase your chances of getting hired by putting your most relevant skills and experience front and center.

Preformatted resumes
you can use

Now that you know what format you should use, we have preformatted documents called resume templates. They’re a tool that makes it faster and easier for you to make a resume!

A template is pre-designed and organized, so you can skip straight to the writing process. That saves you a lot of time!

Even better, since professional graphic artists created the designs, it ensures you submit a great-looking document for your job hunt.

Here’s a template for each kind of format:

Want even more preformatted resume templates?

Our most powerful tool is our Resume Builder. It comes loaded with 30+ resume templates. You’ll find templates in each resume format! Best of all, it also gives extra help with the writing process in these three ways:

1

It guides you.

It walks you through the process of making a resume, turning it into a series of step-by-step prompts. It’s like having an expert look over your shoulder!

2

Prewritten text suggestions.

It provides expert-written phrases that you can select, customize and add to your resume. All the recommendations match the job to which you’re applying!

3

One-click customization.

You can change your resume’s format or design in a split second with the press of a button! That’ll save you a lot of time from doing it from scratch.

With a resume builder, you can finish your document in just 15 minutes!

Format The Resume

6 resume
formatting tips

The goal of formatting is to create a professional-looking, easy-to-read document that best showcases your valuable experiences. That way, you can pass an ATS and make sure that it’s easy for employers to scan your resume looking for the good bits. Here are six tips you should follow when formatting so that relevant information is clear and easy to find:

  1. 1 Keep one-inch margins

    Make sure your margins are at least one inch on all sides of your resume. This standard practice for resumes and cover letters is sometimes called “business formatting.”

  2. 2 Use appropriate font size

    The point size of your text should be consistent and readable. Stick to between 10 to 12-point fonts on both your resume and cover letter. Any smaller is hard to read, and larger can be distracting.

  3. 3 Choose an easy-to-read font

    Select a font that is clean and professional looking. Otherwise, it will take attention away from the content of your document! Stick to sans serif fonts like Arial, Verdana or Georgia; they’re all great resume font types.

  1. 4 Use proper line spacing

    Typically, resumes should be one page in length for every 10 years of experience, so keep your line spacing at 1.5 points for easy readability. Your information will look cramped if you go under 1.15.

  2. 5Be careful with bullets

    Bullet points are great for condensing information but don’t overload your resume with them! Only use bullets for your work experience and to emphasize key skills.

  3. 6 Double-check your attachment(s)

    The best file format to save and send your document is either a PDF or DOC file. To ensure there are no issues, do this: Send the file to yourself first and open it to check if saving the file has created any formatting changes or errors!

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Resume format FAQ
Which format do most employers prefer for resumes?

While the chronological resume format is the most commonly used, it’s important to choose the best format for your career history and experience level.

The chronological is perfect for you if you have a strong employment history and career progression. However, a functional or combination resume would be a better fit if you are:

  • An entry-level candidate.
  • Making a major career change.
  • Covering up serious gaps in your employment history.
Can I use more than one resume format?

If you apply to multiple jobs, consider several different resume formats. Choosing a format targeted to each job is a good idea.

Based on how much work history you have in the various roles you’re applying to, you want to choose a resume format tailored to your experience level.

You could be applying for positions outside of your previous industry of employment or are returning to the workforce after a break, so you should change the format of your resume accordingly. For more help, feel free to look at our resume format examples.

How do I change my resume format in LiveCareer’s Resume Builder?

In our builder, you can change your resume format in one click simply by choosing a different resume template for your document. There are 30+ templates to choose from in our Resume Builder. You’ll find templates in all three formats!

You can also customize your document by adding relevant resume format sections.

On the left-hand side of the editing dashboard, click the plus sign that says “Add a Section.” That will direct you to the menu with available add-ons such as Accomplishments, Certifications, and Websites. You can also select “Add Your Own” to create sections like “Summary of Qualifications” or “Professional Skills.”

About the Author

Eric Ciechanowski

Eric Ciechanowski CPRW

Eric Ciechanowski is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), certified by the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARWCC). He graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans with a B.A. double major in Creative Writing and Philosophy. His career background includes fields as diverse as education, hospitality, journalism, copywriting, tech and trivia hosting.

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