Common Resume Formats [+Plus FREE Resume Template Downloads]

Writing your resume is a time consuming, arduous task that is complicated even more by formatting obstacles. There are so many resume layout options out there, how could you possibly know which one to choose?

Even Microsoft Word provides several free resume templates with varying color schemes and layout options seemingly to have your job-hunting back, but they aren't really tailored to your specific resume needs and may do more harm than good. 

Here are the most common resume formats with a bit about when and why you should select them. [+Plus FREE resume templates available for your download right now!] 

1. Executive Resume 

The Executive Resume is the most formal resume layout, and should be treated as such. This layout emphasizes tradition and tenure, and is almost always received well for an upper-level position.  

Who should use an Executive Resume: Upper-level management and executives, MBAs, or mid-senior level employees with a strong work and education history applying for positions at traditional, corporate offices who want to make a good impression.

Who shouldn't: Those in the early stages of their career. Also, if you are applying to jobs (at any career level) at a young/fresh/modern company that could consider an Executive Resume to be dated and unoriginal.   

2. Chronological Resume 

Chronological Resumes are a timeline representation of your professional history. This is the perfect format to show consistent career progression and organizational loyalty.

Who should use a Chronological Resume: Those who have been with the same company for a large portion of your career or who have a clear and consistent career progression they want to showcase. For example: you graduated with a Marketing degree and your first job out of college was as a marketing intern, and you then moved through the ranks to assistant, specialist, manager, etc. 

Who shouldn't: Job hoppers or those with inconsistent career growth. If you were a director for a year at one company and then the following year a specialist at another company, and your work history is similarly disproportionate, you'll want to select a different resume template. 

3. Functional Resume 

Functional Resumes showcase your skills and accomplishments before diving into your work and education history. The benefit of this format is that it allows the hiring manager to get a clear idea of your qualifications without having to read your entire resume. As you've read before, your resume is scanned in less than 25 seconds in most cases. 

Who should use a Functional Resume: Most professional job seekers will benefit with the use of a functional Resume. It is particularly helpful if you have had several previous employers and you are mid-senior level in your career. 

Who shouldn't: Those who fall on either extreme of the career ladder: VP, Director, Executive, Senior Management, and alternatively, entry level, recent grads, or made recent drastic career changes. This is also not the ideal resume for someone in a highly creative field. While it may not hurt your chances, it isn't going to do you any favors either. 

4. Hybrid Resume 

A Hybrid Resume takes several elements of each layout described above and pieces them together. You'll have a section for your skills and accomplishments, your career summary or objective statement, and a chronological representation of your experience and education. This format is also a lot less formal and "stuffy" than some of the more traditional layouts.

Who should use a Hybrid Resume: This is a great option for anyone with a lot of previous employers yet consistent work experience, think contract engineers or project management consultants who have done a lot of the same work at many different places. Hybrids are also ideal for anyone who doesn't quite fit any of the other descriptors. 

Who shouldn't: Upper level management and executives, MBAs, or mid-senior level employees applying for positions at traditional, corporate offices. 

5. Creative Resume 

Creative Resumes are unique. No template download will suit your needs here, because you want to showcase your creative skills and design your own resume layout. Perhaps your resume looks like an infographic, with visual representations of your skills. Or maybe you are in a more visible role and want to show you have "the look" so your resume includes photographs of you in various expertise. 

Who should use a Creative Resume: Graphic designers, photographers, broadcast journalists, magazine writers / editors, etc. If you are in a creative field, you can use your resume another way to demonstrate your graphical skills. It's like a mini portfolio all about you. Also, positions at young, hip start ups or forward-thinking / creative organizations could take a Creative Resume approach to their job search as this format is the perfect way to stand out in a crowd.

Who shouldn't: Someone applying for a traditional role. If you don't fit the description above, you should rule out a creative resume. It could do more harm than good.

Still feel like you can't write a resume? You're not alone. We've got a team of experts who can tackle it for you. 

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