The most popular resume format in the job market with examples

Today we explore the most important resume formats used in the job market. You will learn which types of resumes is best suited to your job search. In summary you will learn about what each of these resume format means and when to use them:

  • Combination resume
  • Chronological resume
  • Functional resume
  • Infographic resume

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table of

Resume section

  • Typeface selection
  • Document margins
  • Font size and line spacing
  • Bulletized descriptions
  • Resume headings
  • File format

What does a resume contain?

The different types of resumes circulating on the job market all bear some commonalities. The abovementioned 4 resume format all shares some exact information. Though the order in which they are shared varies from one to the next. Assuming you’re writing a professional resume (someone who has plenty of skills in their profession) which is different from an internship resume, these following information’s are shared in exactly the same manner in all the resume formats:

  • Personal contact information
  • Resume profile or professional summary
  • Education section
  • Any certification and license information
  • Volunteer experience or community engagements
  • Award and achievement section
  • Interest or hobby section

The above four resume format adapts very differently in regards to these two sets of information:

  • How you show your work experience
  • How you list your skills

Now we dive into the details of each of this resume format to show you which one will be suited to you taking into account your job search specifications.

Successful job application always keeps in check the most fundamental basics:

  • Proofread like your life depends on it.
  • Must employ keywords from the actual job to pass the ATS.
  • A persuasive resume summary that proves why you are the one for the job
  • Including a personalized cover letter to support your application

 How to format your resume?

Every resume must be formatted to perfection. In must feel breathable, with lots of white space, and clear typeface setting or font selection which gives legibility. Employers have very short times, they cannot spend ten minutes on a resume, in fact, the average time employers spend on a resume is only 6 seconds. So, your resume must make information’s clear that are very easy to read and equally easy to find. And that is precisely why we have 3 primary kinds of resume format to address this situation. To increase relevance for recruiters, we have to format our resume so it can answer that one question with conviction! That is, you have the mind to bring marvel to this job. But formatting a resume also means to increase legibility and navigability of the resume, the design and layout must be clutter free.

Typeface selection

When selecting a font, it’s undeniably important to go with ultra clean font selections. Please resist the urge to go with style setting cursive or calligraphy fonts. In few professions for example being a kindergarten teacher or a creative professional, a slightly saucy font selection is considered okay, but do not turn your resume into an amazon forest with 5 types of fonts! Select serif or sans, our best recommendation. Serif fonts have an extending tail, while sans do not! Because font comes in different density and size, please keep in mind the following:

  • Select normal setting for paragraphs
  • Select bold for titles or headings
  • Don’t use hairline/thin or light option, they are often hard to read

Some sans serif fonts widely used and accepted in the job market.

  • Times new Roman
  • Arial
  • Helvetica
  • Calibri
  • Cambria
  • Corbel
  • Poppins
  • Source Sans Pro
  • Open Sans


Document margins

While we’re under severe pressure of condensing our entire career into a single page and now the extra worry about margins! We get it, the pain is too real! This skill of crafting a condensed, yet compelling resume forces you to really focus on what’s important and leave the rest from your resume, so that’s a good thing!

A resume should feel breathable, with ample white space. Too tight and too much content condensed into one page might mean, you might be better off with a two-page resume. Our eyes find it difficult to focus, if the fonts are too tight together, too small font with no white space to allow recruiters to read between the lines, if you know what we mean! These pointers will help:

  • If you have a fairly short career span with few things to show for, you would fare much better with 1 inch margin on all sides, as your resume would appear fuller while giving it plenty of white space. You can’t rent the lower 30% leftover white space to someone else, so to save yourself the shame of a fair failing to attract any visitors, you’re better off with a wider margin.
  • If you’re a veteran with a lot of materials to present, you can select a tighter margin appropriate to you. But keep in mind the important line spacing, which we talk about at the next section.

So, we recommend a margin of 0.5 inch to 1 inch from each side. You will see a resume with 1-inch margins from left and right side looks truly majestic! The below standardized templates for margins are the industry standard and employed across all popular word processors.

Normal Margin: 1 inch from all sides
Narrow Margin: 1 inch from all sides
Moderate Margin: 0.75 inch from left and right.
Wide Margin: 2 inch from left and right.

Expert Tip: Take it from a design expert, who has decades of design experience with typography. Take up lot more space from the top and bottom with a margin of 0.25 and 0.25 respectively, so you can make up for the loss of space from the left and right side, trying to accommodate the higher margin of 0.5 inch, 0.75 inch or 1 inch.

Font size and line spacing

Arial font is ubiquitous in the world of print. So, we will use this as a point of reference as we discuss the ideal font size you should use for your resume. The purpose of any resume is to turn it very punchy with a laser focus pitch in very short space. In fact, the average number of words in a single page resume is 489 words, found in a research by Nelson. So the line space you use and the font size mustn’t be too big, as you won’t be able to fit all your career information into one page. 

  • Use size 12 for Arial, in some fonts the same size 12 translates to a lot more space, in other words appear bigger. So, you would be better off with a size 11 or 11.5. Again, the idea is to maintain legibility while giving you ability to fit all your career bits and pieces neatly into a single page, without turning it into a stampede.
  • The line spacing which is basically the space between two lines in a document. We recommend using a line spacing option between 1 to 1.15.

Bulletized descriptions

Short bullet descriptions are your best bet to aim the ammo into the target. Tediously long bullet points mean, you don’t really know what is important. You throw everything in there, hoping something would grab employer’s attention. It has to be super short and razor sharp! Writing with number is another trick in the book. In a page of full of words, numbers pop out like a horse on a F1 race track. Also, they reveal the scale of your success. So they are very important. We talk about bullet points with a lot more breadth and scope over here.

Resume headings

Your resume headings are basically those eight separate sections in a resume that we talked about earlier. Depending on your circumstance, you might need to employ most of them or some of them. This table will help you grasp in a glimpse.

  Conservative professions Creative or expressive professions
Contact information Yes Yes
Resume profile or professional summary Yes Yes
Academic section Yes Yes
Do you have any certification, licenses? Yes Yes
Did you receive any award or recognition? Yes Yes
Do you have any interest or hobby that show healthy habits? No Yes
Relevant volunteer experience or community engagements Yes Yes
Work history Yes Yes
Skills Yes Yes
Professions Accounting, Finance, Law, Banking, Trade, Medical Graphics designer, copywriter, kindergarten teacher, waiter, marketing etc.

You want recruiters to find the key information with ease, so these headings should be accentuated to increase navigability. For headers we recommend the following settings:

  • Use bold or strong bold for your headlines
  • Raise the font size by an extra 4 or 6 points from the paragraph font size

File format

PDF is the global standard for document transmission. So, it is highly recommended to use pdf when sending your job applications. Because different office uses different version of word application, so your well formatted resume, might just show up on their door like Freddy Krueger, needing all sorts of exorcism to rid the evil spirit. They might not have your font, or even use Windows! They might have a Mac, and though Mac Pages does open .DOC or .DOCX documents from MS Word, but never with 100% accuracy, there is always some shake up as its opened. Or probably they are using the freeware edition OpenOffice! There’s just too much variable!

PDF is a free application, so everyone uses one! And the content always shows up exactly the same, no matter if it shows up in Sahara or Sydney, it always stays the same. Because the contents, styling and font settings are embedded into the document, so it never needs anything else. Only Adobe reader or a working browser will suffice.

PS, please take note of the instruction in the job description. 95% of the job application is neutral, they don’t state any specific attachment requirements, so in those cases PDF is the way to go. In the rare 5%, if they ask you to send in word format, make sure to send the .doc or legacy version of MS Word for highest compatibility.

What is my best choice for resume format?

Before you begin writing your resume, the first thing to establish is the ideal resume format for your job search. Now what’s the relation between a job search and resume format? Great question! Because this answer is going to explain why we have three primary kinds of resume format in the modern job market. Your resume is intended for your employers, so, how you write it and arrange the career information at your resume, they must bear relevance to recruiters to create a brilliant candidacy that can power you to an interview. Because isn’t that the sole purpose of a resume? To bring you to the interview table?

What is a resume format?

Putting your credit card in one pocket, debit card in another is always super clumsy, that’s why you have a wallet. And that’s essentially what a resume format does! It gives you a direction on how to organize your career information that can be presented neatly and most importantly with relevance. It is the holy grail of every job seeker, to always strive to deliver better relevance to improve job application success and that is exactly why we have three kinds of resume format in the modern job market and there is the fourth kind as well, however they’re used by a very niche sector, we’ll explain as we dive down below.

The objective of every resume is to convince recruiters or employers that you are worthy of an interview. And you do that with an effective and relevant resume. Now, relevance is a measure of providing key information that employer needs to make their hiring decision without needing to skim or search for it. The best of you must sold at the top, which can convince employers why you’re a great fit for this job.

There are four resume formats that are currently in use in the job market across the globe. We’ll address them each of these in greater depths and scope.

  • Combination resume
  • Chronological resume
  • Functional resume
  • Infographic resume


What is combination resume?

This is the best resume format for job searches! Combination resumes also known as a hybrid resume, is a hybrid of functional resume and chronological resume. It emphasizes on both skills and experiences and sits side by in a two-column resume or one section on top of the other. This is the most popular and practical resume format for the modern job market, where competition is fierce. Skills are essentially a shiny snapshot of work experiences, showing the business building craft they have acquired in their career.

Suited for: Modern job applicants are often called the nomad career wanderers. They hold many positions over time and each stand starkly different than the last, showing their tenacity to grow and succeed everywhere they step. Now a days coming from a different background is considered bringing in a fresh pair of eyes with a brand-new perspective to see things and do things differently.

And talent hunters recognizes that! That’s why today we see candidates building their wingspan across different industries, making them extremely versatile. They don’t want to limit themselves to one particular industry. Combination resume format is ideal when you have these two characteristics:

  • You bring unique set of skills that has a broad spectrum of usability across many industries.
  • Your work history shows a diverse range of experience, for example, you worked as a plant manager, senior research editor, industry compliance officer over the course of your 15 years of career. As you can see this type of candidates can easily move across completely different service sectors such as lobbying, PR etc.

What is chronological resume?

Chronological resume, also known as reverse chronological resume, lists work experiences in reverse-chronological order, meaning your most recent employment comes first and chronologically move towards the past career positions. This is the second most popular resume format in the job market. For most candidates’ chronological resume will serve the purpose very well. job

Suited for: If you’re a professional who have progressed into your career with unbridled ambition, where each job switch showing a progressive path of success, an advancing career with a consistent employment history. What this means is, a chronological resume format is an ideal choice if you have these two following features.

  • Worked for 3+ years in the same profession, for example building a career in sales or customer service
  • Where each position you held shows a career advancement, preferably in terms of a promotion.

What is functional resume?

Functional resume format chews out the business building craft you’ve acquired throughout your career. The emphasis is not on the work history with bulletized points under each employment, but rather take the transferrable skills you have acquired from those positions and turn them into a skills-based statements. You need to organize your achievements and group them by category, making sure they are targeted to the job you are applying; the example below will make it clearer. That’s why functional resumes are also called a skill-based resume. Functional format resume is ideal for candidates with the following career characteristics.

  • You want to change career where you have no direct experience. So, you sling-shot your way to the center of recruiter’s retina demonstrating the showmanship of skills. What they have built in for past businesses and what they could build for them.
  • You are entering the workforce after a long break, of if there are multiple big employment gaps.
  • You are student who holds little to no professional experience. So you employ your academia and any internship to demonstrate your suitability.

What is infographic resume?

Infographic resume is a rare fox in the job market. Like a fox, these cheeky resumes are only used by curious creative professionals. Because in such professions, expressing personality is accepted and celebrated in the industry, so they carry a career canvas of sort, a visual resume! That sounds exciting, but you stare down the barrel of a loaded gun, if you use this type in a conservative profession like law, accounting, nurse etc. In fact in most industries, such resumes will be rejected.

Infographic resume uses vastly experimental resume format, with no defined structure. Though, they are allowed and by no means serves a death sentence to your job search, should you adopt one! But keep in mind to still aim for a resume design that’s thoughtful, inventive and stirs deep interest among recruiters. It should feel breathable, airy with plenty of white space! Cluttered resumes with clumsy use of white space will hurt their eyes! And that’s no good! A resume should pull them in instead of subjecting them through six seconds of sheer terror. Infographic resume format are best for the following situations.

  • You are in the creative field such as copywriting, web developer, graphics designer etc.
  • Minor use of infographic elements such as skills bar to show your competency level is accepted in most professions. Except the very conservative one’s such as law, accounting, doctor and auditing.
  • Using icons for your contacts is another example of using infographic elements within your resume, but they are considered pretty standard these days even in the most conservative professions.

Resume formats in a glimpse

  Chronological resume format Functional resume format Combination resume format Infographic resume format
Skill statements No Yes No No
Colorful graphics No No No Yes
Contact information’s Yes Yes Yes Yes
Resume Profile Yes Adaptive Yes Adaptive
Skills Yes No Yes Adaptive
Work experience Yes Adaptive Yes Yes
Education Yes Adaptive Yes Yes
Popularity ranking 2 3 1 4
Professions Conservative industry Conservative industry Conservative industry Creative industry

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The most popular resume format in the job market with examples
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Areli Nevan has 15 years of writing experience in career columns. A professional resume writer with vast experience in his portfolios helping candidates create job winning applications.