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Choosing the Right Resume Format for Your Industry

A man works through his resume

When it comes to crafting a winning resume, there is no perfect solution.

There’s no precise formula to create a resume so good it’s guaranteed to get you an interview.

The fact is different industries have distinct expectations and requirements regarding the format and content of a resume. 

READ MORE: Why You Need To Customize Your Resume For Every Job Application

If you’re starting out in your career or updating your resume for your next move, it’s crucial to know which format works best for your industry.

This article will outline the best resume formats for different industries.

This will give you an advantage and help create a positive impression on potential employers.

Traditional/Chronological Resume Format

The traditional or chronological resume format is widely used across various sectors.

This makes it a safe bet for many job seekers.

This format emphasizes a clear and logical progression of your work experience.

It starts with the most recent position and works backwards.

It highlights your career history and achievements, allowing employers to see your growth and development over time. 

If you’re newly entering the world of work, add necessary academic information and extracurricular activities.

Highlighting volunteering or internship experiences is a great way to gain an edge in the race.

The traditional format is particularly suitable for industries such as finance, law, engineering, and academia, where a strong emphasis is placed on work experience and a linear career trajectory.

Tips for an effective traditional/chronological resume

  • Start with a compelling cover letter that captures the employer’s attention.
  • List your work experience in reverse chronological order, including job titles, company names, dates of employment, and concise descriptions of your responsibilities and achievements in each role.
  • Highlight any promotions, awards, or notable projects to showcase your accomplishments.
  • Include a section for your education, qualifications, and relevant certifications.
  • Add a skills section that outlines your key competencies and technical abilities.
  • Customize your resume for each job application by emphasizing relevant experiences and skills.

READ MORE: Writing A Good Resume With Professional Help

Functional/Skills-Based Resume Format

The functional or skills-based resume format places more emphasis on your skills and abilities rather than your work history.

This format is ideal for people who have limited work experience or are changing careers. 

It allows you to showcase your skills and accomplishments in a more focused manner, emphasizing what you can bring to the table.

Industries that often value this format include creative fields, marketing and project management.

Tips for a compelling functional/skills-based resume

  • Begin with a strong personal statement that highlights your key skills and strengths.
  • Group your skills into specific categories (e.g., communication, leadership, technical skills) and provide examples of how you’ve applied them in previous roles or projects.
  • Include a concise summary of your work experience, highlighting relevant accomplishments and responsibilities.
  • Emphasize any volunteer work, internships, or freelance projects demonstrating your skills.
  • Incorporate a section for education and relevant certifications.
  • Use bullet points to make your achievements and skills stand out.

READ MORE: How To Write A Beginner Resume

Combination/Hybrid Resume Format

The combination or hybrid resume format combines elements of both the traditional and functional formats.

It offers a comprehensive overview of your skills, work experience, and accomplishments.

It lets you highlight your relevant experience while showcasing your key skills and achievements. 

This versatile format can be used across various industries, especially to emphasize your work history and skills.

It works well for roles that require a mix of experience and specific capabilities, such as project management, sales, and consulting.

Tips for an impactful combination/hybrid resume

  • Begin with a professional summary overviewing your qualifications, skills, and career goals.
  • Group your skills into categories and include examples of how you’ve utilized them in your previous roles.
  • List your work experience in reverse chronological order, including job titles, company names, dates of employment, and concise descriptions of your responsibilities and accomplishments.
  • Highlight notable achievements, such as exceeding targets, implementing successful projects, or receiving recognition.
  • Include a section for your education, certifications, and professional development.
  • Consider incorporating additional sections such as volunteer work, publications, or relevant affiliations to enhance your profile.

Creative/Visual Resume Format


In certain industries, like graphic design, advertising, and media, a creative or visual resume format can help you showcase your artistic skills and demonstrate your ability to think outside the box. 

A creative resume allows you to present your qualifications and experience in a visually appealing and engaging way.

This could capture the attention of potential employers.

This format often includes infographics, color schemes, and unique layouts.

Tips for a successful creative/visual resume

  • Use a visually appealing layout and design that aligns with your industry and personal brand.
  • Include a professional summary that captures the essence of your profile.
  • Showcase your creative skills through visuals, such as illustrations, graphics, or icons.
  • Incorporate sections that highlight your relevant experience, skills, and achievements.
  • Consider using a combination of text and visuals to present your work history, projects, or portfolio.
  • Ensure that the design elements enhance the readability and clarity of the content.
  • Save your creative resume as a PDF to maintain its formatting across different devices.

Remember, regardless of the resume format you choose, there are a few essential principles that apply universally:

  • Keep your resume concise and focused, ideally fitting onto one or two pages.
  • Use a professional and consistent font throughout the document.
  • Proofread your resume thoroughly for any spelling or grammatical errors.
  • Tailor your resume to each job application, highlighting the most relevant skills and experiences.
  • Use keywords from the job description to optimize your resume for applicant tracking systems (ATS) used by many employers.

Final Thoughts

Selecting the right resume format is crucial for job seekers, especially those starting or are in the early stages of their careers.

By understanding the expectations and requirements of different industries, you can tailor your resume effectively and increase your chances of securing interviews. 

Whether you opt for a traditional, functional, combination, or creative format, remember to highlight your unique skills, accomplishments, and experiences that make you the perfect fit for the role you’re targeting.

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