The Best Resume Structure: Examples, Templates & Tips

The Best Resume Structure: Examples, Templates & Tips

You have gathered all the information for your resume, and you are ready to put it all in.

You might think that would be enough to get you the interview.

Sadly, information is not everything.

The fact is, hiring managers spend as much as 7 seconds on your resume.

If you don’t catch their attention in these 7 seconds, your resume will be forever lost in the rejected pile.

That’s where structure and formatting interfere.

If you don’t have the right structure or the right resume format, you might never get your interview, no matter how skilled and experienced you are.

But that’s why we are here.

In this article, we are going to go through some more important topics, like:

  • Why Your Resume Structure Is So Important?
  • The 3 Most Common Resume Formats
  • How to Structure Every Section of Your Resume?

And, as always, we are going to leave you off with some great Tips and Tricks.

If you find yourself still wondering about something after this article, you should check out How to Make Your Resume Stand Out for some additional information.

But for now, let’s dive in and get you good and ready to make your resume the best it can be.

Why Your Resume Structure Is So Important

You have great experience and an awesome skillset.

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As we said before, hiring managers spend as much as 7 seconds on a resume.

And a good resume structure helps them find relevant information quickly

If they don’t find quickly what they need to see, your resume will go to the discard pile.

No matter if you have the necessary qualifications or not.

Additionally, a well-structured resume shows that you are well-organized.

So take the time and work on your resume structure.

The 3 Most Common Resume Formats

The first step you need to take to perfecting your resume structure is choosing the right Resume Format.

Lucky for you, there are as many as 3 formats for you to choose from.

And we are going to go through all of them, so that you can make the best choice.

Reverse Chronological Resume Format

The Reverse Chronological Resume Format is the most common out there.

That’s because it is suitable for pretty much every job position.

This format is mostly career-oriented - it lists your work history in order, as the most recent position would be at the top.

It is the ideal format for people with lots of work experience, relevant to the job position they are applying for.

If you feel like this is the Resume Format for you, you should learn more about it here - Reverse Chronological Resume Format.

If not, we have two more for you.

Functional Resume Format

Your second alternative is pretty much the opposite of the Reverse Chronological Resume Format.

The Functional Resume Format is also called Skill-Based Resume Format.

And yes, you guessed correctly, it focuses mainly on your skills.

It is the perfect choice for you if you are looking for your first job or career change, or if you are trying to steer away the employer’s focus from a gap in your employment history.

The great thing about the functional resume format is that it groups your skills in categories and presents them in a great and easy-to-read format.

If we’ve got what you need with this Resume Format - learn more about it here - Functional Resume Format.

If that’s not what you need either, we’ve got one last option for you.

Hybrid Resume Format

If neither the Reverse Chronological Resume Format, nor the Functional Resume Format feel quite right, we’ve got what you need.

The Hybrid Resume Format is the perfect combination of the two formats listed above.

It takes all the best features from both formats.

It includes both Reverse Chronological Work History, and a highly detailed Skills Section.

It’s mostly used for job positions that require expertise in a variety of fields, and you want to show that you are the right person for the job.

So now that you know the three main formats, you need to take your pick.

And once you are ready with that, it’s time to go into every section of your resume.

How to Structure Every Section of Your Resume?

It’s great that you picked your perfect resume format, but we are far from done.

Now we need to make sure that every section of your resume looks just fine.

To make sure that we have it all good, we are going to go through them one by one.

Resume Header and Contact Information

You might not believe us, but the fact is this is the most crucial section of your resume.

Formatting correctly your Resume Header and your Contact Information makes it easier for the hiring manager to see who you are and find how to contact you.

This section should be on the top of your resume and must include your name, email and phone number. The mailing address is mandatory.

Your name should be highly visible with bolder or larger font than the rest of the document.

As you want to look professional in the eyes of your potential employer, make sure your email address sounds professional.

Consider creating a new email account if you currently use an outdated email service.

You can also include a portfolio if you are applying for creative positions.

Consider including your LinkedIn profile as well, but make sure you make it a strong one.

Last but not least, proofread your contact information.

No matter how impressive your resume is, you will never get called in for an interview if you misspelled your phone number.

If you don’t yet feel ready to perfect that section of your resume, read some more about it - Resume Header and Contact Information.

Resume Summary

Let’s take a look at the next section of your resume - your Resume Summary.

Even though it is not a must, you should seriously consider writing one.

And what it is - two or three sentences that briefly describe you as a candidate.

Just like the Resume Header and your Contact Information, the Resume Summary is one of the first things the hiring manager might see.

So it wouldn’t hurt to spend some time on writing your summary.

Again - it is not a dealbreaker if you skip it, but you might be skipping out on your chances of getting called for an interview as well.

So take your time and perfect your section.

If you need some more information about it, we’ve got you covered - Resume Summary.

Work Experience

The Work Experience Section is the heart of your resume.

Especially if you picked the Reverse Chronological Resume Format.

With that resume format, the first thing the hiring manager would look for in your resume is your work history.

Make sure you have listed correctly all relevant job titles and the companies you have worked for.

The basics of every job in your Work Experience Section should be:

  • Job position
  • Company Name
  • Location of the Company
  • Dates of Employment

But the basics are rarely enough.

Make sure you include a bullet list under every job position.

List all your important achievements and what impact you had on your previous companies.

There is always a metric that can show your success, no matter the position.

With a Reverse Chronological Resume, you would want to perfect this section, so take some time and read some more about it - Work Experience Section.

Education Section

Having a clear Education Section is essential for your resume, especially if your work experience is limited, or you have just graduated.

If you don't have much work experience, but your track record in school is good, consider making your education section highly-detailed and include all your education-related accomplishments.

On the contrary, if you have a few years of work experience, your education section should shrink down to the basics.

In most cases, listing the school name, the attendance years and your degree would be enough.

If you feel like you can get more out of this section, check out this article - Education Section on Resume.

Skills Section

If your Work Experience Section is not the heart of your resume, your Skills Section would take that place.

That would be the case if you don't have much work experience and are using a Functional Resume Format.

Now, how to include your skills in the best possible light.

The first step is to define the difference between the two main types of skills - soft and hard.

Hard Skills

Using simple words, a hard skill is one that can be learned, taught, or measured and is not dependent on your industry.

Examples of such skills are any language or computer skills, or ability to operate heavy machinery.

Soft Skills

A soft skill is a personality trait that is hard to measure, but that makes you great at your job.

Examples of such skills are being a team player, being driven to success, or having a great attitude.

Now that we have defined both types of skills, it’s pretty much up to you to decide which ones to include on your resume.

Make sure you include a variety of both types of skills to get the best results.

But the most important thing is to list them clearly, so it would be easy for the hiring manager to see them and note them.

If they see right away the skills that they seek, they are much more likely to take your resume under consideration.

If you are writing a Functional Resume or you feel like you can use your skills in an even better way, learn more here - Resume Skills Section.

Additional Sections

We covered all the basics, but it never hurts to add something more, as long as it is relevant to the job position.

There are a few sections that are typically included to finish up a resume, but don’t limit yourself to them.

Certifications and Awards

These can be listed in one section, or 2 separate ones, depending on what you have to say about them.

Both your certifications and your awards can potentially be very important.

But you really need to show something impressive, if you decide to go for it.

If your potential employer needs to see some specific certifications, make sure you know which ones to include in your resume before you send it.

Leaving some out could potentially ruin your application by making you seem unqualified.

In any other case, if you feel like some certification or award would be relevant in your resume, feel free to include it.

But all in all, you can include any section you want, as long as it is relevant to the job position.

Here are a few sections that you can consider:

Tips and Tricks

And, as promised, we are not going to let you go without some Tips and Tricks to help you out.

There are a few simple rules you need to follow.

If you do, your resume will be guaranteed to look its best.

So let’s go through them all and get you good and ready:

  • Stick to one-page resume - only consider a two-page resume if you have lots of relevant work experience you can show
  • Choose a professional font - examples of such are Arial, Calibri, Georgia, Cambria and Verdana
  • Choose the correct font size - it’s best to keep it around 12pt, and it should never fall beneath 10pt
  • Make sure you have sufficient white space - you need to make it clear where a section starts and ends. Don’t forget to also add a margin of at least 0.7 inches.
  • Choose the right format - unless specified otherwise, always stick to PDF as it is the only format that will preserve your layout and structure no matter what

Takeaways: Structure of resume

We are all done.

Now you know how to structure your resume correctly.

You are now ready to get the hiring manager’s attention and make them spend more time on your application.

Don’t forget - pick the right resume format according to your experience and take the necessary time on each section.

Check out our tips and tricks once again and make your resume get you your next interview in no time.