Which Resume Format Is Best for You?

By Robert Half on April 7, 2015 at 1:00pm

Which resume format is the best option for you? It depends on a number of factors. Here are the pros and cons of three different resume formats.

Whether you’re a recent graduate or have a significant amount of work experience, writing a resume can be a daunting task. Human resources managers may receive hundreds of resumes for a position, making it vital that your resume stands apart from the rest.

The first step is picking a resume format: chronological, functional or hybrid. Each one has its strengths, but one will be more effective than the others depending on your experience and the type of position you’re applying for.


Every resume format has its strengths, but one will be more effective than the others depending on your experience and the type of position you’re applying for.

This is the most common type of resume format and is preferred by three out of four hiring managers, according to an Accountemps survey. A chronological resume leads with work history, which should list current and previous jobs in reverse chronological order. A short list of duties and responsibilities follows each job, and you may choose to highlight any accolades or special recognitions. The education and skills sections follow work history.

When to use it: Employers in traditional industries, such as finance and accounting, are accustomed to seeing chronological resumes. This resume type is particularly effective if you have a solid work history in your field.

Potential issues: The chronological resume highlights employment gaps, which are a red flag to employers. One solution may be to offer an explanation in your cover letter, or to describe the volunteer work or continuing education courses you engaged in during those gaps.


A functional resume format leads with a list of skills and specific experience, followed by education and work history sections. This format can be useful in drawing attention away from employment gaps or a general lack of work experience. It’s also effective in drawing attention away from excessive “job hopping.”

When to use it: This format is best suited for workers with extensive freelance or contract experience rather than full-time positions. It also works well for those who are changing career paths, and it allows you to highlight transferable skills rather than your lack of industry-specific experience.

Potential issues: Hiring managers are often wary of functional resume formats, particularly if your only reason for using it is to hide an employment gap. In this case, you may be better off using a hybrid resume format. 

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This resume format is a combination of chronological and functional. The first section highlights skills and qualifications you possess that are most relevant to the position you’re seeking. A work history section in reverse chronological order follows, giving hiring managers an overview of your experience and demonstrating transparency regarding length of tenure and employment gaps.

When to use it: Recent graduates and those seeking entry-level jobs may find a hybrid resume format to be most effective. However, workers with a lengthy, solid work history may benefit from this format as well, as it allows them to highlight their most impressive credentials up front, rather than burying them beneath an extensive work history section. 

Potential issues: Write tight. Keep your skills section succinct, focusing on your most impressive achievements, and leaving plenty of room for your chronological work history on the first page so managers can see your previous jobs at a glance.

Once you've reviewed your resume, upload it and join Robert Half's job candidate database. Work with one of the world's premier staffing agencies and increase your chances of finding a great job. 

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