Making a resume sounds easy enough. You put your relevant work experience, education, and skills all down on paper to show potential employers. So why is building a resume much harder than it sounds?
That’s because resumes are unique to everyone based on your experience, industry, and the job you’re applying for.
“An entry-level resume will have a different look and feel than a more senior resume,” said Melanie Denny, certified resume expert and the president of . “Senior resumes will have more detailed information, will be two pages, and may include a chart or graph to display information in a more concise manner.”
Get some inspiration for your resume by seeing which ones best fit your needs. Here are a three common resume templates.
Best for: Most job seekers, especially entry-level workers
The chronological format is the most popular format, according to . This is a traditional resume that lists your experience in the order in which each job was held, starting with your current or most recent job first.
Chronological is great for entry-level applicants, especially if you don’t have a long work history, but still want to show past experience.
“An entry-level resume won't have as many accolades and may only be one page long,” Denny said. “Two-column resumes also tend to be popular among entry-level candidates.”
Chronological formats highlight your relevant work experience first. If your work history is sparse, you can use a professional summary or objective to share your qualifications. It gives you the chance to adjust your resume based on the job posting.
While chronological is best for most people, it’s not always the right choice for everyone. If you’ve had some career gaps or you’re switching industries, consider other templates.
Best for: Mid-level workers and those with job gaps
A functional resume focuses on your skills and relevant experience, not necessarily your recent jobs. If you’ve had time off since your last job, focusing on your skillset shows hiring managers your qualifications rather than when you last worked.
Chronological focuses on the jobs you’ve had and the order you had them. Functional resumes give you the chance to show off your relevant expertise and not the order you got that expertise.
Best for: Career switchers
Bridge the best of both templates by combining the chronological format with the functional one. A combination format lists your skills and qualifications first, followed by employment history listed in chronological order.
Combination is great if you’re thinking about changing industries or shifting your workload in a different direction. You can highlight your relevant skills for the job you’re applying for while also detailing your work history — which many employers still request — even if it’s not in line with the potential job.
This is also a great option for senior executives moving up in an industry detailing relevant skills over a job history.
Which template is right for you?
It’s important to choose the right resume format based on your experience, skills, and qualifications. Denny believes your resume is based off of your needs, not necessarily someone else’s. Resume templates should be there to guide you, but use them with caution.
Make sure you know how to update the resume before you buy one. Also make sure you have the right software to make those changes.
“You want your resume to be unique and if you are buying the same template as 1,000 other job seekers, you now look just like them,” she said. Along with that, “some templates are complex and not as easily manipulated and can become challenging to update without the formatting becoming wonky.”
Dori Zinn is a personal finance journalist based in South Florida. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, CNET, Quartz, TIME, and others.