The first impression is the best, they say. We agree! If you’re applying for jobs right now, you understand the value of making a good first impression. A resume is the first document a hiring team receives, so it’s important to make it as perfect as possible.
A good resume must be concise and tailored to cover your achievements, qualifications and skills in the best interest of the job you’re applying to.
Customising your resume based on the job description is also important to better meet the requirements.
The US resume format is similar to a standard one, with minor differences.
In this blog, we’ll discuss US resume format, guidelines and tips to increase your chances of getting noticed while applying for a job.
Types of US Resume Format
There are several formats to choose from, and the best one depends on your profile. While the core structure of all resume types is the same, the difference arises with the level of experience and type of job you are considering.
Here are some popular US resume formats to consider.
This format is the most common US resume format widely used worldwide. In this format, you list your work experience in reverse chronology, starting from your present position and working backwards.
US resume format with chronological order is best for those with a strong work history, especially if you want to emphasise your work experience.
Best for: Mid-level, Senior level.
Functional Order Resume
A functional resume focuses greatly on your skills and achievements rather than your experience. By de-emphasising that section, such a resume allows you to compensate for any employment gaps or lack of experience.
You can also support this resume by adding a strong objective statement.
Best for: Freshers, Mid-level (Especially with career gaps)
As the name implies, this format combines the chronological and functional types. Your resume can begin with a summary/objective statement and cover your work history. You can also add relevant qualifications and skills to complete the resume.
A combination resume is the most commonly used format, allowing you to showcase your work profile while supporting it with your skillset and achievements.
Best for: Mid-level, Senior level.
US Resume Format: Key Elements
Here are a few things to add to your resume apart from your work history and skill set.
1. Photograph: Adding a photograph is an option but also necessary for some professions. For instance, a good professional picture can be helpful if you apply for a performing arts, graphic design role, and more.
But the same is not necessary for a role like an accounts manager or a floor supervisor. In some instances, adding a photo can also be taken negatively.
Hence, do some research before adding a photo. Since customising the resume is essential, doing research is a kind of thumb rule here.
2. Personal Information: Your personal information must include your name, phone number, address, and email address. While submitting the resume via a digital platform, you can add a link to the LinkedIn profile.
Double-check these details, as the employers can use them to contact you. You may never receive that call back you’re waiting for you if you’ve entered an incorrect number.
3. Personal Summary: Your personal or objective statement should be a quick gist of all your achievements, goals, and objectives. Try not to exceed over 50-80 words.
Use action verbs and power words to describe what you bring. Make sure you research the job and tailor it accordingly.
4. Work Experience: Your work history must be reverse chronological. Meaning your present position must come first.
Under each role, you can mention your contribution.
Here are some questions to address:
- What were your key responsibilities?
- How did you exceed in your role?
- What did you do other than your day-to-day responsibilities?
Try to add quantifiable information as it gives a better perspective of your ability. Example: I grew the conversions by 30% during my time as a sales representative.
Also, don’t forget to add relevant keywords associated with the job role. This is important for ATS and the recruiter, who will probably be looking for some key terms in the resume while scanning the same.
5. Educational Qualification: Not all employers are looking degrees, especially if you have prior work experience to speak for you. However, it is still important to include your educational qualifications.
Things to include:
- Level of education
- Year of completion
- CGPA/percentage (if you’re asked for it)
Adding educational information is crucial for freshers because it gives the recruiters a good foundation to judge your suitability further.
However, as you progress in your career, recruiters will most often consider your work experience rather than your CGPA. So, if you are applying to jobs with years of experience, you need not add the GPA scores.
US Resume Format: Additional Sections
Here are some additional sections you must consider adding to your American resume, but only if they are applicable. This means that you must not force them into the format. For instance, there is a skill section where you must mention or highlight your core skills.
But these must only be added if they are relevant to the job. A company hiring a business analyst does not want to see “Calligraphy” in the skills section. But they would love to see problem-solving and analytical skills on your resume.
The section list includes:
- Skills: Add the required skills for the job you are applying for. You can make two sections for soft skills and technical/hard skills. For example, Leadership, being a team player, and public speaking will come under soft skills.
Fluency in programming languages and Microsoft Suite will come under your technical skills. The information you add here must be easy to understand and give the recruiters an exact idea about your capabilities.
- Volunteer Experience: Adding volunteer experience to the resume is great. But only do so if it’s relevant to your job role. If you’re a fresher, any experience counts, so make sure you add it.
Some might prefer to add a References section separately in the resume, but experts do not recommend it. You can provide references if a recruiter or interviewer asks for the same during personal interaction or if a specific condition is mentioned in the requirements section.
US Resume Format: How to Format your Resume?
Besides the resume structure, there are a few syntactic conditions to take care of in the resume format for the USA. Here are a few things to consider.
- Always divide the resume into clear and separate sections.
- The line spacing must be between 1 and 1.15.
- Use bullet points in the resume to make it more clear and scannable.
- The resume layout should be easier on the eye, so avoid using bright colour schemes and cluttered designs. Keep it simple, which makes the resume efficient.
- The sheet size must equal US Letter, which is 8.5×11 inches, but this is relevant while saving the resume in a PDF format.
To avoid the hassle, you can use ready-made templates which are widely available.
US Resume Format: Samples
Let’s see some examples to understand better how a professional resume is created and organised.
The resume you see above is an ideal representation of the resume format for the USA. It contains all the required sections and is limited to a single page, which is even better. The resume highlights the career path and information of a product engineer. You can use a resume builder to check out different designs similar to the one shown above.
The person starts with a professional summary followed by the work experience, education, and then the skills acquired throughout the career. On the left pane, you can see some smart usage of the space.
The person has added the core competencies associated with the job along with a few additional skills and knowledge bases.
Here is another resume format example for the USA, without the left pane design and entirely white. While the basic format is the same, including the professional summary, work experience, education, and soft skills added, the way of representation is simple.
When compared to the previous resumes, visually, the previous one may be better. But, when it comes to clarity and the ability to make an impact, both resumes are equally effective.
This sample follows the functional format. This resume format is best for first-time job seekers and is preferably created by recent college passouts.
Some experts might discourage using the functional resume format for the USA because it slightly deviates from the set standard of a resume format. And the recruiters are expecting to see the information in an ideal format.
However, as long as you are sharing all the required information in an easy-to-understand manner and adding all the relevant sections, a functional format will also work.
US Resume Format: Do’s and Don’ts
Here are some general considerations to remember while creating your resume.
Things You Must Have in US Resume Format
- Ensure that the US resume’s length is a maximum of two pages.
- The resume must include your contact details, work history, summary or objective, skills, and certifications (if any).
- You must customise the resume for every job you are applying for; this will help improve your chances of getting a job in the USA.
- Understand the role of the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and use the relevant keywords to get your resume passed through the ATS.
- While adding educational information, include the highest degree first.
Things You Must Avoid in US Resume Format
- Do not add detailed personal information to the resume. Include your full name and contact information. Avoid mentioning your age, marital status, ethnicity, home country, immigration status, religion, and family members.
- You need not mention the IELTS, TOEFL, or SAT scores.
- Do not make grammatical and spelling errors; they can be taken negatively.
A resume is the first thing you have to impress the recruiter without facing the person. If the resume is impressive, you may be called for personal interaction. Choosing the right resume format for USA-based jobs is one part of the puzzle.
Another part is ensuring that your resume has the right information shared in an easy-to-understand manner.
A well-tailored resume will set you apart from other applicants and set the stage for interviews and career advancement. Make sure you invest enough time in drafting a perfect resume. Follow our tips to make it easier!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Does the type of format chosen for the resume matter in getting the job?
The chronological resume format is for experienced professionals; a functional resume is more likely to be used by freshers, and mid-level experienced professionals use a combination. All three formats have the sections mentioned, but the order and format of adding them are different. So, your acceptance and rejection are not dependent on the format; it’s a way to represent information.
Q. How important is it to add a photo?
A photo is not a necessary part of the resume format for the USA. It is only added to the top of your resume to beautify the resume. But not all recruiters will consider adding a photo a good move. However, it is important for some professions and job roles. You can decide whether to add a photo or not according to the job.
Q. Can I use a template instead of making a fresh resume from scratch?
Using a resume template or an online resume builder is an easy way of doing things, and you can use them. However, make sure to edit the same in the required resume format for the USA and add the relevant information.
Q. How many pages are ideal for US Resume Format?
A. An ideal resume should be no longer than 2 pages. Try to fit it in one page if you can. But if you have a larger work history to accommodate, it’s okay to let it flow to a second page. Ensure you don’t cramp the spacing to fit it on one page. Anything beyond two pages may be considered overwhelming and might get rejected.
Q. What are some tips to create the perfect resume?
A. Here are some tips for creating a good resume.
1. Use bullet points to make the information easy to consume
2. Tailor your resume for each job and add the most relevant information for the job you’re applying for
3. Ensure your resume is visually appealing
4. Keep your resume to one or two pages
Q. Do I need to include my GPA on my resume in the USA?
A. It depends. If you have tons of work experience to speak for you, you need not add your GPA because then companies don’t really emphasise much about your educational qualifications. However, if you are a fresher, you need to include your GPA so that companies are able to assess your potential accordingly.
Q. When is it best to use a functional resume?
A. A functional resume is a good choice if you have employment gaps, are changing careers, or have diverse skills that aren’t tied to a specific job history. It’s also good if you are a fresher. Since you have no work history to add, you can emphasise your skills and qualifications.
Q. What is the difference between CV and Resume?
A. CV is a longer document that details your academic qualifications and provides a comprehensive overview of your life so far. However, a resume can be tailored to suit the job you’re applying to, and typically emphasises on pat work experience and skills suitable for the position you’re applying to.
Q. Should I list every job I’ve ever had on my resume?
A. If you’re someone with many years of experience, you may not necessarily list every job you’ve ever worked. You can list the recent 3-5 jobs that are relevant to the roles you’re applying to. This will also help you keep the resume short and to the point.
Q. Is it necessary to include references on my resume?
A. Only if asked. You can provide references on request, but in case it’s specifically mentioned in the resume, you can attach it with your resume. It’s best to check with the hiring team about this instead of simply extending the length of your resume.
Q. Is resume required for MS in USA?
A. Depends on the university. Not all universities will require your resume. Some may ask for either a CV or your Resume. It would not hurt to attach your resume anyway if you have an updated one ready. Otherwise, check with your university before sending one their way.