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The Best Resume Formats for Today’s Job Market

Woman professional handing a resume in a professional format to her interviewer in a modern office

Today’s job market is filled with mixed signals. 

Layoffs continue in big tech, with Amazon and Facebook being among the most recent giants to announce cuts to their workforces. The Federal Reserve has taken ongoing measures to slow the economy, including raising interest rates ten times in a little over a year. 

These events would normally indicate a labor market cooldown, but we’re still seeing record-low unemployment. The most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report showed an unemployment rate of 3.5%, which is a tie for the lowest rate since 1969. 

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, resignation rates are also historically high, with 2.5% of workers voluntarily leaving their jobs in March of 2023. This means companies are still struggling to fill open positions in the face of a persistent talent shortage. 

Though the market is complex, overall, it’s still very healthy for most American job seekers. You must have an impressive resume to stand out in today’s job market. Here are the best resume formats to use when applying for a new role.

What the current job market means for candidates

It’s not a bad time to be searching for a job. 

As a candidate, uncertainty is the main thing you have working against you right now. Companies need to hire, but the tenuous economic situation has many employers leaving positions open for longer than usual or being extra scrupulous in their selection process to ensure their investment is the right choice.

For job seekers, it’s not necessarily about finding any open position–those are easy to come by. Instead, the priority is to land the job that best fits your needs, delivering your desired mix of salary, benefits, flexibility, and advancement opportunities to keep you engaged and satisfied for the long term. 

To do that, you must show employers that you’re the best candidate for the job by communicating your unique value proposition in your resume.

Why resume format matters

You already know that your resume is the definitive document hiring managers use to assess your aptitude for a job. But did you know that resumes come in different styles and that certain formats do the job better than others?

Different formats emphasize different aspects of you as a candidate. Some focus more on your technical skills, while others focus on your noteworthy career achievements. 

Even the visual style of your resume plays a role in your job search, emphasizing your most impressive qualities, directing the reader’s attention on the page, and helping them navigate the information smoothly. A contemporary visual style shows you’re up to date with professional norms (versus an outdated format which could indicate your skills are equally archaic).

The right resume format helps you position your qualifications most favorably based on your unique profile, helping capture the hiring manager’s attention and convince them you’re worthy of an interview. 

Need help updating your resume? We suggest using a professional resume service like BeamJobs!

Best resume formats to use if you’re looking for a job in 2023

1. Chronological resume

This is the resume format you’re probably most familiar with, as most job seekers use it. In a chronological resume, your work experience is presented in reverse-chronological order, with the most recent position first. Experience receives the greatest emphasis, while skills and other qualifications are secondary. 

Though this has been the preferred resume style for several decades, you still want to ensure your resume looks current. In addition to updating the content to reflect your most recent accomplishments, use a contemporary font (bye bye, Times New Roman) and modern formatting choices like ample white space. 

2. Entry-level resume

For students and recent graduates, the entry-level resume is the ideal format. Since you may not have a very long list of prior jobs, it spotlights your skills and relevant experiences that aren’t necessarily work-related. 

The experience you cover can include things like internships, volunteer work, and even projects you did for your college classes. Work experience is placed further down the page. 

Entry-level resumes help employers zero in on your potential, which is a key hiring factor when recruiting young talent. 

3. Modern resume

Though most candidates still leverage traditional resume formats like chronological, alternative formats are becoming more commonplace and acceptable to employers. One such format is the modern resume. A modern resume bucks the traditional layout in favor of a more creative approach incorporating stylistic fonts, colors, icons, and images.

A modern resume is a great option for job seekers in fields that value out-of-the-box thinking, like design and tech. Even if you’re in a more traditional field, this format can help you grab a hiring manager’s eye and communicate that you’re different from other candidates. 

4. Functional resume

If you’re one of the millions of people who are not only looking for a new job but looking for a different career entirely, the functional resume is the perfect option for you. It emphasizes skills and accomplishments over job titles and work experience. It is great when you need to help an employer connect your prior experience and the job you’re applying for now. 

A functional resume can also help downplay the appearance of job hopping if you’ve changed positions several times in a short period. 

5. Combination resume

In a combination resume, skills and experience are given equal weight. This is a good choice if you’re well into your career and have a long list of varied experiences. It allows you to highlight your most relevant, impressive qualifications without necessarily following a chronology-specific order. 

A combination resume can also give you an assist if you have gaps in employment, as its nonstandard layout can direct an employer’s attention off of work history and onto more solid areas like your technical skills. 

More helpful resume hints for 2023

Hiring manager preferences

Though more employers are warming up to nontraditional resumes, the good old-fashioned chronological format is the one that’s most preferred by hiring managers. Not only is it easy to scan, but it’s the format they’re most used to seeing, so they can locate the most important information faster. 

Does this mean you have to use this format? Of course not. It’s just something to keep in mind, along with other factors like what the employer is looking for and how much risk you’re comfortable taking by using an alternative resume style. 

Digital formats

The formats we’ve covered above all have one thing in common: they’re styles used when you’re creating a resume that will be viewed on a piece of paper or within a PDF or similar file. But we haven’t discussed another type of resume that’s truly outside the box: the fully virtual resume. 

A virtual resume takes a form that’s completely unique and designed by the job seeker, like an online portfolio where the viewer can click through work samples or an interactive website that takes the viewer on a journey through the candidate’s qualifications. 

Do you need a digital resume? Since it takes more time for a hiring manager to review, a virtual resume isn’t a great choice for most mainstream job applications. However, it can be the differentiating factor that gets you in the door for a highly competitive creative position or a spot with your dream employer. So, it’s something to keep on your radar. 

By choosing a resume format that complements your qualifications, you’ll have a better shot at getting an employer’s attention and making a strong bid for the job you want to land in 2023.