How to Choose the Best Layout for Your Resume

Resume Layout | How-to & Templates | Resume.com

Quick Navigation


When developing a resume, you can choose from standard layouts depending on your relevant skills and experience. it’s important to consider the different aspects of your unique situation so that you can choose a format that exemplifies your strongest qualities and experience. Each resume layout is designed to highlight your positive qualities. However, which layout you choose will depend on the relevant skills and experience that you possess. This article explains what a resume layout is, differentiates between the three basic options, details the steps for choosing one, lists tips for formatting your resume and provides templates of each resume layout.

What is a resume layout?

Essentially, a resume format dictates the order and manner in which your relevant professional experience is organized on your resume. Though often overlooked, resume formats are an important aspect to consider before creating a resume and can help you to demonstrate your employability more effectively. By choosing the best layout to match your level of experience and unique situation, you will be able to draw attention to the attributes that make you an ideal candidate for the position you are applying for.

Common layouts for resumes

Here are the basic options to choose from when deciding on a resume layout based on your needs:

Chronological layout

Most resumes use a chronological layout because it is the more traditional and recognizable format. Most hiring managers prefer this format because it allows them to quickly identify the information that they are looking for. They also prefer it because it lists work experience and education in reverse chronological order (from most to least recent), making it easier to assess the natural progression and development of your career. Additionally, reverse chronological order allows employers to see your most recent achievements first.

This format is accepted across most industries, levels of experience and positions. It is easily scanned by applicant tracking systems (ATS) that are used by employers to identify keywords in the applications they receive.

Functional layout

Perhaps the least popular of the different resume formats, a functional resume is basically the antithesis of a chronological layout. Using this format, the focus is taken off of professional experience and placed on a candidate’s skills, accomplishments and qualifications.

A functional layout is ideal for individuals with large employment gaps and those that are switching careers because it draws attention to transferrable skills. However, some hiring managers dislike this format because it can take skills out of context. Additionally, ATS have a difficult time scanning this layout because of the untraditional headings.

Hybrid layout

Sometimes referred to as the combined or combination format, a hybrid layout combine elements from the chronological and functional formats, making it one of the preferred layouts. Using this format, a summary statement is placed at the top of the resume, giving employers a short blurb that distills the information found on your resume. The skills section optimizes this resume for ATS by listing relevant skills and keywords. Finally, just like the chronological format, professional experience is listed in reverse chronological order and includes a bulleted list of accomplishments and skills for each position.

How to choose a layout for your resume

Here are some things to think about as you choose the best layout for your resume:

1. First, consider how much relevant experience you possess

Each resume layout is structured differently to accentuate the aspects of your profile that make you an ideal candidate. If, for example, you have followed a traditional career path that has led to positions with more and more responsibility within a specific field or industry, a chronological format is a great way to showcase your experience. However, if you are transitioning into a new industry or role, it may be more beneficial to consider one of the other formatting options.

2. Second, determine if you need to downplay your work experience

In most roles, possessing relevant experience is key. However, there are times when you may need to highlight other areas, such as your skills or achievements, in order to demonstrate that you are the right candidate for the position you are applying for. A functional resume emphasizes your skills instead of your experience, making it the perfect option for individuals with gaps in their employment history and candidates that want to distract from the fact that they are overqualified.

3. Then, decide if you have unrelated experience but possess transferrable skills

If you have experience in different industries or are transitioning into a new career, a combination resume format can highlight your transferrable skills while still accentuating the experience you have gained in other positions.

4. Finally, weigh the pros and cons of each option

While all of the resume layouts are effective, each option does possess positive and negative attributes. Spend some time weighing all of your options before deciding which layout works best for you and your specific situation.

Template for a chronological resume layout

Here is a chronological resume template that you can use to guide you as you create your own resume:

[Name]

[Address]

[Phone number]

[Email address]

[Link to online portfolio]

Objective (optional)

[2-4 skills or characteristics] [position] seeking opportunities with [type of organization or industry].

Experience (listed in reverse chronological order – most to least recent)

[Position/title] | [Company/organization] | [City, state]

[Month and year – month and year]

  • [Bulleted list of key responsibilities and accomplishments]

Education

[University or college], [City, State]

  • [Major and minor]
  • [Graduation date]
  • [GPA (optional and only if over 3.5)]
  • [Notable achievements (such as Dean’s list)]

Skills:

  • [List of hard and soft skills that are relevant to the position]

Template for a functional resume layout

This functional resume template can serve as a guide as you create a resume:

[Name]

[Address]

[Phone number]

[Email address]

[Link to online portfolio]

Objective (optional)

[2-4 skills or characteristics] [position] seeking opportunities with [type of organization or industry].

Qualifications

  • [List of experiences that are relevant to the position and objective]
    • [Accomplishments that illustrate this skill]

Skills

  • [List of relevant hard and soft skills]

Experience (listed in reverse chronological order – most to least recent)

[Position/title] | [Company/organization] | [City, State]

[Month and year – month and year]

Education

[University or college], [City, State]

  • [Major and minor]
  • [Graduation date]
  • [GPA (optional)]
  • [Notable achievements (such as Dean’s list)]

Template for a hybrid resume layout

You can use this hybrid resume template as you develop your resume:

[Name]

[Address]

[Phone number]

[Email address]

[Link to online portfolio]

Summary

[Details of key accomplishments, experience and skills listed on resume in a short paragraph form.]

Skills (listed in reverse chronological order – most to least recent)

  • [Detailed and categorized list of hard and soft skills that are relevant to the position as they relate to previous experience]

Additional skills

  • [Include soft skills and any other positive/relevant characteristics]

Experience (listed in reverse chronological order – most to least recent)

[Position/title] | [Company/organization] | [City, State]

[Month and year – month and year]

  • [Bulleted list of key responsibilities and accomplishments]

Education

[University or college], [City, State]

  • [Major and minor]
  • [Graduation date]
  • [GPA (optional)]
  • [Notable achievements (such as Dean’s list)]

If you need help writing a resume, use our data-backed resume builder.