Resumes & Cover Letters

How to Format Your Resume (With Examples)

August 25, 2020

Using the proper resume format can help you capture the attention of hiring managers. The ideal method of formatting your resume depends on several factors, including your level of experience and the position. It's helpful to learn about the different ways to write a resume before crafting your own. In this article, we discuss how to format your resume to make a good impression on employers.

Types of resume formats

There are three common resume formats, each serving a specific purpose: chronological, functional and combination.

Chronological resume

The chronological resume format highlights your education and work experience starting from the most recent. This is also known as reverse-chronological order. This format is most preferred by employers. The elements of a chronological resume include the following:

  • Contact information
  • Professional summary or objective
  • Work experience
  • Education
  • Relevant skills and qualifications
  • Additional information

If you are changing careers or have worked in different industries, a functional or combination resume may be more appropriate for you.

Functional resume

Functional resumes emphasise an applicant's skill set rather than their work experience and job responsibilities. It is ideal for people who are applying for work in a different industry or who have gaps in their work history. Here are elements of a functional resume format:

  • Contact information
  • Professional summary or objective statement
  • Summary of job-specific skills
  • Employment history
  • Education
  • Additional information such as interests, hobbies and extracurricular activities.

Combination resume

A combination resume incorporates the elements of a chronological and functional resume, thereby providing more flexibility. You can arrange the segments so that your best qualities appear at the top. It allows you to remove optional segments to create more room to highlight your competencies and workplace achievements. Elements of a combination resume format include:

  • Contact information
  • Professional summary or objective statement
  • Work experience
  • Relevant skills
  • Education

How to format a resume

Writing your resume in an easy-to-read format can help you make a powerful impression on employers. The ideal format should make your best qualifications stand out. This requires choosing the right margins and fonts among other formatting best practices. Follow these steps to format your resume for maximum visibility:

  1. Apply correct margins
  2. Choose a professional, legible font
  3. Select a font size 10 to 12 points
  4. Use section heads
  5. Use bullet points
  6. Proofread and edit before submitting

When used correctly, these formatting procedures can help your resume stand out and earn the attention of employers.

1. Apply correct margins

When writing or updating your resume, setting proper margins can improve the readability of the document, allowing recruiters to see your top qualifications at a glance. Keep your margins below 1.5 inches. One-inch margins on all sides are ideal for lengthy resumes and cover letters. Shorter resumes can use wider margins to make the page appear fuller. To stylise your resume, you can centre-align the section headers to look more noticeable. Left-aligning your resume can also improve legibility.

2. Choose a professional, legible font

Readable fonts will allow human readers to understand the words on your resume and make it easier to pass through an applicant tracking system (ATS). Thick fonts are usually easier for both humans and ATS systems to read. For example, many employers accept the Georgia font because of its simplicity. Other professionally acceptable fonts you can use for your resume include:

  • Avenir
  • Calibri
  • Cambria
  • Constantia
  • Corbel
  • Franklin Gothic
  • Garamond
  • Gill Sans
  • Helvetica

The general rule is to use San-serif fonts. That refers to fonts without tails.

3. Select a font size 10 to 12 points

The font size affects your resume's readability. For best results, select font size 10 to 12 points. You can use the 10-point font if the resume contains a lot of information. Select a 12-point font to reduce white space if your document doesn't contain less information. A font point lower than 10 will likely reduce legibility and make your resume look unprofessional.

4. Use section headers

Section headers can help you direct the reader's attention to areas of a resume that contain your most important selling points. You want to differentiate section headers from the section body to make them more captivating and professional. Here are ways to stylise your section headers:

  • Use bold fonts
  • Increase the font size to 12, 14 or 16 points to make them larger than the section body
  • Underline section headers

5. Use bullet points

Bullet points can help you highlight professional and educational achievements on your resume. Begin your bullet points with active verbs and quantify your achievements with figures. If you are listing one or two points, it's better to describe them in sentence form.

6. Proofread and edit before submitting

Before you submit the resume, go over the document and proofread for grammar and spelling errors. If you can't do this yourself, you can utilize online tools.

Resume format examples

Reviewing resume samples relevant to the job you are applying for can help you create CVs that will impress employers. Here are templates for the three formats discussed above:

Chronological resume example

Susan Wang

+55-5555-5555

susanwang@email.com

Professional summary

Detail-oriented supply chain manager with over six years of experience improving the delivery of raw materials and finished products through effective partnership with vendors and shippers and adept management of personnel. Seeking to improve inventory management practices and reduce supply chain costs at Imperial Logistics Limited.

Experience

Supply chain manager

Main Integrated Holdings, September 2017-Present

  • Train supply chain planners and five operations administrators on ERP best practices and leadership ethics
  • Partner with on-site and off-site vendors and contractors to ensure compliance with all regulatory requirements
  • Trained project managers and hired, trained and onboarded seven logistics administrators
  • Improved delivery time by 35% by identifying 10 new contractors and negotiating long-term contracts, reducing trans border shipping costs by 20%

Supply Chain Administrator

Derby & Paragon, October 2013-August 2017

  • Coordinated logistics for air and ground transportation, supervised vendor negotiations and verified all purchase orders
  • Managed inventory control through SAP using dedicated supply chain software
  • Reduced transportation and warehousing costs by negotiating gradual shipment of inventory from the supplier
  • Created a new warehousing protocol that increased productivity of inventory staff by 35%

Education

National University of Singapore September 2008-September 2013

Bachelor of Science in Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Skills

  • MS Office
  • SAP
  • Inventory management
  • Process improvement

Functional resume example

Daniel Kaw

+65-5555-5555

danielkaw@email.com

Summary

Sales representative with over five years of experience consistently exceeding sales quotas. Charismatic personality with a friendly and outgoing disposition. Committed to increasing revenue, satisfying customers and driving brand loyalty.

Areas of experience

  • Retail sales, product knowledge
  • POS and electronic payment terminals
  • Microsoft Office
  • Service-based sales
  • Fluent in Malay and Mandarin Chinese

Skills

  • Salesmanship: Consistently achieved 20% above target sales, winning “Employee of the Month” award three times in a row. Trained six sales associates to use scripts to answer customer's questions and increase the likelihood of keeping their business with us. Provided customers with an in-depth understanding of my company's products and services, leading to more sales and increased satisfaction. Used technology to reduce appointment costs, making it easier and faster for customers to choose our products.
  • Service-based sales: Reduced customer turnover by 5% through the adoption of a robust customer feedback system that improved service delivery and conflict resolution time. Pioneered new upselling techniques that increased repeat business by over 10% and boosted overall revenue.
  • Interpersonal skills: Consistently scored over 95% satisfaction rating on customer feedback surveys. Able to converse fluently with customers speaking Malay, Mandarin, English and Malay, making it easier to win them over. Possess exceptional emotional intelligence and dispute resolution skills to settle client dissatisfaction amicably.

Experience

Hu Mai Limited

Sales representative

2017-Present

  • Educated and sold company's products and services to customers in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia
  • Implemented up-sell programs and facilitated contactless payment systems
  • Increased customer loyalty, exceeded sales quotas in two consecutive quarters and trained five sales associates

Education

American University of Kuala Lumpur, 2017

Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration

Combination resume example

Juliet Wu

+55-6666-6666

julietwu@email.com

Professional experience

Marketing director

BaJua Industries, 2016-Present

Manage the marketing department, including supervising 15 sales and marketing staff, graphics designers and freelance writers. Design marketing campaigns, measure KPIs, run the company's social media marketing strategy to meet management's guidelines.

Associate marketing manager

Tanimu Dynamics, 2014-2016

Hired, trained and supervised five marketing staff. Oversaw the design, implementation and improvement of multi-channel social media marketing campaigns. Created a unique online brand identity to guide social media communication and boost audience engagement.

Social media manager

Dalian Digital Systems, 2012-2014

Managed company and client social media channels. Created editorial calendars, hired creatives, designed online marketing campaigns and visual concepts for mobile and web advertisements. Monitored key performance indicators to ensure achievement of objectives.

Skills

  • Human resources management: Hired, trained and onboarded creatives. Supervised freelancers, provided feedback and measured performance to improve employee contribution.
  • Project management: Oversaw all aspects of online marketing and promotional campaigns. Developed strategies for achieving social media marketing campaigns, budgeted and allocated resources, communicated with management and creatives.
  • Brand development: Learned the latest trends in social media marketing. Advised management on branding, audience engagement, influencer marketing and conflict resolution.

Education

National University of Singapore, 2008-2012

Bachelor of Art in Communications, Minor in Digital Marketing

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