What to Know About US Resume Formats This Year

When you’re applying for a job in America, you need to ensure it’s in the right format. How do you format a resume in the US?

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If you want to get a job in the USA you will need to submit a resume that meets U.S. resume formatting guidelines. If you do not live in the U.S., it is perfectly understandable that you may have no idea what a U.S. resume should look like. This simple guide is designed to help all job seekers create a great resume using U.S. formatting guidelines.

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What Is a US Resume?

An American resume, or more specifically a U.S. resume, is a one-page document that provides an overview of the information a hiring manager needs to make a decision during the hiring process. Though this is often called a CV (or curriculum vitae) in other countries, a resume is distinct from a CV. In the USA a CV is a longer document that provides a comprehensive overview of a job seeker’s skills, work experience, academic achievements, and professional qualifications and certifications.


Important Sections for a US Resume

When it comes time to write your resume, you will have to make a choice about the resume format that you want to use. A chronological resume is most common in many traditional industries, but you can also use a functional resume format or a combination resume format.
 
The differences between these formats have a lot to do with which resume section is most important. In chronological resumes, the work experience section is close to the top of the resume and takes up most space. In a functional format, it is the skills section that takes the focal place in a resume. A combination resume format strikes a balance of these two sections to provide a broader view of your skills. Whichever resume format you choose, here are the important sections to include in an American resume:
 
Contact information
 
The header of a U.S. resume should contain your contact information, including your full name, your phone number, and any professional portfolio links, such as your LinkedIn profile. The purpose of this section is to make it easy for a recruiter to contact you for an interview.
 
Resume summary
 
The resume objective or resume summary statement should be directly below the header and be no more than 2-3 sentences or 4-6 bullet points in size. If you choose to write a resume objective statement, this will include an overview of your career goals and best skills. This is best for job seekers with limited work experience. If you have many years of experience in the industry you work in, a resume summary will be better. This should be a summary of the relevant experiences, qualifications, and skills that make you the best candidate for the role.
 
Skills
 
Your skills section should contain a list of bullet points detailing your skills that are most relevant to the job description that you are applying for. You should consider your whole skill set when writing this section, including your soft skills: for example, communication skills, time management and attention to detail.
 
The best resume is one that gives hiring managers a thorough view of you as a candidate. Only list skills that are relevant to the role because this section is one of the most important for ensuring your resume gets through applicant tracking systems (ATS). For example, if you are applying to be a graphic designer you might list skills like:

  • Adobe Creative Suite
  • Color theory
  • Composition
  • Storyboard creation

Work experience

 
No matter where your work history section is placed, you should list it in reverse-chronological order and include up to the past 10 years of professional experience where possible. If you don’t yet have ten years of experience, just include what you do have. You should list the job titles of specific positions as well as the official name of the company you worked for and the length of time you held a position. Once you have done this, you should give a brief overview of your most notable achievements in this role.
 
Education
 
Once you have a decent amount of work experience to call on, your education section will be less important. The main exception to this, of course, is when you work in a field where academic qualifications are required to do the job, e.g. medicine, law, social work. List your academic achievements in reverse-chronological order, too, and focus on the ones which are most recent and advanced. Do not include your high school GPA or equivalent unless you have no more advanced qualifications.
 
Other sections
 
There are a range of other sections that you may wish to include in your American resume. Depending on your skills and capabilities you could include sections to detail your professional certifications, the languages that you speak, publications you wrote, or awards that you have received.

How to Format a US Resume

When you create your U.S. resume, you should format it with .5 to 1-inch margins and 1 to 1.15 spaced lines. A professional resume should also use 12pt clear, legible sans serif fonts such as Arial or Calibri. If you want inspiration you can consider resume examples that are relevant to your field of work.


FAQ: US Resume

Q: Can I turn in a resume formatted for another country in the U.S.?

The expectations and details of resume formats change from country to country, so if you want to have a good chance of getting a new job in the USA it’s best to use a U.S. format. The best way to do this is to create a U.S.-style resume from scratch.

Q: What are the differences between U.S. resumes and resumes from other countries?

Every country has slightly different expectations and etiquette when it comes to resume formatting. As such, use this page as a checklist to ensure that your resume meets all expectations when applying for jobs in the U.S., or any country that you have not undertaken a job search in before.

Q: Are there any things I should avoid putting on my U.S. resume?

When writing your U.S. resume you should not include your personal social media, although professional networking sites such as like your LinkedIn profile are acceptable. Also, do not add information about your private life or a picture. If you want to make it easier to create a resume that conforms to U.S. standards, you should use the ResumeHelp resume builder. If you use the builder, you’ll find many great resume templates to choose from.

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