The Resume Layouts That Work

The Resume Layouts That Work

How to organize your resume

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On average, recruiters spend about 7.5 seconds scanning your resume. This means you must ensure the most relevant information is at the top.

It is important to remember that a recruiter is looking for reasons not to hire you instead of reasons to hire you. They aim to find the best candidates to present to the hiring manager.

There are a few tips for capturing a recruiter’s attention.

First, keep your layout simple and organized. It is much easier for a recruiter to quickly scan your resume if you have clearly labeled sections.

Second, understand which format will showcase you the best. There are three formats we can use to build our resume.

1. The reverse chronological format

The reverse chronological format of a resume

The first is a reverse chronological format, the most common format.

In this format, you emphasize your work experience by listing the most recent first. The work experience section is subsequently followed by skills and education.

This format is great for people with any level of work experience. Whether you are a student looking for your first job, or an experienced candidate with many years in the industry, the reverse chronological format is always a safe and familiar choice.

This format is also great for people without large gaps in their employment history, and who are looking to stay in the same industry or obtain a similar job to their current role.

There are however some downsides that come with the reverse chronological format. Since this is the most widely used resume format, it’s more challenging to stand out from the rest of the candidate pool. And if you have a significant gap in your employment history or no relevant work experience, this format might draw attention to those areas.

2. The functional format or the skills-based format

The functional format or the skills-based format of a resume

The second format you can use is the functional or skills-based format, where you move the skills section to the top of the resume.

This is the least popular resume format and can be more time-consuming for recruiters to read.

The functional resume format is really great for people who have a vast amount of skills because it allows you to showcase the things you are good at.

This format is also great if you have a gap in your employment history or are looking to make a career change, as the recruiter won’t immediately focus on your work experience.

Keep in mind that the functional resume format is the least often used format, and as a result, your recruiter may need to familiarize themselves with it.

3. The combination format

the combination format of a resume

The last is the combination format, in which you blend the reverse chronological and functional resume formats.

In this format, you equally emphasize work experience and skills. This format works great for people with various skills and experiences. However, it requires you to have enough skills and work experience to look complete.

When building my resume, I chose the combination format because as a mid-level software engineer, I have a backlog of skills and work experience to showcase.

If you are a student or entry-level candidate, select the reverse chronological format, as you might not have many skills to highlight.

If you are a senior candidate, you can safely pick any one of the three resume formats, as you have enough work experience and skills to feature.


The last tip is to avoid the typical resume red flag, omitting dates.

It is vital to ensure all of your work experiences have dates. When you omit dates from your resume, it can indicate to a recruiter that you are trying to hide something.

When listing dates, you should always list the month and year of your employment, or you risk short-selling yourself.

For example, assume you worked at a company from January 2018 to December 2019. If you only list the years, it assumes you worked for only one year. Listing the month and year indicates that you have two years of experience with the company.


By leveraging the appropriate resume format, sticking to a clean and organized hierarchical layout, and listing detailed dates for your education and work experience, you will be one step closer to capturing your recruiter’s attention.

Thanks for reading. I hope it is helpful. Check out my latest resume here to see how it was organized.