Resume Styles

There are many different resume styles and it is very important to choose the right one for the position you are applying for. There are many things that go into a resume - formatting, content, wording, presentation. The style of a resume includes all of these things. You can think about different resume styles in terms of industry, for example a resume one would use to apply to a position in finance should most certainly look different than a resume one would use to apply to a graphic design position. Depending on what kind of job you are applying for, you may have varying degrees of flexibility in terms of the style of your resume.

If you don’t currently have a resume and don’t know where to start, try making a simple, traditional resume. It’s a good idea to just get your experiences and achievements down on paper in a more traditional way, and then you can work from there.

Start with an education section. Some people include secondary education as well as college - secondary education might be beneficial if you went to a very prestigious high school or one with a big network. Make the heading larger, perhaps bold, and then write the details in the same font but smaller size. Put the name of your college on the left side, and your major, minor and GPA (if it’s a 3.5 or above) underneath. You can put the location on the left or right side, and the dates usually go on the right side.

In order to decide what the other sections of your resume should be, try writing down all of your experiences - include clubs, summer programs, student groups, volunteer work, community service, and any jobs or internships you’ve had. Also specify leadership positions and tangible skills such as Microsoft Excel or a coding language. Then, group this list. If you have had a lot of leadership positions in the things you have been involved with, you might want to consider making a Leadership Experience heading.

You want to have at least two subheadings for each section, so don’t make a section called “Work Experience” if you have only had one job. Instead, just make an overarching section and include other experiences as well, like clubs or programs. You should call that section something like “Experience” or “Experience and Involvement”. Some people group Leadership and Involvement together, and separate work experience. It really depends on your specific experiences and how they can be grouped.

After experience, some people include an “Awards and Honors” section. You should really only do this if you have won a lot of awards and honors. You should also consider a “Skills & Interests” section, or if you have extracurricular experience that doesn’t really fit into one of your other sections, a “Skills, Activities & Interests” section.

What would be described as a traditional resume would most likely use only one font throughout the page and consistent, simple formatting. It should essentially be the most logical and straightforward way of presenting the information. It is common in these types of resumes to use bullet points for the information underneath sub-headings. You don’t need to use any graphics or fancy fonts. You should put the dates of each experience on the right side of the page opposite the name of the experience, and you should put the location either on the right side as well or on the left side before the details.

Here is an example of a simple, traditional resume.


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If you want to spice it up a little, there are many different routes you can take. You might want to organize the sections in a less traditional way if it is relevant to the job you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a job where your knowledge of languages is really important, whether spoken or computer, you may want to make “Skills” its own section and list the languages you know.

If you are applying to a creative job, you may want to include graphics, or replace certain phrases with visuals. One woman wanted to convey her passion for sewing in her resume, so she printed it out onto iron-on paper, transferred it to white fabric, and sewed it to a bunch of printed fabrics. That's just an example, but it's a unique approach.

If you are applying to a job in the music industry, you might want to make what would have been the “Interests” section more specific to your musical interests and preferences.

Resume styles aren’t just industry-specific, they can be styled according to your personality type or the culture of the company you are applying to. If you are applying to a job where your personality is very important, for example if it is a position in sales, you may want to consider that when styling your resume. If this is the case, you should probably avoid a super traditional resume, and go for something that makes you stand out more. Perhaps include an “About Me” section and/or your social media handles.

Based on the type of job you are applying to, you may want to adjust descriptions of your experiences. More specifically, how much of it is description/more about the words and how much of it is data and number-based/more about the hard numbers. For example, if you led a team and increased company revenue in the past, depending on the job you’re applying for you can play up the communication part of your responsibilities, or perhaps you can instead give more hard data, like the revenue number and what percent difference you made.

If you want more information about resume styles, feel free to check out our many templates at our main site!