The Latest Guidelines on Resume Formatting

It’s common knowledge that every resume needs to include certain information: name, contact phone number, education level. But should your resume be one page or is it OK to go over? Should you put your previous jobs or your skill set at the top? Resume formatting guidelines change all the time, so take a look at what you should focus on in 2023.


What are the three main types of resumes?

Before you begin writing your resume, figure out which one is appropriate for the job to which you’re applying and for the type of work experience you already have.

  • Chronological: This is the most common type of resume. It lists (in reverse chronological order) your previous jobs and responsibilities.
  • Functional: This is the least common type of resume. It focuses on your skills section with less attention paid to your work history.
  • Combination: This type of resume gives roughly equal weight to both your transferable skills and your work history.

Which one should you use?

In short, it depends on what aspects of your work or education history you want to highlight.

  • Chronological format works best for those who already have work experience in a relevant industry. Since it gives the work experience section priority over the skills and education sections, hiring managers will automatically zoom in on that.
  • Functional format deemphasizes an applicant’s work history in favor of their skills and professional achievements—both of which should be ideally transferable and heavily overlap with the job skills desired by the employer.
  • Combination format works well for applicants who have a little of this and a little of that in terms of work history and skills.

What’s the ideal length?

A general rule most companies stick to (except if you’re submitting a resume for a federal job or a CV for an academic job): Keep your resume to one page unless you have over ten years of work experience in a relevant field. In that case, it is acceptable to have a resume that spans two or three pages long if absolutely necessary.

How to break it down

It’s all about the sections. Breaking up information into separate chunks not only makes your resume more visually appealing but also makes it easier for the hiring manager to skim.

  • Resume headline: Alternatively called a “resume title,” this is a one or two sentence phrase that quickly summarizes your qualifications to persuade the person reading your resume to continue reading your resume.
  • Resume introduction: Two or three sentences (or bullet points) of information that briefly shares your experiences and clarifies both what qualities you have and what qualities you are looking for in a job.
  • Education: Be sure to include your highest level of education first.
  • Skills: Include both hard and soft job-relevant skills in bullet point format.
  • Achievements: Remember to support this section with hard numbers (like percentages or monetary amounts), not just vague descriptions.

And lastly, here are all the fun little nuts and bolts details for a proper resume format:

  • Set one-inch margins on all sides
  • Choose a clear resume font that is easy to read
  • Use 11 or 12 pt. font for the bulk of your resume, with 14 to 16 pt. only for your name at the top
  • Bold all section headings
  • Don’t be afraid to use bullet points if it makes things more readable
  • Put a single space before and after section headings
  • Save your resume in PDF format (Word can sometimes glitch during conversion)

Just remember that you can never go wrong focusing on your achievements when it comes time to write a resume. It’s ultimately just one tool potential employers use to get an idea of whether or not you would be a good fit for the role. Making sure your resume is up-to-date and following the latest formatting guidelines can ultimately help yours be seen by as many hiring managers as possible.


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