Resume Structure & Formatting Guide for 2023

A well-structured resume shows recruiters that you are a professional person with good communication skills. Here’s what you need to know about resume structure.



Resume Structure

When you write a resume, your structure will be important. Think of resume structure as an outline that you can use to incorporate all the information employers want to know, from your skill set to your past job titles. How can you do this most effectively? Here’s what to know about your resume structure:

Why Resume Structure Matters

So, what does resume structure really do? Why do you need to make sure your work experience and skills are on a certain path? The truth of the matter is that your resume structure has an impact on how hiring managers read your resume.
The first benefit that a resume structure can have is in highlighting your strengths through design. A hiring manager will typically read your resume from the top of your resume to the bottom. In most resumes, that means the first thing they look at will be your resume summary, followed by your skills or work history. 
Resume structure also has to do with the elements of your resume that you highlight. In some cases, you may want to focus on skills and less on previous jobs, while in others, you might include fewer skills and more robust job descriptions. Career changers and fresh high school graduates might benefit from a skills-based resume, while people with a decade of experience in their field might prefer a resume that leans on work history.

The Three Ways to Structure Your Resume

There are three common resume formats that you’ll see when writing your resume. These different formats emphasize different resume elements, and the right resume format will be different for different job seekers.
The first format is the chronological resume format. This is by far the most common for professional resumes, and people typically use it if they have an employment history that lines up with the job they’re looking for. In this resume format, the experience section is more extensive, which can help in a job search where experience is key.
The next format is the functional resume format. This is the most common format when your previous career path doesn’t align as well with the company you’re applying to, so you’re instead trying to rely on skills. In this section, you’ll typically include categories of hard skills and soft skills in your skills section, focusing on specific skills that the new job has indicated an interest in. Often, the experience section will be significantly shorter, with just the company name, job title, and dates worked included.
The last format is the combination resume format, also called the hybrid format. This format tries to include the best elements of both resumes. It will typically include an expanded skills summary with up to a dozen skills, but it may also include bullet points reflecting professional experience in the work history section.
There’s no such thing as a single “best resume format.” The perfect resume for you won’t necessarily be the perfect resume for someone else. Your best bet is to look for a type of resume that effectively outlines your experience and skills for the particular job you want.

More Formatting Tips for Success

Resume formatting tips can help you turn a decent resume into a great one. Here are a few tips to consider as you write a resume in any format:

  • Choose a great resume font. The best fonts are typically simple and widely used, like Arial and Helvetica.
  • Make sure your margins are between half an inch and an inch wide.
  • Include white space to make sure your resume has some room to breathe – you can do this by using bullet points and short, peppy phrases. A resume without any white space can look cramped.
  • Choose a resume template that looks right for your resume, whether it’s more traditional or modern.

One of the best ways to make sure that your resume looks amazing is to use the ResumeHelp resume builder. There are 15 different resume templates available with this builder, making it a great way to write your resume that fits whatever style you need.

FAQ: Resume Structure

Q: What are the five parts of a resume?

When going through the resume writing process, you’ll want to start with five key sections. The resume starts with the header, which includes your contact information and social media links. From there, you move to the resume summary statement, which is a two to three sentence overview of your relevant skills and experiences. Then, you’ll also include a skills section, work history section, and education section. There are also optional sections that you can include, such as certifications, internships, hobbies, and extracurricular activities.

Q: What is the best resume structure to use?

There is no single best structure for a resume. Any resume that makes a potential employer call you in for a job is using the best structure for your qualifications. The chronological order is definitely the most common, but it’s not always the best option. Looking at multiple resume examples for your field is a great starting point to ensure that you’re using the best resume structure.

Q: Should I use a resume builder to structure my resume?

A resume builder is the best way to structure your resume more effectively, ensure your resume is readable by applicant tracking systems (ATS) that scan resumes for employers, and get writing tips for your resume from start to finish. Start your journey toward a new position with the resume builder from ResumeHelp.

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